« An interview that will go down in infamy | Main | "It's Un-Christian!" »

November 19, 2006



Here' my gripe. Yesterday, the recessional hymn was "Soon and Very Soon" (We are going to see the Lord). I told the children my wife and I teach CCD to that the song would have been better placed as the communion hymn or the processional hymn. I told them it was odd that just after receiving communion and encountering Christ in the Eucharist that we were singing as if we had not just seen Him and touched Him, and been fed by Him. I hope they tell their parents what I said.

FWIW, our music director is a Methodist. Very nice woman and I like her very much. But she is not Catholic and I do not know how much say she has in picking the songs. She leaves after the 9'oclock Mass to go to the Methodist service. Yesterday she came back for a blessing the Pastor did for all the people who would be taking turkeys and other foods for Thanksgiving out to needy people. There were two songs. One about "the bread that we break" I think, obviously a Eucharistic song. There is a connection between receiving the Eucharist and sharing that grace with others but remember the recessional hymn from the Mass earlier. The belief in the Real Presence wasn't exactly presented clearly. The second song was even stranger in the context of a blessing ceremony. The song went like this. 'Let us break bread together on our knees, Let us drink wine together on our knees.' Then something about facing the rising sun. Of course everybody was sitting while we were singing about kneeling. Go figure.


I guess I shouldn't be surprised that a Catholic Church would hire a non-Catholic as their music minister, but I am.
Hire anyone you want as the janitor, office help or bookkeeper, but anyone involved with the liturgy should be Catholic.
I wouldn't be against requiring some kind of certification or training for anyone who has the authority to actually pick the music used in the celebration of the liturgy,and "I'm not a liturgical hardliner, but..."


OK, I can sort of see the point of a Methodist not designing a Catholic liturgy, but let me defend "Soon and Very Soon." The readings yesterday were apocalyptic about the end times. You will "know that he is near, at the gates." They lyrics of "Soon and Very Soon" don't refer at all to the real presence, but to the eschaton.... "No more crying there.... No more dying there...." It would be appropriate to leave with that in one's head because we should always be pointed toward the eschatological future.

As for the reference to the Real Presence, it is but a 'foretaste of the kingdom of heaven' but not the fullness of our experience of it. (I think that is from Ecclesia de Eucaristia, quoting or paraphrasing St. Therese. I have to work so will admit to not checking my references right this instant.) "Soon and Very Soon" is about knowing the fullness of Christ in the world to come.

Kevin Jones

"One of the things I am hearing more and more from folks is a sort of worried and perplexed [concerns"

I'm wondering if more and more of them have young relatives who have left the faith. I had a short conversation with a deacon a few weeks back on how college life utterly destroyed his two kids' faith.


Good points Cathy. Thanks for pointing that out.

Ferde Rombola

"Soon and Very Soon" is a 'negro spiritual,' which term I use strictly for identification.

First, spirituals, to my ear, sound positively silly coming out of the mouths of white people.

Second, that particular spiritual, like many of them, states a *wish* to die, to leave the misery of slavery and go to a better place. IMO, in that context,that song and others like it have no place in a Catholic liturgy.

A parish I used to belong to also had a protestant music director. She was also big on spirituals and liked that one especially. She also didn't have a clue to what a Catholic Mass was about.


Our daughters, ages 40 and 37 were fed this mush for years at a local Catholic grade school, the. Sadlier series, I think. But then, of course, this went on nationwide starting in the late 60s. Our 26-year-old daughter had a better series at the same school, thanks to the DRE. That one was from Catholics United for the Faith and I’m sure it’s long gone now that the diocesan bureaucracy controls everything.

We parents had no idea at the time that this watered down approach would lead to a mass exodus of our kids from the Faith and such ignorance of even the basics. After all, the nuns and priests were pushing it - and we were raised to have implicit trust in them. Still, my husband and I had a few skirmishes - such as having our daughter make her confession before Communion - the only one in her class to do so.

People are fond of saying these days that parents are the prime teachers of their children – that it is up to them to supplement a poor or faulty parish-based catechesis – as if this were always common teaching in the Church. But in the 50s and 60s, this was a teaching that hadn’t trickled down to the grassroots. In fact, in the 50s we were taught that it was terribly sinful to send kids to public schools and that sure drove home the message of who the experts were – and they weren’t us. Pope Benedict even said that aside from going to Mass with his parents and praying with them at home, his religious training came from the nuns. or the Catholic school. I think that was in Milestones or, perhaps, Salt of the Earth.

This non-denominational Jesus-is-the-ultimate-nice-guy approach leads many Catholics to think that the only thing He asks of them is that they smile at the girl in the checkout line. He is presented as such an inoffensive bore, many dismiss Him and His Church. They leave Him behind in their childhood with Mr. Rogers or Barney - depending on their age.


Does anyone truly think that the problems of Catholic worship that are regularly bewailed on this site can be laid at the feet of the Protestant music directors hired by Catholic parishes?

I sing in a choir every Sunday in a Catholic parish (as a Protestant). We have had two music directors -- both Anglican (the first one converted), and we sing Palestrina and company every Sunday.

We also sing the Mass of Creation, not because the Protestant music directors like it but because it's the Catholic way these days.

There's plenty of blame all over Christendom for the sad state of Western worship.


"This non-denominational Jesus-is-the-ultimate-nice-guy approach leads many Catholics to think that the only thing He asks of them is that they smile at the girl in the checkout line. He is presented as such an inoffensive bore, many dismiss Him and His Church. They leave Him behind in their childhood with Mr. Rogers or Barney - depending on their age."

Exactly why we need to abolish the 'Jesus wants us to be nice' rhetoric from kids. I don't quite understand why kids who can catalogue varieties of dinosaurs or sharks or whales or whatever they care about at the age of three or so, can't hold in their heads:

Jesus wants us to be faithful.

Jesus wants us to follow him.

Jesus wants us to serve the poor.

Jesus wants us to not sin.

Jesus wants us to believe.

Jesus wants us to know that he is the Son of God.

Jesus wants us.... I could go on.

Kids can know this stuff. They would actually like to know this stuff.

I was at a parish event last night and three families with pre-schoolers were there. They were all laughing about the day the kids came home with gory tales of crucifixion. What had happened was that I brought the three year olds to church and asked them what they wanted me to show them. The hands down fave was the twelve foot crucifix we have in our sanctuary. "Is that real blood?" "Are those real nails?" "Did he really die?" "Why did someone do that to him?"

I wasn't trying to dwell on the gruesomeness of it, but you know, it is a crucifixion. No way to pretty that up. (One dad made me laugh when he said that it sounded to him as if Mel Gibson had been teaching his tyke that day.)

I remarked to the parents that preschool (and even up through primary) curricula tend to really downplay the crucifixion as too traumatic for little kids. But, as one mom said, "It is sort of the 800 pound gorilla in the room."

There is a balance, but to NEVER talk about it and to make the whole thing sort of a "precious moments" event doesn't serve anyone well. Certainly not the Lord and not even the three year olds.


Actually, "Soon and Very Soon" is a gospel song, not a spiritual. There's about a hundred years' worth of difference. And if you think it's just not fitting in a Catholic church, I suggest that you have a little more faith in that "Catholic" thing. (Btw, there's a very good hymnal available consisting only of Catholic-suitable gospel songs and spirituals.)

It's a very good eschatological hymn. Our choir sings it. Yes, we can sing Palestrina and Gregorian chant, and we can sing gospel, too. All musical styles require work and sensitivity to master their use, and there's a lot less cultural difference to bridge with a gospel song than Orlando di Lasso or William Byrd.

I agree that it makes a better opening song or preparation of the gifts song, or even a Communion song, than a post-Communion meditation. OTOH, there's no better time to think of eternal life than right after Communion.

Anyway, I think I'm right in saying that we don't actually see the King at Communion, but rather the accidents. Hence all those St. Thomas Aquinas hymn verses. (If you think the song means "see" as in "visit", I suppose that's a valid objection.)

Re: "Let us break bread together on our knees"

We usually sing that at Communion, which in our archdiocese means kneeling up until the time we process forward and then after we get back on the pews. We don't have any verse about "drinking wine", IIRC. It doesn't seem confusing at all. I mean, what else could the song be talking about besides Communion?

I suppose it would go better in an ad orientem church with an altar rail, given the "when I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun".



I guess I wasn't clear about the "Let's break bread together on our knees". That was sung not during Mass, but during a blessing ceremony for people about to go deliver food after Mass. I just found it odd, not a crime or anything.

You say "I suppose it would go better in an ad orientem church with an altar rail, given the "when I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun".

I agree totally and would add during Mass.


To address both Amy's concern about the lousy state of catechesis and somewheredownsouth's gripe about liturgical music: first, I wondered if "somewheredownsouth" might actually be referring to southern Indiana, where I live -- we also sang "Soon and Very Soon" as the recessional hymn last Sunday. However, our music director is both male and Catholic, so we can't be talking about the same parish. However, I suspect that we are both singing out of the same musical supplement put out by those Yahoos in Oregon who publish our missalette, and it's at least possible that they also publish lists of "recommended" music for each Sunday, which the music directors mindlessly follow.
To my mind the best and easiest way to improve catechesis of both adults and children (for adults, it may be the ONLY form of catechesis) is to improve the selection of liturgical hymns. I was for many years a member of an Anglican Use Catholic parish, where we had excellent, beautiful, reverent, eminently singable hymns and liturgical music at every Sunday mass, which have permanently imprinted themselves on my soul, so that even amidst the dreck of the contemporary liturgy in an ordinary Roman parish I know that I am at Mass to praise and adore Almighty God, to acknowledge Him as my King, to lift up my heart and mind to Him, to give thanks for His many blessings, primarily His sacrifice of Himself for my salvation, to look forward to His coming again in glory, to feed my soul upon His precious Body and Blood -- NOT to praise myself for being a good little social worker or to remind God that He really couldn't do it without me and that his primary function is to make me feel good about myself and gimme what I ask for.
By the way, am I the only one horrified when, for the Communion hymn, the choir strikes up a song that claims "I myself am the Bread of Life, You and I are the Bread of Life"? How did this heresy ever get into a liturgical music supplement? Last time, I actually stuck my fingers in my ears and quietly sang "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence."

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)