Wednesday, July 01, 2009

On Hymns at Mass and Copyrights

Beresford is a Canadian Chestertonian (IIRC) and wrote a wry, tragic essay on the Silliness of Church hymns, but also ripping the band-aid off an emerging problem.

...When I was very young, I can just recall singing hymns like “Holy, Holy, Holy,” “Faith of Our Fathers,” and “Immaculate Mary.” Then came the big change, and much against the wishes of the Council Fathers who wrote that we (the laity) had the right to sing our hymns in Latin, we became part of the large-scale experiments testing how long it would take to empty the parishes.

Ummmhhh, yah.

...By the end of the 1980s and early 90s, the worst of these excesses had begun to subside and the preposterous was replaced by the banal. Instead of singing old Beatles songs at Mass, we were given insipid, gender-neutral translations of the psalms set to saccharine melodies.

Recently, I've been subject to some of that psalmody. Usually the pianist (in a church with a $900,000.00 organ) does lots of bar-room arpeggios. It's like the hotel-lobby stuff you hear during the cocktails-and-canapes hour. Streisand would be comfy with it.

My main concern is that these hymns are now private property,...I have assessed this trend in the Canadian hymnals, the Catholic Book of Worship (CBW) put out by the CCCB (Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops).

...The proportion of hymns with copyrights has increased steadily with each edition, eroding those held in common. What is interesting is that many of the hymns that now carry copyrights originally did not do so. For example, “Immaculate Mary” has a copyright because verses two to five were replaced.

Beresford has decided that he will sing the 'common texts' for these offerings, loudly, thus not acquiescing to the Copyright Cops.

Regardless of B's actions or desires, the Copyright Problem looms very large, as this longer exposition demonstrates.

HT: Recovering Choir Director

No comments: