I posted this screen shot of a comment made by a priest concerning music on my Facebook page. As you can see from the comments, there was a wide variety of opinions.
My husband has been in music ministry for the Catholic Church most of his life. He has seen the dramatic changes over the years in music from organ to guitars and congas(!) and everything in-between.
I've been in music ministry with my husband for around 15 years. At one time, we belonged to a choir of as many as fifteen people with instruments including drums, guitars, horns and keyboards. We were quite the bunch, experimenting with different songs and sounds.
Looking back, we made some errors in judgment. Some songs were probably not appropriate for Mass. We were fortunate to be in a congregation that loved us and appreciated the innovations.
The pastor of that parish was not fond of us (he was seen with his fingers in his ears on the altar during Mass). Not long afterward, he made it impossible for us to stay so our choir broke up and we all moved on.
Now my husband and one of those choir members and myself have been in music ministry at St. Therese Chinese Catholic Church for the last seven years. We have learned a lot over the years including the fact that there's always a bit of a controversy surrounding what's appropriate for Mass.
We hear a lot about "performance." The choir is not "performing." I don't have a problem with the word "performance." We've practiced extensively to get it right. We're not putting on a "show," but we are trying hard to convey what's happening in that 45 minute to an hour time slot. That also means selecting the appropriate songs that fit the readings of the day as best as possible.
Since there's just the three of us now, it's easier to make those song selections and to learn new ones. We've done the contemporary, the old school and we've even learned a little Gregorian Chant.
There's also the train of thought that the people should sing all through the Mass. I've heard people go on and on about that, yet they want Gregorian Chant sung. It doesn't work that way. If you want the congregation to sing, you need to select songs that are easy for the average person. A lot of people don't read music and an easy melody is the fastest way to catch on to any song. Think of all the commercials you can sing in your head!
We've sung in many churches. Each one has their own unique atmosphere. Time matters, too. A 5 PM Vigil Mass can have a completely different vibe then a 10:30 Sunday morning Mass.
We've learned to know our fellow parishioners. We know that they like to sing the opening and closing hymn. They'll sing the Mass parts. When it comes to the Offertory and Communion songs, we barely hear a peep out of them. We've been in parishes where everyone sings and we've been in parishes where the soloist and the accompanist are the only ones that can be heard. Getting to know the people is key in music ministry.
Having said all that, I, as a musician and vocalist, have been to Masses where there's been no music. Guess what? I was okay with it. In fact, I loved it! There was a peacefulness and complete surrender of myself. It was quite the experience!
Fr. Claude said in his comment, "What music matches the magnitude of what is happening at the Mass?" The music that speaks to your heart!