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Sing with joy before God Print
Letters to the editor
Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

To the editor:

In the article “Rebuilding Catholic Culture,” Sr. Joan Roccasalvo, C.S.J., argues that much contemporary liturgical music is of lower quality than traditional forms and has a destructive effect on the human spirit. Her complaints against the contemporary liturgical songs are that they are “trite,” “romanticized,” or having “jerky, heavy, frenzied rhythms or dance rhythms.”

As a musician I know there are degrees of skill and quality in musical performance and composition. However, these complaints bring to mind 2 Samuel 6 when the ark was brought to Jerusalem. David dances with abandon before the ark while Saul’s daughter looks on with derision seeing the king lowering himself before commoners. When she complains to David, he replies:

“I was dancing before the Lord. As the Lord lives . . . not only will I make merry before the Lord, but I will demean myself even more. I will be lowly in your esteem, but in the esteem of the slave girls . . . I will be honored” (NAB).

Importantly, it is before the Lord that David dances with abandon. These rhythmic and romanticized church hymns that the author dismisses are meant to be sung before the Lord. They perhaps do not measure up in dignity and stateliness to a Bach cantata, but these songs do not praise the darkness either. They are a part of a joyous celebration to the Lord of all the Earth when we approach the presence of God at Mass. It is right to express ourselves with a free abandon in His presence with whatever talents we as a community possess.

Adam Lewandowski, Madison