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Renowned as composer, conductor, theorist, author, pedagogue, and organist, Aurelio Porfiri has served the Church on multiple continents at the highest levels. Born and raised in Italy, he currently serves as Director of Choral Activities and Composer in Residence for Santa Rosa de Lima School (Macao, China).
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“The Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic, and non-vernacular.”
— Blessed John XXIII (22 February 1962)

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Appropriate
published 30 June 2014 by Aurelio Porfiri

CENE ONE: today I participated in a military parade. It was wonderful, with all the marching stepped to the rhythm of an exciting waltz.

SCENE TWO: my niece returns from a rock concert. She is very excited and tells me how the band blew everyone away with a captivating performance of a Gregorian chant, while everyone was madly dancing.

Ok, now if I ask you what is strange in these two scenes, I am sure 100% of you (ok…99%) will say that soldiers do not march to the rhythm of a waltz and that a rock band is not going to entertain fans at the sound of Gregorian chant. I can only say: you are right. It seems so evident for everyone that there is no need even to discuss it.

In the same way, I have never quite understood why people think it normal to sing pop music during the liturgy. I mean, is it appropriate? Of course not. But when we ask why this is possible we are told that this is what the people like. But look: people like sex, alcohol, games, money…are we going to include all of these in our future liturgies to attract people? As I have always said the problem is not pop music. I also listen to pop music and sometimes compose songs in pop and rock style (when I compose Musicals I need to use a style that is appropriate to Musicals). The problem is not pop music, but pop music in the liturgy.

I cannot understand how some people fail to see that pop music is indeed a bearer, for the most part, of certain worldly values, and that the music and the style remain strongly associated with those values that are in direct contrast with the values and teachings of the Catholic Church. So, to bring this association directly into the heart of the church, that is the liturgy, is not a good thing.

People say that this music can be redeemed like the organ that was used by the early Romans for pagan and secular purposes. This is not true. The organ was transformed into a Christian musical instrument, and the old use was completely abandoned; but the same cannot be said for pop music when its commercial use is infinitely more pervasive and powerful than the use the Church may have with it. Why then is it so difficult to understand that there are things that are appropriate to the liturgy and things that are not? If you still are not convinced about my arguments, that’s up to you. Go out and dance wildly in three quarter time with the soldiers.


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