One of the best bits of reporting I’ve seen during the coverage of the Holy Father’s visit is this fantastic Hank Stuever piece in the Washington Post. It’s an exposÃ© on the giant clash within the American Catholic Church—is schism too strong a word?—over . . . liturgical music. Nearly every observation and quote Stuever makes rings true and while it might surprise non-Catholics, the divide is between older Catholics who cling to casual, guitar-and-tambourine ’70s music and young Catholics who want Latin, Palestrina, and Gregorian chant.
“You know, just today I received a publication from a mainline Catholic music organization, and there are aspects of it that seem like the musical version of the AARP quarterly, if you know what I mean,” says Jeffrey Tucker, 44, a choir director who lives in Auburn, Ala., and is the managing editor of Sacred Music, a journal of the Church Music Association of America. “There is no question that we are talking about a generational issue here. The young priests and the young people just can’t seem to get ‘hep’ to the whole 1970s thing, and the old people just don’t understand why.”
Tucker encounters this all the time, and blogs about it frequently. At a recent conference, a jazz pianist confided to Tucker that he’d been playing at church, but there was a new, young pastor who had taken over and “he said, ‘You know what that means.’ [And] I said, ‘Well, I’m not entirely sure.’ So he added, surprised that he would have to clarify, ‘That means he wants Gregorian chant!’
The kids these days!