Who on earth chose the liturgical music? It's important to question if we have any right to express our preferences, because seriously... did any of us Catholic youth have any say?
Yesterday the line-up was shared online here.
I ask, because I have a gut feeling that we'll all be hearing and seeing at Hyde Park, something reminiscent of Sunday's 'Songs of Praise' - which is far from what the youth of the Catholic Church actually enjoy and/or engage with. As much as I appreciate the BBC bringing God to peoples' homes with this program, I'm sorry, but... quite frankly the music bores me!
Please don't get me wrong - I'm a classically trained singer, with an ability to sing R'n'B, Gospel, and contemporary styles (yeah, we do exist), so with all my heart, I love organ and orchestral arrangements that one may find at some Catholic Masses. But in reality, those aren't usually the Masses us young peepz go to. Most of the time, you'll find Catholic youths in attendance at Mass where music is shared by a small group accompanied very simply with a guitar and if lucky, a keyboard too. But the stuff sung, more often than not, comes straight from the heart in praise to our God, and becomes one with the Mass. Not a performance. This makes all the difference to me, and explains why I love attending a Catholic African Mass, with its earthly rhythms and rich voicing. OK... the music isn't so technical, but it´s delivered from the heart.
It has always been a worry if mine that too much emphasis is directed on the technicality of music for events such as this, that heartfelt messages are lost to the musicians/singers performing them. I can imagine this happening with the Rutter piece that will be performed in part two. Possibly the only pieces I can predict young people relating to, are Foley's 'one Bread, one Body', the Taize chants, and Tantum Ergo. Oh, and lol... I have no idea who Dudley-Smith is. Do you? What about bringing in a little Matt Redman (whose material is often sung pre or post-Communion, and us young Catholics just love his music)? The Hallelujah chorus version I want to hear is this one:
And 'Shine, Jesus shine' is so old-skool, and so overplayed back in the early 90's that we try our hardest to avoid that one! Is this really meant to be Catholic entertainment for young people? All I can say is that it certainly doesn't reflect the majority or style of what us young Catholics sing at Mass.
Believe it or not, Catholics of all ages do enjoy the evangelical sounding versions of traditional hymns, and young people do enjoy singing traditional pieces like Salve Regina... and we so aren't 'happy-clappy'! In fact, I think the term ´happy-clappy worship´ belongs more to the CofE and Methodist sides of Christianity in the UK.
Congregations are truly affected by music that is so clearly from the heart. Music could be an instrument for bringing us young people closer to God, because it is a major part of our everyday lives, and it is ususally the first thing a young person relates to during a Mass. I certainly wouldn´t have that many of that list on my mp3 player (exception of Rutter, Tantum Ergo and some Taize). According to these studies, 78% of Britons agree that Christians and the Churches are doing a poor job in reaching out to young people, and 83% of Roman Catholic Youth in England and Wales (practising and non-practising) describe the Catholic Church as boring (among other things). Our Church must then realise that music can really help to bring more young people back to Sunday Masses. Get it right, and we´ll attract young interest. This Papal Visit is the Catholic Church's opportunity to achieve this, and also show the young outside our faith that our Church is very much alive, and full of hope. Us Catholics like to praise our God in different styles, and from the heart: and young people dig this! If what they´re about to see on TV is a live version of ´Songs of Praise´, then I´m afraid they´ll get the wrong impression.
Need I also remind people of how multi-cultural the Catholic Church is in England and Wales. I hope that these lively and loving communities get an opportunity to represent themselves, and offer some sort of entertainment to the Pope and the Great British people. My parish has groups from all continents contributing so much to the Church, and have their little traditional dance classes and choirs that practice in our parish centre. I´m not just talking about our friends from Ireland. I´m talking about the representation of hundreds of West African, South Asian, far-East Asian and South American Catholic communities, showing the world how proud we are of our global and unified Church in the UK. We love our faith, and young practicing Catholics will profess that with all our hearts between 16th and 19th September 2010 when Pope Benedict XVI, a successor of Jesus´disciple Peter, comes to our lands.
Despite all that, music and entertainment isn´t as important as the strength of my faith, and so I think young people will have to rely more on our visual and personal representation, than our aural one! No matter what impression people walk away with regarding the Catholic young after Hyde Park, my own witness is lived out in my everyday life, and hope that those who know me can relate to that. The theme being 'cor ad cor loquitur' (heart speaks unto heart) means that the music and entertainment too must come from our hearts. And whilst I pray that this will be the case, unfortunately, I just do not feel the selection of music is a true reflection of what the faithful and vibrant Catholic youth of today have to offer His Holiness.
I´d love to hear what you´ve got to say! Leave a comment if you agree or disagree.