Commentary to Last Post
Why the Pope is right to purge modern music
Telegraph.co.uk | By Damian Thompson
For decades, the standard of singing in St Peter's basilica has struggled to match that of a Gilbert and Sullivan society.
Damian Thompson: Church music in
Since he arrived in
The Pope, who last year appointed a new choir director of St Peter's, wants Gregorian chant, polyphony and baroque masterpieces to dominate the repertoire in the basilica and the Sistine chapel. And, by making his preferences clear, he is sending out a message to the whole Catholic Church.
We are moving into an era of liturgical revolution. Benedict detests the feeble "folk Masses" that have remained the staple fare of Catholic worship long after they went out of musical fashion.
He wants the Church to rediscover the treasure of its heritage - and that includes Gregorian chant as well as the pre-1970 Latin Mass that can now be celebrated without the permission of bishops.
The old guard of trendy choir directors and composers (many of whom have signed lucrative contracts with dioceses) will fight his reforms every inch of the way, egged on by philistine bishops.
But younger church musicians, like young priests, are conservative in their tastes.
The next generation of choir directors have been charged by the Pope with the task of reintroducing beautiful music into church. If they succeed, then at long last the pews may begin to fill up again.
Damian Thompson is editor-in-chief of the Catholic Herald