One reason I'm hoping for the return of our voices is that for the communion reflection piece this week we are singing one of my favorite pieces: Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus. As the Wikipedia link points out, the hymn is attributed to Pope Innocent VI, and Wikipedia's English translation is as follows:
- Hail, true Body, born
- of the Virgin Mary,
- truly suffered, sacrificed
- on the cross for man,
- whose pierced side
- flowed with water and blood:
- May it be for us a foretaste
- in the trial of death.
This is sacred music. The lyrics have an ancient pedigree; the musical setting is meditative, harmonious, filled with subtle beauty. Our own Pope Benedict XVI is partial to the music of Mozart; the article linked to above quotes His Holiness as saying that Mozart's music "...contains the whole tragedy of human existence."
Sometimes you will hear people who lead Catholic choirs being dismissive of Mozart and other classical composers as being too "highbrow" for the ordinary Catholic in the pews to appreciate or enjoy. Others will lament that they can't possibly perform any of Mozart's beautiful motets or Mass music because their choirs are untrained, non-professional musicians who can't read music.
Both choirs I've had the joy of participating in these last few years were composed mainly of people who weren't professionals and couldn't read music, either, aside from the director and one or two others. I myself have only a minimal ability to sight-read, and must hear a piece once or twice before I can sing it. Yet both of these small, amateur choirs learned and have sung Mozart's Ave Verum, and sung it reasonably well.
Beautiful music like this isn't "highbrow" or inaccessible to the congregation. Rather, it's a part of our musical heritage as Catholics. Music like this fosters prayer; it doesn't compete with it or distract from it.
Now, compare it to this song: Sing of the Lord's Goodness. I actually don't have that much of a problem with most of the lyrics of this piece, but here is the music. To me, this music sounds too secular, too much like something one could hear in other settings besides church. (Warning: that link has some not-so-nice ads here and there.)
What do you think?