Bad Hymns vs. Good Hymns


I have to be brutaly honest; I find some of the hymns we sing at Mass to be terrible.  Some of them are theologically watered down, too flowery, and include too much pronouns like “I” and “we”, not to mention the frequent referencing of God as “I” instead of “You” (which screams pantheism).  Some songs I find to be absolutely cringeworthy: e.g. “Come Live in the Light”.  The hymns we sing should connect to what we are celebrating that day; since that is not always the case many Catholics of course have a hard time connecting the liturgy to theology.  The same can be said about cheesy homilies.

In the case of “Come Live in the Light”, the song hardly mentions God and the singer’s attention is directed to the other singers.  Historically hymns have been directed towards God.  The reader of the lyrics sees what I mean when they come across the phrase, “We are called” repeated ad nauseam.

When you see and hear the difference between Eastern and Western liturgy: you see a major break from Tradition in the Western liturgy.  I’m not saying all Western rite parishes are guilty of this.  I even reluctantly admitted to a Greek Orthodox priest I agreed with him on the shamefulness of the concept of guitar Masses; I, a representative of the Catholic Church, was faced to admit the radical liturgical change in so many Western parishes.  So many liberties have been allowed to creep into the liturgy that it has gotten out of hand in some parishes.

Yet this was all condemned by the Second Vatican Council.  It stated: “Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 22.3).  The liturgy has become an experiment for the faithful, but the liturgy is not meant to be an experiment; it’s meant for God.  While the Council sought to keep priests (and laity) from adding or subtracting parts to or from the liturgy on their own accord the problem came with bishops permitted such things to occur and in some instances the bishops being the ones pushing parishes in their dioceses to go by these changes.

The Council went so far as to say that so far as possible “the hymns are to be restored to their original form, and whatever smacks of mythology or ill accords with Christian piety is to be removed or changed” (ibid, 93).  That doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be Latin, but they do need to be theologically rich and focus on God, not ourselves.  This means “Come Live in the Light” is not appropriate according to the Council because it focuses too much on “we” and not nearly enough on God.  Such a song has a better place in a hippie circle or some liberal school pageant.  It reminds me of this group which supports the attempted “ordination” of women into the diaconate and the priesthood along with gay “marriage”.  By the way it looks more like a pagan ritual than a Mass.

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