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Survey finds Catholics place high value on music at Mass


LUCAS HENEY | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 04/25/21

While admiting its importance, most Catholics don't want to sing along.

A recent survey from US Catholic suggests that music at Mass is very important to parishioners. While the consensus says music is pivotal to worship, however, Catholics disagree about what form it should take

The survey was taken from more than 750 US Catholic readers. Of these, a resounding 80% said that music is a “very important” part of the Mass experience. Although they place a high value on music, however, only 57% of respondents gave their parish’s music a passing grade. A further 36% rated their church’s music from “not so great” to “dreadful.” 

A separate report from US Catholic supported the value the faithful place on music. When asked if music quality dictates where they go to Mass, 74% said it did. These respondents noted that they would consider a different place of worship if the music wasn’t up to snuff.

Music may be essential to the worship experience, but the faithful do not seem to care to join in the performance. A solid 60% said they were fine with “just listening” to a choir perform. Only 27% believed that the congregation should sing along with every hymn. 

Style and substance

The strongest differences of opinion were found in the style of music appropriate for Mass. Most respondents, 71%, said they were happiest with a small choral group led by a pianist. This was closely followed by a solo cantor and organist at 63%. Just over half of those surveyed said they wanted to hear classical or traditional Latin music.

The question of whether or not the Second Vatican Council had improved upon music came with mixed results. About half, 52%, said they enjoyed post-Vatican II music, while 28% don’t care for it. As much as 73% of respondents said the lyrics are more important than the music.

When asked if it was appropriate to clap after a choral hymn at Mass, 88% of respondents said it was inappropriate or not ideal. Only 17% said that it was a great way to “show appreciation.”

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