"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Organs and church music and church people and stuff.

While I was helping to set up the creche at the Cathedral (I had nothing to do with design, layout, grapevine, etc. - I just did painted backgrounds and painted ceilings.) - anyway - while helping install, the organist was practicing.  It was so loud I couldn't think - well, that isn't true.  But I told the person I was working with, "I hate organ music."  And a short conversation ensued about me disliking church music and organ music and loud noises that scare cats too.
Seriously, I like organs in church, and I like some hymns and carols, but I generally prefer silence.  I actually like to sing - but I don't always do so.  I like to pray quietly.  I don't like rousing renditions of Halle - Halle - Halleluia and clapping, neither am I a big fan of Handel's Messiah and the Alleluia chorus.  (I know!)  Yes - I like classical music and chant.  I also like some hip-hop too, but I prefer to pray in silence.  I prefer Masses without choirs and fanfares - Imagine if there was no Sistine choir.  I suppose I should mention that I happen to love medieval music as well as the music exampled in Nine Lessons and Carols as sung by Kings College Choir at Cambridge...
I like Gospel music too.  Just not at church.
Photo:  What?


  1. Oh my gosh! Me too!

  2. Well, I LOVE Handel's Messiah LOL!However, it was written for Easter, not Christmas!

  3. Don't some people do the alleluia chorus for Christmas though? Maybe just here in the States - things are so different in Canada. LOL!

  4. scuppered1:57 PM

    Terry, have you ever read the book, "Why Catholics Can't Sing"?

  5. It's not really "for Christmas" or "for Easter" - it's the complete story of Christ's life from Prophesy ("Comfort Ye My People" - Isaiah), to to Resurrection and Second Coming.

    Mostly, Parts 1 and 2 are sung for Christmas. I've never heard all three parts sung at once, and frankly wouldn't want to. Too long.

    The Hallelujah Chorus is from the book of the Apocalypse and concerns Christ's future reign.
    Incidentally, Handel refused to change ANY wording of the Scriptures for his oratorio. It's word for word from his Bible. He might skip a verse here and there, but he never changed a word.

    A friend of Handel's, upon hearing the first performance of the piece, remarked that it was "wonderful entertainment!" Handel snapped back, "It wasn't MEANT to be entertainment. It was meant to be educational."

    I love it, it's one of my favorite oratorios, but as far as Christmas performances, it's a bit cliche.

    Next year, my parish is doing the Bach Magnificat instead.

    Anyways. Loves my Handel...

  6. Anonymous7:02 PM

    As usual, Shakespeare said it right: "The man that hath no music in his heart/Nor is not moved by concord of sweet sounds/Is fit for treason, spoil, and stratagems./Th'emotions of his spirit are dull as night, and his affections dark as Erebus./Let no such man be trusted." (From "The Merchant of Venice")

    The directors of the choir I used to play for felt the same way. That's why I left.

  7. Don't be too quick to judge - my favorite music is medieval and renaissance and English - I'm simply not fond of ostentation.

  8. Oh and you probably should have left.

  9. You little Shakespeare freak.

  10. Oh - big hug too - lil' freak.

  11. Anonymous10:47 PM

    An organist who appreciates and respects the liturgy will never be ostentatious -- the choir directors were ostentatious, which was the main issue. I'm glad you like some kinds of music -- considering you're an artist, it would be odd if you didn't. BTW, the music I objected to was the folkie-type stuff of, e.g., the St. Louis Jesuits, which doesn't work AT ALL on the organ, but which they insisted programming, simply because they didn't have the musical training/aptitude to learn anything else, and they didn't want to learn. Their lack of openness and willingness to change, along with the general cliquishness and "toxic atmosphere" (to quote someone else who quit) led to my departure. I'd have loved to do some Bach or more Mozart, but they didn't know any of that from nothin'. They also didn't know anything about the function of an organist, because their backgrounds mostly involved guitars and such. I'd like to sign my name, but for obvious reasons can't do so.

  12. I know plenty of perfectly pious people who prefer to worship in silence. Frankly, on Immaculate Conception, we went to a low Mass instead of a high and it was serene and transcendent and beautiful in a much different way than the high Mass, [disclaimer] which is also glorious and fab.
    I happen to prefer a big ole high Mass with Mozart or Bach or even Mr. Rhineberger, but there is something to be said for going inside oneself and I totally get why many of my friends prefer the low Mass.
    And as far as the St. Louis Jesuits, one would have to be a much different person than I to prefer any of their ditties or any OCP type stuff to silence.
    Don't blame you for quitting that choir, Anonymous.

  13. My apologies anonymous - the Shakespeare quote made me believe you were someone I knew well and so I was giving him a hard time - I'm sorry to have been so rude.

    Yes - I do like some music and I'm very much in agreement with you regarding the types of music you do not like.

    I fault myself dor making broad statements and generalizations and pushing buttons indiscriminately in order to sound like a tough old crumudgeon. I just took another post down this morning that I decided went too far.

    Again, I apologize. As a penance, I will listen to organ music all day long - I'm just saying that.

  14. If it's any consolation: one of my best friends in college used to hate me practicing the organ (I was an organ major) during his holy hour; he called me "the Phantom of the Opera"!
    Oh well. 'what the hell'.
    To each his own.
    I do, in fact, understand....sorta...


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.