Monday, May 18, 2009

On Teen Mass Music

As a liturgist-in-training with traditional leanings, I have strong opinions on liturgical music.  However, when I attend Mass away from my home parish (especially at youth ministry events), I try to leave my thoughts behind and pray the Mass with an open mind an a joyful heart, despite my personal intellectual (and, often, aesthetic) distaste for the music.  Last night was one such case.

The vocalists were wonderful: their voices carried, they blended well in their four-part harmonies, and they were fairly easy to follow for a congregation who didn't know the melody.  The keyboardist was fine; I didn't notice much about her one way or the other.  The bassist was right on target, and his volume might even have been perfect had the guitars been audible at all (instead, he was much too loud, and the music was empty, missing the core that kept it all together).

But what really ruined it was the percussion.  First off, they had two girls ringing tambourines.  Few things alienate musically-inclined high schoolers like tambourines thrown into a band.  Then, the drummer.  He was a good drummer (though heavy on the bass drum for my taste), but he _really liked his cymbals!_  And that, too, seemed to turn the kids off.

I don't know.  Maybe it's just me.  Perhaps the high schoolers really do like bad-karaoke-background-music style music for worship.  Maybe the swaying some girls did to the beat of the drum was because they were really praising the Lord.  But it seemed very easy for everyone to lean over and talk to their neighbor during Mass (even I am guilty there, though I tried to remind myself this was the Sacred Liturgy).

And for a style of liturgy in which the music is rockin' and the words are just kind of said because you can't do anything to jazz them up: the "rock" was really missing something.

I miss the chanting at home.  :)


  1. Unless there is a choir singing, the music at most Catholic churches is well... bad. We either drone on like mindless-zombie-God-slaves who appear to be trapped against our will, or at the youth Mass, the music seems like Tommy just got his band its first big gig!

    I have yet to find a Church that had something lively, but respectful.

  2. I was spoiled by four years at Steubenville (talented musicians, music lively yet respectful). And they chose things with decent lyrics that were theologically correct and related to the feast of the day or the themes in the readings.

    Don't judge the University (and its liturgies) by its conferences. Especially its youth conferences.


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