Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Not necessarily Amazing Grace, either. In fact, I will admit to using Amazing Grace last weekend. After all, it was the prodigal son gospel reading that was read (at least at Holy Ghost - I know some parishes, like Nick's cathedral, had RCIA/Year A readings for at least one Mass). He was lost, but has been found.

Now, had this been the blind man gospel, I'd be longing for a hymnal that had Thou, Whose Almighty Word. The second verse sings out, Thou who didst come to bring on thy redeeming wing healing and sight, health to the sick in mind, sight to the inly blind, now unto all mankind, let there be light.

Truthfully, there could be a lot worse fare sung. One that comes to mind is the Wreck of the Haugen-Fitzgerald, which goes, Gather us in, the lost and forsaken, gather us in, the blind and the lame. The melody itself is lame. And just to prove how bad it is, even in parishes that I have worked that prefer the contemporary fare, the congregation response to Gather Us In was the pits. And at least Amazing Grace mentions or addresses the Lord at least once (Gather Us In does not, ever).

Back to Amazing Grace... even a traditionalist like my own boss has no problem with the hymn, citing the same reasoning I have. Some say it's a Protestant hymn. But I have to admit it does go good with that Lent IV gospel reading.

One of my parishioners, a former Catholic organist, once asked me, "Hey Brian, what's with the Protestant music?" And she goes to mention Faith of our Fathers. Her face dropped to the ground when I mentioned that the text of Faith of our Fathers was written by a Catholic priest (Fr. Frederick W. Faber). I could name a bunch of hymns whose Catholicity could be questioned (at best) THAT ARE STILL used at Holy Mass. Many appear in such hymnals as Glory and Praise and Gather. Text wouldn't be the sole issue here. In the case of many, the music itself would be an issue.

Red Sox cap tip to Domini Sumus, who got it from Salve Regina (who has been added to our definitive blogroll).

At the same time, in many cases, a good solid Low Mass, without music, can be just as good, if not better, and far more prayerful, than enduring sixty minutes of entertainment. Sure, I'd rather have music at Mass - if it's done right, and the selections are good, and well-presented. But in the case of the banal dominating the Mass schedule, a good serene Low Mass is far better for a prayerful environment.

Remember the days of choices in the '70's? I remember one parish that had the following for a schedule?
Saturday 5:00 (organ music only) and 7:00 PM (folk Mass)
Sunday 8:00 (in French), 10:00 (choir), 11:30 AM (hymns)

Nowadays it seems to be the organ/traditional choir gets one Mass while the other three are done by three different folk groups. What happened to "pride of place?" I don't think that meant "last place".

Red Sox cap tip to Jeffrey Tucker at NLM.


1 comment:

PhiMuAlpha2681 said...

Here's my defense of the hymn, as written in the comment section on another blog...


Remember that this text is the personal reflection of John Newton, a sailor and slave trader who was converted to Christianity and realized the error of his ways. After his conversion he eventually left the slave trade and became an Anglican priest. The "I once was lost but now I'm found" would be an analogy to the time before he found Christ, and probably a reference to the Parable of the Lost Sheep. (NB-NOW I THINK IT'S THE PRODIGAL SON)The "blind but now I see" more than likely is a Scripture reference to the Parable of the Man Born Blind, except Newton was expressing his blindness by sin. The "hour I first believed" was the moment of his conversion. This is a very personal text. It may not apply as much to cradle Catholics, but it may very well resonate with the Elect who are preparing for baptism as adults, and who would very well remember the hour they first believed, and yearned to be washed in the waters of baptism, filled with sanctifying grace, and fed with the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. Sanctifying grace is received at baptism (cf. CCC #1999), so in the case of an adult catechumen, no, sanctifying grace would not always have been with them.

There are many who believe that "Amazing Grace" does not belong in Catholic hymnal. I believe that the text has merit, and can be viewed through a Catholic lens.