Are your young people grumbling about the music they hear in Mass? Are you willing to help them experiment a little... maybe Father has agreed you can have a Youth Mass - but you don't know where to start ? Well, here's a little selection of what comes recommended by the team at the youth ministry office.
Just remember, the key distinction between music you can play in Mass - which has to complement and support the Liturgy - and the more open choices of music for prayer, "praise and worship", or reflection sessions. You must also  always check the copyright license for usage of all songs.

A Mass setting for the revised English translation of the Roman Missal approved by the Department for Christian Life and Worship can be downloaded here, written by Liam Lynch, who has been involved in some of our events. His website contains lots of information about music for worship and liturgy.

Some of the music we sing at our lux weekends is by Hillsong, Phil Wickham, Robin Mark and Chris Tomlin. Click on their names to visit their websites and then you can download their songs on itunes or amazon.

Firm favourites remain our friends at CJM Music. Many of you will have experienced their class act at some of our Conferences.  With music ranging from lilting gospel and mad choral settings to simple post-communion reflections, CJM not only sell CDs and MP3 downloads, but also provide music scores for you to use in your own parish. Listen to the music at the site, and then order online!

And a major musical resource within our own Diocese is Teresa Brown, based in Northampton.... as well as being County Ecumenical Officer for Peterborough and Northants, she is a noted composer, performer and  ambassador for good liturgical music. Check out her website and listen to some of her work. She is a composer for the Mass music for the New Translation of the Missal.

Edwin Fawcett is a Catholic singer/songwriter. He will be coordinating the music for the Flame Congress in March (see our Events Diary). Edwin was very involved in the music for the Papal Vigil at Hyde Park and recently performed at the World Youth Day in Madrid. The music he is composing for Flame Congress will be very suitable for school and parish use after the Congress. Check out his website.

Another favourite of the team is Rend Collective Experiment who are a unique band who perform worship on their iphones. Check out their video.  Another favourite is the band Starfield who write amazing Christian Music which you can download along with the chord sheets from their website.

Meanwhile, the communities at Taize and Iona still rank among the best contemporary producers of chant and atmospheric bliss! Taize can be found here (select English from the menu), with a chance to listen online and find out where you can pick up material. Iona's site (here) doesn't allow you to listen to music, but you can pick up some order forms for both liturgical and music publications from their Wild Goose Publications page. 

Alternative Worship music tends to be more chilled-out reflective pieces that could be appropriate to use for reflection, within the context of a visual / artistic display or some kind of creativity exercise. It is worth searching Amazon or iTunes to find some that you think will add something to your activity.

For more liturgical-based music, see the GIA site, with a wide range of music that can be listened to and ordered online - quite cheesy at times in its setting, but can be easily adapted.

Sample 'n' See

There are various ways to hear a wider range of Christian music:

Follow the individual links above, and look for any samples that may be on the sites.

Nose around your Christian bookshop....Various recording companies release 'taster' discs, with a variety of different genres and artists. The cheapest of these are priced around £1.99 for 15 tracks ('Fresh' and 'The Soundtrack' are two decent types), and should be in most Christian bookshops. Alternatively, the annual  'WOW' albums are the Christian equivalent of the 'NOW' series, but quite pricey.

There are some Christian radio stations that broadcast online - Premier Radio  plays a wide variety of popular mixed in with the 'oldies'and R&B, Cross Rhythms is a diverse British site.

... and, of course, go to where you can hear the music being played live... the festivals like Celebrate just after Easter, New Dawn or Youth 2000 in July/August, the monthly renewal days at Euston in London - check out the GoodNews site for listings...or NYMO's events such as lux... or visit other youth masses with some gifted musicians! Take paper and make a note of any songs you really like !

Music books

Once you've listened to it, where do you find scores and dots so your music group can play it ? Assuming you wish to move beyond the Celebration Hymnal or Hymns Old & New found in most of our churches, the most popular collection of contemporary Christian music is probably the "Songs of Fellowship" series published by Kingsway, now up to four volumes and containing around  2,200 songs and hymns. To buy all four from Amazon will cost you (or your church) about £94 plus post & packing. They come with CD's containing all the lyrics for transfer to OHP transparencies or home-made songbooks (so long as you have a copyright licence, of course ! - see the Music Group guide downloadable from the Guidance and Ideas page). 
Alternatively, the latest edition of "Mission Praise" gives you over 1,000 songs for about £38 in a single volume, though it's very thick (not easy on music stands !) and doesn't come with a Words resource. 
And if the budget's really tight, there's a good selection of 500 of the most popular recent worship songs  - the Worship Today single-volume, for £19.99 plus postage from the Spring Harvest website. 
But be warned - all these books are designed for non-liturgical churches, so you have to exercise even more discretion in choosing music for a specific bit of our Mass. 
If it's just words-and-guitar-chords you need, there are several websites that will let you print/download these- try here.

Our friends at Goodnews Books are able to get many titles delivered to your door, either through their website or via phone / fax. Alternatively, many are also stocked and reviewed on Amazon. To find out where your nearest Christian shop is, click here

Secular music

While Christian music certainly has an important place in youth ministry, there is also room for music played on today's radio stations. Many secular songs are spiritual. That music has already found its way into the lives of young people and song themes often mirror the feelings and thoughts of youth. Below are a few examples reflections of secular songs:

The review of 'Handlebars' by the Flobots gives an opportunity to discuss with your group how they feel about choices & decision making in their lives and to affirm their confidence in their own abilities.  Handlebars LyricsSession Plan

This review of 'Heavyweight Champion of the World' by Reverend and the Makers gives the opportunity to discuss hopes, ambitions and regrets and also looks at what the Bible says about these feelings. Download lyrics and instructions.

Other examples of secular music that can be easily linked to God are Katy Perry's Firework, Cheryl Cole's Parachute and Mumford and Sons' Awake My Soul.