WO THINGS HAPPEN at every Mass: (1) JESUS CHRIST is made present on the Altar; (2) JESUS CHRIST is offered to His Heavenly Father. Catholics in former times had “Sunday clothes” worn only to Mass. During the mass apostasy (pardon the pun) of the 1960s, some attempted to “de-sacralize” the Mass. In response, the CONGREGATION OF SACRED RITES condemned (29 dec 1966) “travesties of worship, springing from mere private initiative” which “tend inevitably to desacralize the liturgy, the purest expression of the worship the Church offers to God.” Even Annibale Bugnini was forced to admit, during a press conference (4 jan 1967), that the Church condemned “music which is profane, thus not worthy of the place of worship; and worldly, that is, of a style whose performance requires or seems to require movements, gestures, and attitudes unworthy of a sacred service.” Here’s one of the actual songs sung at the parish where I grew up (in the 1990s):
* Mp3 Download • Typical “Church” Song from Jeff’s Youth
—Sung in a rich, suburban, Novus ordo Catholic church in the 1990s.
Wife Gone! • Even as a youngster, I could “sense” such music was totally inappropriate for Mass. Indeed, I had to make sure my wife was out of the house when I made that recording (above) because if she heard me singing that goofy nonsense she’d tell me: “You’re clearly not working; come hold the baby.”
Paul Inwood • Many years later, I found out that “hymn” was composed by a man named PAUL INWOOD, whom I wrote about in 2015 when he praised the 1973 ICEL translation for “concealing” the true meaning of the prayers. According to Inwood: “If we had known what the prayers really said, we would not have wanted to pray them any longer.” A friend sent this recent screenshot showing a statement by Inwood riddled with basic theological errors. Notice how Inwood says nary a word (!) about the SECOND PERSON OF THE DIVINE TRINITY becoming present on the Altar. If that’s really what Paul Inwood believes about the Mass, should anyone be surprised at the type of music he produced for it? Suddenly it all makes sense.
“CONGREGATIONAL BOOKLET” • Rather than cursing the darkness, let’s light a candle! I recently released all seven (7) movements of my Mass setting in Honor of Saint Noël Chabanel for the Ordinary Form. It involves your CONGREGATION, your CANTRIX, and your CHOIR. My setting was designed to be extremely brief. Since it’s vernacular, it works for choirmasters whose priests have forbidden the traditional lingua sacra of the church. Mr. Seth Bauer requested the following booklet for his congregation. I thought readers might appreciate seeing it:
* PDF Download • “CONGREGATIONAL BOOKLET”
—Mass setting in Honor of Saint Noël Chabanel (Ordinary Form).
I hope my Mass setting, although relatively simple, is adequately sacred (“set apart”) in style. Rehearsal videos for each movement are available free of charge here.
Is He Proud • Am I proud of my Mass setting? On the one hand, I studied the THESAURUS MUSICAE SACRAE for decades in order to produce it. But on the other hand, we recently welcomed a new baby into our family. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Native Americans with whom Father Noël Chabanel attempted to share the Good News. In those days, what was it like when a Native American had a baby? There was no electricity, no internet, no iPad, no plumbing, no supermarket, no clothing store, no telephone, and no hospital. They were alone out in the woods. After Father Isaac Jogues surrendered voluntarily (!) to comfort the captured Hurons, he was scheduled to be burned alive on Good Friday. How could they keep track of the liturgical season? Every day for months they were placed on torture platforms and slowly burned, cut, abused, hung from cords, and sliced with knives. How could they keep track of what day it was? I mention all these things for a reason. Even though I worked really hard to produce (and record) my Mass setting, a Native American taking care of her baby for a single day probably did more work than I’ve done in my entire life. That’s also why it’s puzzling to see some current church leaders suggest a softening (or elimination) of God’s Commandments because “life in today’s age has special difficulties.”
Article Summary • When I speak of “goofy, undignified music at Mass,” people frequently demand that I cite examples. In today’s article, I recorded a “hymn” popular when I was growing up in the 1990s. I did so in the context of releasing a congregational booklet for a Mass setting I recently released. It’s worth pointing out that I do not condemn people who have sung inappropriate music at Mass. Only God can judge them. I’m sure most had the best of intentions. On the other hand, nobody has been able to persuade me I have an obligation to “hide” or “cover up” or “stay silent about” what I’ve experienced at Mass. Another way to put this would be: This is not a joke to me. I feel called by God to try to improve the church music situation. I’m not doing this because I’m bored. If we really believe what we say we believe, we should not sing goofy music at the holy Mass.