Catholic church

Sacred Music is for Everyone

Gregorian Chant. Credit: Carl Bunderson, Catholic News Agency

Jeffrey Tucker, head of Laissez Faire Books, has been quite active in the Catholic music tradition for some time. In June, Tucker will be presenting a paper at the Sacra Liturgia 2013 conference in Rome entitled “The Liturgical Apostolate and the Internet.”

The presentation will cover how traditional chants in the Catholic church became marginalized after the music became copyrighted and enforced, but has experienced a new popularity after becoming part of common domains.

Tucker said to the Catholic News Agency: “You went through essentially 1900 years of Christianity with the chant being an open source framework, an open source form of music that flourished in the first millennium through the oral tradition of copying, imitation, and free use.”

However, in the 20th century chant became dominated by one controlling institution, and by the 1960s the average churchgoer perceived chant as “owned” and desired more authentic worship music. Today, however, the situation has become reversed, in part thanks to individuals such as Tucker working to make chant freely available online.

Do you think there might be a similar phenomena in traditional protestant music? For a long time now, it has been the music more easily available that frequently dominates most contemporary churches – the kind of praise music traditionalists sometimes criticize (even I am sometimes amongst them). Perhaps it is the unwillingness to make things completely open that is part of the problem?

I am very thankful for groups like The Paperless Hymnal that are making music ever more accessible and affordable for everyone. But what do you think? How can these things be done better?

Read more at the Catholic News Agency.