WHY WE SING – Series drawn from the document Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship (2007).

4. Jesus and his apostles sang a hymn before their journey to the Mount of Olives. St. Paul instructed the Ephesians to “[address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts.” He sang with Silas in captivity. The letter of St. James asks, “Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing praise.”

5. Obedient to Christ and to the Church, we gather in liturgical assembly, week after week. As our predecessors did, we find ourselves “singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in [our] hearts to God.” This common, sung expression of faith within liturgical celebrations strengthens our faith when it grows weak and draws us into the divinely inspired voice of the Church at prayer. Faith grows when it is well expressed in celebration. Good celebrations can foster and nourish faith. Poor celebrations may weaken it. Good music “make[s] the liturgical prayers of the Christian community more alive and fervent so that everyone can praise and beseech the Triune God more powerfully, more intently and more effectively.”



WHY WE SING – Series drawn from the document Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship (2007).

3. Our ancestors reveled in [the gift of music], sometimes with God’s urging. “Write out this song, then, for yourselves,” God said to Moses. “Teach it to the Israelites and have them recite it, so that this song may be a witness for me.” The gift of music in Liturgy is inherited – we join our voices to the voices of angels, of our neighbor, of the distant person. Different than secular culture’s use of music, which is personal, we enjoy music which entertains us and can fall prey to music which manipulates us. The function of music in liturgy has a divine purpose and is foremost used to gather our hearts, minds, and responses together with that of the whole world, and across time. Liturgical music is universal and must bear the weight of the Gospel, as do our words and actions in liturgy.


WHY WE SING – Series drawn from the document Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship (2007)

1. God has bestowed upon his people the gift of song. God dwells within each human person, in the place where music takes its source. Indeed, God, the giver of song, is present whenever his people sing his praises.

2. A cry from deep within our being, music is a way for God to lead us to the realm of higher things. As St. Augustine says, “Singing is for the one who loves.” Music is therefore a sign of God’s love for us and of our love for him. In this sense, it is very personal. But unless music sounds, it is not music, and whenever it sounds, it is accessible to others. By its very nature song has both an individual and a communal dimension. Thus, it is no wonder that singing together in church expresses so well the sacramental presence of God to his people.



What is “proper” in reference to the sacred liturgy? While we often associate the word with manners, or appropriate behavior or even “prim”, in the Church’s liturgical plan, for every public act of worship, there are parts of the liturgy which have been selected, distilled over time, and provided for our use. In the mass “proper 1)prayers by the priest 2) readings of scripture for the faithful, and 3) musical chants (both words and texts) have been gathered over the course of time – even centuries – to connect us with the communion of saints who have expressed praise and thanksgiving, sorrow and petition. Propers often use the words of scripture, and allow us to have molded to our tongues and permeating our minds the words of the Psalmists, Prophets, Apostles, Poets and especially Christ, himself. God gives us through scripture and our tradition the words. Lord, teach us to pray…

Why sing? (5)

Why Sing? Over the past year, the Archdiocese initiative Renewing the Rites of Christian Funerals has gathered priests, deacons, musicians, liturgical ministers, grief ministries, mortuaries and hospitality ministries to explore the not only the rites, themselves, but also the various ministries that touch the lives of families and all who have lost loved ones. One result, musically, was the creation of new, simple, refrains of music to accompany the liturgical rites. These new simple pieces of music reflect the beautiful, ancient melodies of the Gregorian Chant Requiem Mass and employ the proper English texts of the Funeral Rites. They now become a part of the Archdiocesan Core Repertoire, and will be one of the options of music for funeral masses at St. Cecilia Cathedral.

Why sing? (4)

Why sing? Continuing from the preface to the Archdiocesan Core Repertoire, Archbishop Lucas articulates the universal Church’s guidance as we worship. “…We can begin now to approach our music at Mass less like consumers looking for what we like and more properly as worshippers who want to be conformed to the mystery of Christ. As we pray, listen and sing at Mass with generous hearts, conformity to Christ is experienced here and now, even though imperfectly. In our worship here, we learn to long for that perfect communion that can be ours, by God’s grace, at the heavenly liturgy.” (Archbishop George J. Lucas from preface of Archdiocesan Core Repertoire).

Archdiocesan Core Repertoire

What is the Archdiocesan CORE REPERTOIRE? From the preface of the Core Repertoire, Archbishop Lucas addresses the need and by his office of Bishop, provides guidance for our liturgical music. “I have asked a group of liturgical musicians from parishes across the archdiocese to develop a core list of psalms and hymns for use in all of our parishes…I want us all to have access to music that is beautiful, singable and theologically sound in its expression. Much of this good music is already known to us. I would like to think that in every parish, the quality of our liturgical music and the level of participation could be raised a notch or two from what we have been doing. This is an integral part of our being drawn more fully into the sacred mysteries we celebrate at Mass.”

Mass settings

We are used to chanting or singing parts of the Mass together. In 2011, the words that we read so carefully at first because they were different are now receding to the place of “memory” in our lives. In the past three years we have, together learned settings of the Mass – Mass in Honor of Saint Cecilia, Roman Missal Chant Mass as an Archdiocese and additionally, Missa Simplex and the updated version of Richard Proulx’s setting of A Community Mass as a parish. In this summer’s parish music classes – members had an opportunity to sing several mass settings available to us in the Saint Michael Hymnal, this fall, we continue to explore our hymnal by learning the People’s Mass by Vermulst.

Why sing? (3)

Why Sing? The Roman Missal, received in 2011, assumes that any number of the parts of the Mass can and should be chanted or sung. The priest can chant the opening of the Mass (the sign of the cross) and the opening prayer. Priest and people together can chant the various dialogues of the Mass, such as, ‘The Lord be with you. And with your spirit,’ or the dialogue before the Preface. There are “proper chants” which have been carefully selected from scripture to draw our minds into the day’s perspective, articulated in the Scripture Readings sung by the choir or cantor, and we, as worshippers, have the opportunity by singing the Ordinary Parts of the Mass (Kyrie, Gloria, Alleluia, Holy, Lamb of God) to join our voices with those of our neighbors, so that as we breathe together, find beautiful pitches together, and pray the words of the mass together become one voice. At communion, with our tongues we the taste of Christ in his holy body and blood, and that very same tongue also is the vehicle by which we then also return thanks through our singing. “Chanting these dialogues, mass parts, hymns, and refrains helps us recognize that we are not simply exchanging pleasantries as we might on the street. We are participating in sacred worship.” (Archbishop George J. Lucas from preface of Archdiocesan Core Repertoire).

Why sing? (2)

Why sing? Music is very much a part of the human experience. In our popular culture, we are often consumers of music. We tend to listen to what we enjoy. Because our lives are so hectic, what we enjoy tends not to be very complicated or challenging to hear or to sing. We tend to “consume” the music that fits us, and it often provides great enjoyment and comfort.

The sacred music used in the Mass is not primarily about us. It is sung to God and not to the congregation. It is an expression of the worship owed to God, who alone is the Almighty, who alone can save us from sin and death. The reception of the third edition of the Roman Missal provides an opportunity to elevate our appreciation for the music of the liturgy. –Archbishop George J. Lucas from preface of Archdiocesan Core Repertoire.