About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), where he also did graduate work in Musicology. On 22 January 2011, the board of directors elected Mr. Ostrowski President of Corpus Christi Watershed. He lives with his wife and two children in Corpus Christi, TX.
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"To the extent that the new sacred music is to serve the liturgical celebrations of the various churches, it can and must draw from earlier forms — especially from Gregorian chant — a higher inspiration, a uniquely sacred quality, a genuine sense of what is religious."
— Pope John Paul II (June 1980)
Why Can't We Use Secular Music During Mass?
published 13 February 2014 by Jeff Ostrowski

OMPOSER DAN SCHUTTE, formerly a Jesuit priest, published a musical setting in 2012 of the Glory To God which has been widely criticized because it changes the words. 1

To me, however, something else is even more problematic. Please listen to these brief excerpts and see if you can guess what I’m getting at:

      * *  “Glory To God” • Refrain by Dan Schutte

      * *  “My Little Pony” • Mp3 Audio Excerpt

Am I crazy, or is this resemblance jarring?

ON 22 NOVEMBER 2003, Blessed John Paul II decreed that Church music must “avoid any concessions to frivolity or superficiality.” He went on to remind us of many other important things. For instance, he said neither vocal nor instrumental music can be used at Mass if it “does not possess a sense of prayer, dignity and beauty.”

A few years ago, we created this video which presented Church legislation on Sacred music and drew some conclusions. Some of my friends were angry we used the term “Disney” to describe certain liturgical music. Others thought we were kidding. However, I stand behind that term, because technical descriptions like “modal” and “rhythmically free” mean nothing to the vast majority of Catholics who lack professional training in music.

PLEASE, DON’T LEAVE ANY NASTY COMMENTS saying I am “anti-Schutte” or anything like that. I have absolutely nothing against Schutte, who is incredibly accomplished 2 and literally world-famous. He’s free to write whatever he wishes and folks are free to purchase it.

However, I do object to certain would-be “scholarly” publications treating this music in a serious fashion, using the most outlandish psychobabble. 3 Sometimes I’m tempted to scream: “How can such things be written about a tune lifted from My Little Pony?” Just a decade ago, I believed Musicology symposia had a monopoly on this kind of gibberish — I was wrong!

N.B.   The musically-observant priest who discovered this Schutte/Pony similarity is currently Liturgy Director for a major Archdiocese in the United States. It was sent to me via email “chain letter.” This was the first time I’d ever heard Schutte’s Mass setting.




NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:

1   Musical settings which alter the official Mass texts were supposed to have been eliminated beginning in 2011.

2   Dan Schutte (b. 1947) is best known for composing the hymn “Here I Am, Lord.” He has received three honorary doctoral degrees, numerous Grammy nominations, and many other awards. He is considered one of the most influential living composers of “contemporary” Catholic liturgical music.

3   I have some examples I’ve saved over the years, but I hesitate to post them at this moment (I will explain another day).
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