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Friday, April 15, 2011

Ecclesiastical Karaoke

From the Catholic News Agency:
London, England, Apr 14, 2011 / 05:46 am (CNA).- A Grammy winning music director has delivered a stinging attack upon modern Church music. Joseph Cullen, choral director at the London Symphony Orchestra, says that since the 1960s there has been a “glaring lack of sympathy” for “worthy sacred music.”


He also criticized the practice of a lone cantor leading the singing in parishes. “The misuse of one booming voice behind a microphone, an ecclesiastical karaoke, seems to have killed off unified congregational singing.”
Thomas Day pointed this out years ago in his tour de force Why Catholics Can't Sing. The explanation is simple: when someone blasts out a tune using a heavily amplified microphone, those of us not so well armed are not inclined to compete--even if the tune is good one, which is seldom the case in modern Catholic worship. What is particularly frustrating about this phenomenon is, it is readily apparent and has been for decades. Yet the practice continues and unlike Karaoke, you can't sidle up to the bar and order a palliative.
Perhaps his most stinging attack, though, is aimed at official diocesan musicians who both commission and promote their own music. “The elected church music committees of the bishops' conferences cannot have vested interests in promoting their own music, or type of music. This would be regarded as corrupt in any other field.”
Amen. Amen. Musical simony, you might call it. It has long annoyed me, when leafing through those pulpy "missalettes," to see copyright notices affixed near the insipid little ditties that comprise service music and hymns in the Novus Ordo mass. The fact that putative composers actually make money off that crap is appalling indeed. Bravo to you, Mr. Cullen

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