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Andrew Motyka is the Archdiocesan Director of Liturgical Music and Cathedral Music for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
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“It is most important that when the faithful assist at the sacred ceremonies … they should sing alternately with the clergy or the choir, as it is prescribed.”
— Pope Pius XI, "Divini Cultus" (20 Dec 1928) §9

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Text matters
published 4 December 2013 by Andrew R. Motyka

HEN I WAS A TEENAGER and interested in popular music, I was always more interested in the words of songs most of my peers were. It’s not that I had a problem with the genres of pop music, but the words of the most popular songs always bothered me. When I read Mark Shea’s article “I Can’t Imagine a Dumber Song,” it struck a familiar note with me.

Words matter. A couple of weeks ago, I was preparing for an event in the diocese in which an outside group would be leading music. While creating a worship aid, I had to type this text:

You give and take away!
You give and take away!
My heart will choose to say,
“Lord, blessed be your name!”
You give and take away!
You give and take away!
My heart will choose to say,
“Lord, blessed be your name!”

I don’t want to harp too much on the texts of the liturgy. I do want to suggest, however, that our liturgical music would be greatly improved if everyone preparing its music would be forced to type out all of the texts which they had to sing. I got about a line and half into the above before I said, “What the heck is this?”

A good general rule: If it’s too inane to speak, it’s too inane to sing.