This article focuses on the unique dimensions of lived or vernacular Catholicism through the analysis of contemporary congregational music in Hungary. Looking at the musical lives of Hungarian Roman Catholics from the late 1960s to contemporary times can provide us with new understandings of the theological contents and aesthetics, as well as the vernacular religiosity of the community. Christian popular music appeared behind the Iron Curtain relatively early, in 1967 when the first “beat mass” was created and introduced at Budapest. The early Christian popular music sounded astonishingly similar to the songs of the American Folk Mass Movement of the 1960s without any connection between the two phenomena. The Communist dictatorship greatly influenced the ‘visibility,’ the characteristics of Christian popular music, and also its secrecy. Amongst authoritarian, atheistic circumstances, Christian popular music spread underground. The social dimension of this music was, therefore, an underground religious subculture that existed independently and was often prohibited by Church leaders. I give an overview of the reactions of the institutions (state authorities, churches) and persons connected to these authorities (priests, collaborators, secret police informers) and the participants of the emerging grassroots movement and analyze the inner tensions and attitudes of the opposing groups.



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