Walking Back to Recover Our Sacred Music

You can see that, over the past few days, I have been pouring myself into the whole question of appropriate music at Mass.  I asked myself, “Why now?”  Then it dawned on me that I had recently been given, on loan, a first class relic of St. Pius X. WOW!

Of course St. Pius X wrote what has become the standard instruction on Sacred Music: Tra le Sollecitudini.

St. Pius X, pray for us!

In my two parishes, after some trial and error, we have decided we are going to “walk back” some of the ill-conceived music innovations which have been introduced into the Holy Mass over time.

By “walk back,” we mean that we are going to purge from the Mass the most recent inappropriate music additions, while keeping some things which have been with us in our Mass for nearly 100 years.

This is to say that our first step in this plan of action is to put a freeze on all the pop-style pieces of the past few decades, and restore some of the classic Catholic hymns that have a general acceptability and accessibility for our people.  In other words, they like them and they’ll sing out.

In the meantime, I am learning my priest chant parts, while we are instructing our people with their responses.  We have also implemented the most familiar congregational chants for the ordinaries (Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus Dei), and we are chanting, in engish for now, the Pater Noster.

Part of our “trial and error” was implementing, too soon, the antiphonal propers at the exclusion of virtually “any” hymns.  This was met with severe backlash, and we realized we were “walking back” a bit too fast at this point.  We agreed, “Let’s just recover what our Grandparents would remember, and not feel we need to make the leap, all at once, to a time several generations passed.”

This means a mixture of congregational hymns, choir hymns (in parts) and some polyphony (as the choir’s skill set dictates).  Yes, it will mean sticking with the “four hymn sandwich” for a while, but we will slowly introduce more Gregorian chant and polyphony over time.

So, that’s where we are for now.  We’ve had lots of squirming and some parishioners deciding to attend local parishes offering the standard pop-style songs of the day. But we are confident we are doing our best to move in the “most obedient way” to recover more of a sense of the sacred in the Holy Mass.

Below is our current list of the main 33 (years of our Lord’s life) Catholic hymns we plan to draw from.  If you know of others you would like to add, please do.

1)      Crown Him with Many Crowns

2)      To Jesus Christ, Our Sovereign King 

3)      Holy God We Praise Thy Name

4)      Come Holy Ghost

5)      Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above

6)      At the Cross Her Station Keeping

7)      O Sacred Head Surrounded

8)      Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

9)      Immaculate Mary

10)  Alleluia, Sing to Jesus

11)  Lift High the Cross

12)  At the Lambs High Feast

13)  Father We Thank Thee Who Has Planted

14)  I Sing the Mighty Power of God

15)  O God Almighty Father

16)  O Saving Victim

17)  Sing of Mary

18)  What Wondrous Love Is This?

19)  Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones

20)  I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say

21)  Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All                 

22)  For All the Saints

23)  All Creatures of Our God and King

24)  All People That On Earth

25)  Come Down, O Love Divine

26)  Come, Ye Faithful Raise the Strain

27)  Day Is Done

28)  Immortal, Invisible, God

29)  Lord of All Hopefulness

30)  Now Thank We All Our God

31)  Praise My Soul

32)  Praise to the Lord

33)  Songs of Thankfulness and Praise


One Response to Walking Back to Recover Our Sacred Music

  1. Rose in NE says:

    Good for you, Father! These are beautiful hymns that will draw people into the sacred mystery of the Mass.

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