December 5, 2020

Worship Music: Today’s Catholic Principles

By Chaplain Mike

Since the Second Vatican Council (1965-present), the Roman Catholic Church has experienced a great deal of change and development with regard to liturgical practice. Along with these changes, the Church has thought and written much about her worship, including the role of music in it. The liturgy was one of the first subjects taken up by the council with the aim of providing for more lay participation. That, of course, involves music and singing.

The document which came out of Vatican II in 1963, Sacrosanctum Concilium, expresses the Church’s view on music with these words:

112. The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy.

Holy Scripture, indeed, has bestowed praise upon sacred song [Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16], and the same may be said of the fathers of the Church and of the Roman pontiffs who in recent times, led by St. Pius X, have explained more precisely the ministerial function supplied by sacred music in the service of the Lord.

Therefore sacred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion as it is more closely connected with the liturgical action, whether it adds delight to prayer, fosters unity of minds, or confers greater solemnity upon the sacred rites. But the Church approves of all forms of true art having the needed qualities, and admits them into divine worship.

Some of the principles approved by the Church then included:

  • Liturgical worship is given a more noble form when celebrated with music.
  • The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care.
  • Great importance is to be attached to the teaching and practice of music in seminaries, in the novitiates and houses of study of religious of both sexes, and also in other Catholic institutions and schools.
  • Religious singing by the people is to be intelligently fostered so that in devotions and sacred exercises, as also during liturgical services, the voices of the faithful may ring out.
  • In mission lands, where people have their own musical traditions, a suitable place should be given to those traditions in worship.
  • Composers, filled with the Christian spirit, should feel that their vocation is to cultivate sacred music and increase its store of treasures. Let them produce compositions which have the qualities proper to genuine sacred music, not confining themselves to works which can be sung only by large choirs, but providing also for the needs of small choirs and for the active participation of the entire assembly of the faithful. The texts intended to be sung must always be in conformity with Catholic doctrine; indeed they should be drawn chiefly from holy scripture and from liturgical sources.

The document also gives pride of place to Gregorian chant and the organ in Catholic worship, but provides for and encourages the use of other instruments and styles of music when appropriate.

This is a fine, balanced set of basic propositions regarding music and its place in worship. It recognizes God’s gift of music to his people and to the world, allows for both traditional and new expressions, recognizes music as the servant of the Word, acknowledges the priority of the congregation while giving place to those with special musical gifts, affirms that we are part of a worldwide family of faith and that diverse expressions of music should be welcomed, encourages the private use of music for devotion, and emphasizes that education and training must be given with regard to these matters.

Building on this foundation, other groups such as Universa Laus, The National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM), and The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have produced a number of fine documents and resources tracking liturgical developments and offering theological perspective to the role of music in the liturgy. If you go to their websites, you will find a treasure trove of rich theological thinking about worship.

One of the most recent documents appeared in 2007, when the USCCB produced a document called “Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship. I encourage you to click the link and download the PDF for yourself. Read through it as a good example of a careful and thoughtful approach to worship and music in the church and worship setting, even if it represents a tradition outside your own.

One of its core principles is stated here:

“125. The role of music is to serve the needs of the Liturgy and not to dominate it, seek to entertain, or draw attention to itself or the musicians. However, there are instances when the praise and adoration of God leads to music taking on a far greater dimension. At other times, simplicity is the most appropriate response. The primary role of music in the Liturgy is to help the members of the gathered assembly to join themselves with the action of Christ and to give voice to the gift of faith.”

That is about as fine a statement about the role of music in worship as I’ve read. If American evangelicals could get hold of the principles in that paragraph and seriously implement them in the worship we practice in our churches, it could be transformative.

In preparation for our discussion on this post today, I must inject a personal note. I have attended my share of Roman Catholic services in various churches and, to be honest, I have not found the singing to be very good, especially on the congregational level. Frankly, I have not seen much enthusiasm and participation from those in the pews. Sometimes the choirs are excellent and the musicians and cantors devoted and talented, but what about the worshipers who come to Mass as individuals or with their families? Are they taught to sing? Encouraged to sing? How important is singing to the average layperson? How meaningful a part does it play in his or her worship? The documents I have referenced all represent theologizing from above, by those who give leadership in this area. What’s it like at ground level?

I am perfectly willing to admit that my own personal sample size with regard to Catholic music is tiny, so I will withhold coming to any conclusions about my experiences. To learn more about this, I need help from our Roman Catholic friends today. It appears that the Church has thought deeply about music’s role in worship—what is the state of actual practice in Catholicism, especially here in the U.S.?

I would say a basic problem in American evangelicalism is that we have allowed our musical practices to grow out of control like a field of weeds, and we have not given enough thought to cultivating pertinent regulative principles so that we might ensure a healthy garden of worship and music. Is the state of affairs in the Catholic world the opposite? Does the Church have the theology down, while lacking in practice?

Non-Catholics, I want to hear from you today too. What do you think of the detailed attention the Catholic church has given to the subject of liturgy and worship, including the role of music? What can we learn from them? What areas of disagreement or incompatibility do you see when you compare your own tradition and practices?


  1. Great topic. As a Catholic of just five years’ standing I can only address the subject with that limitation. I’ve found music at mass to be a mixed bag at best. In some parishes it is splendid. At others it is as you have experienced, meager and unenthusiastic. Often I miss the resounding sounds from my presbyterian/piskie background and long for powerful hymns of the congregation. My theory on the frequent tepid music found at many Catholic churches is that prior to Vatican II music was experienced as something delivered to the mass by the choir and that there is little Catholic cultural experience of the “audience participation” style of music of protestant congregations. The change only is some 50-plus years in length. A short time for a dramatic cultural shift. Perhaps others with a longer Catholic resume can evaluate my speculation. My discussion aside, I’ve learned to embrace that we Catholics don’t/can’t shop for a parish based on the quality of the musical experience. With that burden set aside one’s worship experience is less cluttered, I find. (My out, however, is to grab a handful of favored CDs and enjoy the most extraordinary music in solace and let it permeate my soul outside of mass.


    • I’m also Catholic and agree with Tom, especially on the mixed-bag part. Go into any given parish and you may as well roll the dice as to whether you will be singing campy 70s tunes on harmonica and acoustic guitar with questionable theology or beautiful hymns of ancient origin.

      The good news is, like in other areas in the Catholic Church in the past few decades, the tide is turning in a positive direction. Better music directors, less wonky theology, more reverent and lovely hymns and songs, and so on.

  2. “If American evangelicals could get hold of the principles in that paragraph and seriously implement them in the worship we practice in our churches, it could be transformative.” Funny, I feel that way about Catholic worship as well.

    Your observations are absolutely right. The congregational singing really isn’t that good. Lots of standing and looking awkward. But I’ve only been a Catholic for–oh, 2 1/2 months now–so I don’t think I’m really qualified to offer much analysis, other than just to affirm your sentiments and observations about Catholic worship.

    There is a really interesting conversation between Frank Schaeffer (Orthodox) and Thomas Howard (Catholic) that I found yesterday. Some of what they were saying seems pertinent to this conversation. Unfortunately, I found it in a really roundabout way, so I’m just going to post the link and pray for mercy from the moderators.

    • Dana Ames says


      Thanks for the link – worth reading. Did you happen to find an archive of this journal’s articles? I would be interested in knowing about it.


  3. Steve Newell says

    Last Spring Break, my two daughters spend it with my parents in Iowa. They attended the SBC church that my parents attended and all of the music was “praise” and CCM. My youngest (fifth grader) asked her grandmother if they ever sing hymns at their church. My mother sadly replied that they don’t hardly sing hymns anymore.

    As a society, we have lost the appreciation for singing together whether it as a church, as a family or a group. The only time we like to sing is at sporting events. Even is schools, children are not taught to read music and sing. We have made singing a part of our entertainment and not part of our lives.

  4. Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says

    When I was younger, I attended some Charismatic Catholic prayer meetings and masses with my mother (who had for all practical purposes come of age in the Charismatic Catholic scene). As an adult, I’ve also been at a couple of masses and prayer meetings that are in a similar vein, though it seems the Charismatic thing isn’t as widespread in Catholicism as it was back-in-the-day. Those folks really were good at music as well as liturgy. In regular masses, though, I haven’t really seen much in the way of congregational participation.

    I occasionally visit a nearby Anglican parish. These guys are *very* High Church. Their Sunday liturgical services (usually Holy Communion) are *very* traditional. Smells ‘n’ bells, organ, choir, chant, Elizabethan English in the liturgy, etc. Their Sunday night “koinonia” meetings are completely the opposite. Praise band, charismatic gifts-of-the-Spirit manifestations, hand raising, etc. On paper it seems kind of strange, but for this little parish it seems to work.

    My regular parish (Anglican), by contrast, uses an English adaptation of a contemporary liturgy from Kenya that is designed to be very responsive with lots of call-and-response. The music we use is blended, typically with a hymn for the processional and recessional, but with CCM for the offertory and during Communion. The folks are mildly Charismatic, and it comes out during Holy Communion. Again, it seems to work for our parish, even though I know there are some folk that would like a more traditional option.

  5. As a cradle Catholic, I have been to Mass at about a hundred parishes over the years. Since we were military, about fifteen of these parishes have been “home” to us for a period of time, at the rest we were visitors. This also covers a time period just before Vatican II thorugh today… that is a lot of Masses in several countries and states over forty-plus decades.

    I mention all of this to underpin my point that not only is every parish different in its music ministry, but that even the eighty-thirty mass is different from the ten-forty-five!!! Most of our parish homes have integrated the “Glory and Praise” songbook from the seventies with older hymnals. Only once, as a mediation after communion, have I heard a CCM song. (For those unfamilar with Mass, the musical times are pretty set: an opening hymn while the priest processes in, a song during the bringing up of the gifts, a song during communion, and a recessional song.)

    Overall, I think we have gotten better since the book “Why Catholics can’t sing” was written. The folks in the pews have to know the songs, but sing them to death, and the songs must be simply arranged, without octave and key jumps all over the place! I sing loudly despite a lack of talent because of my late mother’s theory..

    “God gave me this voice and He’s gonna have to listen to it”. It isn’t a performance, its praying.

    • should read “but NOT sing them to death”…ie, some variety is required.

      Catholic hymns also change with the liturgical seasons.

    • Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says

      I grew up on the Glory and Praise songbook. One of the best!

  6. Radagast says

    Chaplain Mike,

    Your observations are spot on from my perspective. I live in an area dominated by cultural Catholics. Catholics are encouraged to sing but most don’t – I believe because it makes them feel uncomfortable. Those who have taken the faith as their own and are not just going through the motions are more enthusiastic about singing as it is viewed, at least in my mind, as an extension of praying.

    You will sometimes hear, especially from the ladies, how they would love to go to a gospel church and sing their hearts out. So apparently there is a desire. But too many times, you will see folks there who don’t even respond to the Mass itself, kind of like they have to be there but don’t really want to (these are adults I’m talking about here – and my view is at least they’re coming so that there is an opportunity for a seed to be planted). Again, I do believe it is because of the area I live in.

    Now if you go down south, folks are singing their lungs out because down there Catholics are a minority. And if you go to Churches of other cultures (which, before the 1930’s there were many of) there is an excitement in the music and singing.

    Sometimes the folk Masses, or at least those with more contemporary music (not to be confused with the rock band stuff outside the tradition) have more participation, but not like the protestant and non-denom churches.

    From a personal perspective – I don’t belt out the lyrics either though I do sing during Mass, more quietly. Its not that I don’t like to sing – I sing like crazy in the car, Its probably more of an ingrained Catholic thing. But I do find I sing louder if there is more enthusiam.

    • cermak_rd says

      I’ll have to admit that when I was Catholic I was like that. I hated the sound of the organ ’cause it meant yet one more song which meant at least another 2 minutes in church. It wasn’t unusual for me to attend early morning mass at the hospital chapel nearby just because they didn’t sing which meant we were out in 30 minutes…sometimes sooner! depending on the crowd.

      You are right. I was only there because I knew I had to be there.

      Now that I’m a part of a faith that doesn’t have days of obligation, I am far more relaxed about time and if it takes a couple hours because the kids are doing readings or something, I don’t mind. Also Friday evenings just works a lot better for me than Sunday AMs did. True, I occasionally have to work late on Friday and miss it, but I can usually get there.

  7. bigbear72 says

    Some of it has to be just tradition. I am an ex-Methodist now Lutheran and both denoms like to sing. Two weeks ago I went with mom to Methodist church and the first hymn of the day was “For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”, the next week I was at my Lutheran church and the first hymn was “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”. Both times the place rocked. Even though I am a horribly flat I love to “make a joyful noise” and believe me my singing voice is noise at best. My ex-Catholic wife, who has a decent voice, does not really sing in church and the reason she gives is that it is something she just has never done. In my case, I had to be in the kids choir from age 5 thru 12 and singing in church has always been something that has just been done.

  8. David Cornwell says

    “Therefore sacred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion as it is more closely connected with the liturgical action, whether it adds delight to prayer, fosters unity of minds, or confers greater solemnity upon the sacred rites. But the Church approves of all forms of true art having the needed qualities, and admits them into divine worship.”

    This is a wonderful and high standard.

    One of the things that attracted me to the church where I hold my membership (not Catholic) is the quality of the music, and the congregational participation. For the most part it is aligned with the lectionary passages for the appointed Sunday.

  9. I lead worship in a Mennonite Church and there is a mixed bag of hymns, CCM and a few points in between. We have several different worship leaders who rotate Sundays and each presents a different “flavour” of music, with some overlap. Two favour hymns, one is more folksy, one is more country gospel, two are more CCM and I try my best to mix it up with some songs from several styles. All of us incorporate some CCM into our “sets.” The problem we run into is when I hear people speak of their “favourite” worship leader. It’s not surprising but it saddens me that it has become about the music. I am getting a few more requests now from people wanting to join worship groups or form new ones, and I wonder if it isn’t time to shave down our numbers before it becomes “Battle of the Worship Bands.”

  10. I’m a Protestant, but feel compelled to share this experience of Catholic worship. A good friend of mine married into a Catholic family, much to the irk of his Baptist parents. The wedding was Catholic: the church, the mass, everything. But there was a time of singing as a part of the worship, and it really reflected the sentiments laid out above concerning the assimilation of local folk culture. So the wedding was not exactly in Mexico, but the proximity and demographics were such that it might as well have been. The worship was lead from an ensemble on a balcony in the back that played nylon string guitars and sung folk style music in Spanish. The overall effect was quite lovely: These believers were not trying to be some pious, reverent, polyphonic latin choir: They were just being themselves and offering that up to God. There singing was not exactly the most harmonious, but the honesty conveyed in their unpolished dissonance was beautiful in its simplicity. No glitz, no fog machines, and not even a view of the musicians. Come on evangelicals, what can we learn from this?

  11. And yet, despite all the documents, we still ended up with guitars and tambourines and choruses with hand-gestures.

    “What’s it like at ground level?”

    The late Cardinal Ó Fiaich, at a conference in the Vatican during the 80s, stated that you cannot get the Irish to sing in church. The pub – no bother, church – impossible.

    Or from Dara Ó Briain’s comedy routine from 2005 on attending a Catholic-Protestant mixed marriage:

    “I say there’s no differences. There are some differences. The Protestants – you love the hymns. You love the hymns. You can’t get enough of the damn hymns. Verse after verse after verse of the feckin’ hymns. Catholics – we do one verse, up you get, there you go, down you go, end of story.”

    • Radagast says

      You know Martha, I was going to mention the Irish thing, since where I live had a lot of them 100 years ago. And since I have Irish roots I can relate… that and Irish seem to be so inflexible (I’m a runner and all of my friends of Irish decent are like me – can’t touch my toes to save my life – also – my wife can’t understand why I can’t swivel from the hips when I attempt to dance and this seems to be another Irish trait (just look at all those folks in Riverdance doing the Irish jig – all leg movement, no hip or upper body – I think I’m on to something). – ok off topic but…

      • It’s our wide hips and short legs, Radagast 😉

        There’s a jokey reference that “Irish girls have a dispensation from the Pope to wear their legs upside-down” (i.e. thickening in girth as you go from the knee down) and there’s also a disparaging Irish reference to women being all “beef to the heel like a Mullingar heifer”.

        Even in an old episode of “Time Team” (the popular archaeology show), a forensic archaeologist of some nature was able to differentiate between Celt and Saxon skeletons on the basis of the feet bones: Anglo-Saxons long and narrow, Celts short and broad.

        And if you saw my feet, you’d agree I’ve got Celtic foot-bones – which makes it murder to go shoe-shopping, since most shoes are too flamin’ narrow in the instep 🙂

  12. Richard Hershberger says

    I don’t have too much to add to the previous comments. I am a cradle Lutheran, but both I and my brother married Catholics. I have attended many Catholic masses in a variety of settings. I have never encountered good congregational singing (though obviously my experience is limited). It isn’t for lack of effort by the leadership. Look up front, to the side of the alter. There will frequently be a song leader gesticulating wildly, trying to get the parishioners involved. My brother plays organ at his church. He sometimes helps out at his wife’s. He reports that it is practically impossible to get Catholics to sing. It clearly is not institutional opposition, but cultural resistance in the pews. I don’t know why. The Protestant practice of congregational singing arose fairly quickly, but here it is a half century after Vatican II and Catholics haven’t taken to it.

  13. The church I go to now meets at a coffee shop in a college town. But we pretty much run like a normal C&MA church. There’s usually not more than 25 people on any given Sunday, and it’s really embarassing because the music leader (whom my wife assists) is always making us stand up, telling us to clap and yee haw and jump up and down and all this crazy stuff. Meanwhile the coffee shop windows are 6 feet tall and left to right across the whole building. So anytime someone walks by, there’s all these people standing up in a coffee shop looking embarassed while the music leader is trying to make us hoe-down. And we’re Pennsylvanians. We don’t really hoe down that much.

    • cermak_rd says

      Your last couple sentences cracked me up. It reminds me of the old line about we’re (British or Jewish I’ve heard both) we don’t do passionate.

    • I’m just imagining that passers-by must think “Wow, that must be some *really* good coffee!” if they see you all standing up and leaping about 🙂

  14. At the little Catholic church I attend, folks like to sing. Some of the songs come from the “Glory and Praise” song-book that Pattie mentioned. Some are old hymns. I don’t know where some of the other songs come from. The only songs that don’t get a lot of participation are ones that we are not familiar with or ones where the tune is all over the place…high note, low note, middle note, low note, who knows note. We like the upbeat songs including songs by Daniel L. Schutte including, “Blest be the Lord” and “Though the Mountains May Fall.” We like to sing from “Blest by the Lord:”

    “I need not shrink before the terrors of the night,
    Nor stand alone before the light of day.
    No harm shall come to me, no arrow strike me down,
    No evil settle in my soul.”

    We may actually suffer from terrors of the night and we may feel like we often are alone, but we sing anyway and I like the way some parishioners really get into the line, “No evil settle in my soul.” We have a very small choir and a woman plays the piano and one plays the guitar. There is one male parishioner (not in the choir) who has been professionally trained as a singer and he really belts it out and that helps people to also join in. I heard one woman tell him after Mass that she never leaves early because she wants to be there as he sings the ending song. 🙂

  15. Dana Ames says

    On Catholics and singing:
    When I was growing up Catholic, my parish was somewhere in the middle, I think. The people most likely to sing were the ones sitting closest to the front; the farther back people sat, the less involved in all ways they tended to be, though there were always some exceptions. We were mostly of Italian and Mexican descent. The Mexicans and most of the men were shy about singing, but not the Italians, especially the women! We serious teenagers were happy that there was room in the Church for the sound of our music. When we had folk masses, generally the older people sang along to support the youth, whether or not they liked all the Vatican II changes or the style of music we sang. I was not aware of a lot of complaining; if the Pope and Bishops thought it was ok, that was good enough.

    Currently, being Orthodox:
    The biggest difference I’ve noticed is that not every art form is thought suitable to be brought into worship. Art itself, of all kinds, is very much appreciated and blessed, but only icons and the human voice (except in some O. churches on the east coast, where one can find organs) are part of worship. And nearly everything is sung. There is a wonderful interweaving of the prayers and responses. The people are encouraged to sing the responses, the Creed, the Our Father and the short seasonal and recurring hymns printed in the bulletin; our oldest priest, age 83, is always trying to get people to sing more, and he leads by example – still has a great set of pipes. (In fact, the first voice I want to hear at the Resurrection after the Lord’s and my family’s is Father Michael’s, singing “As many has have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ, Alleluia!”) I would say my parish is about as middle-of-the-road with singing as my Catholic parish was; some sing intensively, some not at all, and everything in between.

    I’ve been asked if I miss the Protestant worship style, especially the contemporary forms; honestly, on occasion I do, but most of the time I don’t. I believe our whole self needs to be involved and expressed in worship, including the emotions; I think a good Protestant worship theology can be constructed (and has been in some places) to allow for this and is a corrective to the “head-only” kinds of hymns that prevailed for so long. In having stepped back from it, I see how many times it is the emotional aspect that is leading, and the focus can easily remains on oneself; I think that’s as out of balance as the overly-intellectual approach.

    What I experience in the Orthodox Liturgy is a sort of coalescing of the wholeness of my being turned to God in worship, including my emotions, in a way I have not experienced before. For me, it’s very integrated and organic. I sometimes weep as I think of what is being said, and connect that to things going on in my life, or simply feel overwhelmingly grateful; since I sing in the choir, this interruption is somewhat embarrassing for me, but our director takes in in stride, as tears accompanying prayer are very much ok in Orthodoxy. Since theology was the overt thing that led me East, my intellect is more than satisfied with what is contained in the Liturgy. But you don’t have to understand it to “get it”; that’s one of the points of the theology around icons, and one advantage of hearing great theological truths over and over again is that with as open a heart as possible, somehow they work themselves into one’s being. If one can understand to whatever extent, that’s good – and It has been the simple faithfulness of people that time and again has turned Christianity toward its center when it has been suppressed.

    I don’t think I have ever left an Orthodox Liturgy without the sense of having worshiped – never perfectly, but always accepted in God’s love, and in communion with Christians in all times and places. Interestingly, I think the Northumbria Community ethos contributed significantly to this on my journey.


    • Radagast says

      …I can relate to this, having experienced the Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine Catholic and Greek Orthodox Church. I tend to feel a sense of holiness in the Church … good stuff…

  16. Paul Davis says

    Do you know how you can spot the new Catholics at a Mass?

    They Sing With The Cantor!!!


    My wife who was raised protestant loves to belt out the hymns, I’ve actually bumped her during service to lower the volume a little! You don’t know how hard it is to stop at the end of the lords prayer and not continue on with the version I learned growing up, another way to spot newbies!!!

    I have experienced a total of three, count em… *Three* Catholic parish masses (I’m a beginner), and each was very different. The church we got confirmed in has the whole praise band thing going on, with over 10 thousand people in the parish it seems to fit in with the young culture. The parish we attend now is very austere, with only a piano and a cantor. We sing the Gloria (in Latin during lent…Rockin!!), and various parts of the mass. And we as middle age newbies to the faith like it better than the whole band experience, it helps me focus on what’s going on.

    I love music, I’m an addict. But I’ve change over the years and I now prefer quiet, simple praise music focused on worship. I think guitars, drums, and other modern instruments have their place, just not in a solemn worship service (although a properly played guitar can be a good thing).

    And Martha, I do love me some old time hymns, and I’m Catholic!! (well a convert). I still love ‘I’ll Fly Away’ and some of the other down home tunes, I just don’t want them in my worship service anymore 🙂


    • Radagast says

      Praise Band in a Catholic Church – scandelous! The Bishop will be movin that pastor on shortly…

    • Radagast, even more scandalous – Gloria during Lent????

      I’m assuming Paul means the Credo. Otherwise, the Bishop will have to be informed… (cue ominous horror-movie music).


  17. We live on the cusp of three So. Az parishes and are variously active in each.

    The first is in a small, chiefly Anglo, retirement community; the music is supplied by a robed (color reflects liturgical season) choir, cantor, and traditional organ and piano accompaniment. High quality, traditional sound. Masses are sung in English.

    The second is a financially poorer, historically Mexican parish, bilingual. The priest’s part is in English; the congregation responds in Spanish, accompanied by guitar, some percussion.

    The third is an historic Franciscan mission that has served a Native American reservation for more than 200 years. The priest’s part is in English; congregation responds in Spanish, accompanied by two guitars and very small choir. Psalm chanted in English; Agnus Dei chanted in Latin. Some hymns before and after Mass from OCP’s Today’s Missal.

  18. I own a vast collection of record albums documenting the earliest beginnings of what is now called Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). The oldest of these is a folk mass from the early 1960s translated into English from Italian performed by a group called “The Little Berets.” (Yes, really!) Many authors who wrote accounts of the earliest beginnings of CCM credit an album titled “Mass For Young Americans” by Ray Repp. It’s interesting that today’s modern worship grew out of CCM which in turn grew out of Catholic folk masses. If you were a betting person in the early ’60s you would have put your money on the Catholic Church, not the Protestants or Evangelicals writing the playbook on worship.