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. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife and two children.
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"And since it is becoming that holy things be administered in a holy manner, and of all things this sacrifice is the most holy, the Catholic Church, to the end that it might be worthily and reverently offered and received, instituted many centuries ago the holy canon, which is so free from error that it contains nothing that does not in the highest degree savor of a certain holiness and piety and raise up to God the minds of those who offer."
— Council of Trent (1562)
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).