Wednesday, December 28, 2016

KC dedicates letter to Fr. Martin Fox's soliciting bad Catholic hymnals

 Father Fox, et. al.

I wrote this letter for my   pastor back in 2007 when I was agitating for us to lose our RITUALSONG  hymnal.   .................                                                                                                                                                                  05 JUL 07

......... A couple of months ago you asked me if there was something wrong with our hymnal, RitualSong.  It has taken me a while to put my thoughts on the subject in order, so please bear with me.

I will begin with a recent quote by the Pope regarding church music and Gregorian chant: ( I colored the red portions myself, not His Holiness)

"In the course of her two-thousand-year history, the Church has created, and still creates, music and songs which represent a rich patrimony of faith and love.
This heritage must not be lost. Certainly as far as the liturgy is concerned, we cannot say that one song is as good as another. Generic improvisation or the introduction of musical genres which fail to respect the meaning of the liturgy should be avoided. As an element of the liturgy, song should be well integrated into the overall celebration. Consequently everything – texts, music, execution – ought to correspond to the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, the structure of the rite and the liturgical seasons. Finally, while respecting various styles and different and highly praiseworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the synod fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy."

To RitualSong’s credit, it does have a section of Gregorian chant.  It also includes the proper readings for each Sunday.

On the down side, I briefly surveyed RitualSong’s ratio of old hymns to new (i.e. those composed after Vatican II) and the balance seems to be about a 1 to 4 ratio (old to new).  Given the perspective of 2000 years, RitualSong’s compilers opted to weight the hymnal heavily in favor of hymns most of which had yet to pass the test of time.  A huge number of RitualSong’s new hymns have already fallen into disuse and it has only been ten years since the hymnal’s release.  The compilers decided to do this at the expense of having us forget Catholic hymns which are 100, 200, 1500 years old, which have passed the test of time and have appealed to the Catholic Church throughout the ages and throughout the entire world and not just to American baby-boomers.

Secondly, on the issue of altering the lyrics of old hymns:  Whatever advantage there might be for doing that, there seem to be at least two negative things going on,
i.                 dumming us down so we won’t have to deal with “Thee’s and Thou’s” of the original, and
ii.                Altering the meaning of older hymns to match the editors’ modern problems with traditional Catholic doctrine. Below I show examples of older hymns being edited to avoid mentioning Christ’s Death as well as being edited to avoid mention of Christian Martyrdom.   Ironically we get spared Thee’s and Thou’s of old Catholic hymns, presumably we cannot understand old English, but then we are expected to understand Amen Siakudumisa, (698), Bwana Awabriki (720), Mayenziwe (725), Jesus Tawa Pano (806), Thuma Mina (796)  All these are more unintelligible than archaic English, yet they are all in RitualSong, while “Sweet Sacrament we Thee adore”, “Panis Angelicus”, Ave Verum, the Te Deum … are not. 

I feel the easiest way to illustrate my point is in the form of the table, below, which presents some of the hymns which I feel have problems and what I specifically see as a problem.  This is not exhaustive. However it did exhaust (and exasperate) me compiling it.  J 

You will see, I concentrate on RitualSong’s “Eucharistic” section.  It seems to me, in the future, if a hymnal we consider for adoption has a preponderance of its “Eucharistic” hymns being penned by protestants who don’t even believe in the Eucharist, then that should be a red flag for us, indicating that the compilers were more interested in being stylish and modern than in helping us to worship and pray as Catholics.  Earlier I forwarded to you an email from our former pastor, Bishop Flores, where he also mentions being irked by modern Eucharistic hymns, therefore I don’t think I am alone in this arena, and this raises the whole question of why we ever would want to sing hymns that irk people, like Bishop Flores, who are simply trying to be true to Catholic tradition and teaching.  Lex orandi lex credendi.  Aside from doctrinal considerations, I think it is just insensitive.

I hope and pray you will not be offended by what I have written here, and I ask forgiveness in advance  if I what I have written here seems brash or angry. (I have stopped being angry and have  ‘moved on’ to just being puzzled) I certainly think   it is the role of the committee formed to look around and make sure we have enough options to choose from (which don’t offend any Catholic believers) before we decide on our next hymnal selection.

For Example
Let Us Break Bread Together
No hint of Transubstantiation
nor of the sacrificial nature of the Mass

In Christ There is a Table Set for All
Ambiguous and confusing Eucharistic statement. However if it is remembered that the author is Methodist, then there is no real ambiguity.  The song is about the protestant “Lord’s Supper” and not about the Holy Eucharist.
“Here he gives himself to us as bread”
Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether
No hint of Transubstantiation
nor of the sacrificial nature of the Mass

Taste and See
Though it is loosely based on Psalm 34,  the only thing having remotely hinting of the Eucharist is the word “taste”
The tune is a fake gospel style complete with swaying to the music
Francis Patrick O’brien is not an. African Amercan Baptist. Just an Irish Catholic priest from Boston “tryin’ to get down”
As the Grains of Wheat
Though loosely based upon the Didache, the Eucharist’s Sacrificial emphasis which is central to the Didache, has been edited out

At That First Eucharist
This beautiful hymn has been butchered to change “Thou” into “You”, I have to wonder why  RitualSong didn’t update the protestant “How Great Thou Art?  Are only old Protestant hymns too holy to alter?
Somehow “grant us at every Eucharist to say with longing heart and soul, ‘Thy will be done’” becomes:
“At this our Eucharist again preside and in our hearts your law of love renew”
It just doesn’t have the same meaning
Song of the Body of Christ
This song seems to be all about “us”, not about Jesus, and has no hint of Transubstantiation
nor of the sacrificial nature of the Mass

Take the Bread, Children
No hint of Transubstantiation
nor of the sacrificial nature of the Mass
I believe we are to RECEIVE the Holy Eucharist, not TAKE it. Singing “take the bread” over and over, manages to simultaneously perpetuate two misconceptions in one little phrase.
All who hunger
The closest this gets to Eucharistic teaching is the statement “Jesus is the living Bread”, yet any protestant who denies Transubstantiation would make the identical statement
The author is the Canadian Protestant Union’s first self-avowed lesbian priestess
Bread to Share
No hint of Transubstantiation
nor of the sacrificial nature of the Mass

Let Us Be Bread
No hint of Transubstantiation
nor of the sacrificial nature of the Mass

Jesus Is Here Right Now
No hint of Transubstantiation
nor of the sacrificial nature of the Mass
“with this bread and wine, his peace you’ll find” contributes to an deficient understanding of the Eucharist
Now In This Banquet
It does say “Christ is our bread”, (as would any Protestant hymns,) but that is as far as it goes.
“bring us dancing into to day” hearkens back to the 70’s and liturgical dancing

A Mighty Fortress
Besides being The ‘battle hymn’ of the Reformers because it was written by the man who split the Church. Martin Luther believed many odd things, e.g. there is no free will, God hates the vast majority of humanity, the souls of the blessed sleep until Christ returns, mentally retarded people are “changelings” and should be euthanized, polygamy is ok, and many other errors.

Gather Us In

Not in some heaven light-years away” (last verse)
seems to be sneering at the Catholic teaching on the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell.  Maybe it is only sneering at #3.
I Danced in the Morning
Flippant lyrics, which put rhyming and cuteness above reverence

“I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black
It’s hard to dance with devil on your back”
The author, explains his pithy lyrics  as follows:
"I see Christ as the incarnation of the piper who is calling us. He dances that shape and pattern which is at the heart of our reality. By Christ I mean not only Jesus; in other times and places, other planets, there may be other Lords of the Dance”

Faith of our Fathers
Unrecognizable when compared to the original. 
The martyrdom verse has been edited out and replaced with a trendy “faith of our brothers and sisters”
Crown Him with many Crowns
The changes made to this beautiful hymn seem to be made just for the sake of change but then again……….
Changing “Of Him who died for Thee”
“Of Him who set us free’ seems to be doctrinally driven by the modernist reluctance to mention Christ’s Redeeming Death.

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