Especially the young!
Why has church attendance dropped off so dramatically in the last 50 years? There are a whole range of reasons, I am sure, and nearly every article in this blog is addressing the issue in one form or another, but if you ask me one of the main contributory factors is the music that is generally heard at Mass. And the degree that the music is influential, I would say that the influence of the style of music that is epitomozed by that offered by the most common pew misalettes is contributing to that decline.
I am talking about a style of music that seems to have started to develop around the late 1960s and sounds to me like a sort of fusion of American folk, Disney and Rodgers and Hammerstein musical and a hint of Victorian hymnody. Whatever you call the genre, it is responsible, I suggest for many to flee the pews.
Before anyone writes to me to say how much they like the music they hear each Sunday, or tell me how high quality the painist or band that plays and how heartily those in the congregation that do attend join in, I want to say one thing. My argument, as you will see, is not based upon the assertion that it is bad music. I do have strong opinions on that, but my personal taste has no bearing on the conclusion that I draw. My argument is that the whole philosophy that has contributed to the composition of such music is fataly flawed.
Even if we assume that the music we hear in Mass is of the highest quality within its genre, it would still have the same effect, which is to tend to drive most people away from Mass. (This is despite the fact that its proponents usually claim that it does the opposite.) Furthermore, if the standard of the musicianship is of the highest order, and the choir consisting of the best trained professional singers it would not chage my argument one iota.
The problem in my opinion lies in the whole ethos that underlies the creation of music for the missals. The goal, it seems is to connect with people by giving them music that derived from popular secular forms. The problem with this approach is that it can only connect to those people who actually listen to enjoy that style of music (Read More)