Volume > Issue > Post-Vatican II 'la la la' Music: Unworthy of the Catholic Church

Post-Vatican II ‘la la la’ Music: Unworthy of the Catholic Church

GUEST COLUMN

By William J. Abbott | October 1998
William J. Abbott, of Oyster Bay, New York, has spent 35 years as a writer and magazine publisher and is a long-time Catholic and long-suffering lover of music.

We’re 30 years into the post-Vatican II revolution and we’re still asking ourselves the basic question that in pre-revolutionary times few even wondered about: “Why do we go to Mass?” Some people go to commune with their fellow man. (As for me, that’s what I do on the other six days of the week.) Some go because it makes them feel good. (But how long do the good feelings last?)

It’s odd, given our vast archives of sacred music, but I never encounter anyone who goes to Mass to hear the music, even though Sunday after Sunday for the lion’s share of the time during Mass we have the singers performing, not the priest praying. As someone who goes to Mass to communicate with God, I, for one, find these performances annoyingly intrusive.

I say “performance” because rarely does one hear the vast majority of the congregation joining in — despite the frantic hand signals from the cantor or music director. Is this because, as they say, “Catholics don’t sing”? Or is it because the music is just plain unsingable?

I would love to have been a fly on the wall when the powers responsible for this deplorable state of affairs were deciding what the musical future of Catholicism would sound like. It seems obvious that these people had little or no creative talent. Hearing the results of their efforts, one is forced to conclude that they were doing little except seeking change for the sake of change — and hang the results.

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