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The Index Canticorum Prohibitorum
(list of forbidden songs)

In an article in 2004, George Weigel proposed the concept of a public list of hymns and songs that should be banned from use in the Catholic liturgy, some temporarily but most permanently. This list strives to bring that idea to reality. Concrete and objective reasons are given here why these pieces are unfit for the mass as well as different levels of inappropriateness from mild to downright heretical. Both the music and lyrics have been analyzed. The lyrics are analyzed for theological correctness, quality of the lyrics, and appropriateness to the liturgy. The music is analyzed for style, how "sacred" sounding it is, playability on the organ, and reverence for the church's musical tradition. Not only that, but we give you alternate suggestions. How nice!

Click here for a full analytical list of what we look for.

Have a piece you'd like analyzed or would like to contribute to this list? Please feel free to contact us by using the contact form at the bottom of every page.

Level 3 Ban

This list begins with the worst of the worst. These are the ones that should be seen first in hopes that all of them will be more quickly put where they belong: in the distant memories of all who heard them and a banal product of the time in which they were produced.

Ashes (Conry)

Heretical lyrics (Pelagianism): "We rise again from ashes, to create ourselves anew." Other than that, the poetry is terrible and borderline nonsensical. Lines seem to be created solely to rhyme with each other. Nothing about the music is remarkable which makes it altogether un-sacred.

Use instead: parce domine, 

All Are Welcome (Haugen)

This song is not welcome, the USCCB even says so in this 2020 document. Though playable on the organ, the music is disgustingly happy-go-lucky and not at all sacred. The lyrics are us-centered and lack an accurate representation of the Eucharist.

Use instead: 

Blest be the Lord (Schutte)

The lyrics, though based on Psalm 91, jump around too much from the original text in order to fit the words to the music. The music reeks of 1970's pseudo-folk. The syncopated rhythms suggest a popular style of music that is far from appropriate to the liturgy and lacks a universal sacred sound. 

Use instead: 

Bread, Blessed and Broken (Lynch)

Borderline anti-eucharist lyrics are present in "symbol of your love, from the grain so tall." Lyrics are also very self-centered and contain no praise of God. 

Use instead: 

Bread for the World (Farrell)

[analysis in process]

 

Bread of Life (Farrell)

[analysis in process]

 

Level 2 Ban

If a song made this list, they pose moderate lyrical or musical problems. These should be used if no other viable option is available or your pastor is requiring it or someone is holding you at gunpoint. One should consider either silence or instrumental only as a better option instead of these.

Be Not Afraid (Dufford)

[analysis in process]

Christ, Be Our Light (Farrell)

[analysis in process]

Level 1 Ban

The selections on this list aren't directly objectionable to the liturgy but should be used sparingly. More specific reasons for making this list are given below with each item.

Gift of Finest Wheat (Kreutz, Westendorf)

[analysis in process]

How Great Thou Art (Boberg)

Widely known in the Catholic world and beloved as a traditional hymn about the cross. The only problem with this one is with the music. The tune composed for it, O STORE GUD, is actually Swedish in origin. However, it has been used so heavily in gospel-style music (and played that way by Catholics) that it has been all too closely associated with that genre and it is therefore impossible to divorce that connection for modern ears. Think of the tune "Ah! Vous Dirai-je, Maman." When people hear that they immediately either think "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and not the original French children's tune where it originated. If an alternate tune that is more universally sacred sounding is available it would be more fitting to use that instead. This writer has not been able to find one, so the problem remains.

Use instead: Crux Fidelis, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

I Received the Living God (anonymous)

If one considers the use of this hymn for a children's choir, the refrain nicely fits the bill. It is a simple melody with enough repetition to make it memorable and easy to sing and the lyrics, though also very simple, speak truth about the Eucharist. The problem with this one is in the lyrics (or at least the English translation) of the verses. The first verse begins: "Jesus said: 'I am the Bread Kneaded long to give you life;...'" No, he never said that, and the host is unleavened and you don't knead unleavened bread. It's just weird. The rest of the lyrics of the verses are not that bad but they are altogether unremarkable.

Use instead: Draw Nigh and Take the Body, Anima Christi

Ode to Joy (Beethoven)

[analysis in process]

Upcoming Evaluations

City of God (Talbot)

Come to the Water (Foley)

Eye Has Not Seen (Haugen)

Gather Us In (Haugen)

God Beyond All Names (Farrell)

Here I Am, Lord (Schutte)

I Will Choose Christ (Booth)

 

Like a Shepherd (Dufford)

Lord of the Dance (Carter)

 

On Eagle's Wings (Joncas)

One Bread, One Body (Foley)

Pan de Vida (Hurd)

Rain Down (Cortez)

Sing a New Song (Schutte)

Spirit and Grace (Manalo)

Table of Plenty (Schutte)

Taste and See (Moore)

They'll Know We Are Christians (Scholtes)

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