Liturgical Music

“Liturgical music can be defined as that music which weds itself to the liturgical action, serves to reveal the full significance of that rite and, in turn, derives its full meaning from the liturgy.” Fr Ed Foley SJ

Let us contemplate some wonderful words of Pope Benedict: 
“The importance of music in biblical religion is shown very simply by the fact that the verb “to sing” (with related words such as “song”, and so forth) is one of the most commonly used words in the Bible. It occurs 309 times in the Old Testament and thirty-six in the New. When man comes into contact with God, mere speech is not enough.  Areas of his existence are awakened that spontaneously turn into song. Indeed, man’s own being is insufficient for what he has to express, and so he invites the whole of creation to become a song with him: “Awake, my soul! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!”

The singing of the Church comes ultimately out of love. It is the utter depth of love that produces the singing. “Cantare amantis est”, says St Augustine, singing is a lover’s thing. In so saying, we come again to the trinitarian interpretation of Church music. The Holy Spirit is love, and it is he who produces the singing. He is the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit who draws us into love for Christ and so leads to the Father.

In liturgical music, based as it is on biblical faith, there is, therefore, a clear dominance of the Word; this music is a higher form of proclamation. Ultimately, it rises up out of the love that responds to God’s love made flesh in Christ, the love that for us went unto death.’
(Spirit of the Liturgy – Pope  Emeritus Benedict XV1)

Encouraging  ‘Full, Conscious, Active Participation’, music is an integral element  in Catholic Liturgy and holds a prominent place within the celebration of the Mass. The importance of music to the liturgy needs to be actively sustained by a strong level of participation by the people, well-chosen musical selections, and a competent performance of the music chosen. Therefore, it is important to understand not simply what is good music but rather what is good liturgical music. This distinction is at the heart of the proper place of music in the celebration of Mass.

Good liturgical music, is not about the personal preference of any particular person or group. It is not simply about what people like or do not like. It is ultimately about helping the people of God to achieve full, active, and conscious participation and through that participation leading them into a fuller sense of worship of God. Music as part of the liturgy is meant to play a role in the sanctification of the faithful as they lift their voices in worship of God. Music is the ‘Servant of the Liturgy’.

Progressive Solemniity

Music should never be considered something we merely add to the celebration; in fact the Church expects that on Sundays and Holy Days music should not be absent from the celebration.

“Music should be considered a normal and ordinary part of any liturgical celebration. Music is not to be considered as an extra or something added to the celebration. In fact the celebration is intended to be completely sung. When we chose not to sing we are actually taking music out of the celebrating.’ (General Instruction on the Roman Missal – GIRM).

Hence, something is truly missing from the Mass if there were no liturgical music. But, at the same time, there must be differences in the quantity, style and choice of the Mass parts that are sung depending on the liturgical celebration.

Not all celebrations of the Mass are, in a sense, liturgically equal. As such, one must use the principle of progressive solemnity to determine what should be sung and when. This principle “takes into account the abilities of the assembly, the relative importance of the individual rites and their constituent parts, and the relative festivity of the liturgical day.”

St Patrick’s Music Group

We are delighted that each of our weekend Masses is enhanced by a small, yet  dedicated number of singers. Our group of singers meet each Wednesday in term time at 6.15pm in Church. We seek that ‘full, conscious, active patricipation’ in the celebration of the Liturgy. We primarily look at Settings of the Mass, Responsorial Psalmnody, and then Antiphons and Hymns for the weekend masses.

New members are always welcome and  warmly invited to join us. If you sing, serve as Cantor, play an instrument (patricularly the Organ) do come along! Lift your voice in song as we gather to worship the Lord.