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Modern music is doing much to inspire young people at church

JOAN Dillon's contention that music at mass in Scotland's Catholic churches is "more rooted in pop music than in sacred traditions" and is so "lousy" that it is driving young people away from the Church is unfair to the majority of people who make a musical contribution to sacred worship ("Lay Catholic says 'lousy music' puts the young off church", The Herald, November 23, and Letters, November 27, 29 & 30).

She is part of a small group who want to set themselves apart from the ordinary pilgrims in the pews by insisting that Latin should be the principal language of the liturgy, and that the encouragement we were given by the Second Vatican Council to use the vernacular, the language of ordinary people, should be ignored.

Of course, young people can be inspired by music's transformative power. We have clear evidence of this from the ground-breaking classical music sessions for school children organised by Francis Cummings and supported by Nicola Benedetti as part of the Big Noise project in some of our most deprived housing schemes, first in Stirling and now in Glasgow.

However, Ms Dillon's reference to young people "being brought up immersed in the negative messages of modern music" and much of the music at mass being "banal, happy-clappy stuff" and the main reason for them not going to church lacks empathy with the majority of ordinary Catholics, who appreciate the contribution made by their choirs and musicians.

She is wrong to contend that standards have dropped across the board and that the reason for the rarity of sacred music is because the Second Vatican Council decided that mass should be said in English rather than Latin.

Archbishop Mario Conti cautioned against priests indulging their own personal preferences in liturgical matters, especially in regard to the Latin mass: "I venture to suggest that there is no call for it, or pastoral reason to change what has become the settled practice of the Archdiocese, which I read as contentment and indeed appreciation of the pastoral advantages of mass in the vernacular, and in a form which is less mysterious than at least some aspects of what my generation can recall of the 'old' mass."

Last month, I was at an ecumenical service in Glasgow Cathedral to witness a cantata to celebrate the 14th centenary of the founding of Glasgow by St Mungo.

Young people from Glasgow University and pupils from more than 20 primary schools, Catholic and non-denominational, participated enthusiastically in this event organised by Glasgow Churches Together. It was uplifting and I am certain it will have encouraged many of them to repeat the experience and participate more fully in the liturgy in their own parish churches, where the music at the moment is far from "lousy".

Like your reporter, Cate Devine, I did Latin at school. The spectacle and solemnity of the Latin mass is something to remember, revere and respect, but it should be kept for high days and exceptionally holy days, not celebrated routinely in parish churches where few of the faithful would understand what is going on.

Bill Heaney,

39 Round Riding Road, Dumbarton.

JAMES MacMillan (Letters, November 29) is also known as a football aficionado but why does he have to bring a partisan spirit to the matter of worship which is supposed to be catholic (meaning: universal)?

He is entitled to regard his choir/team as of premier standard, but without rubbishing the rest of us as third division material.

In the not too distant past a downside of Scottish education was that we were discouraged from speaking up or singing out. Now everyone is encouraged to say their piece and give it their best shot.

Fifty years ago football supporters didn't form the massed choirs their teams look for today. About the same time Vatican 2 liberated Catholics from the limits of Latin so that everybody could play an active part in worship.

The last place where we expect our efforts to be belittled is round the Table of the Lord.

Willy Slavin,

33 Partickbridge Street,

Glasgow.

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