Thursday, May 13, 2010

Protestants 1, Catholics 0

posted Sun, 22 Apr 2007

SH and I went to the Presbyterian church near my house this morning just to check it out. My friends who are allegedly members of this church were not there (I am talking to you, Leigh and Emily), which makes me wonder if they’ve been telling me the truth. I don’t know why they wouldn’t go – they have padded pews for heaven’s sake and they don’t even have to kneel – you can’t ask for much more comfort than that.

So. The Presbyterians. They understand that music has the power to move people and use it appropriately. I don’t know what the music was like in the Catholic Church before Vatican II. Maybe it was always lousy. Maybe Marty Haugen is only the latest in a long line of Gather-like torturers whose only purpose in life is to make Catholics miserable as they wish for one, just one traditional hymn that actually sounds like it glorifies God instead of whines.

But hey, that’s just me.

But I’m telling you if I ran the Protestant marketing department, I would take a van with a loudspeaker and a bunch of flyers to the Catholic churches right after Mass every week and play music – good, traditional church music of the sort you hear at Protestant services. I’d maybe slip in a few things about fellowship – you’d have to be subtle about this because you don’t want to scare Catholics but once they understood the concept – like a wake but nobody’s dead – I think they’d like it. But the music – just play those old hymns, like “Amazing Grace” or “Rock of Ages” or “Onward Christian Soldiers” and I’m telling you it would be like the Pied Piper.

This congregation didn’t disappoint me. The only Protestant service I have been to lately where the music was bad was the church in England where they had the kids come up front and sing about being a butterfly, but there was none of that nonsense with this church. No, this place has the first chair violin from the symphony playing before the service starts. They take their music seriously.

The entrance hymn was “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” The choir sang and the pipe organ played and the congregation sang the first two verses. The third verse was a cappella until the last line, when the organ crept back in. There was a small organ solo before the fourth verse, then the organist pulled out all the stops (literally) and the choir opened up and the voices soared and the rafters shook and let me tell you, everyone was ready to go out and WITNESS ALLELUIA PRAISE AND SERVE THE LORD!

Maybe I should send the Presbyterian hymnal (and Gather) to Pope Benedict. He seems like a reasonable guy. Perhaps he just doesn’t know what’s really going on over here.

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