Musical bipolar disorder

Lent, the Triduum, and the Easter season are the best times of year for someone who enjoys classical liturgical music. Last night, we sang the Pange Lingua and Tantum Ergo; this afternoon, we were treated to O Sacred Head, Adoramus Te, Christe and Haydn’s Tenebrae. Tomorrow at the Easter Vigil I see that we will end with Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. Listening to our parish’s excellent choir sing these makes the Mass truly feel like it should: as a little glimpse of Heaven on Earth. Ethereal polyphonic harmonies and the sublimity of Gregorian chant produce a sense of reverence like nothing else.

But, unfortunately, someone seems to think that we must add folk ditties as well, perhaps in order to satisfy all musical tastes. So, after enjoying Haydn this afternoon, we went straight into a tune by Dan Schutte that sounded suspiciously like the theme from Gilligan’s Island. I’m glad it was printed in the program ahead of time so I could brace myself; otherwise, the cognitive dissonance might have been more than I could bear. Singing pablum by Haugen, Haas, Schutte et al does not produce a sense of Heaven. Instead, it brings Heaven crashing down to Earth. I appreciate folk music, I really do: but, its earthiness is not appropriate for the Mass. I can almost understand the urge to liturgically dance down the aisle at the start of Mass, because it fits the music we sing most Sundays better than the solemn procession we still, for some unknown reason, maintain. Are we re-presenting the Sacrifice of Christ, mystically transporting ourselves into a time outside of time, or are we worshipping ourselves? It’s days like these that make me wonder.

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5 Responses to “Musical bipolar disorder”


  1. 3 jeff April 17, 2006 at 6:16 pm

    OK Lent is over…where are the blog entries????? Your public is waiting.

  2. 4 georgie April 18, 2006 at 10:25 pm

    Hey…..
    You didn’t mention my favorite song… pescadores de hombre!

  3. 5 Edmund C. April 19, 2006 at 12:31 am

    Because (and I hate to admit this) it’s one of my favorites too…


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