How the Church Lost Her Soundscape

Over at First Things, Peter Leithart writes about How the Church Lost Her Soundscape and concludes:

Expertise is one of the values of modern culture, but expertise has always had a limited scope. We trust experts in physics and computer programming and perhaps foreign affairs. But the suggestion that there are experts in aesthetics, musicians who know what music one should appreciate, is greeted with hostility, also in the church. “I know what I like” stops every argument, buttressed by “Musical taste is subjective.” Lebanese organist Naji Hakim has lamented that in the Catholic Church “many in positions of liturgical responsibility, with no musical education as regards technique or aesthetics, have come to believe in a tabula rasa, denying any lineage whatsoever.” Professional musicians have been “sidelined” as “the lost common denominator has become the rule.” He wonders whether Catholics “realize the level of mediocrity which the present liturgy has reached.”

The church created the soundscape for Western Christendom because she cultivated her own musical life in the liturgy that united human voices with the angelic choirs of heaven. I can hardly imagine a more worrisome sign of worldliness, or clearer evidence of the church’s identity crisis, than our eager renunciation of our own soundscape and our determination instead to reproduce the world’s.

“For all its variety, pop music is dismally monophonic. Transgression is encouraged, so long as it doesn’t get too close to the music.” ..reminds me of my dad’s critique of 60s pop music.

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