Tuesday, October 17, 2006

GKC on Hymns . . . Kind of

Dr. Blosser invokes Chesterton to take a perfect shot at horrible Catholic hymns:

"Chesterton says 'The Catholic Church is the only thing which saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.' These ‘songs’ enslave one to a casual, suburban 1970s American ethos with which I have little empathy ... and which I think does little to elevate anyone's spirit during divine worship. Gregorian chant, by contrast, is enslaved to no age. If it sounds alien to contemporary ears, it sounded no less foreign to the ears of men and women in the Middle Ages. It's essentially ageless.

I'm not sure Chesterton's quote fits Blosser's point, but he makes a good one: Catholic hymns are stuck in the Kumbaya movement of the 1970s, when everything about the Church was heading toward relaxed sexual mores and (with a little help from its friends) world socialism. I often bring religious books with me to Church to read during the singing. Is that a sin? I don't know, but the sin was committed before it got to me in those horrible hymn books. I'm more worried about setting a bad example for my children, so I occasionally belt out a hymn or two, when they manage to play a good one. Some day, liturgists in America will realize that saccharine and reverence aren't the same thing. Until then, I'm afraid we're stuck with the junk that is American Catholic movement, circa 1974.


Paul Pennyfeather said...

The hymns of today are so awful, but more disconcerting is the many faithful Catholics who look at you like you're mad if you point this out. We've sired a generation of Catholics who just don't know the difference between sacred music and kitchy garbage.

HOWEVER, the National Association of Pastoral Ministers is conducting a survey one "What helps you to sing?" There's a few questions and a section for comments. Go to

www.npm.org and click on "survey."

I was probably too harsh in my condemnation of modern music, not because it doesn't deserve it, but because my comments will probably be disregarded.

But everyone reading this should let their voices be heard on behalf of sacred music.

Anonymous said...

This is so true - modern hymns are unconducive to worship. There also seems to me to be a common clash between the words and the tune - incredible, moving words combined with sweet folk tunes.

Anonymous said...

OK, the midis may minimal, but the words have stood the test of time:



Anonymous said...

and this hymn is just SO politically incorrect


Anonymous said...

This one is Celtic and loses a lot of its intensity by being translated into English: