Monday, June 6, 2011

Dear P&WPerson

5 days ago @ Chant Cafe - "We don't know why wha... · 0 replies · +2 points

Dear P&WPerson - I became a Christian back in the '70s, as the "Jesus Movement" was picking up serious speed (Remember Explo '72? or are you too young?). We used to sit around in the basement of the Methodist Church where I grew up, singing to guitar music. Later, when the coffeehouse movement got going, I was involved. That venue is actually the birthplace of what you think of as praise and worship music.

Its purpose was two-fold - one to entertain (right there you've got a problem from a Catholic Liturgy point of view) and the other to emotionally manipulate (oh, yeah also a serious issue).

Because it had to entertain, it had to scud the surface to reach the greatest number of people. Coffeehouse geeks generally don't want to exert enough energy to grasp Manly Hopkins' translation of an Aquinas hymn, ya know what I mean? That means a lot of repetition of style, pattern, images, etc. And that is what "banal" means. Go back and look at the old Maranatha! albums/songs - I just had to play Karen Lafferty's "Seek Ye First" for Mass a week or so ago, so they're still floating around. Maranatha! was the #1 source of all that became known as Praise & Worship music.

Now - P&W is RELIGIOUS music, meaning it has religious themes and content... but it is not SACRED music. Its purpose is to entertain, as I said above, while sacred music has far more complex purposes: to turn the mind toward God, to set in the mind that God is Other, and not "our buddy Jesus," to TEACH us how properly to worship (attribute Worth), and in many ways to catechize.

As religious music, it is acceptable for personal devotions. Heck, I still pull out the old Second Chapter of Acts stuff from time to time, even now. But I wouldn't dream of trying to pull even "Easter Song" out for the Liturgy. Religious music is inadequate for sacred Liturgy - which has a universal and eternal quality and character.

Hope that makes sense.

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