Praying Nuns Singing- (c.1400)
In January Archbishop Alexander Sample of
“We should always aim high to offer God the best and the most beautiful music of which we are capable,” Archbishop Sample said. Mass requires an “art of celebrating” in which perhaps nothing is more important than the place of sacred music.
Gregorian chant should enjoy a “pride of place” in the Roman liturgy, according to the Second Vatican Council, and the faithful should be led to sing in Gregorian chant as far as is proper as a way to participate in the liturgy.
|Alleluia- Thomas Cooper Gotches (England d. 1931)|
The Archbishop acknowledged that Gregorian chant does not presently enjoy pride of place; it is rarely if ever heard. He said this situation must be addressed with “great effort and serious catechesis” to help it more widely become a normal part of the Mass.
Sacred music has a twofold purpose: “the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful.” Because sacred music is so essential, Catholics must reject the common idea that four songs can be chosen and “tacked on.” Sacred music’s role is “to help us sing and pray the texts of the Mass itself, not just ornament it.”
|St. Cecilia (Little Wymondley, England|
The Archbishop explained that universality in music means “any composition of sacred music, even one which reflects the unique culture of a particular region, would still be easily recognized as having a sacred character.” Holiness is “a universal principle that transcends culture.”
There is a lack of understanding and confusion about what music is proper to Mass, the archbishop said, adding, “not every form or style of music is capable of being rendered suitable.” A Gloria set in a polka beat or in a rock music style is not sacred music, because these styles, however delightful in a dance hall or concert setting, do not have the qualities of sanctity, beauty and universality proper to sacred music.
Archbishop Sample entrusted the effort to improve sacred music to St. Cecilia, the patroness of church musicians, and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Immaculately Conceived.
“May the renewal and reform of sacred music in the Archdiocese of Portland lead us together to a beautiful and worthy celebration of the sacred mysteries of the Holy Mass, for the glory of God and the sanctification of all the faithful.”