A friend of mine emailed me to tell me that the above music makes him feel like the music below...
He asked me to do a blogpost on why it might be that 'Bread of Life' and such ditties repulse him so much. 'There must be a reason', he said. There is, Bro, most certainly.
It's because the 'Bread of Life' song is sh*te. The Church's back catalogue of incredible, transcendent music written by geniuses inspired by the Holy Spirit is extensive and yet parishes still wheel out 'hits' from the 1970s. It's enough to make anyone want to slit their wrists in desperation.
However, if you have any more penetrating thoughts on the subject of quite why the music still sung in many Catholic parishes is so repellent, do go over to my friend's blog and give him your ideas. My opinion is that 'Bread of Life' isn't the music of the Catholic Church. It's the music of a strange 1970s cult. That's presumably why so many people fled the Church in droves.
The vast majority of Catholic music before the 1970s is surely either itself prayer inspired by God, or prayerful music to dispose us towards Him, or, more common than not, both. 'Bread of Life', in trying to praise the Divine on man's terms, instead of God's, fails to honour either the Divinity or even our humanity. That's the key to it. It's not reality. It's a smokescreen.
It speaks of a concept of God or a notion of God, rather than of God Himself. It is trying to 'explain' God, rather than allowing God to explain Himself or reveal Himself on His terms. The psalms contain the vast range of human yearning for God and desire to seek His Face. Similarly, the music of the Catholic Church is a prayer, expressing joy, gratitude, sorrow or awe in the Presence of God. The 'feelings' associated with those prayers are not the focus, however. The focus of prayer is upon God who has given us the 'spirit of adoption' so that we could do Him praise and worship with due reverence.
Secular music works in its proper setting because it is from the heart, whether they be tales of woe or joy. Take Portishead, for example. You can tell that woman was heartbroken for some reason or another. It respects our humanity.
Music used in the worship of God works in its proper setting because it is from God Himself. Man could not find a way to praise God so God gave man the prayers and the music in order that He may be praised as is fitting for Him to be praised. Gregorian Chant respects God's Divinity and in doing so, not only respects our humanity, but lifts our humanity out of whatever bizarre hovel we happen to be inhabiting in our lives in general at any given time. Prayer is about Christ condescending to us and us being taken up by Christ to glory. Then along came the 1970s and some men thought they could improve on the genre of Church music altogether by completely destroying it and replacing it with something entirely new, but incredibly dated.
The fact that the vast riches of the Church's traditional music and liturgy are a gift from Almighty God consigned to the history bin in the vast majority of parishes in the United Kingdom is something else altogether, something that really needs to be discussed, hopefully at Episcopal level. I think the Holy Father wrote a letter or an encyclical to the Bishops about it. What were those documents, again? Anyway, whatever it was, whatever they were, I'm sure their Lordships will read them one of these days.
It must be somewhere in the 'in-tray'. They'll get around to it, its just there's so much paperwork nowadays.