Monday, February 17, 2014

Why Can't We Use Secular Music During Mass?

Our new Archbishop has a love for sacred music.  A few churches are changing from Oregon Catholic Press, now known as OCP.  They are pushing this "new mass" from Dan Schutte. 

Suffice it to say in this changing world we need sacred music to help us experience a foretaste of Heaven at Mass.  We need music to elevate our Soul.  If our Archbishop loves it we should try.

This website was suggested by a young mother who wants this for her children and doesn't agree with "OCP".  Thanks to her for showing us that the future is in good hands.

Why Can't We Use Secular Music During Mass?
published 13 February 2014 by Jeff Ostrowski                                 
OMPOSER DAN SCHUTTE, formerly a Jesuit priest, published a musical setting in 2012 of the Glory To God which has been widely criticized because it changes the words. 1
To me, however, something else is even more problematic. Please listen to these brief excerpts and see if you can guess what I’m getting at:
      * *  “Glory To God” • Refrain by Dan Schutte
      * *  “My Little Pony” • Mp3 Audio Excerpt
Am I crazy, or is this resemblance jarring?

ON 22 NOVEMBER 2003, Blessed John Paul II decreed that Church music must “avoid any concessions to frivolity or superficiality.” He went on to remind us of many other important things. For instance, he said neither vocal nor instrumental music can be used at Mass if it “does not possess a sense of prayer, dignity and beauty.”
A few years ago, we created this video which presented Church legislation on Sacred music and drew some conclusions. Some of my friends were angry we used the term “Disney” to describe certain liturgical music. Others thought we were kidding. However, I stand behind that term, because technical descriptions like “modal” and “rhythmically free” mean nothing to the vast majority of Catholics who lack professional training in music.

PLEASE, DON’T LEAVE ANY NASTY COMMENTS saying I am “anti-Schutte” or anything like that. I have absolutely nothing against Schutte, who is incredibly accomplished 2 and literally world-famous. He’s free to write whatever he wishes and folks are free to purchase it.
However, I do object to certain would-be “scholarly” publications treating this music in a serious fashion, using the most outlandish psychobabble. 3 Sometimes I’m tempted to scream: “How can such things be written about a tune lifted from My Little Pony?” Just a decade ago, I believed Musicology symposia had a monopoly on this kind of gibberish — I was wrong!
N.B.   The musically-observant priest who discovered this Schutte/Pony similarity is currently Liturgy Director for a major Archdiocese in the United States. It was sent to me via email “chain letter.” This was the first time I’d ever heard Schutte’s Mass setting.

"MUSIC is mere beauty; it is beauty in the abstract, beauty in isolation. It is a shapeless and liquid element of beauty, in which a man may really float, not indeed affirming the truth, but not denying it." GK Chesterton
Why Can't We Use Secular Music During Mass?
please click on link for entire website.


Anonymous said...

I am glad this holy priest noticed the similarities in those tunes. We must hold all we do, say, and sing in Mass in the highest form of sacredness since we are singing praises to God.

VOCAL said...

It seems that OCP is still not sure of that. I totally agree but they don't seem to have the same values. God Bless this holy priest and it's wonderful to know that there are so many young families who hold this sacredness at the Mass in common.

Janice said...

Dear Carolyn, our good Archbishop is working on many things and all for the better! :-) He is working very deliberately and quietly and with certainty- just like the Holy Spirit. Our hearts sing with joy!
God is good! He teaches us patience. God bless you.

Cathy said...


I read your article & I'm not sure I understand your position on the music topic.
What do you consider 'not appropriate' Mass Music?

Words matter!
I love words & have spent my life in Grammar, speaking, & writing.

The Dan Schutte vs Little Pony was 'reaching' in my opinion.

Just because a familiar tune is used does NOT make it evil or bad. Singing Glory to God is NOT saying My Little Pony. Not even close, even if the tune may be a little alike. I was more concerned that the man who thought it was. He sings My Little Pony? What grown man does that? Help me to understand, please!

People can learn amazing things & remember them by using music.

When I taught children's ministry I set their memory verses to 'familiar nursery rhymes'
Voila'. Kids started learning their scriptures & many tell me they still know God's words to this day thanks to those little songs.

While these were not sung at MASS, I wonder if these 'legalistic' rules are part of what is destroying our church.

Content & words matter & that's where I see the bottom line.

The Protestant churches are wooing our people away by reaching out & touching their hearts w/dynamic & exciting worship music.

VOCAL said...


Well, first of all I don't believe that this was meant to be a mean spirited article. It is just one man's opinion seeing years of music in the Catholic Church.

This grown man probably had sisters or nieces back in the day and remembered My Little Pony. Knowing music so well it wouldn't surprise me.

I am a hard one to ask regarding mass music. My tastes have evolved. Not to say that those who love Schutte, Haugen and Haas are lesser. It's just that I'm not so inspired with their words which are meant to sell songs to both Catholics and Protestants alike.

Words do indeed matter and the mystery of the Catholic Church is sorely lacking and I believe this is the reason so many people left it.

Thankfully, observing the young mothers around me, I am so happy that their are teaching their children about the sacredness of the Church. There is so much beauty that we have been lacking in the last forty years and it's coming back.

I too love and remember when I was a child at many protestant church Sunday schools and I would be one of the first to challenge any truly legalistic tendencies in music or belief unless it's Catholic Doctrine.

There needs to be more brain strain learning scripture and music
is certainly a wonderful way.

To reiterate, I don't think this priest was mean spirited, nor the article. Most people haven't been transported to a mystical place though the music during mass.

It is coming though and might at first seem "boring" when comparing it to the more secular type Catholic music.

We need to love the Church more and through Sacred Music, some feel the mystery even more.

VOCAL said...

Correction upon reflection. Regarding my answer to Janice. I have no way of knowing if OCP has the same values. Mea Culpa. They just have a different emphasis in some of their music.

elm said...

Before the translation change two years ago, there was a version of the Gloria that every time I heard it I fully expected a Chorus line to come down the center aisle. Schutte's Gloria repeats the Glory to God line over and over. Wasn't that deemed verboten when the translations where promulgated?

Cathy said...

Thanks Carolyn. I knew you had an explanation & I appreciate all you are doing.

Anonymous said...

One has to read the entire article. Jeff Ostrowski is not a priest, but a married-father-of-two president of Corpus Christ Watershed. The entire article clearly states that it's through his daughters that he knows the tune "My Little Pony." After that, the banal music of DS speaks for itself...

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I did not hear "My Little Pony" but we all hear different things in our heads and see different things with our eyes. I appreciate the comment that our Archbishop is working hard for our community. I believe he has many challenges. Since the bankruptcy, I've heard from priests that the profits from OCP have been helping to keep a lot of ministries open. For now, I'll grateful for the music in our parish and will leave all this debate to those who know more than do I.

VOCAL said...


I hope your question was just rhetorical in nature. I don't know all the ins and outs of the Church's desire to embrace the sacred with both arms.

I will however look into it.

Maybe you can shed some light on this.

VOCAL said...


I would like to know the "ministries" that OCP are supporting. They make enough money to do mighty works.

The bankruptcy is a way of "pruning" this Archdiocese.

It is better to lance wounds and allow for healing. We pray that lessons are really learned. The money is the Lord's and we need to use it for Him wisely.

Anonymous said...

Though the melody is entirely "My Little Pony", the bigger issue is what Elm pointed out, that refrain Glorys change the working and are not to be used as of 2011. I guess some priests didn't get the memo.

VOCAL said...

I agree (and I'm a musician). When I go to a non-denominational church, I can never stay for the music. It doesn't feel Holy Spirit. I also don't like the yelling preachers or hyper music in the name of Jesus on TV or on the radio (e.g. The Fish). It's really easy to discount it as being non-Christian by just saying, "Could I picture Jesus doing that?" The Mass has much more peace :-) And in terms of "beauty", have you heard my "New Beginning" CD? You can hear it here:, or my Christmas CD here:

VOCAL said...

Thanks Dennis. You should know. Just to let people know that Dennis played the saxophone for The Tokens who have the great song "The Lion Sleep Tonight".

He is a man after God's own heart.