Dear Catholic people getting married, please do not use CCM songs at your wedding Mass

Really. Don’t do it. Please. Save everyone some aggravation, and just pick out some classic or less annoying stuff. And as a church organist, I get annoyed when bad music is used at a wedding, and the vast majority of CCM music is bad.

This is an example of things that will make me push the buzzer:

This is “Shout to the Lord,” a classic example of why Christian contemporary music is pretty much worthless at a Catholic worship service, especially at a wedding. Why? Let me explain, using that song, which was used as the friends’ wedding I went to last weekend, as an example.

1. They’re hard to sing. Now, this was only a solo before the Mass began, mind you. But the singer, God bless her, wasn’t up to the task (she also ran into trouble on this song, which is Catholic and contemporary but also hard to sing because the verses are crammed together). Why? You hear those high notes and more “dramatic” stuff, and you realize that a lot of jumping around — which ain’t vocally easy — is required.

2. They’re unlikely to fit in well with the remainder of the music. Especially if you pick more classic stuff (Handel’s “Hornpipe” from “Water Music” and Pachelbel’s Canon in D at this wedding), both excellent selections, and especially if you’re doing these things one after another. I think one of the things that annoyed me most was that there was plenty of good stuff in the music — and the priest even sang part of the wedding rites. But then there was this.

3. They’re not very good. Just because it’s contemporary doesn’t make it bad. There’s some contemporary stuff in my church’s new hymnal that I’d like to introduce at Mass — though that contemporary stuff is written by Catholics and, more importantly, not CCM; it’s actually written for use at Mass. But artistically, a lot of this stuff is lightweight and theologically questionable. In this case, “Shout to the Lord” is OK lyrically, but does it sound like a religious song? If you ask me, no. And if it might require a praise band to do it the way it’s intended, just stop yourself right now.

I should note: This is not to take away from the efforts of those who labor in CCM, as bad as their stuff may be. They’re certainly trying to do the Lord’s work, and they’re full of faith, and it’s better to express your faith than shaddup about it. And, doubtless, God is happy with their efforts.

Alas, it’s the rest of us that you have to put up with. And if you’d like to ensure things remain solemn and fully up to the magnificence of the sacrament (both the Eucharist and matrimony), just skip out on CCM now.

4 responses to “Dear Catholic people getting married, please do not use CCM songs at your wedding Mass

  1. Finally, someone who shares my viewpoint! There are plenty of beautiful catholic worship hymns that can be used in place of these contemporary Christian worship hymns. I don’t like the irreverent and superficial nature of the lyrics in these songs.

  2. Hi, I’ve been to many wedding masses here in the Philippines and many of them had modern love songs incorporated in their list of songs. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with them, but I’ve heard the following songs performed: David Pomeranz’s “Born for You”, Martina McBride’s “Valentine”, and local Filipino band Side A’s “Forevermore”. Would they pass your list of “less annoying” songs to be played, or are modern songs equally unacceptable?

    PS I do love Catholic hymns, but also enjoy listening to CCM a lot.

    • With the caveat that I can’t really comment on how things are done in the Philippines (the bishops may have different suggestions as to how weddings may be performed), I can speak in general to what I believe about these songs. I was familiar with the Martina McBride song but had to look up the rest.

      Secular songs (and these all appear to be) are an awkward fit at Mass, because they don’t tend to mention God at all. Remember, the key with Catholic weddings is that the couple confer the sacrament, but with the witness of the God and with promises made before God. So the music is best, in my opinion, when it has a religious aspect to it. And there’s a very wide selection of classic and contemporary-sounding (but non-CCM) religious wedding music out there. In my opinion, these songs should be held off until the wedding reception.

  3. Pingback: My five most popular posts of 2013 | Pull Out All the Stops

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