traditional hymnody

Leo XIII’s Vision of Social Justice

Pope Leo XIII, born 210 years ago this year, is perhaps best known for his Marianism. He was one of the Church’s greatest promoters of the Holy Rosary, and was the first pontiff to embrace the title of Mediatrix for Our Lady. Yet Leo was one of the great thinkers of the modern age, having [...]

‘Here Let Dead Poetry Rise to Life Again!’

De mortuis nihil nisi bonum. Ray Repp passed away several days ago. Every Catholic of my age will remember that suddenly we had songs to sing at Mass that were composed by people of our own time, who seemingly had come out of nowhere. These songs were called, generally, “folk” songs. There were two reasons for [...]

What Is Sacred Music?

I have sung regularly every Sunday at Mass for nearly thirty years now, two years more than I’ve lived as a baptized and confirmed Catholic. As I’m not much use serving on councils or committees (although I did teach CCD for several years after being received into the Church), I decided at the start of [...]

The Disposable Modern Hymn

The outcry against bad liturgical music has been growing in volume and numbers. Crisis author and professor Anthony Esolen has provided deeply insightful explanations of why many modern hymns are aesthetically and theologically shoddy compared to older, more traditional ones. Podcasts such as “The Catholic Talk Show” devote episodes to mocking the worst church music [...]

The Bad Poetry of Modern Hymnody

In an earlier column, I asked why we could not sing hymns from the Christian treasury, which is nearly two thousand years old, and which features composers with names like Bach and Handel and poets from Prudentius to Thomas Aquinas to Isaac Watts, the Wesleys, and John Henry Newman, rather than silly, sloppy, banally sentimental, [...]

Poetic Traditional Hymns Put Alternatives to Shame

I often hear that since most of what is produced in any age is garbage, the quality of the hymns in a compilation such as the Hymnal 1940 is partly an illusion, because the earlier bad stuff would have been tossed aside. This observation is by way of excusing the bulk of church songs composed since 1965; time [...]

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