Tuesday, August 29, 2006

George Weigel on bad liturgical hymns

We've all probably got our favorite Mass hymns/songs, and the ones that we don't care for so much. George Weigel makes the case that there are some hymns, though, that simply have no place being sung in a Catholic church -- and some based on such silly poetry and phrasing that we should put a moratorium on their use. This was written a couple of years back, but still a fun read:

For classic Lutheran theology, hymns are a theological "source:" not up there with Scripture, of course, but ranking not-so-far below Luther's "Small Catechism." Hymns, in this tradition, are not liturgical filler. Hymns are distinct forms of confessing the Church's faith. Old school Lutherans take their hymns very seriously.

Most Catholics don't. Instead, we settle for hymns musically indistinguishable from "Les Mis" and hymns of saccharine textual sentimentality. Moreover, some hymn texts in today's Catholic "worship resources" are, to put it bluntly, heretical. Yet Catholics once knew how to write great hymns; and there are great hymns to be borrowed, with gratitude, from Anglican, Lutheran, and other Christian sources. There being a finite amount of material that can fit into a hymnal, however, the first thing to do is clean the stables of today's hymnals.

Thus, with tongue only half in cheek, I propose the Index Canticorum Prohibitorum, the "Index of Forbidden Hymns." Herewith, some examples.

Go check out the rest of what he has to say here


kieron said...

I've been taught that when we sing a hymn we "pray twice". It IS important what we pray.

Joshua said...

Good start. I agree.