“Latin hymns are too long, nobody understands them, and nobody sings along.”

The objections one hears from liturgically “progressive” Catholics, particularly those born in the 1940s-60s, are so standardized that one wonders if they’d given half as much attention to rehearsing traditional Latin prayers and hymns that they’ve paid to memorizing their objections, . . . .
Anyway, there are three standard objections one hears when discussing the use of Latin in the liturgy, even in the Ordinary Form (as Popes John Paul II and Benedict, and Cardinals Arinze and Canizares-Llovera have called for our official liturgical language to be used to some degree in every Mass):
a) “Nobody understands Latin”
b) “Latin hymns take too long” (in the sense that they were written to go along with the parts of the Tridentine liturgy where the priest prays silently, yes, they are long, but “too long”?)
c) “Nobody sings along.”
The problem with all three of these objections is that they can just as easily apply to vernacular hymns, as I was reflecting at All Saints’ Day Mass on Friday, when the cantor was starting the third or fourth go-round of “Gift of Finest Wheat” during Communion, and maybe two people in the congregation were singing.

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4 responses to ““Latin hymns are too long, nobody understands them, and nobody sings along.”

  1. These objections often come from those who go to church for personal entertainment.

  2. This reflects the attitude that the Mass is there to server us, not, as it should be that we are there to serve and glorify God.

  3. At my former parish in Mississippi, the whole congregation sings the Salve Regina in Latin, by its ancient chant setting, and as far as I have observed, everybody sings along. Other parishes are impressed with our youth when they go to camps and conventions because they know so many Latin hymns from memory!

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