Among the many excellent suggestions for improving liturgy and catechesis in light of the doctrinal confusion about the Eucharist among Catholics exposed by the recent Pew study, I haven’t seen this one: cut down on “bread” in the hymnals.
Leafing through at least two prominent hymnals intended for Catholic liturgy from two prominent publishers, anyone who takes the doctrine of the Real Presence seriously might well be astonished at the number of hymns prominently containing the word “bread.”
I recently flipped through 75 hymns intended for general, Catholic use, and found “bread” in 44.
Similarly striking but less common were uses of “grain” and “wine.”
Sometimes, but not nearly often enough, the expression is given a context that clarifies its meaning: “living bread,” “bread of life,” “panis angelicus.” That is of course fine, particularly if the faithful are well-catechized. Astonishingly often, however, the “bread” stands alone.
Pastors who are concerned about the Pew finding may wish to carefully examine the texts of the hymns sung at liturgies in their parishes and dioceses.
The best of catechesis and homilies will never be hummed in the car on the way home, nor sung at the kitchen sink over the vegetables for Sunday dinner. When homilies have passed, hymns stay, and they should reflect Catholic doctrine.