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June 23, 2005



I submitted "Immaculate Mary".

Der Tommissar


Why don't you just go into a field and throw a red flag in front of a herd of bulls while you're at it!

Michael Shea

Well I was going to nominate "Here I am Lord" because this insipid little tune was the one that finally drove me to investigate where all the horrible music at mass originates.....

To be honest would they even know what "In Paradisum" is?



Ah, but it's a positive survey. And I would hope respondents would be respectful of that. And I've no reason to think they wouldn't.


To bad there isn't a question for "Which songs have not inspired you?" or "Which songs do you never want to hear again?"
Of course, this is a box for comments...


And we all know that there can never be another composer of sacred music because they all lived 300-500 years ago, right?

Tim Ferguson

thanks for the link Amy - I, too, hope people can be positive and constructive, rather than entirely negative.
I submitted "Adoro Te Devote", which had a huge impact on my faith development.

Der Tommissar

And we all know that there can never be another composer of sacred music because they all lived 300-500 years ago, right?

I can't say for sure, but it's sure looking that way.

And I picked "Tantum Ergo" by St. Thomas Aquinas. Reason, "I learned deeply meditating on an aspect of the Catholic Faith, coupled with piercing insight, can result in timeless liturgical music."

That was positive.

If I wanted to be negative, I would have said, "A fat medieval bookworm pwnz you, Liturigcal Music People."

But I didn't. I'm all about being positive for the next forty minutes or so.

Samuel J. Howard

Faure and Durufle (accents ommitted) certianly didn't live that long ago.


I submitted the "Magnificat" from the old St Gregory hymnal. Singing it in choir in grade school was the first time I was really transported by music and felt in touch with the infinite.

I drug it out and had my choir learn it for both of my parents' funerals about 5 years ago. Everyone in the church was just stunned by the beauty of the music.

Interestingly, a professionally-trained soprano friend just could not learn the tempo. I guess that ebb and flow of chant has to be in your bones from a young age to do properly. The younger folks in my choir have trouble with it, too. The way this music is shoe-horned into modern music notation, they keep thinking there is going to be 4/4 or 3/4 time and screw up the timing.

The old neumes were perfect for music that flows like waves, but too hard to learn at a later age. Too bad.

John Cox

I've struggled with this same false dichotomy in the Episcopal Church -- classical [or "tradtional"] music vs contemporary music. (I don't have a musical background or training myself.)

At some point, every bit of music was "contemporary." Another way to look at it is that Bach's Sunday contatas were the "praise music" of his day. There's a lot of bad classical and bad contemporary music.

The issue is: what specific song or hymn or whatever gives expression to the Liturgy's profoundness, both its profound solemnity and its profound joy?

In my few visits to the local Catholic parish, I've not seen much evidence of either. One Sunday, I went from a one-guitar morning service at the Episcopal church I still call home, to a FOUR-guitar evening mass. It was...depressing.

Peter Nixon

I did pick something traditional: Pange Lingua Gloriosi, which I heard for the first time at a Holy Thursday mass in Washington, DC in 1994. Born in 1966 and raised in a parish that favored contemporary liturgical music, I had never heard it before. It was sung, without accompaniment, during the transportation of the Blessed Sacrament. The relatively small church was packed to overflowing and the only light was from candlelight. It brought tears to my eyes.

Now here is the interesting part: the parish where this occurred was Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown. HTC was the site of the famous "circus mass" from the early 1970s that still gets so much play. HTC continues to be a place where the possibilities of contemporary liturgy are explored. But it is also a place where certain traditions have not been forgotten. It's been 7 years since I was a parishioner there and I still miss the place from time to time.

RP Burke

For me it is the chant for the washing of the feet, "Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est," specifying the chant version (though the Taize version has a great deal of merit, its English verses as published by GIA are weak in comparison to the chant's verses). Anyone who has sung or directed the Durufle setting of this, as I have, will have it in her or his bones forever. (Second place is the Requiem Mass, the only high Mass most of us heard Back In The Day.)

In the comments, I warned them not to think of the pile of anecdotes they will receive as anything resembling the data they would need to generate a profile of the typical parish or the U.S. church. You'd get a very different set of answers if you sent the same survey to the American Guild of Organists, for example. The sample bias is so profound in any Internet "survey" that its utility for anything other than a gathering of stories is nil.


How about weirding them out -- packing their ballot box with votes for "Kum Ba Yah"?

RP Burke

One other comment about musicians and the situations many of themselves find themselves in.

Many of them do battle on a daily or weekly basis with parish liturgists, who have varying levels of musical knowledge (and a large proportion with none at all!) but a very large sense of themselves and their authority. They get hassled by bridezillas and mothers-of-the-bride-from-hell at weddings, by bereaved and funeral directors at funerals, by the loudest member of the choir, by a musically illiterate director of religious education who knows Just What The Children Need for first communion or confirmation, and and and.

We go back to the three judgments: pastoral, liturgical, and musical, and the hard fact that the bishops took a walk on musical judgment. After one semester as a parish choir director I swore I would never do it again, and I have not.


Submitted "Salve Regina".


Faure and Durufle (accents ommitted) certianly didn't live that long ago.

Nor did Morten Lauridsen, a living American composer of sacred music. His O Magnum Mysterium is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard. As far as modern sacred music, I think it is up there with the Kyrie from Durufle's Requiem.

Even so, I will be submitting Palestrina's Sicut Cervus. I was awestruck the first time I heard it. I never weary of hearing it.


"And we all know that there can never be another composer of sacred music because they all lived 300-500 years ago, right?"

Not at all. I just wouldn't call the simplistic, plastic, three chord, feel good compositions of the overly relied upon organized crime Triad of Haas, Haugen, and Landry, as "sacred."


BTW I too submitted Salve Regina.

Albertus M

I kind of think of it as Darwinism in action: if there is a hymn from 500 years ago that people still like to sing, then there is probably something deeply beautiful and meaningful in that hymn that still appeals to people in our completely different place and time.

Of course there may be decent church music written today, but your typical piece written in Oregon in 1983 hasn't gone through the same weeding-out process. So it's a lot to expect that it has much to say to those without a lot in common with those 80's Oregonians.

Cheeky Lawyer

Zhou, right on. I love the sung Salve Regina.


I attended the National NPM Conference in July 2001 at Washington, DC. It was a fantastic experience being in a conference room singing with thousands of others enthusiastically singing praise to our Lord. It really inspired in me the desire to compose some sacred music. Hearing a lot of disparaging remarks afterward about how contemporary music could never be sacred music kind of cooled that ardor. I hope to be able to attend another National Conference one day though.


Many of them do battle on a daily or weekly basis with parish liturgists, who have varying levels of musical knowledge (and a large proportion with none at all!) but a very large sense of themselves and their authority

And sometimes the problem is just the opposite. You have good parish liturgists who know what the Mass is and should be. They struggle with musicians who are talented, but clueless. The kind who sing a Good Friday type song on Easter Sunday; who don't know that you should sing the Gloria (especially during the Easter Season); who, with great gusto, sing the Alleluia on the first Sunday of Lent...

Not all "liturgists" are bad guys. I wince every time a liturgist is criticized in these comment boxes.

RP Burke

Albertus, we're already starting to see some of that weeding-out process. Of the huge pile of stuff the St. Louis Jesuits produced in the 1970s, there are about five or six that have had any staying power. Execrable as it is, "Hail Mary Gentle Woman" is about all that is left of Carey Landry's output that remains in common circulation. So give us 20 years and Marty Haugen will be a mere footnote -- maybe.


Also submitted Palestrina's Sicut Cervus. Brings back like nothing else the sense of longing for God of the early days of my conversion to Catholicism.

Which happened, by the way, in Vienna (Austria) where I went to a parish that had Mozart and Haydn Masses most Sundays(with choir and orchestra.) What a rude awakening when I returned to the U.S.!

RP Burke

Meggan, in general I don't disagree with you. Many parishes still think they can get music for free, so they rely on untrained and ignorant volunteers. One of the purposes of NPM is to help educate these folks so that they would understand a little bit of what they're trying to do. AGO assumes a certain level of musicianship, and the resultant void is part of why NPM exists. But training as a liturgist does not necessarily entail any training in music beyond being able to quote from some church documents -- leaving the liturgist as incompetent as the musicians.

Liturgists get criticized not so much because they disagree with trained musicians on the value of the music they prefer, but more because of arrogance and authoritarianism.

Paul Smith

Holy, Holy, Holy: I first heard it on a retreat and just loved it. It's one of the few hymns I sing by myself outside Mass.

John Murray

Oh well, too late, I submitted a joke entry ("Here I am Lord"). Now I feel guilty, there's one Catholic pastime that hasn't gone by the wayside.

But if I were to submit a real one, it would be Byrd's Mass for 4 Voices. Wow.


A music director has to be a liturgist, has to know what the church teaches about music and liturgy, has to know how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Not all of the wheat is old. Not all of the chaff is new. Time will indeed tell which contemporary songs remain.

I'll add my "amen" to the comment that Bach was once "Contemporary Christian." You've got to start somewhere! I find it curious, though, that 18th century music is considered "traditional" in a 2,000 year old church whose musical roots go back to the psalms (some of which sing of praising God with flute and tamborine and 10-stringed lyre -- what does that sound like?).

We music folk have to deal with parishes that want their church music the way radio is structured. We have a classical station, an oldies station, a modern rock station on the radio dial, and people in turn seem to want niche format Masses as well. When we try to compile an eclectic hymn list for a single Mass that covers several styles, we often find that we please no one and antagonize many (even though, to quote a St. Louis Jesuit paraphrase of St. Paul, we as a church are "Gentile or Jew, servant or free, woman or man no more").

Please keep your heart in the right place. One piece of music may speak to you more distinctly than it speaks to me. Personal taste is fine; just label it as such.


I know I've read a few comments about how scandalized people were when some of Mozart's and Bach's music was first played. ("Too modern!") I suspect there was some bad liturgical music being played in those days as well, but time has erased those songs. Just as time will erase the songs of the 1980s that don't have what it takes to become classic. We can't know for certain what all music was like in Churches in the past based only on what has come down to us. We can make good guesses, but they are only guesses. It's very likely there was the equivalent of a Mozart-type composer who created some piece of music that everyone found so modern and unpleasant that it was played a few times at his parish and then disappeared. When we decide that the hymns that have lasted were the only hymns that were ever played, we are not being accurate in our views of history. Take novels as another art form example. We have the novels of Dickens and Austen and Bronte and others but that doesn't mean those were the only novels being written or read at that time. Those were the "good" ones that have lasted, but for every Austen, there were at least two Austen wanna be's whose novels were so horrible they died quiet and merciful deaths. To assume that such a process didn't happen in liturgical music is naive.


I submitted Ave Verum Corpus by Mozart, although it's really hard to narrow it down to just one song!

David L Alexander

"Now here is the interesting part: the parish where this occurred was Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown..."

I was in the traditional choir at HT in the early and mid-80s, and was on the staff as a sacristan in the early 90s. Like many urban parishes run by religious orders, HT has long attracted the misfits of Catholic suburbia -- and not always the "liberal" ones. At least one of the Sunday Masses retains the trappings of traditional worship, albeit in a latent Anglican sort of way. And it was the one place where I got to sing the great choral works of our Catholic heritage.

There is definitely an pseudo-intellectual cabal that calls many of the shots, but they can't be everywhere.

Paula R. Robinson, MD

Wow, I'm glad I submitted an entry before I read these or I would have been shamed into plugging a Latin song. (Most likely Veni Creator Spiritu.) I picked "Seek ye first". Hey, I can sing it.


I second the "Magnum" by Lauridsen.

The dislike of most of the St Louis Jesuit stuff and others is not that it is contemporary. Sometimes the lyrics are just way too inappropriate for Mass or border on being contrary to Catholic teachings. Also, there is the issue of using the approved translations of Scripture instead of doing violence to the language.

I'm not sure of this, but I think there is also a problem with the songs where Jesus or God is talking in the first person - which is OK if a Psalm but not OK if it's a made up dialogue. Someone correct me if that isn't a real problem & I'm only hearing choir directors' personal likes and dislikes in that regard.

I cringe sometimes at Protestant hymns that go on and on about being washed in the blood of the Lame. I like Blessed Assurance, but probably it is more about "being saved" than really fits a Catholic Mass setting.

There is a song for kids from I think "Glory and Praise" about putting your troubles in your shoes and leaving them at the door, tell me something good about yourself, etc. which I thought was really cool. Then I started thinking about whether it was really appropriate for a Mass. It could have been something from American Idol and would be better sung at a CYO meeting or something.


I don't know why the whole genre issue causes such apoplexy with people. Our Cathedral has the most brilliant and simple solution. All the masses use the same music, but vary in instrumental and vocal accompaniment. The 7 & 9 masses on Sunday just use organ and a small choir. The noon mass goes all-out and incorporates sacred choral music along with the congregational singing. Classical guitar accompanies the 5:30 mass and has a soothing, contemplative feel. And thus they achieve variety and unity. Noon mass is standing-room only every week, with lots of young people. In a musically discriminating town like Austin, of course people are going to be drawn to beauty and excellence. Of course, St. Mary's is one of the few parishes in the country that PAYS its section leaders. Admittedly, that's a sacrifice and a choice.

I myself voted for WAM's Ave Verum Corpus. I would put "I heard the voice of Jesus say" for my 2nd choice.


Dear Paula,

I always smile when I see/hear Catholics singing "Seek Ye First." That was from the Maranatha Singers of Maranatha Music, part of the "Jesus People" of the 1970's.

It was one of the first songs I learned after my conversion experience at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa in the 1970's, and it was Pastor Chuck Smith himself who made an honest Christian out of me by (re-)baptizing me in the Pacific Ocean at Corona del Mar beach. We sang "Seek Ye First" a lot. Of course the lyrics are right from the Gospel, but the music is clearly 1970's folk, think long hair on the guys, women in long, loose dresses, with flowers in their hair, etc., all sitting around on the floor rocking back and forth with arms lifted up....

I was amused when I found it in the OCP song collections, and also sung at my local Catholic parishes!

Charles A.

Tomas Luis de la Victoria, "Improperia" (Reproaches), specifically the beginning "Popule meus."

Ed the Roman

I would like to third the Lauridsen. It is astonishing, and was given to me for Christmas by my Lutheran brother-in-law.

Zhou: at what point were you (I hope) baptized with fresh water? If memory serves me salt water is invalid matter.

ICBR (I could be rong)

Ed the Roman

Whoops. In fact I WAS wrong.

Barb N

I wrote "AVe Verum" by Mozart....fat lot of good that will do, but whatever...


Another vote for Pange Lingua.


Dear Ed the Roman,

I was baptized in a Catholic Church as a young child, an event of which I have no memory, after my mother begged, pleaded, cajoled, etc. my father to cooperate with a priest in having their marriage blessed. As I mentioned elsewhere, my start in Catholic life ended abruptly (but not until after First Communion) when my parents divorced when I was 11.

This (re-)baptism as a "newly saved Christian" among the Maranatha! folks was at age 17, less than five months after I moved out of the house of my anti-Catholic father into my own apartment.

When I came back to the Catholic Church, with my wife, at about age 40, I called my mother (who was dying of cancer) and asked if she could help me find evidence of my Catholic baptism. The best she could do was remember the general area of greater Los Angeles where it happened. After email inquiries with other Catholic friends in that part of the state, and letters to a couple of parishes asking them to please look for me in a five year range of their records, I finally turned up.

I made a slight adjustment in my way of thinking. Rather than saying that I was saved and baptized in 1976, I now say I was baptized in 1963 and had a conversion experience in 1976. And I was confirmed in 1999!


Another vote for Ave Verum Corpus, although I almost went for Credo III.


Panis Angelicus at communion.


Tantum Ergo for me.

Tom C

"And we all know that there can never be another composer of sacred music because they all lived 300-500 years ago, right?"

Well poetry has effectively been a dead art for over half a century. Perhaps liturgical music is in even worse shape. The first is a certain sign of cultural decay. The later even more so. Perhaps in a century or two someone will be able to compose decent liturgical music. Until then, lets stick with Gregorian Chant and polyphony. I’m in no hurry. The rest of the dreck composed since the 60's out to be dumped in a land fill.


Submitted: O Esca Viatorum

Michael Shea

Ok - I confess I am a bitter and angry man LOL! - so I will submit Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium also - which is so beautiful I am almost in tears thinking about it...

Mary Russell

The gloria from Mozart's mass in C major. We sang it in my parish church in Greensboro, NC for the Easter Vigil when I lived there.

Karen Marie Knapp

"I Know that my Redeemer Lives" [aka: In my body I shall look on God, my Saviour]; I think it's by Robert Fabing, and the lyric, of course, is super-traditional. I want this sung at my funeral when that time comes.

I'm prepping for the NPM convention right now --- I'm volunteering at it all five days as my birthday present to myself. Hope to be free of volunteer duties to go to a few workshops, esp. the ones on chant. Come next Saturday, I'll probably be utterly exhausted and have a flock of pressure sores, but it will have been worth it!

karen marie


I cringe sometimes at Protestant hymns that go on and on about being washed in the blood of the Lame.

I hereby nominate Julia for the Inspired Typo Of The Day Award. That line has more vivid imagery in it than the complete works of Marty Haugen.


I submitted "Holy is His Name" - John Michael Talbot.

A few years ago, I heard him sing it at the SCRC Convention in Anaheim, CA. I am a singer (an alto) and love to harmonize. The beauty of this song in harmony really makes me feel the presence of God when I hear it and sing it.

There are so many "nothing songs" that our parish sings, and I just wish they would since more songs such as Holy is His Name. I think the people need to feel the presence of God more often in their lives, and music is a good way to start the process.

I believe that the music sets the tone for the service.


I gave them the Dies Irae from the Mass for the Dead, Liber Usualis of 1935.

We should always bear in mind the consequences of sin and the 4 Last Things.

As to the "I" music--the Psalms were written by David. Perfectly appropriate for a choir or congregation to sing.

However, for a choir or congretation to assume the Voice of God is, IMHO, patently ridiculous--if not arrogant in the extreme.

In brief, I think your choir director is correct.

Sherry Weddell

The Exultet from the Easter Vigil (blew me away the first time my Proddie ears took it in and drew me to Vigil every after)

O Sacred Head Surrounded - sung during Tenebrae at our Dominican parish in Seattle

the Lamentations of Jeremiah sung during Tenebrae

Be Thou my Vision

In Heavenly Love Abiding

All Creatures of Our God and King

I also love "Holy is His Name" by JM Talbot


I don't quite understand the objection about "washed in the blood of the Lamb," although I realize that Catholics are more interested in drinking it, as in John 6:53-56

Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.

Hymns like "Washed in the Blood of the Lamb" make allusion to the Israelite practice of sprinkling the blood of the sacrifice to make things holy, and are based on Rev. 1:5b-6 and 7:13-17

To him who loves us and has freed us 5 from our sins by his blood,
who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever (and ever). Amen.

Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, "Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?"
I said to him, "My lord, you are the one who knows." He said to me, "These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
"For this reason they stand before God's throne and worship him day and night in his temple. The one who sits on the throne will shelter them.
They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them.
For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

This sprinkling of the blood is also mentioned in CCC 433:

The name of the Saviour God was invoked only once in the year by the high priest in atonement for the sins of Israel, after he had sprinkled the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies with the sacrificial blood. the mercy seat was the place of God's presence. When St. Paul speaks of Jesus whom "God put forward as an expiation by his blood", he means that in Christ's humanity "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself."

There is also Cowper's hymn, There is a Fountain Filled with Blood (drawn from Emmanuel's veins)" make allusion to Zechariah 13:1 "On that day there shall be open to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness."

The Church also teaches a "baptism of blood" per CCC 1258:

The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.


Thanks, Sonetka.

I just now saw the typo.

I wish I could claim it was intentional.

You know, I really like "Old Rugged Cross". And I think quoting Jesus in calling sinners home in "Softly and Tenderly" brings tears to my eyes. Neither of those are in Latin.

john c

they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb

(don't try this at home)


"Iesu Dulcis Memoria"

hmmmm ...


Alma Redemptoris Mater can't be beat.

Sandra Miesel

"Holy God, We Praise Thy Name" was the closing hymn for almost every Mass in my childhood parish.


Liturgists get criticized... because of arrogance and authoritarianism.

Again, I cringe at this and take some offense to it.

And yes, I do realize that some liturgists are arrogant and authoritarian so I don't need to be reassured of that. But some aren't this way.

Liturgist is not a bad word.


Pablo Casals, a polyphonic composer, died in the 1960s and at my college our polyphonic choir sang a 4-part motet by Janacek, a Cistercian monk who died in 1973.

There is good music out there, it's just not in OCP.

I submitted the Faure requiem as my vote.


"panis angelicus" was my pick.

wish they had it so you could read the submissions placed by everyone.

RP Burke

Meggan, I first heard the joke with the punch line "You can negotiate with a terrorist" 20 years ago.


A stunner from the past generation that gets little airtime, as it were:

Morning Glory, Starlit Sky

The text comes from a well-regarded book, "Love's Endeavour, Loves Expense", by the late Anglican canon, WH Vanstone.

The best setting is by the former organist of St Paul's in London, Barry Rose (Oxford University Press).

But a decent setting can be found at 587 in Worship III.

Should be sung, at least, on Christ the King.

The text in the hymn settings is an adaptation from the text in the book (with the author's approval, but his estate was reportedly making problems regarding new settings of the adapted text).

And in England is considered one of the great hymn texts of the last generation.

And I agree.

The last stanza (fair use):

"Here is God: no monarch He, throned in easy state to reign; Here is God, Whose arms of Love, aching -- spent -- the world sustain."

This gem will endure.


Ave Verum Corpus by William Byrd
Ubi Caritas by Durufle
Little Lamb by Taverner

By the way, Taverner is still alive today for those who only like music by alive composers.

Rocco Palmo

What a tough question.... My God...

If I could narrow it to five -- and I'd have to -- these would be my "Desert Island Hymns":

5. Pange Lingua (goosebumps every time)
4. In Remembrance
3. Old 100th
2. All Creatures...
1. Taste and See

And that's not even including "God, We Praise You," "Christ is Made the Sure Foundation" and "I Vow to Thee, My Country"....

Mila Morales

Mozart's Ave Verum got my vote. But I could have gone for the chanted Pange Lingua... So much to choose from, as attested here, and yet we hardly ever hear any of it.


If a liturgist is doing a good job, nobody notices anything but the liturgy. Unfortunately, many of us have at some point had our attention called to them. Since this is usually the first time we realized there was such a thing as a liturgist, liturgists should not be surprised that they scare the heck out of us!

"The Whimper of Whipped Dogs"....


All of Tallis', Hildegarde's and Palestrina's work.

Sean Gallagher


I second the Byrd 'Ave Verum Corpus.' It blows away Mozart's setting.

When I was a grad student at Notre Dame and was in its Liturgical Choir, we'd sing the Byrd anthem on Good Friday. In the solemn context of the day, it was quite profound.

Sean Gallagher

The introduction to the survey noted that the results will be published sometime in the fall. I wonder how it will be published? In a journal? On the internet? A combination of the two?

By the way, I voted for 'Adoro Te Devote' and said in the bottom comment box that two important principles in liturgical music should be that the text should be good, true, and beautiful and that the music should serve the text and make it easily sung.


I put down "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" (19th century) Quiet, serious, and joyous, good music, great words...I figured they wanted something for congregational singing in English. It blows me away. "O Magnum Mysterium" for choir at Christmas. Some Tavener, the Derufle Holy Week arrangements, "O My People, What Have I Done To You" (in English, Greek, and Latin--one of the Palestrina Reproaches) for Good Friday. And for my funeral: Dies Irae Dies Illa . . . Why do they only let us choose one!!! It's really hard!!! Love most the commenters' choices, too . . .


Ye Sons and Daughters.
All Creatures of our God and King.
Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones.
My Soul in Stillness Waits.
The Lord Hears the Cries of the Poor.
Go up to the Altar of God.


O Lord, I Am Not Worthy

O Lord, I am not worthy,
That thou shouldst come to me.
But speak the words of comfort,
My spirit healed shall be.
And humbly I'll receive Thee,
The Bridegroom of my soul,
No more by sin to grieve Thee,
Or fly Thy sweet control.
O Sacrament most holy,
O Sacrament divine!
All praise and all thanksgiving,
Be every moment Thine!


Panis Angelicus.

Albertus M

The hymn that gives me chills every time I hear it is Let all mortal flesh keep silence. The melody and words combine to draw a wonderful glimpse of Heaven for me -- entrancingly beautiful in a way that pierces the heart.

For non-hymns, it would have to be Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus." Wow.

David Kubiak

What a tremendous 'liturgy committee' the people who have responded here would make!

Marco the Triumphalisatic Papist

Holy God, We Praise Thy Name, but sung in German.

Victory (The Strife is O'er), by Palestrina, sung in Latin.

Panis Angelicus.

Salve Regina.

Jesus Christ is Risen Today, played really loud with liberal use of brilliant reed stops and trompette-en-chamade; it raises the hair on the back of my neck every time.


I submitted Holy God We Praise Thy Name. This song really takes me out of this world. The song is simple and the lyrics truly praise worthy. In singing this song we are praising God, not ourselves for our own greatness.

In the comment section I thanked the surveyors for asking. I also mentioned that as a woman, I get offended when male references to God or mankind are REMOVED from songs. It sends a message that women are stupid and don't understand the "brotherhood of mankind".


I will second "O Sacred Head Surrounded," but my submission to the survey is "Beautiful Savior." I have loved that song ever since I was a Southern Baptist PK, and becoming Catholic has only deepened my appreciation of it.

Rev. James L. Maranki

I picked Ave Verum Corpus by Mozart...

Rev. James L. Maranki

I submitted Ave Verum Corpus by Mozart.


I second the nomination for these commenters to be the liturgy committee at my parish. We have a pastor who likes Elvis and, unfortunately, we never hear many of the hymns mentioned.

I vote for Pange Lingua, as well.

Ed the Roman

Elvis could probably submit some pretty good stuff himself; he was quoted as saying he knew every Gospel song ever written.



As a convert I never heard this song until I received a tape with this song. It literally sent chills down my body.

Actually I do like "Here I Am Lord" when the congregation sings the chorus and when a male soloist sings the verses. On the same tape I heard it sung that way and it really shocked me how much I liked the song that way.


Have always liked "Tantum Ergo", not only for the melody, but also for its elegant Latin.

I am always thrilled to listen to Lauridsen's "O Magnum Mysterium", but always on CD or in a concert setting. I haven't heard it used in a liturgy yet. Moreover, it's use would appear to be limited to Xmas time.

I mourn the fact that I've never heard any of Palestrina's "Pope Marcellus Mass" used in a liturgical setting; it probably needs more trained voices than your run-of-the-mill Catholic parish can muster.

Cathy Koenig

I submitted "Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise" (specifying the version that retains the gender specific, archaic language), with "Alleluia, Sing to Jesus" given a mention in the "Comments" box (ditto on the updating). Simple to sing, and theologically profound, they were oases in the land of "Here I Am, Lord."

BTW, does anybody realize the songwriter of the latter must've been watching TV when he wrote it? It's got a riff from the "Brady Bunch" theme song at "I have heard you calling in the night ..."

Anyhow, there were worse things at the start of the nonsense in the late 1960s: Anyone remember "Sons of God"? "Eat His Body, drink His Blood" sung to that bouncy little tune ... Urgh.


Beautiful inspired music is still being composed. "La Pasión Según San Marcos," a fully multicultural work, written by Osvaldo Golijov - a Jewish composer who grew up in Catholic Argentina - and first performed in 2000 in Stuttgart, Germany has recieved rave reviews around the world. I saw it last night and was blown away by the awesome power. It was fabulous. Very reverent and just amazing. Glorious religious music is still being composed. Maybe not being played in Church, but still being composed.

More on it here: http://www.registerguard.com/news/2005/06/24/a1.bachstart.0624.html


Regarding blood of the lamb, etc.

There was a period at my previous parish choir where we had a evangelical convert picking choir music and it was one bloody song after another. Lots of narratives like "In the Upper Room" and I noticed that the music was not coming from a Catholic publisher. So I kind of developed an antipathy to all those "drenched in the blood" songs.

BTW she insisted that she knew how to pronounce Latin because she had learned it in high school. It was Ciceronian Latin instead of church Latin that is pronounced more like Italian. I got tired of biting my tongue and finally gave up and moved on.

Good move. Now I get to do Faure and some really good stuff that comes out of Morning Star publishing - associated with the St. Louis Cathedral where I have also sung - not to be confused with the St. Louis Jesuits. The choir director at St Louis Cathedral is associated with the Organ Guild and was picked to be on a committee for liturgical music associated with the Vatican somehow. You might have heard the "Festival Alleluia" which he commissioned for JPII's visit to St. Louis.


I submitted "For all the Saints" sung to Sine Nomine (R.V. William's little joke title)with the caveat that it needs organ accompaniment, 4 part harmony, proper dynamics, and all the verses included as written.
I get shivers singing it and picturing that great cloud of witnesses.
(I also become apoplectic when the language is 'modernized)
In the comments, I spoke to the different needs of performance music and congregational singing, and my upset about the custom of applauding the musicians during mass.
For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
who thee by faith before the world confessed,
thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the apostles' glorious company,
who bearing forth the cross o'er land and sea,
shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
is fair and fruitful, be thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
and seeing, grasped it, thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold,
fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
and win, with them the victor's crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
we feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
all are one in thee, for all are thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
and hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
the saints triumphant rise in bright array;
the King of glory passes on his way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast,
through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
and singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!



It's a song of Gondor! (I like it too!)

Mike Dodaro

Found my way to this discussion via a search for comments on the opera by Oswaldo Golijov called "Passion of St.
John". I'm a cantor at St. Jude's in Redmond Washington. It's refreshing to find so many intelligent comments on music in this thread. I'm classically trained and not too fond of the Music Issue. I'm old enough to be nostalgic about the 1960s; I just wish it could be somewhere besides church.

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