Saturday, November 03, 2007

Hymns and P&W, oh my!

Fr. Dwight Longenecker has put up two posts that deserve some attention. First, he takes to task he state of the hymns commonly in use in the Catholic Church today. His most critical point, to my mind, is the following:

The final problem is that too many hymn writers seem to have little understanding of either Scripture, the symbols and types of the faith or the theology of the faith. The great old hymns that have stood the test of time were written from the authors' deep immersion in the great themes of Scripture, the great stories of the Old Testament and the great theological concepts that inspire and instruct us as we sing. The newer stuff tends to be dumbed down, sentimental and weak.
I can't help but underline that point. Much of the new hymnody we are faced with today simply has no depth to it and very often does not seem to understand in which direction our attention should be pointed. St. Augustine was decidedly not thinking of Bread of Life when he so famously said "he who sing well prays twice". While I'm making recommendations, do not miss his point on Gregorian chant, the music of the Church. It's not as hard as people would make it out to be.

Then he follows that up with an honest assessment of the use of praise and worship music at Mass. I can't agree with him more. Every one of the few times I forced myself to go to a Mass with P&W it was the middle-aged adults who were "moving to the groove" while most of the teens to whom this music was purportedly aimed looked at least as disinterested as any ever did at a "normal" Mass. I applaud the efforts of the liturgists to try to reach out to what can be sometimes intransigent kids, I really do. But the first lesson you learn as your kids age is that they simply aren't interested in the same things you are now, nor what you were interested in at their age. If you want to "reach kids where they're at" you have to figure out where they are, not where you are or were. The world is different now, even if a few of them do have lava lamps.