The 'Official' Index Canticorum Prohibitum

April 18, 2017

 

In 2006 George Weigel proposed in this article that a list of church music that should be banned from being played in our churches. In the Catholic Church, thanks to Oregon "Catholic" Press (OCP), many of the music that is heard at mass in churches across the United States is trite, cheesy, saccharin, or just downright heretical and chock full of cliches that make modern Disney cartoons look sophisticated.

 

Aside from a few examples in Weigel's article, there hasn't since been a single reliable resource to find such an index of songs. That is, until now. Below is my "official" list of such hymns that I as a composer, liturgical musician, and liturgy buff, have analyzed and deemed unworthy of the most holy celebration of the Eucharist. This is a working list, so this post will be updated over time as I add more to the list. Please comment, add your own suggestions, and check back here regularly.

 

I have categorized them into three categories. The first category includes those hymns that should be prohibited, banned, blacklisted, and otherwise shunned from the liturgy. The second is the questionable category where hymns may not be blatantly heretical, but should probably not be used for other reasons such as poor lyrics or musical quality. And the third category, as Weigel puts it, "are hymns that have been flogged to death" which are good in themselves but overplayed and should be used sparingly because they've lost their musical oomph. There may be other reasons also for this third category.

 

Without Further Ado... the Index Canticorum Prohibitum

 

Ashes - prohibited - Heretical Pelagianistic text "we create ourselves anew." It's pages should be burnt to ashes as well as the musical career of the composer.

At The Name of Jesus (Walker) – questionable – This is a mediocre substitute lyrically and musically for the original KINGS WESTON version.

Come To The Water (Foley) – questionable – Two out of the four places in the hymn that rhyme, rhyme the same word. The music is feel-good cheesy and the rest of the lyrics are just not very good.

Gather Us Inprohibited – This "hymn" doesn't reference God or Christ directly. It seems to be more a song about the people rather than God. The text in the 4th verse is questionable "not in some heaven light years away..."

Gift of Finest Wheatuse sparingly – Other than being bad poetry, the lyrics aren't objectionable and the music is of acceptable quality. There are many better Eucharistic hymns and chants one can use.

God Beyond All Namesprohibited - Heretical text "in our living and our dying we are bringing you to birth" as well as a lot of other awful phrases. Shame on you, Bernadette Farrell.

Joyful Joyful We Adore Theeuse sparingly – Musical tune is on Weigel's list, too many hymn texts use this tune.

Lord of All Hopefulness - use sparingly – The lyrics are "meh" compared to the original Be Thou My Vision. Use that hymn instead.

Lord of The Dance (Carter) – prohibited – It is hard to take this seriously as a hymn given the text. It sounds more like a parody of Simple Gifts making fun of Christ.

Sing of the Lord's Goodness - prohibited - If you've heard Dave Brubeck's Take Five, you'll understand exactly why this song should be banned. Sacred music should not remind us of 70's jazz.

 

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