Newsflash: Contemporary P&W songs don’t really say much

NPR carries the story of the abysmal quality of many contemporary praise songs, and about one pair of musicians who are trying to do something about it (by writing new contemporary praise songs that are better).

“I think it’s to the church’s poverty that the average worship song now has so few words, so little truth,” he says. “[It] is so focused on several commercial aspects of God, like the fact that he loves our praises.”

Kristyn Getty says that some of the most popular music doesn’t show God the proper reverence.

“There is an unhelpful, casual sense that comes with some of the more contemporary music,” she says. “It’s not how I would talk to God.”

There are important lessons here for us in both the nature of their complaints and the commercial success they are achieving in attempting to address them.

9 Replies to “Newsflash: Contemporary P&W songs don’t really say much”

  1. I heard the beginning of this and thought that Jeffrey was about to be interviewed. I listened in spite of the horrible garbage they identified as "praise" music. It was interesting.

  2. Not only are these types of Praise songs present at each local Mass I attend, the choir seems determined to sing throughout the entire Mass. What I would give just to respond or pray in a normal speaking voice without everything being turned into a musical every Sunday. It's distracting and I spend so much effort struggling to keep myself focused on Our Lord and not off in my head feeling less than goodwill against these well meaning folks. (Although I can't help but sense a cloud of ego and pride emanating from some in the choir…) The weekly musical has become the entire focus of the Mass it seems – they've taken over. Once, one of the more offending choir members was in a pew near me and belted out the songs at a volume level that was ridiculous. Obviously, this less than charitable attitude of mine is a repeat offender in my examination of conscience. Who is it going to be about – our Redeemer or the members of the musical called 'Sunday Mass, American Style"?

  3. Based on the above comments, I'm still in the dark as to the important lessons that Catholics should take from the nature of the complaints in the story and the commercial success of some of the songs performed in the mega Christian churches. Are you saying that you welcome the songs of the husband and wife team who were interviewed? Are you saying that the protestant musicians see a lack of integrity between the words and message of the bible and the lyrics of the contemporary songs? Are you saying that you don't like the music of the husband and wife team, either, but you applaud the fact that they see a problem with the current portfolio of modern Christian music?

  4. I find it telling that, without any hierarchy or liturgical tradition to explain it to them, (some) Protestants are discovering the need to come before God with something more substantive than casual praise or emotionalism.

    I further find it telling that, to a large extant, the only answer they seem to be able to come up with is a slightly-better version of essentially the same.

    "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words." -Rom 8:26

  5. I agree wholeheartedly with you. It somewhat helps me to concentrate by simply praying the words, in a normal (but low) speaking voice, while the others are busy singing them. Also helps me when I remind myself to repeatedly refocus on the Altar, Priest, beautiful Roman Missal prayers and Holy Sacrifice being made present at each Mass. God bless you. Pray for me.

  6. I think you have found a new bridge in our search for commonality with our Christian brethren. The Spirit will lead where She will.

  7. «without any hierarchy or liturgical tradition to explain it to them, (some) Protestants are discovering the need to come before God with something more substantive than casual praise or emotionalism»

    Bingo! That's what I took from this as well. Some Protestants (Baptists, no less!)—with no Sacrament, and bereft of transcendence, reverence or "verticality" in their Sunday services—can even see there's a problem, and are expressing their fatigue with sappy, plastic-banana pop music in worship.

    How much more then should we Catholics—with the Real Presence of Jesus, and with such a rich tradition including no less than 1,300 years of glorious, God-exalting music from which to draw—expect more than the same ol' Haugen n' Haas schmaltz we've been spoon-fed the last four decades?

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