Music and the Novus Ordo

I played saxophone in the school band from fifth grade until I graduated high school. I decided against joining the marching band in college because I got enough of it in high school. I never took a course on music theory, yet being around music for so long allowed me to understand music in a way that I don’t think is possible by reading some kind of textbook.

One day in band, the band director came around to each section to get everyone in tune before a concert.  He explained that you can easily tell if an instrument is out of tune is you play the same note with one that is.  The dissonance produces this strange wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah awful sound. You can almost feel it.

Don’t worry, there’s a point to this.

My local parish uses what I can best describe as those ICEL disposable paperback hymnals. We’ve all seen them in their various brandings.

I’ve noticed that the  fundamental type of hymns that are selected ranges differently from parish to parish–another ill of the post-concilliar age.

Again, we’ve probably all heard the bad pop hymns that make you feeeeeeeeeeeel good, or the Non-Quaker “Quaker” standard that makes you actually not want to keep singing.

This past Sunday before Mass started, I flipped through the hymnal to check to see what we would be singing.  I always check to get mentally prepared. I have to prepare to not get distracted or too affected by Haugen and company. It’s not good to be blind-sided by hymns that shouldn’t even be in sung in the church parking lot or in a 5 mile radius from Our Blessed Lord in the tabernacle. In fact, the song of the robins in the trees  is probably more suited for the liturgy than 4/5ths of the hymns in the ICEL disposable paperback hymnals.

After I did my preparatory page flipping, I thought about my band teacher and the dissonance between out of tune instruments (especially out of tune instruments of the same section–saxophones–ick!). I also came to the conclusion that a lot of the hymns sung at my parish were composed in the 60s, 80s,90s.

Then, I thought that there is a dissonance between the music and the rest of the liturgy especially after the new translation.

It’s hard to reconcile the richness of the language of the new translation and the idea of “sing[ing] a new church.” (And all of the other not-really-catholic hymns).  Some people would probably complain that I want to sing the old church. I don’t want to sing the old church. I want to sing the church.

Don’t get me started about the guitars.

St. Cecilia, ora pro nobis.