World Meeting of Families Official Hymn Not a People Pleaser

“Sound the Bell of Holy Freedom" was written in Philly — and it isn't exactly getting rave reviews.

The news that there’s an Official Hymn of this fall’s World Meeting of Families got us all excited — until we listened to it online, that is. Talk about your sleeper hits. “Sound the Bell of Holy Freedom” has lyrics by South Philly native Andrew Ciferni, a member of the Norbertine community at Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, set to music by Normand Gouin, the former music director at Old St. Joseph’s National Shrine in Society Hill — the oldest Roman Catholic church in the country. Commenters online haven’t exactly been kind.

There are the full-scale critics:

Seems a pity the words are lost in a melody that drags, very repetitive, makes you think of a funeral, and is very dated.

[T]his Hymm is not what I associate with a Papal event.

 There are those who beseech Gouin to pick up the beat:

The melody is lethargic.

I would take it up tempo just a hair.

I would speed it up a little …

There are those who hate the lyrics:

The text … doesn’t have depth for me. 

There are those who hate the music:

[G]reat texts … forgettable melody

I thought the theme was that the family was fully alive, the music leaves you fully dead!

There are the “What about the children” naysayers:

I don’t think this hymn will resonate with young people.

[T]he melody is out of touch with families — children cannot sing this and it is not something people will remember. It also drags.

And there’s the Kumbaya crowd:

I would like to hear it without the organ, maybe piano and guitar?

There are a few fans; Jennifer Trofe-Clark, for instance, calls “Sound the Bell of Holy Freedom” “absolutely beautiful.” And then there’s that one guy — Grandpa? Is that you?

I could not hear the song — just nothing.

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