Music is a touchy subject for anyone to discuss. By its very nature, it moves our hearts and minds to love, it incites anger, reinforces depression and spurs us to great movements of joy. It expresses and inspires the whole range of human emotions…and we live in a culture that demands us to express ourselves.
Music within the liturgy can be just as volatile a subject as discussing any Pro-Life issue – even though the subject matter is worlds apart. I grew up with folk music during the liturgy which had its good days and some really bad days. Attending Franciscan University for my college education, I experienced liturgical music that used the same instruments but I would not call it folk. It was definitely Praise and Worship music played in such a way as to inspired worship and draw us into the sacred of the Living God.
The music that I went to school with is not the same music that they have used for a number of years – it unfortunately fell victim to the culture as well. On the up-side, they have corrected that issue and moved towards scholas and traditional sacred music.
The music that I hear during the liturgies currently, seems to have moved beyond folk and that is definitely not a compliment. In an effort to draw young people, musicians have adopted the current secular music style ( a seemly British alternative with American flair) or whatever the latest Protestant Praise and Worship leaders are utilizing; regardless of theology or appropriate allusions to God. To be honest, it has deviated more and more from what the Church desires sacred music to be or how it should effect us.
Sacred music is unique. Just because it mentions God or sings about Him does not make it sacred. The vast majority of the orthodox and beautiful music using common band or entertainment instrument(s) will disappear in four to five years. It will be forgotten and musicians will have moved on to the latest top 40 Christian hits. That being said, sacred music is not just a style but has an enduring quality about it. Gregorian chant and polyphony have been used and sung for well over a 1000 years. Seems to me that it qualifies as enduring and it subject matter is certainly sacred. It also has one other aspect that sets it apart, it is what the asks for.
I am still reflecting on the wisdom of the Church desiring a more exclusive use of the organ. Regardless, she requires my obedience which is the sign of love our Lord taught us. The following cartoon is well done, albeit a little snarky. It does present what the Church teaches about music within the liturgy and common objections.
A final thought: Musicians – you have a tremendous gift that you share with us every week. Why is it necessary to receive a direct order from the Pastor or the Holy Father to change and conform to Church teaching…or at least move towards it. I thought our Lord’s question, “Do really love me?” would be enough since it is He that directly linked obedience to love. For those who are not the directors of your choirs, saying, “It is not my decision” is a cowards way out and demonstrates a lack of integrity. You do not have to sing with them. Am I calling for a revolution? No. I am saying that we are all held accountable and if we are not with Him we are against. Let’s have enough integrity to at least start to integrate it into our repertoire.
Truth is symphonic. Thoughts?