Tag Archives: music

from “We are Worship”



Leave a comment

June 4, 2015 · 22:42

Harmonic Connection


Leave a comment

October 5, 2014 · 13:01

Praise Bands (from a Catholic perspective)

The Beautiful Music Challenge

A blog for thoughts on Music as specifically pertains to Catholic Liturgy.

 by  Katie O’Keefe
 Worked at St. Stephen the Martyr
Attended Columbus State Community College
Lives in Columbus, OH

My kids became involved in the new youth group at our parish. This parish had great catechesis, great liturgy and beautiful music ranging from chant and polyphony to more modern works – all beautiful and always appropriate to the Liturgy.  The new youth minister however, wanted to start a praise band. He wanted something that would “reach the kids” and “get them involved”.  Some of the kids kind of looked at each other perplexed.  Many of them were already involved in the choir and those who weren’t kind of bristled at the idea that they were not involved enough. It is interesting to note that when the Youth Minister suggested a Praise Mass the kids rose up as one voice with a resounding, “No!”

So the Praise Band was born and only played at the youth group meetings.
My son is an exceptional singer and a skilled guitarist and wanted to play in the praise band. He hung around and jammed with them. He went to their practices. He helped them set up and kind of functioned as their roadie. He finally asked straight out when he could get a chance to play and he was told, “Well, we kind of have our set up already.  Maybe another time, man.” Every. Time.
So, at 16, tired of being turned down repeatedly, my son asked to join the choir and was welcomed with open arms.
My problem with a praise band is not just that it violates the ethos of the Mass by drawing attention away from the Eucharist and putting the focus on ourselves, our experience and the music that makes us feel good. It is also exclusionary in the most insidious way. While saying, “We’re inclusive. We bring the youth to Mass,” praise bands disallow any growth from the box they’ve put the youth into: Your job, as a youth, is to appreciate my gift to you and don’t get in my way while I share that gift.
Praise bands, like the folk groups of the 70’s and 80’s, are an exclusive club that allow a limited number of people to fully and actively participate. Even without showmanship and even with the most humble leaders, the congregation listens and appreciates, but it is only welcome to participate on a limited basis which makes it a performance. Like Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jefferies famously said, “We’re aiming for the cool kids. Some kids don’t belong and can’t belong.” Some would argue that a choir excludes in this fashion, too. I would counter that anyone can join the choir; not everyone can sing or play with the praise band.
After all, how many guitarists does a praise band need? A maximum of two.
How many basses can a choir have? As many as you can cram in the choir loft.
There are a lot of people who see nothing wrong with having a praise band at Mass. After all, it’s just music. And even better, it’s music inspired by the love of God. Praise band backers will tell you that Praise and Worship music is designed to encourage participation of young people in the Mass by meeting them where they are in their experience of the culture. It speaks to them in a way that nothing else can speak to them. But of course, the problem is that it leaves them there. It never brings them to the remarkable collection of 2,000 years of Catholic musical tradition.
By cutting off the rest of musical tradition, we cripple our youth. We teach them that Mass should engage and entertain them. We spoon feed them the most basic messages of Christianity: God loves you and He wants to be part of your life. But we never tell them that sometimes it’s going to be hard and will involve tough choices. We teach them that the liturgy should conform to them. And, if the liturgy does, then why not the rest of Catholic teaching?
By separating the youth out of the rest of the congregation, we isolate them the beauty of the music that the saints listened to. We segregate them from the universality that the Church offers. They lose the depth of a hymn text that can be heard over and over, with more and more layers of meaning brought forth, because that takes concentration and dedication. To give them the gift of music that is drawn from ancient and new sources is to give them the gift of their faith reflected in art. It teaches them that the world did not begin when they woke up this morning. It teaches them that there is wisdom in the people who went before and have walked this road.
Sure, Praise and Worship music is fun and engaging, but when it is no longer fun to be Catholic, then what? The youths leave. They find some place where they are entertained.
So, now, 40+ years into the experiment of opening church music to “something more engaging for the youth”, we have two fully adult generations of people who cut their teeth on this music. Two generations of people who believe that the Mass should be fun and engaging are leaving the Church in droves.
Isn’t about time that we asked ourselves if the music has anything to do with that exodus?

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

Somewhere over the rainbow/Simple Gifts

The piano guys

Leave a comment

June 24, 2013 · 09:08

Dr. Wolfelt: Listen to the Music of the Past, to Dance into the Future

on death and funerals

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

Some Church Organists May Well Have Felt This Way

Some Church Organists May Well Have Felt This Way

via Robert Ramsey

Leave a comment

May 8, 2013 · 08:13

The Rune of Hospitality


Leave a comment

May 5, 2013 · 21:06

Organists (article in the “Telegraph”)

Telegraph.co.uk  Friday 03 May 2013

Beware the wrath of the church organist – musical revenge is sweet

They are the stalwart pillars of the community whose week-in, week-out dedication has kept the country’s choral traditions alive for generations.

Beware the wrath of the church organist – musical revenge is sweet

A survey of churchgoers found that at least half have noticed their organist straying from the path of musical orthodoxy  Photo: Getty Images

By , Religious Affairs Editor

7:30AM BST 03 May 2013

But, if new research is be believed, behind the quiet exterior the humble church organist is not someone to be crossed.

While charged with providing spiritually uplifting music to worshippers, it seems many also seize the opportunity to extract subtle revenge on clerics who have displeased them or simply play pranks on congregations.

A survey of churchgoers found that at least half have noticed their organist straying from the path of musical orthodoxy at some point – slipping snippets of heavy metal classics, advertising jingles and even nursery rhymes into hymns and anthems.

In some cases it can be a means of waging musical war with clerics while in others it is simply an effort by bored organists to make the choir laugh.

Christian Research, a polling and research group asked its 2,000 strong “Resonate” panel of churchgoers for their views on church music and organists.

Of those who responded, half said they had noticed an organist slipping unexpected tunes into services.

Among examples cites was that of the organist in Scotland who had fallen out with some of the elders in the Kirk but got his own back by inserting a thinly disguised rendition of “Send in the Clowns” as they processed in for a Sunday service.

Elsewhere, a vicar sacked an organist after he played “Roll out the Barrel” at the funeral of a man known to have been fond of a drink.

In one decidedly high church congregation, an organist punctured the mood of reverence as an elaborately dressed clergyman processed back after the gospel reading – by playing the theme tune to The Simpsons.

Another congregation found themselves passing around the collection plate to the strains of “Money, Money, Money” by Abba.

The survey uncovered examples of Eucharist celebrations livened up with renditions of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer”; the theme tunes from the Magic Roundabout, Blackadder and Harry Potter and even “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts”.

Sung Evensong – widely regarded as the jewel in the crown of English choral music – has been spiced up such unexpected offerings as “I’m a Barbie Girl” and “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”

One organist who responded confessed to playing hits by Oasis, Billy Bragg and even Kylie Minogue in services but added: “Nobody notices – I do it all the time.”

But when an organist played a slowed-down version of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins, even the most tone deaf members of the congregation eventually recognised, sending them into gales of laughter.

An older bridegroom took it in good humour when the organist played “No one loves a fairy when she’s 40” at his wedding” while candidates at a confirmation service were left perplexed to hear the strains of “I’m a Little Teapot” from the organ loft.

Stephen Goddard, of Christian Research, said: “It’s an oft-repeated adage in church circles – ‘What’s the difference between an organist and a terrorist? -you can negotiate with a terrorist’.

“Hidden from view, your local church organist may appear unassuming and self-deprecating, but like any true artist, he or she can be eccentric, mischievous and very opinionated.

“Mess with him at your peril – he will pull out all the stops to get his own back.”

The poll was conducted ahead of the Christian Resources Exhibition, a trade fair for all things ecclesiastical in London later this month, which will be showpiecing new organs among other things.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

Soggy Peas

The Meenister’s Log

Some years ago the Church of Scotland brought out a supplement to the then main Hymn Book (CH3 – Church Hymnary 3rd edition) – “Songs of God’s People” (aka SOGP ; aka “Soggy Peas”)

It is a mixed bag of praise items to say the least – though there are some excellent hymns in it.

A minister was once doing pulpit supply for me while I was on holiday, and following the Benediction, announced that she and the congregation would sing “you will go out with joy” as she walked back up the aisle.  As she did so, she tried to encouraging them to clap at the appropriate points.,

I heard the next week when I was back that hardly anyone participated; most looked at the floor, many folded their arms and some went out by a side door (not going out with joy, but with sullen expressions on their faces)

Here it is – make up your own minds:


On another occasion – actually on more than a couple of occasions, a retired minister who was a member of the congregation, said to me as we shook hands at the church door as the congregation left after Sunday worship “Please, Mr Strachan, not the ‘constipation hymn’ for another few months – we’ve had it too often recently”

He was, of course, referring to the hymn “Bind us Together” – quite suitable, as a friend has pointed out for “Soggy Peas”!


Once we were at an ecumenical gathering (it might have been during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity) held in a neighbouring Church of Scotland – with a sort of “different” kind of service.

I was sitting between a Congregational Minister ,who tended to be quite “up-front” in his comments, and a fellow C of S minister.

It was announced at one point that we were going to sing from Soggy Peas a Zimbabwean hymn: “Jesu tawa pano”  – at which point my C of S colleague in a stage whisper said “Jesus twa pianos – what the hell is that about!”

And my neighbour on my other side had to be restrained by me from getting up and leaving, muttering, as he did “What a load of rubbish”

Jesu, tawa pano;
Jesu, tawa pano;
Jesu, tawa pano;
tawa pano mu zita renyu.
Jesus, we are here;
Jesus, we are here;
Jesus, we are here;
we are here for you.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

Funeral Music 2



Man in the box- alex n chains

the reaper-blue oyster cult

Not dead yet- monty python

Die Another Day – Madonna

End of the Road – Boys to Men

Crash and Burn – Savage Garden

Dead End Street – Kinks


Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic