Monday, August 5, 2013

WYD Adoration: Musical Misstep

It’s all the rage: Matt Maher’s performance during Adoration at WYD. Sigh. Listen at your own risk - especially when you consider that this was sung at Adoration! The fact that he sang on his knees still does not make this sacred music, nor does the fact that Mr. Maher is Catholic give the music a Catholic identity.

Somehow I fail to see how the words of Maher’s song in any way approach the depth of the hymns Verbum supernum prodiens (from whence we get O Salutaris Hostia) or Pange lingua (from whence we get Tantum ergo):

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, Oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Verse 2
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I'll fall on You
Jesus, You're my hope and stay.

There’s a lot of emotionalism present in both the words and the music of Maher’s song. And, in typically Protestant manner, it's egocentric: it's all about Jesus-n'-me. None of that messy Church stuff (very weak on an ecclesiological perspective), ergo unsuitable for liturgical worship.

It also fails to meet Pope St. Pius X's criteria for "sacred music".

Compare Maher's song to O Salutaris Hostia

O saving Victim, opening wide 
The gate of heaven to all us below:
Our foes press on from every side;
Thine aid supply, Thy strength bestow.

To Thy great Name be endless praise,
Immortal Godhead, One in Three!
O grant us endless length of days
With Thee in our true country.

Here's O Salutaris sung in a different melody; this fellow is also on his knees!

Here’s Pange Lingua in English:

Of the glorious Body telling,
O my tongue, its mysteries sing,
And the Blood, all price excelling,
Which the world's eternal King,
In a noble womb once dwelling
Shed for the world's ransoming.

Given for us, descending,
Of a Virgin to proceed,
Man with man in converse blending,
Scattered he the Gospel seed,
Till his sojourn drew to ending,
Which he closed in wondrous deed.

At the last great Supper lying
Circled by his brethren's band,
Meekly with the law complying,
First he finished its command
Then, immortal Food supplying,
Gave himself with his own hand.

Word made Flesh, by word he maketh
Very bread his Flesh to be;
Man in wine Christ's Blood partaketh:
And if senses fail to see,
Faith alone the true heart waketh
To behold the mystery.

Therefore we, before him bending,
This great Sacrament revere;
Types and shadows have their ending,
For the newer rite is here;
Faith, our outward sense befriending,
Makes the inward vision clear.

Glory let us give, and blessing
To the Father and the Son;
Honour, might, and praise addressing,
While eternal ages run;
Ever too his love confessing,
Who, from both, with both is one.

There is true Catholic identity evident in those "old-fashioned" Latin hymns. There is reverence and awe. There is a turning toward the Lord, as opposed to the focus on “me”, and how “I feel” about Jesus, who is my buddy.

Why do we seem to find it necessary to dumb down the faith for our youth? Why do we try to “compete” with the Protestants by simply using Protestant music and theology? There is so much more to our Catholic faith!

We are letting down the youth of our Church by this approach, and we are failing to evangelize the culture. Rather, the (Protestant) culture has evangelized us.


  1. Brilliant post, Dr. Jay.

    I remember sitting here in front of the computer watching EWTN and wondering what on earth is he doing?!

    That is what they're offering me? THAT?! Uh, no thank you. I'm a teen and I prefer Gregorian chant and sacred music. I don't care for all that mushy luv he's singing.

    I couldn't help but notice everyone crying. Not because Christ is there but because of the music, the luvvv, the feelings, the emotions. Ugh. I'm happy to be able to sing Gregorian Chant every sunday. That's true religion, true Catholic identity.

    All of this is utter nonsense.

    Pray for the Church...

    God bless!


  2. Oh goody! another opportunity to use one of my favorite quotes from "Tra le Sollecitudini" (which you alluded to): "The employment of the piano is forbidden in church, as is also that of noisy or frivolous instruments such as drums, cymbals, bells and"!!

    On a personal side note, about a year ago I was at adoration at our parish & heard "O Salutaris Hostia" for the first time. I don't know if we get "Host" as it relates to the Body of Christ from the word "Hostia", but when I realized it was Latin for "Victim", that was a WOWthatissoCOOL! moment for me. :o)

  3. The music was profane; there is no place in the Church for music fit for a concert....

  4. Do you ever feel "entertained " at these feel good events such as these.
    I listened for about 2 minutes and turned him off ....
    We are called to Worship Our God ...not the so called worship leader and make us all warm and fuzzy inside shallow in my mind, my take.
    Give me SACRED MUSIC and Gregorian Chant .
    Give me Traditon and the Latin Mass ...where heaven and earth and we have the TRUE Holy Sacrifce of Mass ....
    I am a Roman Catholic , I am not Protestant .
    I want TRUE Catholicism ....pray hard for Holy Mother Church!

  5. One more thing :
    The clips you posted : Pange Linguua and O'Salutaris are breath-takingly BEAUTIFUL , HOLY and AWESPIRING.
    Big difference between the two, don't you think ?
    God does not want or need a SHOW , he wants and desires for each of us to ADORE HIM
    Worship Leaders like Matt seem to draw attention to themselves .....use to do it myself when I was one and all caught up in the Charismatic Renewal, thank the good God those days are forever gone .
    Reverence is what is called for ...let those protestants have their worhsip services and showy services.
    Oh I forgot we are called to pray for their CONVERSION....let me go do that right now!
    Great post Dr. Jay .
    I hope you time Over the Rainbow was wonderful.

  6. I watched it and thought I was a visitor in an Assembly of God church

  7. PERFECT comment thoughts exactly!

  8. Thanks all - great comments!

  9. I totally agree with you, Jeanne.

    In my opinion, the Charismatic movement is NOT Catholic! At least all the protestants stuff they do is not. It's absolutely ridiculous with all the "slain in the spirit" nonsense and whatever else they do. I'm sorry, but the Holy Spirit is not electricity. I think that's simple to understand.

    It boils down to this though: Catholic DO NOT need to be or ACT like Protestants. Period. If you are then you have a serious misunderstanding of the Church. The Protestant sects are false. We are supposed to be converting them to the One True Church because there IS One True Church which is the Catholic Church. And the Catholic Church is not a bunch of protestantized mush made to appeal to the emotions.

    Like I said, we need to worship as we once worshiped and do what we once did. That's the answer to this terrible crisis in the Church.

    God bless!


  10. I couldn't even last through the first verse of that sappy video. I'll take Gregorian Chant any day over that drudgery!

  11. "Behold, how good it is, and how pleasant, where brethren dwell at one.!" [Ps 133:1]

    "Lift up your hands toward the sanctuary and bless the Lord." [Ps 134:2]

    "Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praise to his name, which we love." [Ps 135:3]

    Jesus said " I pray...that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me...{and} that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me...." [Jn 17:20-23]

    "While there is jealousy and rivalry among you, are you not of the flesh an behaving in an ordinary human way? Whenever someone says, "I belong to {EF}" and another, I belong to {NO}", are you not merely human?" [1Cor3:3-4

    {St Paul said} "I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose." [1Cor1:10]

    I missed the link in your post to the Vatican's web site where they (the Pope and the Cardinals and the rubric Gestapo) clarify the horror perpetrated as a result of this song and the entire WYD 2013. The Pope had a fabulous opportunity to set these "wild" youths and all RCs "straight" but apparently decided to keep quiet. I wonder why.

    "John said to him{Jesus}, "Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does no follow us." Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us." [Mk 9:38-40]

    I'm not a fan of Mr. Maher's music, but he appears to be devoted to Christ. Although his music may not be your cup of tea, it might be beneficial to study it a bit in order to increase your understanding and appreciation of at least his effort. [] Not everyone is called to be a the part of the body of Christ you are.

    As much as you dislike this kind of music, you must accept that the Pope and the leaders of the RC Church (not just a few stray priests or pastors) are supporting it now and have for decades. If they are wrong, what confidence can anyone have in the institutional church?

  12. fRED, you need your own blog.

  13. Let me try one more time, fred. The Church has said over and over what is appropriate music for Her liturgies. It's not about whether I like Matt Mayer's music; the fact is, it's not appropriate for Adoration. It's not appropriate for Mass. It's appropriate for personal listening, I suppose - that's where personal opinion and personal taste come in.

    I am writing about what the Church says is appropriate. When the people in charge intentionally choose music that is not appropriate, that is offensive to God. God may love Matt Maher's (or my, or your) devotion, but He is not pleased that people cannot follow the rubrics established by His Church.

    I'm not asking that everyone be "the same part of the Body" - not by any means. I'm asking that the Body conform to the Head. If the Pope chooses not to make a correction, well, so be it. That doesn't mean he is correct in failing to do so. God will sort it all out in the end. But in the mean time, I'll continue to say the emperor has no clothes when in fact he is running around stark naked.

  14. The basic problem as I see it is this. The "rules" say this type of music is not appropriate. If the Pope thinks it is, change the rules. But as long as there is a rule the Pope needs to abide by and uphold the rule. The failure to do so (not just this Pope) has invited all manner of rule breaking by Priests all over the world. No wonder. If the Pope can break a rule then I can break a rule. A rule unenforced is far worse than no rule at all.

  15. It is not too hard to discover, with a little research, that the aberrations in the Mass began with disobedience.

  16. You sure are hard on a 3 minute clip. I have been to adoration where Matt Maher played music, guess what, he opened with O Salutaris, and closed with Tantum Ergo and the Divine Praises set to music. I don't have cable, so did not see any of WYD, but do you know that if Matt Maher replaced the traditional songs (O Salutaris, Tantum ergo) with what you posted? Or was this simply a 3 minute clip during a time of adoration where music was used to guide mediation. If you don't like it you don't like it. But lets not judge this on a 3 minute clip.

  17. Chris V, it's being touted as the "best song" at WYD, and it's being touted as the song that was sung at Adoration; if this is not true, so much the better.

    I don't know how many times I have to say this, but it's not about *me* liking or not liking the song; that is not my point. It's about what the Church says is permissible and what is not. This song is not; it does not meet the standards.

    I'm not "judging" the song on musical merits; I'm saying its theology does not further Catholic devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, its style is secular and inappropriate for liturgy, and it is being used to promote the wrong image of Eucharistic Adoration to the world, especially the US. Our youth deserve better. They deserve Truth and Beauty and Goodness, not pop Christian music with guitar accompaniment.

  18. You know, I'm amazed at the comments here. I love the Sacred Mass, all the 'bells and smells', was thankful to Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict for teaching so eloquently on the "return to the Sacred" during Mass, but the condemnation of this song playing at WYD is disappointing to me. While it may not be the high liturgical music many of us like during Adoration, and the lyrics may not be wholly Catholic in nature, the lyrics are still beautiful and faithful. And while they do present a "Jesus and me" mentality, the Church actually does say we need a relationship with Christ, so there is room for this message. And when you're face to face with Jesus in Adoration, maybe some "Jesus and me" time and thoughts are okay at this point. This is, after all, personal prayer time with the Lord, not Mass. Matt Maher is one of the first Catholic artists to make it into the mainstream, and from what I can tell, he is keeping his Catholic faith strong despite being vastly alone in that arena - just think of all the non-Catholics who love his music and are being evangelized in the Catholic faith by seeing him, on his knees, during Adoration, singing a song they love.

  19. Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction are liturgical rites, with rubrics, even! More importantly, we're talking about the Real Presence of Jesus! No sloppy senitmentality will do for Adoration, and no "not wholly Catholic" lyrics will do. If people are "evangelized" by such music in such a situation, we must ask whether they are really being evangelized to the Catholic faith, or to some bastardization of that faith. I suggest it's the latter. "Singing a song they love" makes it all about the person, not about The Person of Jesus Christ.


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