Saturday, February 23, 2019

Poetry and music—how the schools and churches fail us

Although this is a challenge for Catholic schools and churches, it applies to all worship leaders and educators: poetry and music. Even when I was in school 60 years ago, my mother complained that we didn't have enough poetry in our curriculum.

"First, get rid of the lousy poetry and lousy music. Stupidity is always a vice, says Maritain. Nobody says, “It doesn’t matter what movies my child watches, so long as he watches movies,” or, “It doesn’t matter what my husband drinks, so long as he drinks.” Get rid of it. Nobody but the church performers enjoys it anyway. Replace it with real hymns. Don’t think you can get those from the big presses, OCP and GIA and such, because they have mangled the texts and dragged them through the mud. Sing the poems, as they were composed.

Second, return to poetry. The time is short, and the reward immense. Fifty lines of Tennyson can be committed to memory; five hundred pages of Dickens, not so fast. Have every student in your schools learn, say, twenty poems by heart. And their elders, too, might join in – have a Poetry Night in your parish, with the stipulation that every poem be written in meter.

We are suffering from cultural dementia, muddied and dulled by the strokes of the modern. It is time, little by little, for recovery."

Not being Catholic, or even musical, I didn't know what OCP and GIA were, so I looked it up. The comments from the musical directors are hilarious.

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