Saturday, September 29, 2007

Drums (and other percussion) belong at Mass, says OCP

The new issue of Today’s Liturgy (OCP) features a piece designed to give the thumbs up to every manner of percussion in Mass. The piece is called “Sacred Drum,” and it’s by John Pennington of Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. The piece largely consists of questions from the Psalms, Samuel, Exodus, Chronicles, and I won’t quote all this here since concordances are readily at hand. The upshot is that we should praise God with cymbals, tambourines, and other things that clang and bang.

The author sums up: “The plethora of references to percussion instruments throughout Scripture certainly presents us with the historical precedence for their inclusion in the liturgy and the praise and glory of God.”

Now, it’s one thing to have tympani to go with a classical piece or drums in a procession. And I can even imagine Verdi’s Requiem in liturgy and all its banging. But somehow I don’t think this is what is at issue here. I suspect he is talking about the run-of-the-mill trap sets that you find in jazz and rock bands, so the issue becomes a matter of radical departure from the Roman Rite tradition.

Beyond that, I’m not sure what to say about his argument. It seems wrong, but why? And what about the relevance of the Bible passages he quotes?

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: