Opinions about Music

Catholics have a lot of opinions about music at Mass. (Did you just roll your eyes at that sentence?)

I read this opening paragraph from an article today and thought “you needed a survey to tell you this?”:

A recent survey from US Catholic suggests that music at Mass is very important to parishioners. While the consensus says music is pivotal to worship, however, Catholics disagree about what form it should take.

Survey Summary

As I do surveys at parishes all over the country, one consistent trend is that Catholics have an opinion about music. It’s either too fast, too slow, too new, too old, too in English, or too in Latin. Their parishes either use too much organ or not enough, too many guitars or not enough, drums are too loud or “how do we not have drums yet?”

These survey results confirm every opposing thought about music at Mass though. So what’s a parish to do?

I recommend the following:

  1. Aim for excellence: By this I mean, the accompanist should be able to play the correct notes in the appropriate tempo. The Cantor should be able to sing on key. The Choir should as well.
  2. Varied Repertoire: The congregation should be able to sing along to songs they are familiar with. There should be enough songs and hymns for each Liturgical Season.
  3. Take Time to Teach: If learning something new, take time to teach the congregation. I often cite the way our Music Director taught the congregation the Gloria in Latin. This particular Mass part might not be for every parish, but the method is easily adaptable. We learned it one line at a time over the course of six or eight weeks before Mass began. We’d then sing just the parts that we knew and the Cantor would sing the rest – adding new lines each week.

Finally, remember that because music is so tied to emotion – not everyone will see everything in the same way. Try for some variety to accommodate the entire Body of Christ so that there’s someway for everyone to worship the Lord through song. I know that this is easier said than done.

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