Saturday, November 24, 2007

Pope poops on modern music for mass

While the Episcopalians have taken to singing songs by U2 in their services, Pope Benedict XVI is telling Catholics they must return to medieval music in their masses.

The former Joseph Ratzinger is irritated by guitars and tambourines, the London Telegraph reports.

"It is possible to modernize holy music," the Pope said at a concert conducted by Domenico Bartolucci, the director of music at the Sistine Chapel. "But it should not happen outside the traditional path of Gregorian chants or sacred polyphonic choral music."

The pope believes that medieval music "creates the correct ambiance for perceiving God's mystery."

Catholic leaders are divided on the issue.

Cardinal Ersilio Tonini, the Archbishop of Ravenna, said, "Mass is the presence of Christ and the music adds so much more when the harmony allows the mind to transcend the concrete to the divine."

But Cardinal Carlo Furno, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, said it was "better to have guitars on the altar and rock and roll Masses than empty churches." Modern music is a "sign of the vitality of the faith."

A week before the pope's pronouncement, on the website Catholic Answers, a forum member wrote: "Hi everyone. I bought a CD called Tai Chi — Music For Relaxation as a relaxation CD. It is quite clearly New Age music. Would it be a sin to listen to this CD?"

Are people so incapable of thinking for themselves, so afraid of doing something "wrong" or "sinful" that they must resort to asking permission of strangers before they listen to a particular piece of music? (And if so, why didn't she ask before she bought it?)

The responses to her question were even more bizarre than the question itself. Here are a few of the "well-reasoned" comments she received:
  • "As long as you don't believe any of the trash they'll probably try to promote, I doubt it's wrong."

  • "So long as there are no lyrics praising a false god or ideals, I don't see how."

  • "No lyrics? I don't see a problem with the music itself. The money from the CD may be going to things you may not want to support, but I don't think the music itself is sinful/evil."

  • "New Age music is on the same level as Rock, Rap, Country, Jazz, Bluegrass, Gospel, and every other form of anticlassical music. Anticlassical music, regardless of lyrical content or lack thereof, is essentially of the flesh, not the mind.

    "The only music that is truly of the mind, that is truly human, in other words, is Classical music, on the order of Vivaldi, J.S. Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, as distinct from the anticlassical, so-called Romantic works of Wagner, Franz Liszt, and Hector Berlioz.

    "Compare any of the first paragraph's indicated musical offerings, to Bach's St. Matthew Passion or the Jesu Meine Freude. There is a species-difference between the two. The former is animalistic, the latter is humanistic.

    "In other words, New Age music, lyrical or not, is, like all anticlassical music, a vice, like tobacco smoking or drinking alcohol. The only healthy form of music, from a cognitive perspective, is Classical forms."

  • "Although I'm not sure if listening to New Age music is sinful or not I would suggest that it would be highly IMPRUDENT!

    "I used to listen to a LOT of New-Age music, everything from Enigma to Mike Oldfield, because I liked the way it made me feel! It never gave me peace but it did give me a feeling of peace. But it would never last.

    "Try to think of what is happening spiritually when you listen to music; and music does move your spirit. If you listen to Christian music where the musicians, etc. have prayed that whoever listens to their music will be moved closer to God, then anyone who listens to their music will receive grace when listening to it. You receive the 'Spirit' that the musicians intend for you to receive.

    "Same thing happens when New-Agers make music, you pick up the New-Age spirits.

    "If music helps you relax, I would suggest you find some good Christian/Catholic music. I personally like to listen to some of the Taizé music. Very peaceful."

  • "It isn't wrong in itself, but buying these CD's provides financial support for those who promote New Age and other philosophies which are dangerous things to get involved in."

  • "All music involves the flesh, but, not all is of it. Only Romantic and similar composers intend to please the ears through arbitrary sound arrangements. Classical composers compose their works around an idea — a mental construct — that the notes are indicators of. Until one understands this, one knows nothing valuable whatever of Classical music and all music is merely sensuality, all acoustical majesty merely frippery, all musical virtuosity merely egotism."
New age spirits? Animalistic? Anti-classical? Imprudent? Frippery and egotism?

Meanwhile, the Pope believes that if Latin Masses are reintroduced, more Catholics will learn the words to the Gregorian chants that he advocates.

Gregorian chants for your iPod. How 12th century!

Rock on.
It's alright, it's alright, it's alright
She moves in mysterious ways
It's alright, it's alright, it's alright
She moves in mysterious ways
It's alright, it's alright, it's alright

We move through miracle days
Spirit moves in mysterious ways
She moves with it
She moves with it
Lift my days, light up my nights

— From Mysterious Ways by U2

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  1. Of all the things the pope needs to worry about these days why is music any where near his radar?

    Me thinks he needs to concentrate on more pressing matters.


  2. Frippery, of course referring to the Guitar Craft cult founded by King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp. And I use the word cult here with a big wink, though in the past I've argued that some who worship guitar at the feet of Fripp do act in cultish ways. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

  3. Hey, Western music owes everything to the Papacy.

    Pay up residuals or shut up!

  4. What?!

    I guess this means no more "Leavin' On A jet Plane" on Ascension Thursday.

  5. Hmmmm. Let me see....

    Psalm 33:3
    "Sing unto him a new song..."

    Psalm 40:3
    "And he hath put a new song in my mouth..."

    Psalm 96:1
    "O sing unto the LORD a new song..."

    Psalm 144:9
    "I will sing a new song unto thee, O God..."

    Psalm 149:1
    "Sing unto the LORD a new song..."

    Isaiah 42:10
    "Sing unto the LORD a new song..."

    Revelation 5:9
    "And they sung a new song..."

    Revelation 14:3
    "And they sung as it were a new song..."

    So the Pope wants to stay with the old standards and not embrace new music? Maybe the Pope doesn't read the Bible?

  6. Interesting.

    I, for one, don't listen to music. Period. Even in the car, I prefer to conduct business by hands-free cell phone than listen to the cacophony of the "music" (and mindless chatter) on the radio, "satellite" radio that comes free with my car, or the many CDs given me by well-meaning idiots who think they can convince me that music is noble, refreshing or enhancing to my productivity.

    I find music agitating and unproductive. As a Catholic, Mass would move much faster if it didn't have any music or chanting. The Pope should outlaw all church music so we can all get on with our lives.

    Death to music. It's long overdue.

    Fraternally yours,
    The Libertarian

  7. Well OBVIOUSLY Il Papa never listened to Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit In The Sky". I might still be Catholic if they played that at Mass.

    Traveling Maqn

  8. The Pope... let him talk.

    These commentators: Stupid people trying to rationalize their narrow-minded taste and thus declaring themselves mainstream personified, basically showing that they have absolutely no clue about music.

    Decide for yourself how suitable, judged from within the mindset of these oh! so Catholic Philistines, it might be to listen to the music of

    J.S.Bach: orthodox Lutheran;
    Johannes Brahms: staunch Protestant -- besides his Requiem and a few works for organ, little interest in sacred music;

    and of
    Franz Liszt: Catholic, later a priest (and a Freemason!), composer of a lot of sacred music;
    Hector Berlioz: Catholic, composer of one of the grandest Requiems in the history of music.

    As Bro:. J. W. von Goethe put it:
    "The Philistine not only ignores all conditions of life which are not his own but also demands that the rest of mankind should fashion its mode of existence after his own."

    Nothing to add besides: Lord, drop a bit of brain from up there...

    I'm going to have a beer now (even if Jesus had not turned water into wine... I don't see why drinking alcohol could possibly be something like "sinful") and listen to an old Oscar Peterson record -- yes, on Sunday! Cheers, good people!

    Br:. Ludwig

  9. Anonomous ( the first one)above quoted several Bible verses referring to the so called "new song" that should be sung to the Lord. This is the standard argument given by rock/pop-fans who want to worship with the products of music commercialism in the Mass of all things. Not to speak of the non-Catholic traditions, who brought much rubbishy music into their "services" in the first place.

    I'm not a Catholic (yet), but I have heard this silly, uninformed argument for the past forty years from,err... kids and teenagers who have not the vaguest idea of Biblical exegesis. The "new song" the Bible mentions refers symbolically, allegorically to the believer who has been "made new", who has been transformed and can now worship the Holy God in a new manner with his whole life and spirit and mind. The song of his life, as it were, has been renewed through the grace of God (in the Old Testament Jewish history) and the grace of the Trinity/Christ in the period of the New Testament. The entire Revelations is written metaphorically, so why do you suddenly take the "new song" literally to include - of all things! - 21st century non-liturgical MUSIC and "songs"?? I can assure you the Pope - who is a fantastic theologian and scholar - knows EXACTLY what all these references to "new songs" mean. If you should ever feel inclined to learn something, read his book "The Spirit of the Liturgy".

    My I add that millions of believers, also outside of the Catholic church, are rejoicing in the direction the Pope is taking. He is forcing no one ( NB), he is just trying to bring the appropriate music back to worship in his church. If you read his discourses about liturgy and not only onesided media reports, you will understand what it is all about and that he never meant every sound in the Mass to be Gregorian chant.

    But there is a time and a place for all things. Rock and pop-like stuff have its place outside of the liturgy. The philosophy behind this is as old as Christendom itself and for very good reasons, especially in our times.

    I can't see the Catholic Church losing members because of appropriate and beautiful sacred music. I would rather say that the thousands who had stopped going to Mass because of the way it has been TRIVIALISED and made ugly, yes ugly, in the last decades, will now return.

    This incredible and top class Pope has won at least one new convert to his Church: me.

    I've had enough of the noise and ugliness in the Protestant denominations.

  10. Why is music such a big issue with people? I encounter so many churches that get so ruffled when you discuss music, let alone the notion of any change to music. In fact, I know a church that will never allow ANY stringed insturments inside their walls, yet they got very defensive when I pointed out the number of strings in a Piano.

    This has nothing to do with musical style, but of people being afraid to accept that succeeding generations are always seen as rebellious to the previous one. People continue to put on blinders and are not willing to recognize that there are people young and old who despirately want to be reached and develop a relationship with Jesus Christ, yet are rebellious to traditional methods of church. Tradition in churches, just like tradition in Freemasonry, is something that is absolutely important to keep and return to, but in maintaining that tradition, we must also understand that there will always be people who will rebel against tradition. We need to be compassionate, loving, and understanding of their needs and desire.

    This does not mean we should pander, but we must live as models for Christ to be effective in spreading His words.

  11. As Pope of my neighborhood, I urge all congregants gathered therein to listen to the only true music: Scandinavian black metal.

  12. Gregorian chant is cool, but it doesn't always translate like U2.

  13. What is a Mass without Iron ButterIfly's Inna Godda Devita anyway? That's the best Simpson's episode out of them all!


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