Sunday, February 6, 2011

American Popular Musical Values

As I write I'm fading in and out of watching the Super Bowl half time show featuring the Black Eyed Peas, failing auto-tune technology, and a guest appearances from Slash of Guns 'n Roses and Usher (so far). Of course the Super Bowl is the single most widely viewed television program of the entire year. 100 million Americans are currently enduring this musical show. The half-time show is probably not the musical event of this evening that will be most widely discussed, however.

The national anthem was sung by Christina Aguilera. Instead of the third line of our nation's anthem, "O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming" Christina sang "What so proudly we watched, at the twilight's last streaming."

This, of course was buried under many layers of diva-like styling, scoops, belts, and the like. Not many in room apparently knew that anything wrong had even happened. The singer quickly covered her tracks as best as she could by belting out at the top of her lungs the next line–the tear jerker–"and the rocket's red glare...". The crowd erupted in approving shouts of praise, admiration and ecstasy. The camera pans to players on the field who are shedding tears, and to a shot of U.S. troops in uniform, proudly looking on.

The entire stadium seemed to be overcome with such an overwhelming emotional experience that no one was even able to realize that the text that was being sung wasn't even the national anthem. The text actually made no sense at all!

I wonder what this says about American musical values? It is no wonder why the task that lies ahead of those who serve the music of the liturgy is so great. The essence of liturgical music is a liturgical text, rich in theological and liturgical content, clothed in sacred melody that lifts the mind and soul to prayer.

This is the three-headed beast that we are up against: