The Hidden Hand behind Bad Catholic Music

From Inside Catholic:

It usually starts with the missalettes — those lightweight booklets scattered around the pews of your parish church. They contain all the readings of the Sunday Masses, plus some hymns and responses in the back. There’s nothing between the covers that would offend an orthodox sense of the faith, and most of the songs are traditional by today’s standards. 

So, what’s the problem? 

Well, if your missalettes are like those issued in more than half of American parishes, they’re copyrighted by the Oregon Catholic Press (OCP) — the leading Catholic purveyor of bad music in the United States. Four times a year, it prints and distributes 4.3 million copies of the seemingly unobjectionable booklets (which OCP doesn’t call missalettes). 

But that’s just the beginning of its massive product line, where each item is integrated perfectly with the others to make liturgical planning quick and easy. To instruct and guide parish musicians and liturgy teams, the OCP prints hymnals, choral scores, children’s songbooks, Mass settings, liturgy magazines (with detailed instructions that are slavishly followed by parishes around the country), and CDs for planning liturgies and previewing the newest music. 

This collection of products, however, does not include a hymnal — or anything else — designed to appeal to traditional sensibilities (its Heritage Hymnal is deceptively misnamed). The OCP’s experts never tire of promoting the new, rewriting the old, and inviting you to join them in their quest to “sing a new church into being” (as one of their hit songs urges). The one kind of “new” that the OCP systematically avoids is the new vogue of traditional music that has proved so appealing to young Catholics. 

The bread and butter of the OCP are the 10,000 music copyrights it owns. It employs a staff of 150, runs year-round liturgy workshops all over the United States, sponsors affiliates in England and Australia, and keeps song-writers all over the English-speaking world on its payroll. In fact, it’s the preferred institutional home of those now-aging “St. Louis Jesuits” who swept out the old in 1969 and, by the mid-1970s, had parishes across the country clapping and strumming and tapping to the beat. 

Continue Reading …

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