Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Narcissistic Self Worship--is it in your hymnal?

The idea for this next post was shamelessly stolen from Overheard in the Sacristy. It hit me, not only because banal lyrics for "church songs" (can't really call them hymns) is one of my pet peeves, but also because the contrast between some of these songs and the hymns from my previous post is glaringly obvious.

Ok, on to the post. Most "modern" church music is badly written, musically, and close to heretically written, lyrically. Many of these songs are virtually impossible for large groups to sing, having been written by and for solo guitar and voice.

The lyrics are even worse. Besides the confusing habit that new church songs have of letting the congregation sing from the point of view of GOD (gee, do you think this is UNINTENTIONAL?!), there are lyrics in the Eucharistic section of our "hymnal" that insist on talking over and over about the "bread and wine" and how we are "gathering" at the "table". People, if it's just bread and wine--if it's just a table--it's NOT a Catholic Church!!! You can do that at home!

The Worst of the Narcissistic Navel Gazing Offenders

In his article Ritus Narcissus: Why Do We Sing Ourselves and Celebrate Ourselves, Father Paul Scalia talks about a number of the worst of these songs.

"Bread of Life" by Rory Cooney has some of the most anti-Catholic lyrics you will come across in a Catholic Church.

I myself am the bread of life.
You and I are the bread of life
taken and blessed
broken and shared
by Christ
that the world may live.

Similarly, "The Bread that we Share" by Dominic MacAller says the following:

We become for each other
the bread,
the cup.

I DON'T THINK SO! If "you and I" are the Bread of Life, then we are in big trouble and all that the Church teaches is in vain. If you want a totally symbolic Eucharist, there are many, many Protestant churches to choose from. You can even start your own!

This next one, I think, should be the Narcissistic National Anthem. It is, appropriately enough, called "Anthem" by Tom Conry.

We are called,
We are chosen.
We are Christ for one another.
We are promise to tomorrow while we are for him today.
We are sign.
We are wonder.
We are sower.
We are seed.

We are harvest.
We are hunger.
We are question.
We are creed.

NOoooooooooooo! Tell me this song is not "all about me"! This song DARES to take images from Scripture that are about God Himself, and turn them into a song all about human beings!! How many times can one song that we are supposed to sing in church, in the very Presence of God, put the word "we" in it?!?! The audacity makes me speechless.

The Church is not "all about me". We do not go to church to discover ourselves, to celebrate ourselves or to feel good about ourselves. We go to church to worship. The very concept of worship means that we are worshiping a Higher Power--higher than ourselves. Higher than we could ever be. We are not the Bread of Life. We are not Christ. We are not The Sower. We are not Creed.

Sadly, generations have now grown up on this anti-Catholic crap. Many have no idea of the musical and lyrical beauty that is the heritage of the Catholic Church, and, as a result, many do not know the very teachings of the Church, because the "hymns" they sang at Mass every week went completely against those teachings.


diana said...

You said it all...I never knew the bread became the Body of Christ growing up...I really did think it was just bread, possibly a symbol...and those songs just reinforce that.

This of course, is hold overs from the 1970's feel goodies. I literally cannot attend mass at a parish with this music. I would rather have no music at all.

4HisChurch said...

I heard somewhere that the very early Masses that many parishes have are often called "musicians Masses" because they are without music. That way, musicians like my dh can go and not cringe every time a song is sung.

I really do like to participate when I am at Mass--I often find myself singing even songs I don't really like. But ones like these in this post, I don't think I can bring myself to sing.

Cygnus said...

Compare Conry's abomination to Rush's "Anthem", a tribute to Ayn Rand's book of the same name:

Know your place in life is where you want to be
Don't let them tell you that you owe it all to me
Keep on looking use in looking 'round
Hold your head above the ground and they won't bring you down

Anthem of the heart and anthem of the mind
A funeral dirge for eyes gone blind
We marvel after those who sought
The wonders of the world, wonders of the world
Wonders of the world they wrought

Live for yourself...there's no one else
More worth living for
Begging hands and bleeding hearts will only cry out for more

Well, I know they've always told you
Selfishness was wrong
Yet it was for me, not you, I came to write this song

Aren't those last two lines akin to what Conry must have been thinking?

Conry is also the one who inflicted "Ashes" upon us. I remember when I rose again from ashes and created myself anew; that was FUN! (/sarcasm)

And don't get me started on "Sing A New Church."

4HisChurch said...

I thought maybe you'd weigh in soon, Cygnus! I don't even want to ponder why the Church has allowed such drivel to be sung for so many years now. It makes me shudder just thinking about it!

I think "Ashes" and "Sing a New Church" are two of the worst.

Anonymous said...

Thank God, we've never had "Ashes" or "We Are Church" foisted on us at our parish -- but it wouldn't surprise me at all if an attempt was made. Dymphna, I agree completely with you on this. I'm organist for a choir which has 2 younger directors who grew up with this stuff, and think it's the cat's meow... and like Cygnus, i can say, "don't get me started'. Last year I was lucky enough to attend the Music Colloquium in DC, and thought I'd died and gone to heaven! I came back with a simple, 4-part piece that our choir could easily handle, handed it over to our directors, and havne't heard of it since. I suspect it ended up in the circular file. As a musician, I cringe at having to play this kind of music, which doesn't work on the pipe organ, and there has been a lot of conflict among the 3 of us about liturgical/artistic issues. This coming year will be my final one as organist -- I'm just getting too old for this!

4HisChurch said...

Well, anon, there is a woman who is chafing at the bit to direct a choir at our parish and she wants dh to play. I know he doesn't want to deal with it, for just the reasons you state.

Dymphna's favorite quotes

"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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