måndag 13 maj 2013

Is there such a thing as Catholic music?

Is there such a thing as Catholic music? The question arose because I argued that pieces from Bach's St Matthew's Passion, fine though they were, had no place in the Catholic liturgy. Did this mean that music written by non-Catholics should be excluded? I was accused of being narrow-minded for making such a suggestion.

Surely music used in the Catholic liturgy should be music that was written for the purpose? The Catholic liturgy is not a concert, nor is it a performance. First and foremost, it is prayer. It is not as if there is a shortage of suitable music. In the case of the Good Friday liturgy, for which the St Matthew's Passion piece was suggested, there are, for instance, the well-know Allegri's Miserere and the recent composition by MacMillan.
Another version by Lotti

Adoremus te Christe by Palestrina

Another version by Monteverdi

Crux Fidelis by King John of Portugal

There is wonderful but rarely heard music written for the purpose which is an integral part of the Catholic heritage, yet rarely heard. Surely this should take precedence in the Catholic liturgy over music written for the Lutheran liturgy and which is regularly performed? But an important reason for not using Protestant music is that it is infused with the spirit of Protestantism. There is fine music written for the Anglican church by composers such as Orlando Gibbons, Purcell, Blow, Pelham Humphrey, Weelks, etc. I have a collection of it on my i-Pod but I would not suggest it belongs in the Catholic liturgy, especially if it squeezes out music that was written for the purpose.

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