OW IS IT POSSIBLE that all the good priests—and there are tons of them!—have not been converted to the authentic music of the Catholic Church? Does anyone really believe most priests want goofy, uninspired, secular tunes like this, accompanied by rhythmic instruments such as drums? Does anyone really believe most priests feel such music is appropriate for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? I don’t believe that for a second.
The Real Problem: I suspect most priests have never heard decent choral music in real life. Choral music—let’s say, as presented by a choir of 30+ singers—is something physical and must be experienced in real life. I suspect that when priests have heard plainsong, it was sung very slowly and came across as boring…instead of being a delight. I suspect that when priests have heard polyphony, it was probably performed badly—or perhaps by a small group of soloists rather than a full choir (with choral vowels and proper blending). Many priests weren’t given the privilege of musical training when they were young; our culture no longer values it.
One Way To Start: In addition to plainsong and polyphony, an excellent way to build strong choirs is by utilizing excellent hymnody. These melodies teach your choir members how to listen to one another—and they’re a delight to sing. However, make sure it’s Catholic hymnody, not Protestant stuff. The best source by far is the Saint Brébeuf hymnal, published by SOPHIA INSTITUTE PRESS. There are hundreds of rehearsal videos (produced exclusively for the Brébeuf hymnal) which are free online. Everyone should take advantage of these!
Here’s an ancient Catholic hymn (Ad Coenam Agni Providi) translated into English. This hymn is appropriate during Holy Communion:
Rehearsal videos for each individual voice await you at #036.
Everyone should be
taking advantage of those
free rehearsal videos—
for each individual voice.
Common Melodies: Once your choir members learn that hymn (SALZBURG)—taking advantage of the rehearsal videos for each individual voice—they can sing 4-5 other hymns in the Brébeuf hymnal because it’s one of the “common hymn melodies” (which we have already spoken about). Vladimir Horowitz used to say: “Music is already difficult; why make it harder? Better to make it easier…” Don’t feel guilty sending your choir members those rehearsal videos. They save time, and you can use that time speaking about choir procedures, working on choral vowels, working on proper diction, teaching them to read music notation, or in 1,000 other ways.
The Revolution Has Begun: Some Catholic authors gladly write a zillion articles complaining about the terrible state of the liturgy in the Church Church; yet they won’t lift a finger in real life to make a difference. Let’s make a difference! The revolution starts today! Let’s go out and share the treasures of the Catholic Faith! Let’s form more choirs! Let’s train more singers!
Haters Gonna Hate: Don’t pay attention to those who complain about the sacred liturgy. Your job is not to entertain; nor is your job to please everyone. Some people are evil. Some people are dangerous. Some people are foolish. Some people haven’t matured yet. Some people haven’t yet been converted to Jesus Christ in their hearts. Some people haven’t yet discovered how beautiful the sacred liturgy is. Don’t worry about the naysayers and the “Negative Nancy” types; hold fast to our holy traditions! If you please everyone, you’re doing something wrong.
We Know What’s Right: Some people say they hate Chopin. Some people say they hate Bach. Some idiots say Palestrina and Guerrero and Victoria were “not very great.” Some people say the Gothic Cathedrals are not beautiful. Don’t pay attention to them. I wish I could say that everyone is a nice person. I wish I could say that everyone has the right intentions. I wish I could say that everyone’s opinion is correct. I wish I could say that immoral people (adulterers, liars, murderers, thieves) don’t exist—but they do! Do what’s right, say your prayers, offer each day to Jesus Christ, and hold your head high!