About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife and children.
Connect on Facebook:
Connect on Twitter:
“In all this mediaeval religious poetry there is much that we could not use now. Many of the hymns are quite bad, many are frigid compositions containing futile tricks, puns, misinterpreted quotations of Scripture, and twisted concepts, whose only point is their twist. But there is an amazing amount of beautiful poetry that we could still use. If we are to have vernacular hymns at all, why do we not have translations of the old ones?”
— Fr. Adrian Fortescue (d. 1923)

Liturgy Gone Wild
published 30 April 2015 by Jeff Ostrowski

851 Peace Love Music ANY OF MY FRIENDS in college subscribed to the worldview put forward by our secular university, which asserted that: having multiple sexual partners is fine; Humanae Vitae was dead wrong about artificial contraception; getting drunk is perfectly normal; and so forth. I cannot remember anyone in college standing up for morality as taught by the Catholic Church. I often saw a tinge of sadness 1 behind my friends’ eyes. It turns out—when all is said and done—the human heart desires more than that secular worldview can offer. The human heart—it turns out—craves lifelong unity with a loving partner through the Sacrament of Marriage. However, when this assertion is presented to college students at secular universities, the one making it is usually mocked.

I BRING THIS UP BECAUSE I’ve noticed something about progressive liturgists. They are never happy. The liturgy was radically changed in the 1960s, far beyond what was mandated by the Council. Churches everywhere have done as they pleased, disregarding liturgical law—usually through ignorance, not disobedience—even though the post-conciliar laws give tremendous freedom. Yet, progressive liturgists spend all their time demanding more “renewal,” more “freedom for ritual diversity,” and so forth. They denigrate 2 tiny minorities in the Church, such as those who take advantage of the provisions of Summorum Pontificum, and say horrible things about bishops & cardinals who offer Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

846 liturgy dance But when is the last time you read a scholarly article demonstrating that a song by Marty Haugen has greater musical depth than Gregorian chant? When is the last time you saw a serious journal author praising a song by the St. Louis Jesuits and making the case that such music has a richness sacred polyphony lacks? When have you seen some professor of theology writing about how it’s a good thing the Mass propers—which are 1500+ years old and almost exclusively come from Sacred Scripture—are replaced each week by lyrics by folks without any training in Sacred Theology or the field of poetic language? What, then, do they want? What is their end game? Why are they so unhappy? Why aren’t they proud of what they’ve replaced the propers with? Is it truly possible to go further than stuff like this?

For myself, I couldn’t be happier with our liturgy here in Los Angeles; and I look forward to continuing to post new music, new hymns, rehearsal techniques, and so on.

I HAVE OFTEN BEEN ACCUSED of inadequately explaining my analogies. Therefore, let me be clear. I mentioned how there’s an attitude saying “the Catholic Church is wrong about sexual morality; everything is fine as long as nobody gets hurt.” I mentioned how it is difficult to combat this notion in real life; yet the Catholic teachings are what our hearts secretly desire. Similarly, I mentioned how the “progressive” arguments from liturgists seem so powerful:

“The liturgy should be easy to understand; there’s no need for a Lingua Sacra.”

“Church music should be like a campfire sing-along; everyone should take part without any serious effort or training and have a good time singing.”

“Forget about the texts assigned by the Church; let all musicians replace these AT WILL with songs everybody likes.”

It’s hard to stand up against such arguments; I know this as well as anyone. Yet, there seems to be a message in the fact that progressives liturgists are so profoundly unhappy. I’ve never once seen an article by them giving specific examples of music they are proud of. I would suggest that very little written in the last 40 years can hold a candle to the pieces I’ve been sharing on this blog—and will continue to share—by Morales, Palestrina, and so on. I suggest that we reject the notion that the Church “got it wrong” for all those centuries.


1   Perhaps “emptiness” is a more accurate term.

2   They are, in fact, obsessed with the Extraordinary Form, and can’t stop attacking about it. The EF is on their minds when they wake up each morning and as they fall asleep each night.