I posted this in mioque's film thread, but then decided to post it as a different thread rather than possibly "hijack" that one. I expect I'll step on a lot of toes here, but I think the same criticism he leveled at the film industry applies to most current Christian (most assuredly including Catholic) worship music. Here's somebody who agrees with me: Singing the Lord’s Songs Dissatisfaction with the state of contemporary church music is now very widespread, which may or may not mean that some remedy is at hand....Surely Michael Howard is right about the “appalling clothing of mediocrity.” It is not just the neglect of Mozart, Haydn, and Dvorak, or even Gregorian chant. And few of our local places of worship can or should try to match the “fantastic churches” of Prague. Among Protestants and Catholics, the last several decades have witnessed a wholesale debauch of musical sensibilities and the squandering of magnificent traditions. A price I pay for hanging out so much with evangelical Protestants and speaking at pro–life events is that I am exposed to the most barbarous of musical kitsch in both Catholic and Protestant camps. Why do such good people indulge such bad music? At a recent pro–life rally in the midwest there was no less than ten minutes of a group of young people with high decibel electronic guitars screaming over and over again, “I love you Jeeesus!” That was it. And the mainly middle–aged crowd went wild. A rock concert without talent or imagination. It is not simply a matter of doing what is popular. In the traditions that have been squandered, there is much that is popular, in the best sense of that term. I was recently given a CD, Sing Lustily and With Good Courage, which includes “gallery hymns” of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries by Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band (CD–SDL–383). Here are magnificent renderings of “Who would true valour see” (John Bunyan), “Lo, He comes with clouds descending” (Charles Wesley), “The God of Abraham praise” (Thomas Olivers), and a dozen others that stir and form the souls of the gathered faithful glorifying God. The debased noises of unbridled subjectivism that are typical of what today is called entertainment worship are spiritual poison. We’re not talking mere aesthetics here. There is nothing mere about the beautiful. The three transcendentals—the good, the true, and the beautiful—are inextricably entangled. The degradation of one degrades the others. “I love you Jeeesus!” Or at another meeting, an orgy of self–praise, “We Are Here and We are Ali–i–i–i–ve!” Well, good for you. Such junk is an embarrassment to Christianity. One wonders what a sensible outsider stumbling into such a gathering might think. He would likely beat a hasty exit, and I wouldn’t blame him. I would have, too, except I was scheduled to speak after the noise subsided. I saw in Christianity Today where one such group of sentimental bedlam was described as having “a joy that is contagious.” Contagious as in smallpox. The joy is painfully forced. “Look how joyful we are!” If this is joy, give me melancholy. Don’t tell me these people are sincere. The praise of God has nothing to do with being drenched by the agitated effusions of their sincerity. Sincerity is no excuse for tackiness. The world would be more beautiful and the Church more inviting were half the music directors in Christendom fired tomorrow. At least half. Christianity has over the centuries produced a musical heritage without parallel in human history. It is a great pity, for which some are criminally responsible, that most Christians are unaware of it. The circumstance described by Michael Howard in 1974 has dramatically deteriorated since then, and there is no end in sight. There now, I feel better having got that off my chest. And please don’t tell me that this comment is too negative, that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. It is not I who extinguished the candles of our musical legacy. Anyway, as I have had occasion to say before, sometimes it’s helpful to curse the darkness. It keeps us from getting used to it. Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, First Things Magazine, Oct. 2000.