Via Media

Via Media

Ah, well..

I’m a firm believer in David Scott’s ethos of "I am the worst liturgical abuse at any Mass," a conviction also expressed by my husband in his books, but this note from commentor Toni was too, er..good to resist. If by "good" you mean "makes you want to bang your head against a wall."

Text after the jump:

I’ve read many, many posts on your blog griping about liturgical music.
I always brushed them off because frankly, I thought I had heard it all

This past weekend, my husband and I attended a retreat in Scranton, PA.
We attended Mass as part of the retreat on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
There was another group in the building that participated at Mass with our

group.That group provided the music.


On Friday evening we began with a medley of hits, all on piano. One was
"What A Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong. It was an instrumental, so
I could almost stomach it. But the "meditation" song after communion for
each Mass was "Think of Me" from Phantom of the Opera.

I can now say I’ve heard it all.

Comments read comments(26)
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posted August 30, 2005 at 11:33 pm

These are hard stories to read, because it is so pervasive.We’ve had the theme from Ken Burn’s Civil War series (Ashokan Farewell) and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” – among other atrocities – played *during* Mass. Maybe we should form sort of a possee but instead of hunting down the bad guys, we’ll just laugh and laugh at the bad choices in music. Really laugh. Out loud. What could they do? Let’s take a pledge: we’ll laugh those desanctifying songs right out of our worship.

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Jack Dwyer

posted August 31, 2005 at 1:52 am

I don’t wanna laugh, Marianne! I wanna curse, scream, swear and cry; not necessarily in that order, but all of them LOUDLY. And then I want to up and leave in front of everyone, shaking the dust off my feet as I do so…
And if the Real Presence wasn’t there, I would…!!!

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posted August 31, 2005 at 3:39 am

I never thought it would occur to me to believe this but the influence of the Evil One must be more pervasive than one would think even at Mass. If true, then it must not be a Mass at all.

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posted August 31, 2005 at 4:31 am

Two musical atrocities from Downunder – I’m so glad my experience was one of hearsay.
1. Scene: St Patrick’s Cathedral, Canberra. Dateline Sunday, November 2 1997. All Saints Day transferred to the Sunday according to the local (stupid) rule. At the altar the readings are from the propers for All Saints. The choir, on the other hand, sings Victoria’s Requiem !! And all with the blessing of the celebrant.
2. Around the same time in a country church. A funeral. The music while the coffin is taken from the Church? “Look on the Bright Side of Life” from Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”.
… I can’t resist throwing in a non-musical atrocity as well: the Catholic School in Melbourne, Victoria which held a Sausage Sizzle on Good Friday a few years back.

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posted August 31, 2005 at 6:50 am

Worst one I’ve ever witnessed, and sadly at the closing Mass for volunteers at WYD: “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from Jesus Christ Superstar DURING COMMUNION!!! (Believe me, I wish I were kidding.)

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posted August 31, 2005 at 7:17 am

This is especially interesting in light of the fact that, 4 or 5 months ago, Bishop Martino issued a long and detailed (and somewhat forceful) letter to all of the priests of his (Scranton) diocese enumerating specific areas of the GIRM to which he expected better adherence, and citing specific ‘abuses’ (aberrations?) which should be discontinued. That leaves me to wonder if the retreat priest in this case was a priest of the diocese of Scranton.

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posted August 31, 2005 at 8:09 am

I love your idea! LOL!
The dissenters have certainly proven that they won’t listen to ‘dialogue’ and have no regard for the rubrics. All that stuff is stifling their egotistical creativity.
Perhaps a good dose of public humiliation would cure them. Laughing. Out loud. I like it!

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posted August 31, 2005 at 8:13 am

We had a doozey of a responsorial psalm a couple weeks ago. When the beat kicked in the first song I thought of was “So Happy Together” and the first song my wife thought of was “One is the loneliest Number.” So it was something in between those songs. Aside from being decidedly inappropriate for mass, it was impossible for the congregation to participate in the response. Fortunately there was no repeat performance this week.

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posted August 31, 2005 at 8:20 am

That liturgical abuse gives me a run for my money. I’m still betting on me, but not by much.

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posted August 31, 2005 at 8:28 am

The influence of the Evil One is only present because they let us sinners into Mass. Like, say, Judas and Peter at the first one.
As they say in computerland, “This isn’t a bug; it’s a feature.” Jesus knew perfectly well what Judas was up to, and Jesus let him in.
So quit all this “it isn’t really a Mass” stuff. If it’s not really a Mass, then neither was the Last Supper. You are being lied to.

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posted August 31, 2005 at 8:33 am

During Communion: For every thing (turn, turn turn) there is a season …
I told Father (the pastor, not the one who celebrated) I couldn’t go to that Mass anymore because I nearly burst out laughing as I was receiving Communion because the gee-tar guy started crooning this tune just as the priest was elevating the host for me to receive.
He was new to the parish. It was a parish where the parishoners were told that Monday night Mass could be used for Sunday obligation.
That Mass is gone now. :-)

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Pat Gonzalez

posted August 31, 2005 at 8:44 am

Worst thing I’ve heard of recently, music-wise: music being played at the Consecration, of all places. The high point of the Mass, when bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, and what happens? The congregation is “treated” to Amazing Grace! A friend of mine expressed his concern to our parish priest, who directed him to talk to the organist about it. The organist fumed that it was “his choice”…. riiiight … I have to resume my organist’s duties at Mass this weekend, so can guarantee that there will be reverent silence at the Consecration, so we in the congregation can focus on the Presence of Christ, which is the right thing to do. When are we going to realize that Mass isn’t about US, it’s about HIM????? May He have mercy on us.

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posted August 31, 2005 at 9:29 am

I got you all beat:
One pastor’s favorite was “From a Distance.” He played it all the time as Communion Meditation.
But while distributing the Eucharist he usually would put in (and I’m NOT lying) a taped track of whale mating calls or wolf howls.
No. Joke. Dead. Serious.
That priest has since retired. The parish has grown arguably worse.

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Patrick Rothwell

posted August 31, 2005 at 9:36 am

“Always Look on The Bright Side of Life?” HAHAHAHA! That has to be the funniest liturgical abuse story I have heard ever.
Another hilarious monstrosity, though not Catholic, thank goodness. A year or so ago, I attended out of curiosity an evensong at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont, PA in which a bunch of continuing Anglican bishops who weren’t previously speaking to each other worshipped together. As the bishops all recessed out of the sanctuary, the organist played the closing organ voluntary – composed by some dead renowned choirmaster of the parish – in which the theme sounded exactly like Henry Mancini’s “The Pink Panther.” I wondered if this was some sort of commentary about this flock of continuing Anglican bishops.

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posted August 31, 2005 at 10:09 am

Talk about Psalm 96 abuse (“Sing a new song” etc.). Thank you all for your anecdotal evidence, to use AGAINST those who want to tell the blue-haireds of our parish choir that “maybe we should try new songs.”

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Mila Morales

posted August 31, 2005 at 12:26 pm

I’ve got two good ones for all of you. Some Sundays we get the Salesian priests from down the road to come help in our parish. One of them (don’t know his name) always ends his homily with a little tune played–and sung–at the piano by himself…and of course, everyone claps! (Everyone but my husband and I, that is.) He hasn’t been around in a while, thank God.
Unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago the cantors treated us to “I Believe” as a communion hymn. I’m sure you can imagine what that felt like.

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posted August 31, 2005 at 1:08 pm

What strikes me about this thread is that the songs mentioned and the styles described are *not* indicative of you know, 20-something rebels. More like 60 and 70-somethings, next stop Early Bird Special. With all due respect.

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Marty Helgesen

posted August 31, 2005 at 3:09 pm

A few weeks ago I was in Scotland attending a convention in Glasgow. The Mass I attended Sunday had some minor annoyances, but was bearable until Communion. At the beginning of the Communion song I heard the words “Mother Mary” and thought that a Marian hymn was not the best choice at that point in the Mass. Then I realized that it was not a Marian hymn but John Lennon’s “Let It Be”. Another curious point was that there was no collection. I assume there are other provisions for parishoners to contribute, but this church is a short walk from two large hotels. After the “Communion song” I was not disappointed that I had not be able to contribute, but why would any pastor not provide the opportunity for visitors to contribute?

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posted August 31, 2005 at 3:40 pm

I cannot let your mistake go.
“Let it Be,” is by Paul McCartney. It’s dedicated to his mother Mary who died of breast cancer when he was a child.
The Beatles song “Julia” is by Lennon. It’s dedicated to his mother, Julia, who died in a car accident several years after McCartney’s mother.
And yes, I know far more Beatles trivia than a normal, healthy person should.

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posted August 31, 2005 at 11:47 pm

What do you want to bet that this Sunday, in a Mass somewhere, a “minister of music” will find a place for “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?”?

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Jim C.

posted September 1, 2005 at 12:09 am

I’ll add misuse of “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” to rjm’s. Having this song at a wedding! “I’ve had so many men before”???? Reflects rather poorly on the bride!

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posted September 1, 2005 at 7:49 am

Jim C
A close friend of mine witnessed that at a wedding as well.
But the real kicker was a wedding he attended where the BRIDE crooned, up front and center: “I’d Rather Have Jesus.”
And then there was the wedding where the processional hymn was “Be Not Afraid.”

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posted September 1, 2005 at 7:50 am

Btw, the first two weddings were Protestant, not Catholic.

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Dan Crawford

posted September 1, 2005 at 12:00 pm

The most unusual song I’ve heard at Mass was Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fail. It was sung after a reading from one of the prophets, and all things considered, didn’t seem that terribly inappropriate. (It is kind of prophetic and shows that Dylan is no stranger to Biblical imagery.) At least, it was not as maudlin and sappy as some of the songs mentioned above.

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Dan Crawford

posted September 1, 2005 at 12:03 pm

I’m always surprised that some of the awful church songs of the past haven’t been mentioned. Have they faded into non-existence?

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Araceli Lorayes

posted October 2, 2005 at 10:44 pm

I am responding to an earlier comment about inappropriate music from “Toni”, who said, now I’ve seen them all. No, you haven’t -in my old parish, during the Easter vigil, the parishioners had to walk through a small door into the unlighted church before the ceremonies. The priest had entrusted the music to the youth group, and the music they chose was “Send in the Clowns.”

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