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Friday, 4 September 2015

'Stop Asking “Is the music religious?” Ask Rather, “Is the music liturgical?”

Terrific and surprisingly comprehensive column by Hilary Cesare on the musical tradition of which too many of us have been cheated.
Some of the most divisive conversations amongst Catholics today arise over music at Mass. Most arguments revolve around the style of music or the instrumentation. However, these arguments generally don’t focus much on the texts of the music. The majority of us have grown up in parishes that are unaware of or lacking an essential part of Church’s musical heritage: The Propers. We should stop asking “Is the music religious?” but rather, “Is the music (and its text) liturgical?” The Church assigns specific chants/texts to each day of the liturgical year, just as she assigns certain readings and psalms to each day of the year. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says that these scriptural, liturgical texts (called “the Propers”) are the ideal and most desirable thing to be sung at Mass (see GIRM 48, 74, 86-87). 
It is remarkable to me, how many otherwise well-informed  and zealous Catholic are COMPLETELY UNAWARE OF THEIR EXISTENCE.
I had been leading music at Masses for about five years before anyone ever introduced me to singing the Propers. I had studied them in Music History in college, but thought they must not apply to Novus Ordo Masses because I had never heard them in any parish or been asked to sing them. I had tried to prepare choirs with “sacred” or “traditional” music and hymns, but I felt like I had been cheated out of a great musical tradition that had been present in past centuries of the Church.
Well, no polemics from Miss Cesare, just information, gentle persuasion and a lively discussion begun in her combox.

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