Contemporary Catholic music

Contemporary Catholic music is a subset of Contemporary Christian music. Since Vatican Council II Catholic music has become more open to popular influences and influences from other Christian denominations. In the 1970s Mary Lou Williams began doing Catholic themed jazz, including a jazz mass. Later artists have mixed in rock, pop, or even hip hop to Catholic themed music. One of the most common types of Catholic-influenced music is Celtic music due to the history of early Ireland.

The changes in music since the council have caused some degree of criticism. Traditionalist Catholics tend to argue that secular and Protestant influences in Catholic music must be avoided. They are especially critical of Oregon Catholic Press. Conservative, but non-Traditionalists, forces are less hostile but do fear that the artists risk becoming CCM performers with nothing distinctly Catholic to distinguish them.

A grassroots movement of independent Catholic artists has sprung up over the last ten years. These artists are musical missionaries whose goal is to minister through their music. The music of this movement is what is known as Para-liturgical, meaning that it is not written for nor necessarily suitable for liturgy. It is rather, produced to extend the experience of the mass throughout the week, and to foster a greater love and devotion to the Trinitarian God.

Most of these artists operate without the benefit of a record label or major sponsor and sacrifice much to minister and entertain with their music. Some are in full-time ministry, but most are juggling jobs and family to do their ministry.

Musicians in this genre include Critical Mass, Dana, Nick Alexander, Fr. Stan Fortuna and John Michael Talbot. Recent newcomers include Oremus Catholic Rock, Katholicus,and Chuck Stevens.

Ten years ago Talbot formed a professional and spiritual organization for these artists known as the Catholic Association of Music (CAM). It is an offshoot of his order, the Brothers and Sisters of Charity. CAM exists to support these para-liturgical artists and to foster fellowship and deeper spiritual growth while cultivating the artistry of their music. Practical music business tips are also offered.

Another organization was formed out of Heartbeat Records, a long supporter of Catholic music. This organization, the United Catholic Music and Video Association (UCMVA) recognizes excellence in Catholic music each year with their Unity Awards presentation.

A fledgling Catholic Music Media, United Catholic Music Media (UCMM) has grown in the past couple of years. The grassroots movement also includes radio Sacred Heart Radio(Catholic Music 24/7), online magazines GrapeVine, Catholic Music Zine, Lolek and DesafioMagazine,as well as Catholic podcasts Catholic Rockers, Catholic Praise Cast, GrapeVineNewsMinute,Catholic Music Express and TotalCatholicPodCasts.

Much of the controversy over Contemporary Catholic music has rested on questioning the suitability and reverence of Contemporary music for use during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Recent developments include distinguishing between the Catholic music used for entertainment (and for evangelization), and the music deemed suitable for use during the Sacred Liturgy. Proponents of this view (including Oremus Catholic Rock and Katholicus) condone the use of Contemporary Catholic music for entertainment, motivation, youth rallies, etc., while reserving liturgically oriented and traditional Catholic music (i.e., "sacred music") for the Holy Mass. Oremus quotes Pope John Paul II, who said that if the Church holds back from culture, the Gospel itself will fall silent.

A third category distinct from the two just mentioned would be the para-liturgical prayer and praise category. Charismatic prayer and praise meetings and youth conferences and praise rallies are among the places such contemporary Catholic music would be used. Within this category appeared what would be considered the recent phenomenon known as rock praise music. The pioneer of Catholic rock praise music was the RPM (Rock Praise Music) Ministry begun back in 1991. RPM was a monthly rock praise meeting outreach by the Mother of God charismatic community to youth just outside the Washington D. C. area in Maryland. Under the musical leadership of Adam Miller (now with Katholicus) original rock praise music was used in a way to make prayer for youth take on a lively new meaning, which in turn helped them to be more open to know, love, and serve the Lord. RPM released a successful 13 song cassette tape and songbook of original rock praise music in 1993.

Liturgical music

Main article: Contemporary Catholic liturgical music

Many composers have contributed to the distinct sound of contemporary Catholic liturgical music, including Marty Haugen, Dan Schutte, and the St. Louis Jesuits. For more details, see Contemporary Catholic liturgical music.

See also

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