I've taken the liberty of checking out this old article in CRISIS magazine, dated January 2002.
Yes, I agree that OCP (Oregon Catholic Press) has had a big hand in keeping the not-so-sacred styles of music in its worship aids since the late 1970's. And after a beef with Bari Columbari, the senior editor, over something I posted in one of the message boards, I sent him one heck of a review (nine pages) of their 2005 "Music Issue". He listened. He may not agree, but he listened.
However, OCP is NOT the only hidden hand behind bad music. Yes, OCP has infested the music issue with schlock by the St. Louis Jesuits, the Monks of Weston Priory, the Dameans, and (worst of all) Carey Landry. Two publishers already had them beat.
FEL Publications had a good share of garbage that dates to the mid to late '60's, with Ray Repp being its main ringmaster. World Library Publications was the first to publish the music of Joe Wise and Jack Miffleton (remember "Monday mornings, Lord, and Sunday papers", from "All I Am, I Give to You"?).
In the mid '70's, two other publishers were taking in junk, but on a smaller scale. GIA Publications was doing really well with Worship II, which was an excellent hymnal, and a really good effort to bring hardcover hymnals to Roman Catholics here in the States. Most popular of the little bit of junk was "I Am the Bread of Life". Although it had hit big with a number of folk groups in my area, it was written with a not-too-shabby organ accompaniment. I guess my fault against it is that we're singing to be Jesus in the first person - a problem with much of the contemporary fare. The other publisher in mind is the Liturgical Press, maker of the famous "Our Parish Prays and Sings" hymnal of the 60's, and the missalette "Celebrating the Eucharist". In the mid 70's, Liturgical Press released "Book of Sacred Song", which, although primarily traditional, did print some pieces that would be completely strange to Catholic worship, like "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands", and "More than Nineteen Hundred Years Ago."
However, GIA took a turn for the worse in the early '80's. Though "Worship II" was doing really good, they started out with a small book called "Gather to Remember", a book about the size of one of the original "Glory and Praise" volumes, which consisted of all folk music. They published "Worship, Third Edition" (affectionately known as "Worship III"). Though still an excellent hymnal in terms of repertoire, this new edition of Worship caught on with that poor practice of using a modern language in many of the standard hymns - that is - a language that eliminates the so-called "sexism" ("mankind", "man", etc., which is assumed, "humanity") and older poetic English ("thee", "thou", and "thy" becoming "you" and "your"). Had many of these authors of hymns be still alive, would they allow such revisions to their texts? Much of the change in text resulted in a whole new meaning of the hymn, often poor poetry, and sometimes even bad theology. Worse is the mass publishing of music by Marty Haugen and David Haas - songs (I refuse to refer to these types as hymns) which are either poor music (unsingable, too high for the average congregation, etc.) or bad theology ("A banquet hall on holy ground"). In 1987, GIA teamed up with North American Liturgy Resources (makers of the infamous "Glory and Praise") to introduce "Gather", a hardcover hymnal (and I use that term loosely) whose repertoire is the total opposite of "Worship". And look at all that Haugen and Haas! What gets me is how so many can go ga-ga over the music of Marty Haugen, who's just as Lutheran as Martin Luther himself, despite Luther's own music being of higher quality.
Another problem, even bigger than bad hymns, is when the Ordinary of the Mass is altered by composers, and of course accepted by their publishers. Let's explore:
St. Louis Jesuits Mass
The famed "Gloria" of John Foley which seems to be more the "Dona Gloria" - Give glory to God in the highest.
The Sanctus - Hosanna on high - that's it??? on high??? The Lord's not good enough to have his Hosannas raised to him in the highest???
The Mysterium Fidei - The settings for Memorial Acclamations A, B, and D are textually fine. However, Memorial Acclamation C goes: When we eat this bread of life, when we drink of this holy cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, till you come again.
The Per Ipsum - "Amen" is plenty sufficient. The "for ever and ever" is part of the celebrant's part. The "Alleluia" doesn't belong there.
The Agnus Dei - does not need all these extra verses.
Mass of Creation
The Gloria is textually unaltered.
The Sanctus - God of power, God of might???
The Agnus Dei - Jesus, Lamb of God??? "Jesus, Agnus Dei???"; Grant us your peace??? "Dona nobis pacem tuum???"
These are just two examples. I could go on, but to save space, I went with the two most "popular" settings, or should I say, the two "biggest hits". Now, let me ask you --- Who on earth gave these composers and publishers the right to alter the Ordinary of the Mass??? It sure wasn't Rome. It sure wasn't the USCCB. But yet the "Nihil Obstat" and "Imprimatur" gets fixed on all these dang publications. Pastors allow this junk to fly. And God forbid - if you phase out "Mass of Creation", you might just lose your job. I did, but rebounded by going to a parish who (thank God) doesn't allow such abuse.
But this is living proof, however, that OCP is not alone in being this "hidden hand behind bad music".
+ In Christ,