Church Music

Having endured many years of less-than-amazing music at church, these observations by Anthony Esolen are interesting.

Why Traditional Hymns are Superior to Modern Ones

A congregational hymn is for the congregation. Its music is written so that the congregation will want to sing it and will be able to do so with ease. This includes men, women, and children—from basso profondo to treble. Since they are not trained singers, the intervals should be easy to negotiate, the range should be comfortable, the key should not be too high (both men and women are shakier on the high end of the scale), the rhythm should be straightforward, and the melody should be, well, something you could hum after you hear it a couple of times, because of repetition…

Most contemporary hymns fall afoul of one or more of these desiderata.  (Read More Here)


More from Esolen here: Poetic Traditional Hymns Put Alternatives to Shame

I often hear that since most of what is produced in any age is garbage, the quality of the hymns in a compilation such as the Hymnal 1940 is partly an illusion, because the bad stuff will have been tossed aside. This observation is by way of excusing the bulk of church songs composed since 1965. Time has not yet done its winnowing.

There are four reasons why I reject this conjecture…


Old Disney Movies Have to GO!

Two Hollywood actresses have come out this week to explain why they will not permit their daughters to watch a number of classic Disney animated films. Kristen Bell correctly pointed out that Snow White is kissed non-consensually by a necrophilic prince who sexually assaults a corpse. Keira Knightly took issue with “Cinderella” and “The Little Mermaid,” complaining that both stories reinforce the sexist “damsel in distress” theme.

I applaud both women for protecting their children from this highly-objectionable material. I only fear that our conversation about problematic cartoons has not gone far enough. There are several other Disney films that should be thrown on the ash heap of history alongside the ones mentioned by Bell and Knightly. Indeed, I would argue that it is actual child abuse to let your son or daughter watch…

Read the list HERE.

Shut up, Macron

So the French President stuck his foot in his mouth and stirred up an internet backlash.

‘My Family Is Not the Product of Ignorance’: Harvard Grad and Mom of 8 Takes on French President

The president of France shouldn’t speak for women—and certainly not on how many children they decide to have.

French President Emmanuel Macron recently said, “I always say: ‘Present me the woman who decided, being perfectly educated, to have seven, eight, or nine children.”

“Please present me with the young girl who decided to leave school at 10 in order to be married at 12,” he added during his remarks at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Goalkeepers” event, which was held last month in New York.

Of course, most women agree with Macron on child brides.

But it’s insulting to moms of large families to imply a big family is akin to marrying off children.

I spoke to one such woman, Catherine Ruth Pakaluk, an assistant professor of social research and economic thought at the Catholic University of America, who has eight children—and no regrets about that.

“When I saw [Macron’s] quotation, my first thought was, ‘Hey, wait a second, I exist, and I know lots of people like me that exist,’” Pakaluk, who received her bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania and her doctorate at Harvard University, told The Daily Signal in an interview.

She added that she thought plenty of moms of large families would share the reaction to Macron of thinking that, “Hey, wait, I exist, and my family is not the product of ignorance.”

Pakaluk also started a hashtag: #PostcardsforMacron, to showcase the big families some educated women choose to have. (See the rest here)

Plenty of moms have contributed pictures of their beautiful large families to #postcardsforMacron.

Macron’s comments about women having “too many” children are stupid for many reasons but the one about girls leaving school too young to marry… projection anyone?  Good grief.  He wasn’t a child bride obviously, but he is young-ish, childless, white, male, and the boy toy of a much older woman — a woman who was a teacher at his school!  He probably should have kept his mouth shut.

Other than incensing all the educated mothers of large families, he also brought on well deserved criticism for his elitist, patronizing attitude.  Only people with degrees are intelligent apparently.

Melody Lyons of the Essential Mother had a perfect response:

I don’t care what the president of France thinks about my motherhood and he doesn’t care what I think. Perhaps I shouldn’t even waste my time with this but I’m not writing for him.

I know that for every highly educated, wildly successful mother-of-many out there (and all the internet posts suggest they are abundant!), there are even more throughout history who are like me…

…A woman who started her family instead of finishing college.

….Who didn’t think the weight of debt was a good trade-off for the value of a degree.

…Who has gained knowledge and experience outside of the popular institutional model.

…Who believes that our creative purpose is not defined by a certificate.

The truth is that civilizations were built on the servant leadership of “uneducated” women who poured their natural gifts into the care of their husbands and children… who have gone on to lead the world.

It is not a weakness of womanhood that we bear this role. It is our genius. JPII said, “To serve is to reign” and those of us who rock the cradle understand this on a deeper level than men.

But the worldly reality is that even if Macron cared about the level of our education or our resumes (he does not), he can always point to the many women like me and say,

“She proves my point.”

I’m not going to play that game with him or the internet because, honestly, I can’t win it. I’m not educated or successful in any way that he specifically means. I also do not buy into his agenda (which is really his issue).

And… it doesn’t matter at all.

At the end of the day, Macron will still think I’m a stupid breeder and I will still have 8 children. Nothing about seeing alphabet soup after my name will ever change his perspective because his point is not really about education… it’s about elitist, narcissistic power, antagonistic to the heart of Jesus Christ.

My own true value as a mother will only ever be weighed correctly by the Power of my God, not by some haughty flash-in-the-pan politician.

To every mother who didn’t participate in the public hashtag event because perhaps you stumbled over your skinny worldly resume…

You are free. You are not defined by men like Macron. He IS talking about you but it doesn’t matter. Neither are you defined by the resume of another woman. They ARE impressive but irrelevant to the genius of your own life.

You are doing it the way the majority of women throughout history have done it. Without fancy modern degrees and accolades. Giving the best part of yourself to your family. Heroically. Quietly. Intelligently. Wisely. Keeper of the flame of love. Guardian of Joy and Faith. Carrying the weight of the restoration of culture on your back.

You don’t owe an explanation to Macron. And when his legacy dies with his mortal body, yours will live on through your children through history and eternity.

Secularization and the Church

The Synod on Youth is destined to become a microcosm of the battle between Catholics who are rich in faith and those who have become secularized. Some readers bridle when I say things like this, but while secular attitudes affect all of us to some degree, the crisis of the Church in our time—that is, the chief problem which demands renewal—is that the institutional apparatus of the Church is so deeply infected by secular values.


But the Church as a whole today is still primarily shaped—insofar as it is not shaped entirely by the Holy Spirit—by the cultural values of the dominant West.

In centuries characterized by sharp class distinctions, those values tended to favor the rise (and seduction) of Churchmen of wealth and power. In the same way, the values of our cultural elites in an ideological and media-centric age tend to favor the rise (and seduction) of those whose thought processes are comfortably in tune with what has been predetermined as both true and important in the dominant culture. But some forms of degradation are worse than others. Personal sin is one thing; the effort to justify it by diminishing Catholic faith and morals is quite another.

This is why so many Churchmen today find their moral high ground in the purification of the environment rather than in the purification of our bodies. Or in blaming sinful institutions rather than correcting sinful persons. Or in condemning clericalism (which nobody in the dominant culture values) rather than condemning homosexual behavior (which everybody in the dominant culture values).

Perceptions of Youth

It is in the nature of a Church so sweetly in tune with secular values and so horribly out of tune with Christ that we will hear much more from Catholic leaders about evils which the dominant culture already theoretically abhors (and which, therefore, require little attention from Catholics) than about evils which that culture celebrates (which, therefore, must be challenged with the light of Christ). Thus the Church becomes a self-fulfilling secular prophecy: It seeks to engage young people by championing the values the world has taught them to champion. A few decades ago we called this the need to be “relevant”.

The upshot is that huge numbers of youth inevitably find the Church profoundly irrelevant, for the simple reason that so few of her ministers offer any compelling vision for their lives.

Read the whole thing here.

Another article by the same author, Dr. Jeff Mirus, is also interesting as a case study in the Secularization of Christ.