Monday, January 12, 2009

Have I mentioned I hate the Guitar Mass?

Another big holiday, another Mass ruined by the guitar. My parish is tolerable. And when I say tolerable, I mean it in the sense that at least it's not as bad as many others out there. Once a month, the hippies take over in full force and the 10:30 Mass is a 1970's-era guitar fest. Truly awful. On those days, I try to go somewhere else. On occasion, I've walked out. Once I gathered up the kids and we walked out on Easter Sunday. Of all days, Easter Sunday! It's bad enough that they get to ruin a Mass on the 2nd Sunday of every month, but when they also get to ruin the BIG ONES, well, that's just plain wrong.

This past Christmas, I made the mistake of going to the 7:30 instead of the Midnight Mass. So me and the kids are sitting there before mass and we hear it - the strum of a guitar. Someone's warming up a guitar! My daughter looked at me and I just rolled my eyes. We joke about "offering it up". My 12-year old leans over to me and says "I hate the guitar mass". I said, "Yea, me too, but we'll suffer through it this time."

To top it off, instead of a homily, we were treated to a visiting priest reading a story from a kid's Christmas book! I swear it took every bit of 20-25 minutes to get through that book. Worst. Christmas. Mass. Ever. Thanks Vatican II!


the Egyptian said...

At least you usually know when it is coming, our Musical Director, (who really CAN make an organ sing) springs it on us, this last Sunday we were treated to an impromptu organ, guitar duet, Sucked Big. And we just spent north of 180,000 dollars rebuilding our pipe organ, one of the biggest in the deanery, and we also have an electric piano in the loft and a real one in the sanctuary. NO DANG GUITAR!!!

Paul Nichols said...

The unfortunate thing is that we only have 2 Masses on Sunday - 7 am and 10:30 am. So if you want to avoid the guitars, you have to get up early and go to 7 am. That's fine, unless you have kids...

Anonymous said...

What's funny about this is that a day or so ago I looked into the Grateful Dead to see how much I had been missing, and I was stunned to hear just how lousy their music was. Your picture reminded me of Jerry Garcia.

The problem is that the hippie guitar masses are what those people have been trained to do, it is so deeply ingrained in their head they can't see it. On top of that, this IS the way they are taught Mass is supposed to be done.

p.s. does the mouse hole on the picture have any significance?
I simply stopped going to the 10am local mass because of the music.

I suggest people check out:
to find other local masses where you can hopefully find some respectful parish to attend.

A Secular Franciscan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Secular Franciscan said...

Gee, I'm an old timer (well, 53) and I play guitar in a church band called Rock of Faith. Acoustic guitar. Electric guitar. Electric bass. Keyboards. Sometimes flute and saxophone. Some original compositions.

We play for youth/school Masses about once a month. Folks seem to appreciated the alternative to the traditional choir (with which I also sing).

If people don't like the "rock" music, they can just choose not to come to that particular Mass - which is always announced in advance.

God has given us a variety of gifts - and I think it's great we can use that variety to praise Him.

Bill Hoog said...

Wow did you get the bearded pony tailed old hippy running the "music ministry" at my old parish!! It's uncanny!

I remember my first "hootenanny" mass back in the sixties & turning to my brother telling him "This ain't the Mass!"

Thomas said...

To Lee Strong,

I don't think that the people here are complaining about the simple presence of guitar masses so much as being forced to attend them, especially whenever it's a major mass. So often do music directors decided to use non-liturgical instruments as an "enhancement" to worship rather than label it as what it is, an alternative.

For example, I go to a parish that has that view. At midnight mass last year, the music was done by a handbell choir with accompaniment from guitars. A mass like midnight mass is not one that an alternative form of worship should be forced upon. Sure, you could tell the traditional folk just to go to the other masses, but midnight mass is such a uniquely Catholic event that it would be wrong to do so.

The same thing happened at last year's Easter vigil. The Easter vigil, probably one of the most important masses of the year(Like midnight mass), and the processional hymn was "Gather us In," to an army of 4 guitars and a tambourine. Once again, you could just tell the traditional folk to go to the Sunday mass alone, but Easter vigil is an important mass for many Catholic (Most) to not go to it.

My last example was my own Confirmation mass, last year on April 27. It was done by a praise band like you describe; guitars, electric bass, keyboard. I knew a few weeks before the mass that it was going to be like that, and I prayed that Father "Anonymous" would change it and offer a more solemn liturgy for the bishop to celebrate, but that didn't happen. Possibly the most important spiritual event of my life, turned into more of a casual concert than a solemn public profession of faith.

If people want guitar masses for retreats or youth groups or whatever, fine. I just ask that alternative worship isn't imposed on us who desire a more traditional liturgy and on major feast day/baptism/confirmation/etc masses.

Of course, this is just IMHO.

With peace
-T. Leger

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

I swear if I hear one more guitar in Mass, I'm going to walk up, un plug that dumb amplifier, break it right in front of them, point them straight to the Choir loft, and walk on my merry way.

I'm sorry that you had to endure this horror show. I'm 23 and hate the guitar Mass with as much passion as anyone.

Guitars, just like the Tidings, make great fuel for my fireplace :)

Paul Nichols said...

"If people don't like the "rock" music, they can just choose not to come to that particular Mass - which is always announced in advance."
Unfortunately, Mr. Strong and his crowd still hold sway over most parishes these days. Fortunately, their time is running short. While it may come as a surprise to Mr. Strong and the like, there are those of us out there who happen to LIKE Catholicism in it's true form, and not in the Hippie Form.

The sad thing is that there are so many people who've been fed the Hippie Form for so long that they don't even realize it for the garbage that it is.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Exactly Paul, exactly, this junk has been engraved in their heads for so long, the unfortunate solution is biological for many.

Fortunately, some (at least the ones I know) are tired of this junk and want the Truth, and actual Church Music at Mass.

Anita Moore said...

Don't forget the "cantor" standing on a platform at the front of the church doing semaphores to "direct" the congregation.

Lee, they don't always announce rock Masses ahead of time. This is because our betters know many of us will not willingly attend them, but they have determined that it is necessary for us to be subjected to them all the same in order to cure us of our "narrow-mindedness." Sadly, our "narrow-mindedness" includes the realization that secular instruments and musical styles are not appropriate at Mass precisely because they are secular and not conducive to an atmosphere of worship.

Paul, compared to Jesus, we are lucky. We can duck out of a hippie Mass, or avoid it altogether (subject to the realities described in the second paragraph above). But Jesus, because He makes Himself subject to His priests on the altar, has to attend each and every single one of these travesties (assuming the Mass is valid)!

A Secular Franciscan said...

"Unfortunately, Mr. Strong and his crowd still hold sway over most parishes these days. Fortunately, their time is running short. While it may come as a surprise to Mr. Strong and the like, there are those of us out there who happen to LIKE Catholicism in it's true form, and not in the Hippie Form.

The sad thing is that there are so many people who've been fed the Hippie Form for so long that they don't even realize it for the garbage that it is."

Gee, what did I do to offend you??!

Anonymous said...

I am 1/2 and 1/2 with the posts here.

First, yes I do not like the "rock concert mass".

But on the other hand, what are we teaching our kids if we "walk out of Easter mass". It seems to me that we are sending our children the wrong message. Jesus was still in the mass.

Also, organ is talked about in some posts or traditional. But when did organs begin? 500 or so years ago? I bet many people were complaining about organs and calling them hippie and the conservative people didn't like them. I am sure that organs were trendy and that is why they were adopted in mass. I know that Jesus didn't have count dracula playing an organ at the last supper.

Just things to think about.

Paul Nichols said...

"Gee, what did I do to offend you??!"
Nothing at all, Lee. What you see as normal, the rest of us see as an abomination and a twisting of what the Mass is supposed to be.

And the idea that we can "choose not to attend" is so very typical, if you don't mind my saying, of your crowd.

In many cases, it's not so simple as "not attending", since:
1) At my parish, there are only the 7 am and 10:30 am Masses. I want to take my kids to Mass, but I'm not going to get the little ones up to go at 7 am. And I'd rather they not be subjected to the 10:30.

2)The other parishes within reasonable driving distance all offer the same crappy music - in one case it's even worse.

And, while in some cases it IS announced ahead of time, sometimes it's not.

I love guitars as much as the next guy, sometimes even more so, judging by my choice of music, but it doesn't belong at the Mass.

And as to walking out of Mass, it shows my children that, in life -and sometimes at Church - there are some things that you shouldn't tolerate.

I was really angry after this Christmas Mass, not only for me, but because my kids get the idea that this dreadful display is what is to be expected at Mass.

The guitar symbolizes that, no matter what the Pope says, "these people" still hold sway over the American Church. They don't want solemnity; they want Campfire Catholicism. And they want the rest of us to have to be stuck with it.

A Secular Franciscan said...

What do I see as "normal"?

The guitar-oriented music?

The organ led music with choir and four-part harmony, including Gregorian chant?

I do both.

I also appreciate the beauty of jazz music at Mass, Gospel music at Mass, bell choirs at Mass, Hispanic music at Mass, and more.

I appreciate the gift of music - music that is done well and fits the service. Long drum solos? No. Vocal pyrothecnics that are more about showing off than praising the Lord? No. Sloppy folkie music? No. Lousy organ music? No.

I was troubled by the pejorative tone of "Mr Strong and his crowd," "Mr. Strong and the like" and "your crowd." Yes, I do mind - I don't like being stereotyped and dismissed.

How would you know what crowd I'm part of? The Secular Franciscans? The pro-lifers praying outside the abortion clinics? The local St. Padre Pio Society that opened a chapel in his honor? I belong to all of them.

And what exactly is Catholicism in its "true form"? If we are talking music, one could jump back pre-Gregorian/organ to lyre and drum, or unaccompanied singing. Catholicism is "catholic" - it allows for many experessions that are equally valid and spiritual.

I'm sorry your experience has been so negative, but please, find out a little more about others before making assumptions.

Paul Nichols said...

"Catholicism is "catholic" - it allows for many experessions that are equally valid and spiritual."
I suppose that's where we'd part company, Lee. I don't see that they're equally valid, nor do I see that they're equally spiritual. I know there are people that like that stuff. Some well intentioned, some not so much.

I'd say that what happened in the 60's - the idea that God should "meet us where we are"- is exactly what's happened. Rather than us "going up" in spirit and mind to "meet God", we've turned it upside down and dragged God down to our level. Now, sure, that's attractive to many because if God's down in the gutter with me, I don't have to concern myself with maybe crawling out of that gutter.

When the music (along with the attitude and apparel) are no different than what we encounter in the secular world, what happens? The Mass becomes just another part of our often rotten day-to-day world, and not something so much more special.

A Mass that doesn't stand out as separate from the worl, or doesn't demand something of us isn't a Mass worth attending.

The unfortunate thing is that so many people have been raised on that type of Mass that they're like the frog slowly boiled to death - they don't even realize it.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

I'm doing my part, whatever parish has the audacity to hire me as YM will not be getting guitar Masses, instead they'll be getting Chant, and much of it.

L'anglaise said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
L'anglaise said...

>I don't see that they're equally >valid, nor do I see that they're >equally spiritual.

Hi there Paul, can you tell us what criterias you use to define what's "valid" or "spiritual" ?
Lee Strong (who, by the way, you treated like dirt even though he was nothing but very decent and polite towards you) already pointed out that the interpretation has to be decent and respect the dignity of the liturgy ("Long drum solos? No. Vocal pyrothecnics that are more about showing off than praising the Lord? No. Sloppy folkie music? No. Lousy organ music? No.")
He also points out that organ (and sometimes Gregorian) can be lousy too, if the people playing it are not in a true place of worship.
It's all about getting in the depths of the liturgy, and if you do, it's easy to discern what's appropriate and what's not, depending on the assembly, the instruments and musicians available, the setting, the period of the year, etc.

Paul Nichols said...

Hi there Paul, can you tell us what criterias you use to define what's "valid" or "spiritual" ?
The music, as with the Mass itself, is supposed to convey the solemnity and dignity of what's taking place.

Now, I know that musical tastes run across the spectrum, so what's "good" for one isn't necessarily "good" for another.

But our choice of music at Mass shouldn't be dictated by our secular sense of what's "good". I've heard good guitar music at Mass, but it still didn't belong.

It's an argument where we're debating from different starting points. It goes back to what our perception of the Mass is, or should be. Some people think that the "kumbaya" spirit in many parishes is just fine - so naturally, they'd think that guitars and drums are just fine also.

But if you believe that the Mass should elevate us spritually to meet IT, and not have IT meet us down where we are, then it stands to reason that you'd think that the externals (music, dress, demeanor) should reflect that.

Jean-remy Duboc said...

"But our choice of music at Mass shouldn't be dictated by our secular sense of what's "good"."

Sure. I also has to be appropriate to the liturgy. We differ because you think modern music doesn't fit into the liturgy, when I say can be adapted be talented musicians to fit.

"I've heard good guitar music at Mass, but it still didn't belong."

It was "good", in the sense that it was well played. THis is always important, but was it also suitable to the liturgy ? Did it carry prayer, or was it just a demonstration of musical skills ? These are, I think, the right criterias to discern the quality of a liturgical music, not just the fact that it was "pre-vatican II" or "post", wich seems to be your only way of seing things. I find that a little reductive.

Paul Nichols said...

These are, I think, the right criterias to discern the quality of a liturgical music, not just the fact that it was "pre-vatican II" or "post", wich seems to be your only way of seing things. I find that a little reductive.
Maybe. But I don't think I'd say it's simply pre- or post-. One of the most incredible Masses I attended was an Ash Wednesday Mass a couple of years ago - the music was a group of ladies playing violins, with a guy playing an organ (not a big organ, one of those portable-types). It was definitely post-Vatican II, but was the best example of a modern effort I've seen in my 10 years back.

On the other hand, you speak of music that "fits" with the liturgy, which I'd agree should be the case. Unfortunately, the music does, in fact, fit with the liturgy, because the liturgy itself is so awful.

I'd actually agree with you when you say that modern music does fit into the liturgy because the liturgy has been dumbed down to such an extent that it fits perfectly with modern music.

Let's look at it this way - would guitar music ever - EVER - fit in with the Latin Mass? I'd say no. So in that way, the different music, along with the Rites themselves, are not equal in dignity and solemnity, which I believe is exactly the intended purpose of (some of) the modernists.

Anonymous said...

Dear Paul:

Hate to burst your bubble but...
"Silent Night" was orginally played on guitar, because the organ was not working for Christmas Mass! Given the time and place the song was composed (Austria in 1816 was a very Catholic country), I'm pretty sure the Mass in question was in Latin. You can look it up, if you think I'm making this up. In other words, it CAN work, if you have a skilled musician doing/creating it, with a heart of worship. Otherwise, "Silent Night" wouldn't have survived the first 50 years.

I'm a musician also, so I've suffered through bad performances in lots of churches--Catholics do not have a monopoly on this. As a friend of mine said (he was professional opera singer who soloed in churches often) "I'm getting tired of the 'well, God will bless it anyway' excuse. Hey, why do we have to give Him such a mess to bless?"
The real root of the problem is that church musicians (in all churches, not just Catholic) have fallen into just doing enough to get by. Excellence is falling by the wayside fast. And music is usually the first thing cut: churches won't pay an organist, as they did years ago, to prepare and play every Sunday. The American Organist Guild is afraid that their profession may die out as result; very few music students major in organ anymore--they know their chances of doing it fulltime are nil. A friend of mine who was an organ major when we were in college has "branched out" into handbells--she's not getting near as many organist jobs, and handbells are "easier" to teach to parishoners who had little or no music training as children.

Solutions? I've got tons. First, work with the present young generation. Make sure they get a great music education. Music ed is the first thing that gets cut in both public and private schools. If that's the case where you live, then support your local musician(s) and get your kids into private lessons. When I was a kid (back when dinosaurs walked the earth) most kids did take music, either at school or privately. Now, parents will buy Guitar Hero, but balk at paying for private lessons that show kids how to REALLY play! Buy or download the classics to listen to at home. Buy or check out books from the library about this music (in some libraries, you can also check out the music!).
If you are really into Greg. chant and other classical music, create a group in your church or community and start learning it. Then get good at it (remember, don't slack on excellence). When you're ready, then volunteer to do that music at your house of worship. When this beautiful music is done well, it really grabs the heart and turns it to God. When it's done badly....

Attend and support groups in your community that already exist who do this music; they might be professionals, or just the group at the local college. Take others with you to attend the concerts. Invite them to perform in your worship service. I attended such a service not long ago; the priest invited the local college music group to do the chants of Palestrina, et al, at the appropriate parts of the Mass. It was AWESOME!
Most people reject the music, not because they heard it and didn't like it, but because they have never heard it in the first place. the culture doesn't support it, so most people haven't even heard chant.
It took time for the situation to get like this. It will take time to return to the place where excellent church music is the norm, not the exception. Back when dinosaurs walked the earth (again!), the culture supported good music. Leonard Bernstein did young people's concerts on CBS. My local school district did a Bach program every year during National Music Week, and everyone from elementary through high school performed, citywide. The church I grew up in created choirs for young people that taught them music.
It can be that way again, but only if we work at it. Join me?


Paul Nichols said...

Jay, I agree with what you've written here - a better appreciation for music would go a long way.

And things like "Guitar Hero" just dumb "music" down to something akin to a game. Pretty sorry.

The lack of standards is culture-wide, I'm afraid.

Jean-remy Duboc said...

I agree wholeheartedly with your comment, and -surprise!-, so does Paul !
As a musician, I am working towards improving my music and liturgical skills. This includes working on my guitar and clarinet skills, practicing on older and more recent hymns for mass outside of the usual choir rehearsals we do every two weeks. I also work on Gregorian Chant, although I'm a noephyte ; I own a gregorian hymnal and several very good recordings of this excellent music.
I also love and write contemporary worship songs/hymns, and even though they don't all work for mass, they can be used for more informal prayer/worship events, hymns for the liturgy of the hours !!!
So, as you can see, the two "styles" are not mutually exclusive.
Shall we work together on peace and reconciliation in the Holy Church ?
Are you in Paul ?

Nick said...

The guitar masses go hand in hand with restricting the music to only those "songs" written in the last 40 years or so. It is astonishing how they have practically thrown out all the older music and made us be stuck with the same low quality guitar and tambourine folk songs.

Those "artists" who wrote that lousy music did a great disservice to the faith, and the priests who let it go on do just as much a disservice.

Jean-remy Duboc said...

"The guitar masses go hand in hand with restricting the music to only those "songs" written in the last 40 years or so. It is astonishing how they have practically thrown out all the older music and made us be stuck with the same low quality guitar and tambourine folk songs."

It's sometimes true, although it is absolutely NOT the case in my parish, where we have both olders and newer songs. And by the way, those newer songs, when played well, help so many people to pray and understand the liturgy, whatever you think.

"Those "artists" who wrote that lousy music did a great disservice to the faith, and the priests who let it go on do just as much a disservice."

I am certain you can do a LOT better than that. Can you come over and teach me ? I would really love to learn more about gregorian chant in particular. Or maybe you wrote a book or a website on the subject that we can use for a greater quality in our worship. I would love to read it.
If, however, you just complain without contributing to any of it, I'm not sure it is appropriate for you to say anything. Critics are easy, art is difficult. I'm not saying what I do is perfect, but at least I am doing it with the Lord and his Church at heart.

A Secular Franciscan said...

"The guitar masses go hand in hand with restricting the music to only those "songs" written in the last 40 years or so. It is astonishing how they have practically thrown out all the older music and made us be stuck with the same low quality guitar and tambourine folk songs."

We do music from all eras - including last time some Gregorian chant. And the "guitar" songs are not just folk songs. Listen to John Michael Talbot, for example.

Paul Nichols said...

Maybe it's just that Nick & I end up at all the "bad guitar" Masses, but I think he has a point.

When that music is introduced, often it supplants all of the older hymns. And many times, that type of music can serve as an indication of what type of "Catholicism" is practiced at that parish.

To me, both musically and in terms of the Faith itself, the Church ran off the main road 40 years ago and what we argue about now is which side of "service ramp" is better, when what we should be doing is finding our way back onto the main road.

But I know, I'm a dreamer. :oD

John C. Hathaway said...

Mr. Strong has one good point, ironically the great bugaboo of those who advocate "liturgical music diversity": "unaccompanied singing."
Yes, Mr. Strong, the Church says that preference is to be given to a capella singing.

WHat is lost in both extremes of the liturgy wars is that liturgical music is not firstly about moving the congregation, as the Left says; nor is it primarily about artistic exaltation of God, as the Right says.

Liturgical music is abo prayer, and about enhancing prayer. We are supposed to be doing Gregorian chant primarily. Other stuff may have its place, but only in a secondary way to chant, which allows us to better pray by taking notice of the words.

This point is ill-served by all the slow, New Age Gregorian chant albums out there. True chant is sung relatively quickly, to approximate sung speech as best as possible.

Socratic Catholic said...

It Could be worse at least we don't clown masses

Anonymous said...

I don't know. There is a lot of hostility here. When you walk out of mass are you treating your fellow parishioners as Jesus commands? Do you think that the Lord walks out on you whenever you displease him?

Maybe, if enough people at your parish share your views about music, then together you could change the direction of your music program. If not then perhaps St Therese of Lisieux could help. Why joke about "offering it up". Seriously, make it your own little sacrifice to tolerate or even better enjoy this "awful" music.

Little Mary said...

i personally dont see anything wrong with guitars during mass as long as they dont disrespect the communion song.

phil said...

I love rock music and I play guitar and bass from years, but I really hate guitar mass it make me feel very very uncomfortable. My opinion - if you want to play guitar - go to country club not to Catholic Church during Holly Mass!!!

Unknown said...

The first thing I want to say in response to these posts, before I comment, is that Church teaching is very clear about the quality and training required to be a music minister at Mass. Anyone who feels the musicicians and/or singers are sub par should approach their pastor and raise the issue. If that gets you nowhere, try the parish council or worship committee. I have heard just as many lousy organists and choirs as I have heard "ensembles" (the proper term for small groups used by church teaching). To this day I have yet to encounter an organist who can keep a consistent tempo.
Historically, the introduction of the organ in liturgy was gradual due to severe criticisms...too noisy, unskilled players, grossly pagan (used for games, royal courts, pagan worship and temples). Around 200 AD Clemens Alexandrinus says: "Though we no longer worship God with the clamour of military instruments, such as the trumpet, drum, and fife, but with peaceful words, this is our most delightful festivity; and if you are able to accompany your voices with the lyre or kithara (guitar ancestor), you shall incur no censure."
For hundreds of years the Church had ample criticisms and resistance to the Organ, but it all seemed to come down to some key principles which won out of the organ's pagan roots: quality of sound and facilitation of worship. These principles are unchanged, and we as Catholics should stand up and make noise whenever we are forced to endure poor quality music at Mass of any type. It is inexcusable.
The Church, ever our protector on Earth, will always be cautious about the interaction between sacred and secular. In the 1700's and 1800's, classical music and instruments were excoriated as being profane, vulgar, and inapproriate for liturgy.
Here is the final resolution: In all her teachings, one, consistent, dominent principle is reinforced in all of salvation history: the human voice itself is the pre-eminent means of glorifying God in the assembly. With that in mind, it is irrelevant what type of instrument is played. Bottom line is it has to support the singing of the congregation. My own preference is for trimumphal hymns at the beginning and end and acclamations, and quieter music during the eucharist itself (offertory, communion, meditation). Please, please, speak to your pastor if the music is bad. Better yet, offer to join your parish worship committee. BTW, I have been leading music as a guitarist/vocalist for over 30 years. Just moved, and will be playing for the first time side by side with an organ, and am looking forward to it.

Linda Williams said...

God bless you, Anthony, and thank you. I was getting depressed reading all the negative "guitar" comments. I can't believe the contemporary Catholic music used during mass would be considered "rock" music. Sing joyfully to the Lord, sing a joyful song, peace, come unto me ... songs sung to guitar accompaniment ... sounds like a beautiful way to praise our God during the liturgy of the mass! Our group also sings with pipe organ accompaniment those beautiful traditional hymns, chosen based on the readings of the day. Some hymns lend themselves to guitar, others the organ. It's all a powerful way of praying, and that is what is most important. :)

Anonymous said...

It must ded on the quality of the musician behind the guitar. I know of such one who plays a 12 string
and at times, accompnies my work chapel for funerals and services. She is quite good. Gentle, not overpowering. I wish folks like
John Mock (Tennessee master guitarist) would play in church....


Dennis Zender said...

i think we should not be bickering about this. So by the standards of all you who have commented on this saying happies play guitars at mass? My father has played the guitar at mass tasefully for 25 years, he is the furtherest thing from a hippie. And who are you to judge like that? You nor does anyone else here know the heart of the individuals ministering. I think in a world that is tearing christian ideology apart at the seams we should be supporting each other and uniting. I find this blog distasteful. Do you think Jesus would be offended by the guitar if he knewthe intent was pure and joyous for Him? As long as it is not taking away from the point of the Holy Mass, the Sacrafice, the Eucharist it is just a opinion of taste, not a putdown. Go to another mass or parish if you do not like the guitar. If you study the Faith, you will see that the first instrument used in liturgy was the lute, a decendant of the guitar. Go figure.

Paul Nichols said...

Dennis, I guess it depends on what you consider "tasteful" at Mass.

You mention that it's all ok unless it takes away from the Sacrifice, but that's exactly the point - every new novelty of the last 40 years takes away from the Mass by dumbing it down and watering it down.

Dennis Zender said...


You have a good point. I have been praying over this a bit now, since i am a Catholic singer/songwriter and minister at a Catholic parish. I am a big fan of more reverence and focus on the liturgy and not taking anything away from it. This coming from someone who used to find any reason to play contemporary music at a mass minus save Lenten and Advent format, i have grown and too do not want to see our Liturgy watered down, rather music that embraces the Gospel for that week. I believe we have a duty as music ministers to not just go by whats popular today and what even a congregation wants to hear if it compromises the Mass in any way. We should educate them if needed. If that means employing a more traditional setting, then so be it. Even if it would put me out as a minister at Mass (i play acoustic guitar), since i do not know how to play the piano or organ (we cant afford one anyways). I would read or become a Eucharistic Minister and keep my ministry going outside of mass at Praise concerts and youth events. There is a beauty to obedience. With all of that said, what i found "distasteful" was how everyone seemed to judging anyone with a guitar as being a hippie and other generalizations that are offensive. The fact is you do not have to like the fact that i play guitar at mass, we dont even have to agree, but we need to love one another. My father is the most conservative person you will ever meet, i was rasied in a very strict Catholic household and i am blessed because of it. His gifts to the Liturgy are not distracting. They were taseful and reverent. You have a platform here on this blog with many followers. I admire that, just be careful, spread the Good News!

Dennis Zender said...

FYI, I agree with Anthony's post. Very informative as well. God Bless you Paul and all of my brothers and sisters in Christ!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I thought the dark ages were over until I happened across this blog. I'm wondering when did this traditional catholic mass really start? St. Peter? I doubt there was an organ when he was forming the church, but there probably was some form of guitar and drum back then and maybe even a tambourine. MMM... It goes along with the tradition of the Latin Mass. Jesus didn't speak Latin. So why aren't we saying the mass in Aramaic?
Jesus did however tell us to do this in remembrance of me (Eucharist) and taught us how to pray (Our Father). As far as I'm concerned the rest is all man made.
Peace and I pray you get more out of mass then just bashing the music ministry.

Anita Moore said...

When did ignorance get to be a point of view?

Dennis Zender said...

I just don't think Our Lord is happy seeing us bicker over this one way or another. He wants unity through Him and in Him. The rest and how you get there is irrevelant. As long as the music bring s you to prayer and doesnt take you away from it, there is nothing "pagan" or "evil" about it. But what is a distraction to one may be reflection to just can't win here folks.

Paul Nichols said...

As long as the music bring s you to prayer and doesnt take you away from it, there is nothing "pagan" or "evil" about it.
That should be the standard, Dennis. You know, as a musician, that certain types of music fit better in some situations than others.

I don't believe that types of music are evil - although I know that there are those that do believe just that.

We are influenced by our environment. The way a priest says the mass, what the church looks like, music - all of it affects us in the sense that it draws us closer to God or, in some cases, maybe acts as a blocker between us and God.

And if God is disappointed in our bickering over this issue (and others), I'm sure He's more disappointed in what's happened to the Church since the 60's.

Anita Moore said...

just don't think Our Lord is happy seeing us bicker over this one way or another. He wants unity through Him and in Him. The rest and how you get there is irrevelant. Unity is not the be-all and end-all if we are all unified in denigrating the liturgy. Unity at all costs cannot be per se pleasing to God, even if we think we are unified through God and in God.

As long as the music bring s you to prayer and doesnt take you away from it, there is nothing "pagan" or "evil" about it.

How do you figure you're being "brought to prayer"? Because you feel warm and fuzzy? But you're not supposed to feel warm and fuzzy at Mass. Feelings are really irrelevant. Merit lies not in feelings, over which we have little or no control, but in the will.

Plus, you are supposed to be inspired to awe and reverence. At Mass, you are literally at the foot of the Cross. The Mass and the Crucifixion are one and the same. This is what we no longer understand, and that is why we put up with all sorts of things that are not fitting for Mass.

But what is a distraction to one may be reflection to just can't win here folks.

Oh, yes we can. We can let go of our own selfish leanings and submit to the clear teachings of the Church on the subject of what is and isn't appropriate at Mass.

Dennis Zender said...

Will brings you to Mass. Music should not distract you in the Liturgy. That is what i am saying. When i refer to unity, i do not mean by all means, there has to be obedience and disipline involved. I just feel debating amongst ourselves as believers isn't the best use of our gifts.

Anita Moore said...

When people who dissent from the Church on questions of liturgy quit trying to force their stuff down everyone's throat, then there won't be the need for arguing.

Paul Nichols said...

Very good point, Anita. All the problems we have today can be traced back to the efforts of the anti-Catholic Catholics beginning in the 60's.

Anita Moore said...

"Bickering is such a waste of our resources" usually means, "All you people who object to liberal crap need to just shut up and bend over."

Jean-remy Duboc said...

Paul and Anita,
the more I read your comments, the more I keep wandering what the appropriate response to such hate and gross oversimplification might be.
The only one I can find is prayer and love.
God bless you. You are my brother and sister in Christ, and as such, I have the most profound respect and appreciation for both of you.

Paul Nichols said...

Anita is very correct in what she says. Maybe she's not as delicate as some would prefer, but there's not much arguing with her point.

The usurpers, as I call them, are those who have worked to change the form and presentation of the Mass over these last 40 years.

Whenever they get started with their changes, there are those who protest them. As a way of cutting off debate, the usurpers then pull out the "let's not bicker" stuff, all the while pushing forward with their changes and ignoring the legitimate protests against them.

And always, it's the usurpers who fall back to the "let's not bicker" argument, precisely because they can't provide adequate back up for the changes they propose or push through. Those who protest their work, don't appeal to the "let's not bicker" argument because we believe that honest debate is rather refreshing, and helps to shine the light on what the usurpers are doing.

Think about the changes:

Usurpers: Hey, let's have (insert novelty here)!
Catholics: Um, that's not a good idea. Let's keep it the way it's been.
Usurpers: Oh, you're just being difficult and contentious.
Catholics: But -
Usurpers: Let's not bicker, ok?
Catholics: But (insert Traditional practice here) has served us well all these years and brings us closer to Christ.
Usurpers: Why do you hate me?
Catholics: What??
Usurpers: You're just being nasty. Let's be united, shall we?
Catholics: I thought we were united?
Usurpers: Do you burn cats in your spare time?
Catholics: What??
Usurpers: Well, since you're against (insert novelty here), you're obviously a hate-filled person.

The Traditions of the Church have served us well for two centuries. They've grown organically in that time, but what happened in the 60's constituted a clean break from those traditions. The faithful were promised "Oh, these changes will make everything so much better than it was". And yet, here we are 40 years later, and nothing, I repeat nothing, is better.

Inviting the "world" into the sanctuary has made the sanctuary no better than the world, which of course, leads to the sanctuary becoming irrelevant, which leads to fewer and fewer people going to Mass regularly.

It's getting a bit off topic here, but the guitar mass issue is a small part of a larger problem, which is the dumbing-down of the Faith since the 1960's.

Dennis Zender said...
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Dennis Zender said...
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Dennis Zender said...

Ok. this is my third attempt at a decent post. I will not be frusterated this time :). Anita, You Dont Know My Heart, so quit judging me. Paul and I can agree to disagree to sorts since i feel like we have alot more in common that not. My ministry is not liberal crap, i assure you of that. Let me establish this, even though i really do not need to, My parish and my pastor are happy with the diverse selection of music (no more than guitar accompanying the piano, since we cannot afford a organ) youth mass has just myself with a acoustic leading with alleluia chant and Eucharistic Allc. all chanted as well. I have put the Anima Christi prayer to music sung latin, and play this outside of the mass at youth events. It's called balance. Not liberal crap. I know even this would still seem like grounds for ex-communication for you Anita, but I feel at peace in my heart with what I am doing. Period.

Anita Moore said...

If you feel such peace in your heart, why should you care what I think, and waste so much time on three separate responses?

Dennis Zender said...
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Anita Moore said...

Then I've done you a positive favor. What are you complaining about?

Dennis Zender said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anita Moore said...

Yeah, the truth usually does hurt.

Meanwhile, some of us have real work to do. Toodles.

Dennis Zender said...
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Paul Nichols said...

If I may -

I understand you protesting against being lumped in with "that" crowd, Dennis.

But let me mitigate some of that frustration by offering an explanation of sorts.

I'll use the "us" term to describe those of us who prefer the more traditional forms of all things Catholic.

I'm 45. I came back to the Church 11 years ago. I'd read many things before I came back, so I wasn't totally caught unaware at how things had changed from say, the late 70's to 1998. I attended a parish that didn't suffer too much from the crazy novelties that came about back then. We had a few things, like the guitar mass, but nothing like some of the horror stories you might read about.

When we see "guitar mass", or other things that were spawned in the 60's & 70's, attached to that are all of the other things that, in many cases, go hand in hand with it, like a rejection of Church teaching, especially on sexual issues, abortion, the nature of the priesthood, etc.

Meaning, usually, if a person was in favor of one novelty, they usually were in favor of all the others.

So, as I said, it's not just the "guitar mass", it's the whole upheaval of Church teaching and practice.

Then, when you have people (us) who reject all of the novelties, for years we've been told to shut up and go along with it. Just look at what happened when Pope Benedict ascended the Throne. The liberals were apoplectic. Look at the resistance and ugliness he has to suffer from within the Church just for trying to bring Tradition back. Finally, finally, finally, someone is paying attention. Finally, those who simply prefer the old mass can now go to one, thanks to JPII and even more to Benedict.

Forgive the abrasiveness from those who've been marginalized for so long. For so long, they've had to walk out of totally irreverent masses ( I have ), avoided some parishes ( I have ), and "correct" things that priests have said at homilies.

Wondering what you, or your kids, will encounter at a Mass is something we Catholics shouldn't have to worry about. Although I'd say things ARE getting better.

But there still are parishes out there, like the notorius St. Bernadette's in Maryland, that make me shake my head. Different styles is one thing. Different faiths is something else.

I'm rambling a bit. But I just wanted you to understand a little where the frustration comes from the Traditional side.

Dennis Zender said...


I completely understand your point and agree with 95% of it. My problem stems form and with people who say this to me:

"Bickering is such a waste of our resources" usually means, "All you people who object to liberal crap need to just shut up and bend over."

This in relation to a older post and is just pure ignorance, they are making a fool of themselves.

"Yeah, the truth usually does hurt.

Meanwhile, some of us have real work to do. Toodles."

As if i do not adhere or believe in the truth, whatever truth she may be referring to. Assuming I do not have real work to do is just rude and unbecoming of a christian attitude towards others. THIS is destructive, your post is not. THIS is not unifying people, yours and others are strong opinions that more than not support the truth of the Church andn it's Liturgy in whole and is not putting down or marginalizing another.

Paul, I am perfectly willing to call myself out and am always looking at ways to grow in my faith and learn from others, like on this blog, id love to learn more even if it goes against in theory what my ministry to the Church is. I delete posts so as to not embarass myself, even though it is in vain since i continue to post after the fact, it looks and is silly of me.

This blogs and blogs like it have made me rethink how i prepare for the Liturgy and I am grateful for that.

I am a fellow Catholic and couldn't imagine what kind of response I would get if I were not, maybe the aim is to educate and express opinion, but those rants seem like a high school fight of words. Even so, I forgive that person and will try not to carry it with me.

Thanks Paul.

Anita Moore said...

My tone was over the top. For that I apologize.

Anonymous said...

Vatican II - we hate you!

Unknown said...

Wow! Well...I live in Canada in a small town...where it is difficult to find someone who even knows HOW to play the organ. Our congregation is just grateful to even have music provided. Rarely is there a mass without music thanks to the volunteers who come with their guitars. The masses are NOT campy or distasteful but I believe enhance and promote prayer within the church community. Thank you to all our volunteers! Keep strumming....

Anonymous said...

I live in the boundaries of the Diocese of Corpus Christi in Texas. The Mass I attend is in a chapel in a complex that used to be a seminary. It is not equipped with an organ, and the piano is not in playable condition, so we use a classical acoustic guitar for the musical parts of the Mass. We would never dream of using electric guitars or amplifiers, or even a full band with bass and drums as i have seen in other churches, as many of our congregation are hard-of-hearing and the ceilings and floors are marble. I personally find that soft music is very conducive to a calm place of prayer and understanding, and for the sanctity of the Mass, quiet, lute-like guitar such as that is infinitely preferable to loud, electric, amplified sound.

Anonymous said...

I too am a church musician who plays guitar. In our diocese it is difficult to find organists, so, in many cases, good-willed guitarists lead the music so that there will be music.
I believe our role as parish musicians is to lead the assembly in singing praise to God. As long as the person(s) leading the music are skilled, it should not matter what type of instrument they are playing. This is not about being a "band" and putting on a performance; and it is not about stunning solo performances by huge choirs... it is about leading the congregation - and doing our part to help our parish grow in faith.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to the attitude of those who "hate the guitar Mass," I have given up my music ministry. I miss it, and I really HATE the 19th Century Episcopal organ-based music that is played every Sunday and call "Catholic" music. Blah!

Anonymous said...

Four strings good. Six strings bad

Frank L said...

Change for the sake of change is empty. Tradition for the sake of tradition is also empty.

Sometimes it is easy to think that in the past the Church just slowly evolved organically, but a study of Church history would prove that to be questionable. Change happens in spurts, it sometimes happens slowly, it happens in all sorts of different ways.

Vatican II did not just appear out of nowhere. There were at least 150 years of direct liturgical development and reform that moved us toward Vatican II.

What is also funny is that many Catholic seems to thumb their nose at Vatican II. I think ya'll need a lesson in how authority works in the Church. To disregard an infallable Church council like that makes you completely out of line with the Catholic Church and that definitely crosses the line into schism, no question about it.

Then such people end up quoting Vatican II (and follow-up documents) on the "pride of place" of Gregorian chant and the role of the organ. You can't have it both ways. Besides, most churches I know are jettisoning their organs as fast as possible and replacing them with pianos or electric pianos, yet I don't see as much complaints about that.

Most of the "anti folk Mass" comments are simply vile and uneducated, and it is the farthest thing from a joyful noise. Getting up and pouting and leaving Mass because you don't like the music is also questionable behavior. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit, you might want to pray for some. I'm up for any open, intellectual, honest discussion of liturgy, but wading through all the sheer nastiness is hard to do.

Anonymous said...

Ahem. If i may.
For one thing, Frank- you are rational, polite, and your insights are true. God bless.
I concur with many of these comments. Organs, and the people who play them, are few and far between. Yes, the more traditional organ music is beautiful, but-especially in a poor parish in a poor Diocese-the parishioners will make do with what they have.

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm a teen. I'm in the process of catechism for my Confirmation.
So I won't expostulate on Church doctrine or Vatican II or the monumental changes it set in motion.
But I will say this.
The Mass should not be disrespected or turned into a megachurchtelevangelist sort of thing. Never. But the guitarists or drummers or organists are all the same. They offer their musical talents for the Lord to enhance the liturgy.
Half of the kids in my CCD class play some sort of instrument. Half of that half play electric guitars. Where once there was lukewarm resistance to go to church, these kids are afire! They love going to Mass, because through the ministry of their music they've grown closer to God.
But for almost every one of them, there's a young school choir member who adores the old Latin hymns...and through them is worked the same effect.
Brothers and sisters...I say with great pride that we- my generation-are the future of the Church. If my second cousin's excellent guitar playing is his path to God, let it be so. If my good friend Michelle's lovely voice and affinity for chant is hers, let it be so.
Either way, many are here. We're ready and waiting for our turn. Waiting for you to call on us.
I do not condone intentional disrespect of any sort, and that includes through music.
But please. Vatican II has split the Church enough. We have enemies coming on every side, looking for cracks in our holy armor. With a few more scandals, we will be finished. We cannot lose our youth. And we cannot permanently condemn the way many of them have found- or re-found - our Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace be with you all.

Anonymous said...

Despite the varying opinions, it all comes down to following the rubrics and teachings. The instruments are irrelevant. How they are played is very relevant. In my Parish we did a survey at all masses, and it turns out that despite the average age being 72 at one Mass, the people preferred "traditional" songs but preferred guitar and drums over the organ by a 2:1 ratio. We even had specific requests for favorite hymns to be played on guitar.

Anonymous said...

In our diocese numbers attending Mass just keep falling. I CAN'T STAND guitars at Mass. It is just a concert where the band has a captive audience - no one would pay to listen to such tripe. Most of those going to Mass are only people who will tolerate that music which caters to the lowest common denominator - also shown in the sloppy dress and slopping attitudes, lack of kneeling, legs crossed, mobile phones ringing and no attendance at reconciliation - bring back the Latin Mass.

Brent Stubbs said...

Just talked about this here.


hurtubises said...

Oh, now wait just a minute, here. Yes, the 1960s hippie, pro-abortion liberal Catholics screw up mass completely with their atonal guitar nonsense; this is undeniable.

But let's not go blaming Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead for this, too! Have mercy. This is a band which wrote "Friend of the Devil" and "St. Stephen" and "Terrapin Station" (some weird new-agey pseudo religious nonsense), and have performed some wonderful music. Anti-religious, yes, of course, but great stuff.

As for the guitar mass, you can blame the Ted Hesburgh's and John Jenkins's of the Catholic Church for that junk. Give me a full choir singing Holy, Holy, Holy! in eight parts and I'm in heaven, figuratively speaking.

Paul Nichols said...

Hurtubisis -

Well, I'm no Grateful Dead fan - something about the whole 1960's thing makes me no like any of that music. And to me, the Dead represent the entire lost decade.

"Holy Holy Holy"? I'm with you on that one!

ggonzalez435 said...

I have to ask why? Why do you HATE the guitar mass? Is it because the guitar player has no "God given tallent", or that you are older and do not like change. I am not being sarcastic, just trying to understand all the negative comments on this blog. I can't quite understand the "hatred for a guitar used in mass". I have to admit I am a fairly new revert to the Catholic Church and don't get the Egyptian who says the "duet sucked big". Why does one guy say that guitars are "non-liturgical instruments". What makes a liturgical instrument, and why would God see a guitar so threathening or disagreeable. Pease, make me understand this stance. I go to a parish that uses guitars at one mass and organ at others and the only thing that bothers me is that the organ playing sounds like a funeral. Am I wrong? I am not a hippy and neither are the people playing the guitar, in fact the lady playing the organ looks to be about 80. Is this the difference in opinion, is it that older Catholics are hard to look at things that they are not comfortable with with disdain. Please help me undersstand. I have always been told that if we can bring in more people into Christ they would love and understand and live like Christ. This talk about guitars sounds very unforgiving and not Christlike.

ggonzalez435 said...

I wish someone would answer my comments on their hatred toward so called guitar masses. I hear on this "Catholic blog", about things they don't like because its different so then its not solemn or litergical is rediculous. Our church fathers didn't like music at all. Organs weren't introduced til papacy of Pope Vitalian in the 7th century.5th century St Jerome spoke against music in the church. So, In whose opinion is a guitar(closer to a lyre than an organ) not liturgical or scriptural. Go to a church that has no guitar and stop complaining already!

ggonzalez435 said...
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Bill Hoog said...

I go to a church that does NOT have a "Guitar" Mass & do NOT have to like it because you say I MUST!! "Guitar" Masses were foisted on us back in the sixties & just feel wrong!!

ggonzalez435 said...

Let go of the hate Bill, I never ever said you had to go to a guitar mass. I
believe if you don't care for guitars you should look for a mass without
guitars. I just don't understand the "hate". Like I said, stringed instruments
are much older than organs so I don't get the liturgically correct theory. God

ggonzalez435 said...
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Bill Hoog said...


Why don't YOU let go of the HATE!!! How dare you judge!!

The last Mass I went to was a "Guitar Mass" & it was a PAINFUL experience!! My heart was broken at all the "good time rock 'n roll feel good" pablum which was followed by MOST attendees trying to "get the hell out of there" as fast as possible. It just felt like something was missing. One of my sons begged us NOT to go back.

To accuse someone of "HATE" because they disagree is a lazy rhetorical device design to shut up those you disagree with.

Most of the "Guitar Mass" songs are just insipid reworking of rock and roll and folk songs with some scripture thrown in. They may have a "good beat and you can dance to 'em", but they seem to miss something. The music groups are usually up front as if they seem crave as much attention as they can.

By your logic, "stringed instruments
are much older than organs so I don't get the liturgically correct theory", makes as much sense as giving up modern medicine for shamanism because it's "much older".

But my experience and thoughts about my dislike of the "Guitar Mass" are obviously wrong, no matter how BAD I feel about attending them.

Paul Nichols said...

My sons do the same thing, Bill. They don't like the "guitar mass" either. In that regard, they were raised right. ;oD

ggonzalez435 said...

Bill the only reason I used the word hate was because it was the adjective you used in your comment about guitar masses. You said you hate the guitar mass. Hense my reply. I'm not sure what kind of music they have at your church and I am sorry you Hate it. Looking in, this blog sounds very hateful. I'm sorry, I wish I could hear what your talking about but the music I hear sounds nothing like what your talking about and certainly not done by hippies. Hope things get better but I still don't want an organ that sounds like a funeral for our mass. I guess we can agree to disagree.

Bill Hoog said...

Sorry ggonzalez435, but after looking over MY posts, I NEVER mentioned "HATE"!! That was YOUR projection on me! This was the title of Paul's cartoon!!

I'm not happy with insipid music being foisted on us, whether on an organ or a guitar. At least most church organs are not near the focal point of the Mass as most "Guitar" groups tend to.

I just have a hard time with guitar masses. I find them too distracting when I'm trying to focus on worshiping the Lord.

As to agree to disagree, whatever!

Anonymous said...
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Love Mass and Love Music said...

I come late to this blog as I see the postings are several years old. My favourite thing about being Catholic is that the mass, is the mass, is the mass. And Jesus is Jesus and He is in the Eucharist regardless of the type of instrumentation or music. I'm so saddened to read the small mindedness of some people. I guess that's what happens when you listen with your ears and not your heart. You receive Jesus in the Eucharist and then complain about the volunteers in the parish. Nice. Too bad you've missed the point.
Peggy Maas

David A said...

I've played guitar at Mass for years. In my experience it's not the instrument, it's the players. OK I'm classically trained. There's no place for classical solos - thats entertainment. There's no place for standing, unless hidden round a corner. There's no place for anything that sets musicians aside or distracts the congregation from worship. We should face the altar we're part of the congregation.
The priest should decide who can and can't play. The liturgy is his responsibilty. It is possible to play the guitar with sensitivity in such a way that will enhance the beauty of the Mass without it becoming a performance but skill and training are essential. Rant nearly over but I hope I never play on Easter Sunday - we're quite good at some parts in the Triduum though.

ggonzalez435 said...

I agree on most points and thanks for your comments. what do you say about the kids who feel like they are in a funeral when the organist plays music that sounds so morbid. There has to be a middle ground when the older parishioners who like organs are dying and the youth shutdown as soon as the organ comes on. I believe that it all depends on what tallent or gifts your parishioners have

ggonzalez435 said...

I agree on most points and thanks for your comments. what do you say about the kids who feel like they are in a funeral when the organist plays music that sounds so morbid. There has to be a middle ground when the older parishioners who like organs are dying and the youth shutdown as soon as the organ comes on. I believe that it all depends on what tallent or gifts your parishioners have

David A said...

Yes, it depends on the talents of those willing to volunteer. We should recognise the efforts of those willing to give their time to the church and the service of God. Unfortunately there are a few 'buts..' I'm sure we've all met players who do like the stage (organists included. We should educate the kids as well; they can like Gregorian chant. As a child I remember loving the Missa de Angelis. My Dad was the organist and was heavily involved with the choir suprisingly maybe but when the congregation were taught to sing it he left it to them (assisted by the choir). My point- the same as yours- it's how you do it. In my parish the older people seem to prefer guitar- we do strumming but try to use chord voicing that better reflects the melody than simple base position chords. It's down top education in bigger parishes the musical lead (director whatever) should ensure that players become suitably skilled. It's not that hard, only one needs to use a partial chord in high positions or be suitably adept with the right hand.

We don't often move away from our standard hymn book. I know I'm being a bit random and moving about a bit but there a definitely hymns not suited for guitar and a few not to be played on the organ. Personally I don't like electric guitar etc but I also dislike many of the voices on modern electronic keyboards.
I think that some documents mentions the'pipe organ' as having a special place in our history.