Letters > Attracting young people to Mass

04 April 2014

Attracting young people to Mass

Joanna Moorhead is right when she says that “the music-makers in most parishes wouldn’t know Ed Sheeran if he walked up to the altar” (The Tablet, 22 March) and she points to the attraction of Pentecostal music. Some parishes have tried gospel music but it does need to properly sung and played and classically trained musicians can find it very difficult indeed.

The Liturgy Office has published a listed of approved Mass settings and from Pentecost Sunday the old settings using the former text may not be used. The Society of St Gregory can give helpful advice as there a wealth of material to choose from. Once again this year there are free places for young people to attend their summer school. The question really is what setting will appeal to young people?

I recall a confirmation candidate asking for the Paul Inwood Gathering Mass because he liked it. This was so unusual as most of the requests were for hymns. There were also pet hates like the Taize “Ubi caritas” because it had been used too often at school! Mike Stanley, Nick Baty and Martin Barry have written music which does appeal and works well with guitars. But we should never assume that loud rhythmic music is always the right choice. Going for the easy option and the lowest common denominator which many school teachers do is not the answer either.

At a recent talk Fr Malachy Keegan made the useful point that teenagers no longer come to Mass because they have had inadequate catechesis at an early stage. Why do we come together to celebrate? Do we look as though we are celebrating? Pope Francis stresses the joy of the Gospel. Let’s use music which conveys this. Much as I love plainchant, I fear the Missal Gloria tone does not convey joy at all! It is just plain dull.

The Church for the most part relies on volunteers and should provide resources for training. Why don’t parishes support their musicians who want to go to training courses? Why don’t teachers learn about liturgical music and link up with local parish musicians?
John Woodhouse, South Norwood, London

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