The Blasphemous Cover of OCP’s 2015-2017 United in Christ Hymnal

I’ve never been much of a fan of Oregon Catholic Press’ music selections in their hymnals, least of all, the United in Christ/Unidos en Cristo bilingual hymnal. A new priest at my parish described it as having “just a bunch of anglo songs translated into Spanish.” I would also add that it has an even worse selection of English hymns as well as entirely Spanish ones. But that’s what OCP is known for, taking the worst of both worlds and feeding it to the Catholic masses (no pun intended).

To get to my point… OCP seems to not care much for true liturgical art, this new cover of the United in Christ/Unidos en Cristo hymnal of 2015-2017 takes the cake. Not only is it hideous, but blasphemous as well.

I can mind the bright colors as they seem to reference traditional Mexican art. However, the Hispanic women in the forefront have stereotypically heavily done makeup with one having partially bleached hair. No one is playing the organ (or even piano for that matter) but what look like congo drums, a marimba (or xylophone), and guitars; also a stereotype of hispanic culture. Is this how the artist for Oregon Catholic Press (and those staff members who approved such a cover) see the hispanic American population?

What’s most disturbing about this image is the depiction of the saints in the background, baby Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Le’ts examine the image
further and look at it’s problematic content.
What appears to be Saint Francis of Assisi in the back and Saint Therese of Liseux shows him playing the guitar. Besides this being anachronistic (St. Francis playing guitar), I’m sure those two saints if alive today would find the musical content of this hymnal appalling. Not to mention they have euphorically silly expressions on their faces, those great saints, and…
Just to the right of them is what appears to be the adult Jesus holding… himself… the baby Jesus! What?! Or maybe it is God the Father holding baby Jesus… oh well, it’s still weird. And what is baby Jesus holding? A shaker in one hand and a tambourine in the other. Baby Jesus held in this way is usually depicted in real art as holding a scepter and the world. If not blasphemous, this is highly irreverent. And further notice that Jesus, in his two forms, is in the far back corner, not in a prominent or important spot like the lay musicians, but way in the back. Could this be a reflection of what the so-called Catholics at OCP think of the mass: as a communal celebration rather than the unbloody sacrifice of the mass? It is quite possible.
Now draw your attention to the front right, where the Holy Spirit is playing the marimba. Wow! I cannot even fathom what possessed the artist to do such a thing (although I could think of a few things that might have “possessed” them). Again, God’s own spirit depicted in a silly position playing an instrument with the laity. Way to be irreverent, OCP!
Lastly, why doesn’t anyone have their eyes opened? Are they so into singing and playing this Spanished Anglo pseudo-sacred music that they forget their senses? Let me tell you this: the marimba is very hard to play with your eyes closed, especially when your wings are flinging the mallets so high into the air.

One thought on “The Blasphemous Cover of OCP’s 2015-2017 United in Christ Hymnal

  1. Pingback: The subverted art of Oregon Catholic Press, Holy Week edition | domesticphilosophy

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