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Thursday, 4 October 2007

Crying in the chapel

Damien Thompson has been making people cry with his remarks about the composers of "contemporary" liturgical music. The reader who said that Holy Smoke was the first blog he had read which ever made him cry was writing on the Society of St Gregory Forum. The discussion there was somewhat prophetic since it took place in advance of Damien's post which included the comment that a better name for the SSG would be the "Society for Composers of Gruesome Seventies Ditties that Make You Want to Run Screaming for the Exit."

You are invited to make your own mind up by listening to some of the selections (try the Kyrie from the Mass for Easter) from "Baptised with Fire" - described by Damien as "a good choice of title, since judging by the extracts I’d rather be burned alive than listen to the whole album." Now generally on the blogosphere, this kind of comment will spark off a good old flame war and heads are metaphorically broken on both sides.

If some trendy musician were to suggest that the Mass settings so beloved of traditionalists were so awful as to make them want to pull their own ears off or whatever, I suppose nobody is going to burst into tears on behalf of Mozart or Pope Gregory the Great. One of the advantages of tradition, perhaps?

Anyway; Damien's response to the criticism?
Here’s why I don’t feel too guilty. First, the Mass settings produced by the “composers” of the SSG really are bad: they range from nails-scraping-down-a-blackboard painful to stuff that sounds like a wicked parody. Someone needs to say – in a loving way, of course – that it’s drivel.

Second, I’m getting a bit sick of the liberal response to any criticism, which is to bang on about how “hurtful” it is. The message is: emotions come first. So a congregation has to sit through a decade of wailed “folk Masses”, because if you complain you’ll hurt someone’s feelings.
I think that he has a valid point there. Perhaps we should fight back. When you next hear "Bind us together", tell the parish priest that you felt "violated". Or take out a big box of paper hankies and run out sobbing with anger when the liturgical dance starts up.

It is interesting that the SSG forum recognises the character of the Catholic blogosphere. As they say, "Catholic bloggers who follow other than a rigorously conservative line seem quite hard to find". (For "rigorously conservative" here, read "in line with the teaching of Pope Benedict".) Another telling comment was "They play in a different league over there, don't they!"

Indeed. Now which of those "leagues" is in continuity with the Church's past and which sees a rupture with the past some 40 or so years ago?
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