Friday, September 21, 2007

Sacred music

Adoration tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. All who wish to adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament are invited!
Anon wrote, “are hymns thought of as a form of prayer? On the similar note, why does the church seem to frown on modern music in the church. If it's all about worship, why isn't this form also considered sacred? There definately is something about hearing the traditional hymns with which we all grew-up, but I also appreciate the more contemporary musical liturgy as at our Sunday evening service”.

First, the old saying is that “singing is praying twice” (probably a quote of St. Augustine). Secondly, the Church wrote about the importance of sacred music in the divine liturgy in her Vatican II document, Sacrosanctum Concilium (The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy). The following are excerpts from SC which address your question; to view the full, rich, and beautiful text, please click on the title of this post.

112. The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy.

Holy Scripture, indeed, has bestowed praise upon sacred song (Eph 5:19, Col 3:16), and the same may be said of the fathers of the Church and of the Roman pontiffs who in recent times, led by St. Pius X, have explained more precisely the ministerial function supplied by sacred music in the service of the Lord.

Therefore sacred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion as it is more closely connected with the liturgical action, whether it adds delight to prayer, fosters unity of minds, or confers greater solemnity upon the sacred rites. But the Church approves of all forms of true art having the needed qualities, and admits them into divine worship…

114. The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care. Choirs must be diligently promoted, especially in cathedral churches; but bishops and other pastors of souls must be at pains to ensure that, whenever the sacred action is to be celebrated with song, the whole body of the faithful may be able to contribute that active participation which is rightly theirs, as laid down in Art. 28 and 30…

116. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.
But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action, as laid down in Art. 30…

118. Religious singing by the people is to be intelligently fostered so that in devotions and sacred exercises, as also during liturgical services, the voices of the faithful may ring out according to the norms and requirements of the rubrics.

119. In certain parts of the world, especially mission lands, there are peoples who have their own musical traditions, and these play a great part in their religious and social life. For this reason due importance is to be attached to their music, and a suitable place is to be given to it, not only in forming their attitude toward religion, but also in adapting worship to their native genius, as indicated in Art. 39 and 40…

120. In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and to higher things.

But other instruments also may be admitted for use in divine worship, with the knowledge and consent of the competent territorial authority, as laid down in Art. 22, 52, 37, and 40. This may be done, however, only on condition that the instruments are suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful.

121. Composers, filled with the Christian spirit, should feel that their vocation is to cultivate sacred music and increase its store of treasures.

Let them produce compositions which have the qualities proper to genuine sacred music, not confining themselves to works which can be sung only by large choirs, but providing also for the needs of small choirs and for the active participation of the entire assembly of the faithful.

The texts intended to be sung must always be in conformity with Catholic doctrine; indeed they should be drawn chiefly from holy scripture and from liturgical sources.


At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Robert said...

Fr. You are right it is a quote of Augustine's.

One must remember, suitable music and good music are different things. Not all good music is suitable and not all suitable music is good and some is neither suitable or good. Case in point, any music that talks about how great and wonderful we, the congregation are, or songs putting God in first person. Worship music should be about worshiping God not ourselves. God bless 'em but the composers of the late 60's 70's and 80's had good intentions but were hit with the stick of bad taste.

I suggest the book "Why Catholics can't sing" by Thomas Day. Wonderful explanation of the tragedy of bad taste in music in the Mass.

At 6:21 PM, Blogger Daisy said...

I must say that I am completely in love with traditional Church hymns, including Latin hymns, and I can't get enough of it. While I'm in the Caribbean, I notice that the music used in the Mass is both appropriate in content and can be reflective of the culture here, specifically in the use of certain musical instruments (drums, etc.) and the clapping of the choir and congregation. Although, I'm not used to this type of music, I'm still very happy to see these parishioners show their enthusiasm about attending Mass and showing their faith in God.

At 10:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a question for people that I'd really like to hear an answer about-

Is there a difference between offering an apology and asking someone's forgiveness? When you say, "Sorry," what do you expect to hear- "It's okay." or "I forgive you." The answers, to me, infer responses to entirely different situations.

At 11:01 AM, Blogger fran said...

To me, offering an apology vs. asking someone's forgiveness are two different things.

One can offer an apology and receive: a.) no response, because the apology is not accepted, b.)a less than satisfying, "that's okay," because the one offering the apology is looking for more, c.) a more satisfying ,"I forgive you" because that is what the one offering the apology was seeking all along.

An apology and forgiveness do not necessarily go hand and hand. You can apologize to someone and not receive forgiveness from them, you can forgive someone and not receive an apology from them. Where the two do go hand in hand is in the confessional in the sacrament of Penance. There, all apologies are accepted and forgiveness is always given.

At 3:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Fran-
I was thinking along those lines. I often offer my apologies for things I have done but hadn't thought often about asking for forgiveness unless something was rather large in nature. I recently said sorry to someone and they offered their forgiveness, and I was kind of taken back. I thought, "Gee, I didn't know my actions required this person's forgiveness," and then I felt even worse for a while- for, if the person thought they needed to forgive me, my actions were maybe worse than I'd thought.

After thinking about it though, I guess each time we offer our apologies we are also asking for forgivess, atleast if we are sincere in making that apology.


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