About Music Ministry in Liturgy
Singing and beautiful music have provided an interface with the heights and depths of human emotion since time immemorial…Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1156
One of God’s most wonderful gifts to us is the gift of song. When we sing in our liturgical celebrations, we follow the ancient tradition of our ancestors of faith who sang a “new song to the Lord” (Psalm 96:1) and we join with “countless hosts of Angels who serve you day and night… giving voice to every creature under heaven as we acclaim: Holy, Holy, Holy!” (Roman Missal, 2011. Eucharistic Prayers). Participation in music ministry is an opportunity to bring your God given musical talent to the service of the church and your community!
The Importance of Singing
(Excerpt from the General Instruction of the Roman Missal)
39. The Christian faithful who come together as one in expectation of the Lord’s coming are instructed by the Apostle Paul to sing together Psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles (cf. Col 3:16). Singing is the sign of the heart’s joy (cf. Acts 2:46). Thus St. Augustine says rightly, “Singing is for one who loves,” [St. Augustine of Hippo] and there is also an ancient proverb: “Whoever sings well prays twice over.”
40. Great importance should therefore be attached to the use of singing in the celebration of the Mass, with due consideration for the culture of peoples and abilities of each liturgical assembly. Although it is not always necessary (e.g., in weekday Masses) to sing all the texts that are in principle meant to be sung, every care should be taken that singing by the ministers and the people not be absent in celebrations that occur on Sundays and on Holydays of Obligation.
However, in the choosing of the parts actually to be sung, preference is to be given to those that are of greater importance and especially to those which are to be sung by the Priest or the Deacon or a reader, with the people replying, or by the Priest and people together.
41. The main place should be given, all things being equal, to Gregorian chant, as being proper to the Roman Liturgy. Other kinds of sacred music, in particular polyphony, are in no way excluded, provided that they correspond to the spirit of the liturgical action and that they foster the participation of all the faithful.
Since the faithful from different countries come together ever more frequently, it is desirable that they know how to sing together at least some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, especially the Profession of Faith and the Lord’s Prayer, according to the simpler settings
(“General Instruction of the Roman Missal.” USCCB. https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/the-mass/general-instruction-of-the-roman-missal).
Mozart was known to say that “the music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.” Mozart was most certainly not talking about liturgy when he said this, but in the same way that silence is important in the performance of music, silence is of great importance in liturgy. Music and silence both play a role in the celebration of the Mass.
“45. Sacred silence also, as part of the celebration, is to be observed at the designated times. Its nature, however, depends on the moment when it occurs in the different parts of the celebration. For in the Penitential Act and again after the invitation to pray, individuals recollect themselves; whereas after a reading or after the Homily, all meditate briefly on what they have heard; then after Communion, they praise God in their hearts and pray to him.
Even before the celebration itself, it is a praiseworthy practice for silence to be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred celebration in a devout and fitting manner” (“General Instruction of the Roman Missal.” USCCB. https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/the-mass/general-instruction-of-the-roman-missal).
As music ministers, we strive to prayerfully serve the church by singing for various liturgical celebrations and encouraging the faithful to praise the Lord in song and we also join them in reverent silence! We participate in a tradition that is of “inestimable value” to the Church.
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 a combination for sacred music and words, it forms a necessary or integral part of solemn liturgySacrosanctum Concilium, no. 112
For more resources please visit: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/sacred-music-and-art