Critique of modern Church music echoed by Scottish composer
Renowned composer James MacMillan. Credit: Mac McLernon
Renowned composer James MacMillan. Credit: Mac McLernon
By David Kerr
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- A renowned Catholic composer says he fully agrees with the critique of modern Church music mounted by Grammy Award winner Joseph Cullen.

Cullen, the choral director of the London Symphony Orchestra, told the English Catholic publication The Tablet that since the 1960s there’s been a “glaring lack of sympathy” for “worthy sacred music.”

Now the composer James MacMillan has told CNA that Cullen is spot on. “The Church should not ignore this timely and expert insight into the crisis in our liturgy. We have ignored our music and our musicians for too long,” he remarked.

MacMillan is currently in Minneapolis, Minn. for the premiere of his third piano concerto, “The Mysteries of Light,” which is inspired by Pope John Paul II’s Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. In 2004, Queen Elizabeth bestowed MacMillan with the title of Commander of the British Empire for his musical contributions. Last year he also composed much of the liturgical music for the Papal Visit to the U.K.

In MacMillan’s view, many “faithful sons and daughters of the Church who have great musical skills” are being ignored. “It is a shame that they are being peripheralized at the expense of an increasingly mocked, dumbed down and aesthetically inappropriate utilitarianism in liturgical musical thinking.

“There will be those who accuse Joseph Cullen of elitism, but they will be wrong,” he said.

Most controversially, Cullen also accused diocesan musical directors of frequently indulging in practices that “would be regarded as corrupt in any other field” by commissioning and promoting their own work.

It’s an accusation that the Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales seems to reject. Martin Foster of their Liturgy Office told CNA, “To be honest I am unclear what Joseph Cullen might be referring to as I presume he has particular instances in mind. In England and Wales there has not been a separate Church Music Committee since about 2002 – its role has been part of the Liturgy Committee. I am trying to think of any projects that might be open to his accusation but none come to mind.”

Cullen is now calling for a greater adherence to the Church’s documents on sacred music and increased training for parishes by those schooled in the choral traditions of the Church.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Pope Francis in the Philippines: Manila Welcomes the Pope
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Highlights
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Interview with Cardinal Ranjith
Pope Francis in SriLanka: Inter-religious Faith Meeting
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day

Liturgical Calendar

January 26, 2015

Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, Bishops

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mk 3:22-30


Daily Readings

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mk 3:22-30