I want to say a little about the importance of music in our worship. Firstly, the Church teaches us that Music is integral to the Mass, not an added extra that seems for some to get in the way. The Liturgy in the Western Church is essentially musical; we have a sung liturgy. We sing the Mass we don’t simply sing bits of music in the Mass. Secondly, music itself is a participatory art/action. Good liturgical music for the vernacular liturgy should invite participation by all. Thirdly, we all can make music. I think some of us have little self-belief that we can contribute to this important aspect of our worship; it is not just the work of the choir/music group.
There are also some important benefits of the congregation singing the Mass. Singing is a whole body experience and thus a commitment to our duty to praise God with all our being. Furthermore, if for whatever reason you feel that you can’t sing for love nor money, you could at least open the hymnbook and read along with the verses and be fed that way. Hymnody has always been one of the most fruitful ways to learn to express our faith in daily life. For many of us there are hymns or fragments of hymns that pop into our consciousness quite often. For me the definition of a good hymn is when the melody so fits the words that we are carried deeper into our own faith by the faith of the hymnodist. So singing at Mass is very important because it nourishes our faith, draws us deeper into the dynamic of the Mass, and gives the Lord our fulsome praise which is his due.
So can I ask you if you are not in the habit of singing please give it a go and reap the rewards of a fuller level of participation? If you feel you can’t sing then at least open the hymn book and follow the texts so they speak to you. Our choirs and musicians work hard for our community and it can be discouraging for them and also for the pastor presiding to see blank faces and firmly closed mouths. Give it a go. As a well-known hymn proclaims, “Raise your voices, lift your hearts, this is the day the Lord has made, let all the world rejoice”. I will be working closely over the coming months with our musical groups to come to reflect upon this ministry and ways we can take it forward for and WITH you.
May God Bless You and Your Families,
Fr. Aidan Peter, CJ