In the last couple of months, I have asked volunteers to come and support the music ministry, specifically at the morning Mass on Sunday. Although we have a group that covers some of the Masses on Sunday morning it is good to have another group that supports the Morning Mass alternatively.
I thought it would be a good idea to share with you some ideas about Sacred Music to help us all to remember the importance music plays at Liturgical celebrations. This also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the publication on Sacred Music in the years of the Second Vatican Council. (Instruction on Music in the Liturgy, Musicam Sacram (1967). We all agree that music is an art form that changes constantly, however some principles in Liturgy are still valid through time. Hopefully with the reading of this article, we can all renew our sense of respect for the Liturgy and make our Liturgies more active with the participation of our voices in the singing. As I have mentioned before, the human voice is the perfect instrument that we use to the praise and glory of God.
I also hope, that with the reading of this article, we can see how some music cannot be part of the Liturgical worship. It is becoming very common that people want to hear pop songs or secular songs at Weddings and Funerals and when I said that it cannot be the case, people just say: “it is ok in some parishes”. I think the case should be to let the Teachings of the Church be our guide in these matters and there is an extensive bibliography on the issue that we can all benefit from.
Since this is such a wide topic, I came across a very good article issued by the Diocese of Wollongong that can help us cover some of the most important aspects of the music in worship. The article was prepared by John Mason, who is the coordinator of Liturgy for the diocese. I hope you enjoy it. He prepared the guidelines with the hope “that these guidelines will assist you in your music ministry and help make our celebration of the Mass “an uplifting experience of the community at prayer and worship” (Goal B, Diocesan Pastoral Plan 2011-2015).
As Catholics, we know that celebrating the liturgy of the Church is at the heart of the way we give glory to God. The term ‘liturgy’ has its origins in the Greek word λειτουργ?α?, meaning ‘public work' or a 'service in the name of / on behalf of the people.' This word appears throughout the New Testament, and is understood to mean the participation of the People of God in the work of the Triune God (cf. Lk 1:23; Acts 13:2; Rom 15:16, 27; 2 Cor 9:12; Phil 2:14-17, 25, 30; Heb 8:2, 6).
Through liturgy, Christ continues the work of our redemption in, with and through his Church. The liturgy is our way of participating publicly in the ongoing work of Christ – in worship, proclamation of the Gospel and active charity – to the glory of God (Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), 1069-70). No wonder the Second Vatican Council described liturgy as the summit and source of the Church’s activity (Constitution on Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10), and Eucharist (the Mass) as the source and summit of Christian life (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 11).
Our model for music in the liturgy is Jesus himself, who sang psalms with the apostles at the Last Supper (Mt 26:30; Mk 14:26). Music is an integral part of our participation in liturgy – an integral part of our participation in the work of God. For “when song and music are signs of the Holy Spirit’s presence and action, they encourage, in a certain way, communion with the Trinity” (John Paul II, Address to the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, 3; Chirograph on Sacred Music, 3).
The Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on Sacred Liturgy (CSL) made particular mention of the role of music in fulfilling the purpose of liturgy, which is the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful (CSL 112). The Second Vatican Council’s Instruction on Music in the Liturgy, Musicam Sacram (MS), mentions five specific ministerial functions of music in the liturgy. Through music in the liturgy:
1. prayer is given a more graceful expression,
2. the mystery of the liturgy, with its hierarchical and community nature, is more openly shown,
3. the unity of hearts is more profoundly achieved by the union of voices,
4. minds are more easily raised to heavenly things by the beauty of the liturgy, and
5. the whole celebration more clearly prefigures the heavenly liturgy (cf. MS 4-5).
to be continued next week...