Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Guitar has always been incompatible with the Faith

In the Winter issue of Drawing Magazine, there's an article on the Spanish Masters, of which Francisco de Goya is counted. The drawing above is titled "A Nun Frightened by a Ghost", c. 1812–20 The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Now, way back when this was produced, roughly 140 years before Vatican II, de Goya had no way of knowing what was down the road for the Church...or did he?

Either way, it's plainly obvious that the nun is more frightened by the guitar than she is by the musical directo- um, I mean ghost.


Anonymous said...

There is nothing more pleasing to God musically, than to render authentic and organic praise by means of the gift of song through human voices. Even the organ can often be more of a distraction and become overpowering. The guitar is out of place in The Holy Sacrifice of The Mass because it is more of a secular instrument reminding us of common and profane (aka="fun") things.
Creepy and prophetic, indeed.

Aaron Wentworth said...

(In reply to Mona, dtd Feb. 25, 2011)
Not everyone is drawn to Christ through Gregorian chant. People are motivated by all different kinds of music. Music was created by God and, in my opinion, it cannot be distorted until man adds his lyrics to the compilation. Whichever music motivates (stirs) someone to become closer to God is beneficial and good and should not be disparaged based off someone’s preference for a different style of music.

Who says loving God cannot be FUN! If God did not want us to have fun, he would have not have given us a sense of humor. We wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between what is fun and not fun. Humor and FUN within the context of healthy Christian relationships and gatherings makes people more comfortable and encourages them to spend more of their time doing those activities. In other words, If Mass is fun or if religious education is fun, more people will come and thus spreading the Word of God to a larger population.

Mass should be a reflection of your life or at least the way your life should be. We should not enter the church and change our attitudes and the way we act, and then forget all that was taught when they leave the church building. My children listen to Christian based music on our radio, including Christian Rock wraith with guitar rhythms to make sure it is as FUN to listen to as secular music, which by the way gives them something to do that prevents them from seeking out secular music. However they receive a good Christian message while listening to the music I choose. It would be hypocritical to listen to that type of music considering it to be of a Christian nature and containing a Christian message, then turn around and say it is not appropriate for use in the house of God. It may not be appropriate for certain aspects or moods, but that is more a matter of preference.

In conclusion, the human voice, while an amazing instrument and totally pleasing to the Lord, is not the only instrument we can use to glorify and praise the lord. Music in Mass should not be limited to the Organ, harp and a capella renditions of hymns. All music that is pleasing to the lord and motivates people to attend Mass on a regular basis, especially the Catholics who only attend Mass on Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday, should not only be used but also encouraged by the Church.

Paul Nichols said...

In other words, If Mass is fun or if religious education is fun, more people will come and thus spreading the Word of God to a larger population.
Aaron, I would argue that the proof is in the pudding. Dumbing down the Mass to the point that it's "fun" or, pardon the term, "vulgar", certainly hasn't drawn more people to it. The experiments of the 60's & 70's has driven far more people away from the Mass than they've drawn in.

The Mass should be something "set apart" from what we do every other day of the week. Nobody likes a good time more than me (class clown St. John's 1978), but there are times & places for frivolity, and the Mass isn't one of them.

And although I'd lose no sleep if the guitar was banned from the Mass, I don't know that I'd go so far as to say that it's "always" inappropriate, except at a Latin Mass. It might work at a Novus Ordo, but that says more about the Novus Ordo than it says about the guitar. As a matter of fact, I went to a Sunday night Mass at Mt. Saint Mary's University and the student choir employed a guitar. Not exactly my cup of tea, but they employed it tastefully.

Our Faith has always been one that draws up out & up from our everyday lives, and the Mass should do the same, not be something that fits seamlessly into our secular existence.

Paul Nichols said...

I should have said our Faith is one that draws US up and out...

Bill Hoog said...

I just KNEW this would bring out the "guitar/folk" Mass Zombies! (No offense) There is a time and a place, we need to accept it!!

Anonymous said...


Bought some bumper sticks.(and other things)

They read "When exactly does the next crusade begin?"

My bothers and I bought some...not what we where looking for, will do as for now.

I am wondering and my many bothers, what happen to "Jihad we will show a jihad" (text might be wrong) it had, one could assume a Templar knight or at the least a crusader dressed to defend Catholic virtues.

Any ideal where we could find the bumper stickers?

Anonymous said...
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kkollwitz said...

"The Guitar has never been compatible with the Faith"

What, never? No, never!
What, never? No, never!
What, never? Well, hardly ever.

kkollwitz said...

"If Mass is fun or if religious education is fun"

Uh-oh; in my first Catechism class of each year I tell the kids there will be no fun in my class, only suffering.

Restore-DC-Catholicism said...

The post title itself is illogical. Sin is incompatible with the faith, but not a musical instrument used properly. I agree that the guitar is not to be the common instrument that it is today, as it can lead to "Bob Dylan" or "Simon and Garfunkel" stuff being played in Church. However, consider the popular Christmas hymn "Silent Night". How many are aware that this song was written for the guitar? I think it wise to jettison the word "always" from the post title.

Paul Nichols said...

Easy there, Restore, the post was merely for a laugh or two.

No harm done, methinks...

Anita Moore said...

Aaron: the Mass is the re-presentation in an unbloody manner of the August Sacrifice of Calvary. When we attend Mass, we are truly present at the foot of the Cross, along with the sorrowing Mother of God and St. John and the Magdalene, every bit as much as if we had been plucked out of our own time and place and placed on Calvary, 33 A.D. Whatever we would not do at the foot of the Cross, we should be ashamed to do at Mass, because that is exactly where we are.

What kind of music is appropriate at Mass ought to be guided by the overwhelming fact that the Mass and Calvary are one and the same. But in case more is needed, the Church also teaches that anything that smacks of the profane and secular does not belong at Mass. It is therefore not a mere matter of taste or opinion: the Church has laid down the law for us.

And even if it were a matter of opinion, why should your opinion prevail over mine?

Anita Moore said...

Mona: actually, "profane" means worldly. Otherwise, all true.

Paul Nichols said...

What kind of music is appropriate at Mass ought to be guided by the overwhelming fact that the Mass and Calvary are one and the same.
I think this distinction is lost on so many in today's average parish, because this reality is so downplayed or denied in favor of the idea that we're attending a "memorial meal". As such, if what we're attending is akin to a family gathering around a "table", then it stands to reason that profane music would be acceptable.

This is why we can make the observation that certain types of music are appropriate for the ordinary form, but are entirely inappropriate for the extraordinary form. The elephant in that room is that the two rites are entirely different in both their presentation of the Faith and, therefore, their efficacy.

Anita Moore said...

Actually, since both the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form are the Mass, and both identical with Calvary, the secular-type music is not okay at the Ordinary Form, either. But the Mystery of Faith is so obfuscated in the Ordinary Form as celebrated in so many places that people have the idea that it is appropriate. It's not.

Anonymous said...

People indeed need to be motivated by the Word of God Who is Jesus Christ; not over their "choice" of music and/or instruments! The Church is NOT a Democracy ; it is Holy and the steps up to each Church lead us off the street and away from earthly pleasures and cares to the closest place there is on earth to heaven: The place where The unbloody Sacrifice of the Mass is being offered! Why is it argued that we should bring in what personally moves us or that which we prefer?

Incidentally: Franz Grueber wrote Silent Night and the guitar was used as an emergency replacement for an organ that was in not working (the reason escapes me at the moment). Hardly an endorsement for the guitar in church as an acceptable norm.

We all have opinions; this is not a church of opinions. Read what Pius X said and did about profane music in Church. The more that the street brings into The Holy Mass; the less we are able to give and focus on Jesus' Sacrifice. That is not my opinion; that is a fat proven by the way the Mass is treated and how people behave. I do not judge souls; but we all must judge what we see.

Save opinion; look around and see.

lauermar said...

The sacrifice of the Catholic mass is about reverence. It contrasts sharply with Protestant community-based worship, which is directed toward the "self", i.e. the worshiper. Catholic services are directed towards God, in the way He wishes to be revered. Holy music sets the tone. It isn't about social gatherings, fun, or entertainment for an audience. These things can properly take place in parish gatherings in the auditorium outside mass. Do TLMs attract fewer worshipers? The opposite is true.

My parish has a perfectly good organ they refuse to use. Instead, they're hitting us up for $75K to fix an acoustic piano able to be heard in our large church.

Paul Nichols said...

My parish has a perfectly good organ they refuse to use. Instead, they're hitting us up for $75K to fix an acoustic piano able to be heard in our large church.
This is the problem with "parish councils" - they're usually made up of people who want to make things more "entertaining". Sit in on a parish council meeting and suggest we find ways to bring more "reverence" and look at the blank stares you'll get.

Anthony S. Layne said...

I was just thinking to myself that it's wierd how Goya apparently anticipated the Fender Stratocaster knock-off ....

Piano Lessons san mateo said...
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