A review of hymns and songs to be used in the liturgy of the Mass has lead, in the Diocese of ‘s Hertogenbosch, to the removal of 17 songs from the roster. Father Cor Mennen is the censor in charge of the review in cooperation with the National Liturgy Council. The 17 songs come from a total of 150. Reasons for the removal are, according to Fr. Mennen, theological errors, the songs being unbecoming of the nature of the liturgy, no mention of God, or sheer banality.
The review follows the guidelines of the Church, which indicate that liturgical songs must be texts from the Bible or based thereon, they must be theologically sound, clear and liturgically useful. “They can certainly be poetical, preferably even,” Fr. Mennen says. But he adds that the poetry must be understandable to the faithful.
Going over the list of songs, I am happy to see that none of them have appeared in the Masses in my parish, with one exception: The Gospel acclamation U komt de lof toe. The problem with that acclamation is that it is no translation of the Deo gratias from the Missal of Paul VI.
The list, which can be found in the link below, includes a number of songs by former priest Huub Oosterhuis, a man whose poetry and public statements has been point of discussion. He denies the transubstantiation, for example, and consistently attacks the Church and her teachings. For Bishop Frans Wiertz of Roermond that has been reason to ban Oosterhuis’ songs altogether. Another reason for that, in my opinion, may be the low quality of the texts. It really isn’t very good poetry: it generally paints a picture of Christ as a very nice hippie, or they focus on how nice it is to be together. It’s all a bit too nice and soft and sweet, even when they don’t denounce Catholic teaching.
About the selection of some Oosterhuis songs, Fr. Mennen says: “There are plenty of songs by Oosterhuis which are approved. It is noticeable that his later texts are generally vaguer, more simplistic. That leads us – just concerning the contents – to disagree with that. But there are very good texts from his early years. We did not [remove some of his songs] because they’re Oosterhuis, as some people say. That could have been a reason, but not one we use.”
Anyway, it’s a good development. After all, music is one of the means we use to communicate with God, learn about Him and come closer to His mystery, and this is especially true in that high point of the Church’s life: the celebration of the Eucharist. And if the songs we sing actively ignore or deny that mystery, it is time to change things.
One song I’m not sad to bid farewell: the chemical song, so called because of its first line. Just for fun, a rough translation:
From fire and iron, acid and salt,
as wide as the light, centuries old,
from everything a man is made
and always born again.
To be iron in fire,
to be salt and sweet and acid,
to be man for a man,
all are born.
To be water for the sea,
to be a word to others,
for no one knows how great and small
sought, known, lost.
for evening- and morningland,
to be here and other side,
to be hand in another hand,
to not to be lost.
To be old and wide as the light,
to be lips, water, thirst,
to be all and to be nothing,
someone goes to another.
To distance that no one knows,
through fire that welds people together,
to live in love and pain,
people go to each other.
It’s all very sweet and nice, but it’s not really about anything, is it?