But nowadays hymns are the norm, because people don't have much else to sing.
It would be difficult to discover the truth about the universe if we refused to consider anything that might be true.
When the truth is that there would be no great Western music, and certainly no decent choral repertoire, without the Catholic faith.
Inaudible prayers, particularly of the Canon, which at first don't seem to have anything to do with music, end up being a very important part of the aesthetic of the traditional structure of the Mass.
Ironically, we live in times that are awash in authentic sacred music.
The democratic and pedestrian character of the new Mass itself seems to invite the ditties that pass for hymns these days.
Even Catholic parishes today are not wanting for talent. But no serious singer or organist will get anywhere near the typical music program, at least if he wants to retain his self-respect.
For two thousand years, the Church has guided the development of music, carefully legislating to fuse artistic talent and aesthetic beauty with the demands of the Faith.
The pastor of a parish will typically have no education in the chant or in music, and he will hire the first music director who walks through the door.
Catholic liturgical music, it would seem, is everywhere but in the Catholic Church itself.
It bothers me when I hear it in a car commercial or some such. But for the most part, it's better than seeing sacred music relegated to the scrap heap.
Music had always been the handmaid of the Roman liturgy.
Thus the slogan should be reversed: Catholics taught the world what music is supposed to sound like, and, more importantly, what it is supposed to mean.
You can count on one hand the number of Novus Ordo churches in this country that feature a fully Catholic music program of any quality, consistent with the Roman rite tradition.
Once the Mass is restored to its rightful place, we will again see choirs being developed.