Jeffrey Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is managing editor of Sacred Music and publications editor of the Church Music Association of America. He writes a bi-weekly column on sacred music and liturgy for Crisis Magazine and also runs the Chant Cafe Blog. [email protected]

recent articles

The Priesthood and the Choice

I heard an excellent homily last week, delivered by a young priest who spoke with passion and energy. It was clearly his own take on how the Gospel reading for this daily Mass spoke to him. He crafted it to offer lessons to us. It was beautiful, but that wasn’t what struck me. What moved … Read more

The Hero of the Mighty Musical Struggle

Several years ago, I received a note from an older man who had been battling much of his life for good Church music, particularly Gregorian chant. He did this in terrible times following the Second Vatican Council when the cultural ethos warred against any settled liturgical forms. He had plenty of scars to show for … Read more

Pope Francis Will Enliven the Benedict Legacy

Being quoted by the press often leads to an out-of-body experience. This happened to me this weekend when an article posted by the Religion News Service was sent out through the wire and landed at the Washington Post, Huffington Post, National Catholic Reporter, and many other outlets. Every time I would read a new posting … Read more

The Casino and the Cathedral: On Recovering Our Abandoned Culture

Today’s pagan temples and chapels—capitalistic institutions bent on money making no matter what—have appropriated Catholic styles, symbols, art, liturgy, and rubrics just as Catholics have lost confidence in them. They are winning and we are not. It’s time for Catholicism to become newly aware of the richest of our own symbols lest we lose out … Read more

How John Paul II Restored Liturgical Sanity

We tend to think of the papacy of Benedict XVI as the papacy that put the Catholic liturgy back together again, turning the “hermeneutic of rupture” into the “hermeneutic of continuity.” Rarely receiving the credit for preparing the way is John Paul II, who labored mightily and brilliantly during his pontificate—in a long and consistent … Read more

Five Ways to Ruin the Mass

We are getting ever closer to an improved liturgy in the English-speaking world. The new Missal gives us a more dignified language that more closely reflects the Latin standard. The hippy-dippy rupturism of the past is finally giving way to a more settled and solemn appreciation of the intrinsic majesty of the Roman rite. A … Read more

Is Inculturation an Excuse for Pop Music at Mass?

What is the standard by which we should judge the music we hear or sing at liturgy? That’s a huge and controversial question, but a recent experience revealed to me something interesting. It suggest an answer that is completely different from what you hear from the defenders of pop music at Mass, especially when it … Read more

Is Chant Like Folk Music?

Somehow we have this impression that Gregorian chant is part of a high Church ethos. It’s for conservatives and traditionalists who favor their liturgy buttoned up, obedient, and strict. On the other hand, this line of thinking goes, people who want authentic human expression of spontaneous religious experience should embrace popular music and a looser … Read more

Pope Benedict XVI’s Musical Legacy

One of the many lasting legacies of the papacy of Benedict XVI concerns liturgical music. Enormous progress has been made in his papacy. Incredibly this progress has happened without new legislation, new restrictions, new mandates, or firm-handed attempts to impose discipline on musicians and artists. The change has happened through the means that Benedict XVI … Read more

Why Do People Want to Learn Chant?

It was my great fortune to be asked recently to substitute teach a master class on Gregorian chant. The event was the Church Music Association of America’s Winter Chant Intensive. The original instructor for the men, David Hughes, became very ill—vale of tears!—and another great conductor, Richard Rice, was called upon to teach the men … Read more

A Music Set Apart

The offertory antiphon for the Sunday before the last Sunday of the liturgical year is the famous text “De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine; Domine, exaudi vocem meam.” From the depths, I have cried out to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice. It’s not a text heard in parish praxis much anymore. It doesn’t … Read more

The Reinvention of Parish Music

The birthday notification popped up on my Skype window: Jeffrey Ostrowski just turned 31. I had to look again. Only 31 years old? This is a musician who has produced probably two dozen books of music for Catholic liturgy that have provided new options to tired songs given to us by the old establishment that … Read more

The Jewish Precedent for Latin Chant

I’ve long written in favor of reestablishing Gregorian chant as the primary musical language of liturgy for Roman Rite Catholics around the world. We’ve taken great steps in this direction with the new Missal in English, which embeds the chant tradition in the heart of the book. And for the first time, we are seeing … Read more

Musical Corruptions Continue Despite Recent Vatican Interventions

The Vatican has intervened in the guidelines on Catholic liturgical music in the U.S. It has sent a message to U.S. publishers that it objects to extending the official text of the Agnus Dei to add additional text. The practice is called “troping” but that’s using a rather high-minded and deeply historical term for what … Read more

Catholic Music: It’s Time to Stop Making Stuff Up

Every weekend or so, some name composer of mainstream Catholic music is out and about giving a workshop in a parish somewhere. I’ve been to enough of these to pretty much know what they are going to say in advance. They stand in front of parish musicians and repeatedly tell them that the most important … Read more

Pat Robertson, Pot, and Prohibition

Pat Robertson Says Marijuana Use Should be Legal. From the deep Crisis Magazine archive, Jeff Tucker has a few thoughts of his own on the issue. Many Catholics have developed a bad habit of mind. They believe that if they are against something, it should be against the law — or, alternatively, if they are for something, … Read more

In Defense of Bourgeois Civilization

The following essay was commissioned as part of this week’s symposium on “the bourgeois spirit.” See also Dawson’s Catholicism and the Bourgeois Mind, and Gerard Russello’s account of Dawson’s contribution.   Tell me this. Would you rather that your neighbor had a Serta brand iComfort mattress with Cool Action Memory Foam nicely elevated above a … Read more

Why the Euro Can’t Work

Watching the Euro melt has confirmed what only a handful of people had predicted — and had done so against the expectations of the entire European and American establishment, for whom the creation of this single currency was the achievement of a lifetime of planning. The whole European currency scheme was both brilliant and crazy. … Read more

Why Catholics Give the Best Parties

  This essay first appeared in the July 2001 issue of Crisis Magazine. Postmodern man– and postmodern woman– doesn’t know how to give a good party. It’s up to us Catholics to reclaim this lost art and share it with the world. Why? Because good parties are intrinsic to our Catholic faith. The liturgical year … Read more

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