Chant = Boring?


Some of you know I have a big problem with the Becker "Litany of the Saints." To me, it sounds like a jam session with a bunch of names thrown in. The joke with folks who share my disdain is you can add all sorts of name combinations since the word "Saint" doesn't appear much:

Peter, Paul & Mary - pray for us
George Jetson - pray for us
His Boy Elroy - pray for us

The banality of the Becker piece compared with the prayerful simplicity of chant drives me batty. Why replace something honored by the Church as having a special place in our liturgies with something so... blah?

I finally found out why the Becker won out over the chant Litany: our DRE thinks gregorian chant is boring.

That's right: boring. As in not fun or exciting. And prayer is supposed to be fun and exciting.

We're back to the chant litany this year, thank God. It was my only request of our main music/liturgy director and I'm glad it was honored.


Is the Becker litany the one that has the line "All holy men and WO-MEN...pray for us" in it? That line always cracks me up -- something about the phrasing of "women" sounds silly. I'm sure you can come up with a very sophisticated reason why.

John, if you ever get stuck singing the Becker litany again, just add in those congas and make it a little cha-cha number: that would be fun and exciting. Maybe danceable!

Cosmas and Damian, pray for [cha-cha-cha],
Arnold the Terminator, pray for [cha-cha-cha],

Eric, the line's even worse than you remembered: with the thumpingly even rhythm, it's "All, you, ho-, -ly, men, and, wo-men pray for us". That naked pronoun you adds a startling effect: as if one were to address a prayer: "Hey, you -- yeah, I mean you!"

His Boy Elroy / Pray for us

*Liquid spewing all over keyboard!*

I'm going to play the heretic and say that I really like the Becker. It has some rhythmic variation to it that makes it more listenable, IMHO, and I really like the melody.

An indefensible heresy!

Melody? Most of it's recto tono. Well, there are the occasional fourth-intervals, as in "Do you hear what I hear?" or the Star Trek fanfare.

Rhythmic variation? Becker syncopates the text to fit each invocation into the same time. It's Procrustean. This is subordinating the text to rhythm, not an ideal practice in sacred music.

I think we'll need to develop a Catholic Light Syllabus of Musical Errors.

That's not a bad idea, Richard. As long as all of the descriptions of errors end with anathema sit.

I love the Becker litany. It is usually this that starts my tears each Easter Vigil, and they don't stop until after the baptisms and sometimes even the confirmations. This year I was dry-eyed. But I still love the Becker litany of the saints. I sing it myself at times as a prayer, addressing the saints who mean so much to me and who spring to mind as I sing.

I chant also when I pray.

All of this of course is done in my car, I used to sing Gregorian chant at home but I can't sing loud enough in a family setting, and mumbling chant is not the same.

I thought I was the only one who thought:

"Larry, Moe and Curley pray for us" during that piece.

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This page contains a single entry by John Schultz published on April 12, 2006 7:22 AM.

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