“Musical material of itself is neutral.”
I just received a copy of “Sacred Music and Liturgy Reform After Vatican II” (ed. J. Overath) through Amazon Marketplace. Basically what it presents is the proceedings of the Fifth International Church Music Congress in Milwaukee, held in August 1966. It’s interesting to read what many (certainly not all) prominent musicians were saying in the couple of years prior to the promulgation of the Missal of Paul VI.
One particular quote deserves mention, an excerpt from the Resolution on the Use of Profane Music in Worship (183):
Musical material is of itself neutral. The distinguishing mark of music as something profane somes from the use which men make of the musical materials and their connection with certain realms of life. Music is considered profane because of the responsive images and feelings that it evokes from men. Music which readily conjures up in men’s minds a juke-box, a piano bar[,] or frivolous entertainment is not appropriate for the liturgical realm.
That first sentence is key: Musical material is of itself neutral. I find myself wanting to play devil’s advocate here and look for ways by which one could argue that Josquin’s polyphonic works might have an intrinsic liturgical merit that is lacking in the music of Harry Connick Jr., to cite a popular artist whose work I find to be of high artistic caliber.