Catholic Musical Illiteracy, or why contemporary worship music is the comic book of literature

Very compelling piece by Jeffrey Tucker over at The New Liturgical Movement on the roots of the problems with music in Catholic (and Protestant) worship.

A few excerpts:

Comics are rather fashionable among young people and have been for many decades. But let’s imagine a world in which people never really went beyond them. No novels, no poetry, no non-fiction. Just comics. Maybe not even words. Just pictures. Who would be surprised when the generation turned out to be illiterate? Let this situation run for 3 or 4 generations, and you would suddenly wake up to a world in which no one could really read and, more shockingly, no one could read teach people to read either…

This, I fear, is pretty much what has happened in the area of Catholic music – not entirely but we have approached that fate and perhaps might be saved from it with massive efforts today. The problem essentially began in the middle 1960s, when the idea of a entertaining and serviceable music came to dominate the impulse to strive for beauty and excellence in liturgy. The protestant Church seems to have had a delayed reaction, plunging into “praise music” by sometime in the early and mid 1970s…

We [Catholics] can tell them [Protestants] a thing or two about what it is like to worship in Churches were there are only a few musicians for every several hundreds worshipers. They lack ability to sing, the capacity to hit a pitch and hold it, the cognitive understanding of what it means to read notes going up and down, the rudimentary knowledge of rhythm – all of this has been seriously undermined in the course of the decades of relentless artistic decline. Now, it’s like living in a world without readers. The great works of literature sit on the shelves and no one knows what to do about them….

Read the whole thing.

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