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Trends in Catholic Church Music

Recently American Catholics have become more sophisticated about the kinds of music we are willing to try in our liturgies. Our interests in Church music have "expanded," says Cymbala. In response, hymnal publishers are providing music resources with hymns drawn from several cultures. GIA's current Gather Comprehensive hymnal, for instance, contains Hispanic and African-American hymns, along with traditional and contemporary hymns.
Oregon Catholic Press (OCP) serves the music needs of many Hispanic Catholics. Flor y Canto and Canticos are two popular Spanish hymnals sold by OCP. "We were the first to address the needs of Hispanic Catholics," says Editorial Director Paulette McCoy. Today OCP is the U.S. agent for three Spanish hymn publishers.

A controversial and highly debated trend in Catholic Church music today is the decision of some parishes to use more hymns containing inclusive language. Composers and publishers have made adaptations in their work in accordance with this decision and have followed the U.S. bishops' 1990 document on inclusive language. According to GIA's Cymbala, for some Catholics, "the emphasis on inclusive language is a bigger issue than musical style."

The language debate causes big trouble in many parishes and among publishers, too. The experience of World Library Publications (WLP) demonstrates one publisher's approach to the situation. When WLP printed revised-language editions of their parish resources, they "followed the bishops' document to a 'T,'" says Laura Dankler, managing editor at WLP. They received a deluge of calls, about half in favor of and half in an uproar over the new versions. WLP's solution was to print both standard and revised editions for their customers. "That way the parish makes the decision [to use the revised or standard edition]," says Dankler. "As a publisher, for us to make that decision for them would be wrong."

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