Do you hear the Catholics sing?

In the tradition of liturgical chant, there sometimes happens that a new liturgical text is approved and in need of a liturgical chant. When such happens, there are at least two approaches. One, compose a new chant for the new text. Two, adapt an existing chant to the new text. In our venerable sacromusical establishment, this second approach is called contrafactum. In the diaphanous world of meme-mediated subculture-saturated profanity-gravitating musical trends, however, it is called parody.

And so, we’ll have a last-minute April fool’s post. Uhm, well, it’s just a rehash. Fourteen years ago—yep, that’s before Summorum Pontificum, when attending a Traditional Latin Mass was, in the words of Michael Brendan Dougherty, accompanied by a “fugitive feeling”—a parody of two Les Mis anthems surfaced here. And so, we reproduce the second, parodied from Do you hear the people sing (A la volonté du peuple in the original French) below. If you will be prevailed upon to sing the parody, elide the middle syllable on Catholics to produce CATH-licks; and pronounce des Prez as de-PREY, Solesmes as so-LEZ-mey, and Victoria as Vick-TOH-ree-ya. What is it they said? Ah, ¡hagan lío!

(We’ve added notes to clarify mentions that might not be immediately forthcoming.)

Do you hear the Catholics sing?
Singing polyphony and chant?
It is the music of a people
Who have thrown out trendy cant!
When the choirs all agree:
Tra le sollecitudini [1]!
Our hymns and chants will sound
And resound again!

Will you join in our travail?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Beyond the altar rail
Is there a world you long to see?
Then join in the fight
That will bring back the rite of the free!

Do you hear the Catholics sing?
Singing Gesualdo [2] and des Prez [3]?
It is the music of a people
Come to shining Solesmes [4]!
When the Haugens [5] hit the road
And Palestrina [6] marches in
Our hymns and chants will sound
And resound again!

Will you give all you can give
So that our banner may advance?
Some will fall and some will live;
Will you stand up and take your chance
Against Vosko [7], Mahony [8],
RENEW [9] and liturgical dance [10]?

Do you hear the Catholics sing?
Singing Victoria [11] and Byrd [12]?
It is the music of our people
It will no more go unheard!
When the OCP [13] is out
Our Te Deums [14] will begin:
Our hymns and chants will sound
And resound again!


[1] Motu proprio on sacred music issued by Saint Pius X, 22 November 1903
[2] Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa (8 March 1566 – 8 September 1613), Italian late Renaissance composer, famous, amongst other pieces of his composition, for his Tenebrae responsories
[3] Josquin des Prez (c. 1450/1455 – 1521), Renaissance composer from the Low Countries, widely considered as the first master of polyphonic vocal music of the high Renaissance
[4] Commune in the Sarthe department and Pays-de-la-Loire region of northwestern France; location of the Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, the Benedictine monastery that published chant books that are still used for the Traditional Mass
[5] Marty Haugen (born 30 December 1950), American composer of sacred popular music in the Lutheran liturgical tradition; known in the American Catholic liturgical establishment for his Mass of Creation
[6] Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525 – 2 February 1594), Italian Renaissance composer, whose work is considered the pinnacle of Renaissance polyphony
[7] Richard Vosko, Ph.D., Hon. AIA (born 1943), American Roman Catholic priest of the Diocese of Albany, known for his work in the redesign and renovation of many churches in the US, with emphasis on the relevance of the word of God in the modern age
[8] Roger Michael Cardinal Mahony (born 27 February 1936), American cardinal and archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, under whose term the Italianate old Cathedral of Saint Vibiana was sold to the city of Los Angeles, and the postmodern/deconstructivist new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels was built
[9] RENEW International, a Catholic ministry organisation incorporated under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Newark, which, according to its website, “fosters spiritual renewal in the Catholic tradition by empowering individuals and communities to encounter God in everyday life, deepen and share faith, and connect faith with action”
[10] A misnomer applied to aberrant practices where dance, often categorised as interpretative, is incorporated in the sacred liturgy, apparently for the counterproductive and counterintuitive purpose of enriching and aiding liturgical experience
[11] Tomás Luis de Victoria (c. 1548 – 27 August 1611), Spanish Catholic priest and Renaissance composer, ranked with Palestrina and di Lasso as one of the most important Counter-Reformation composers
[12] William Byrd (c.1539/40 or 1543 – 4 July 1623), English Catholic Renaissance composer, known for his recusancy and his outstanding musical legacy to Anglican worship and to the Roman Catholic Church
[13] Oregon Catholic Press, a nonprofit publishing company headquartered in Portland in the state of Oregon, which, according to its website, is “committed to providing the very best resources, music and service to Catholic parishes and worshipers all over the world”
[14] Incipit of the Latin hymn of thanksgiving

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