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.