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sentimental in Seattle

By Diogenes (articles ) | Apr 03, 2003

In a remarkable display of ecumenical sensitivity, the Archdiocese of Seattle has banned the singing of "The Old Rugged Cross," the hymn composed by the Methodist minister George Bennard in 1913.

The reason? Are Seattle liturgists suddenly inflamed with zeal for Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony, which were so highly regarded by the fathers of the Second Vatican Council? No. According to a long list of new liturgical directives , "Music planners should avoid selections that offer facile sentiment, as the spirit of the ritual of veneration has no place for this type of music or song. Therefore, 'The Old Rugged Cross' is unsuitable, as well as some other pieces that seem to have become standard fare for the veneration of the cross in the United States."

If this hymn's "facile sentiment" leads to its interdict, then oughtn't every hymnal that contains "Here I am, Lord" and "On Eagle's Wings"-- every Oregon Catholic Press music issue, every Glory and Praise songbook-- be consigned to the bonfire of the vanities?

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