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  #1  
Old Jan 6, '12, 9:54 am
Neil_Anthony Neil_Anthony is offline
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Default Purpose of Music at Mass

Hi,

I think one of the purposes of the music at mass is to help *us* express our worship to God. I think part of that is done by using music that affects us and makes us "feel" more awe-struck or more joyful, which helps us praise God.

I guess I think God doesn't really have a preference in music, so what we really have to offer is our heartfelt joy and praise. And we pick the music that helps us feel those things.

I think Gregorian chant for example helps us contemplate God. I don't think it's God's favorite music, I think its good music to help people pray.

Is this wrong?

Neil
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  #2  
Old Jan 6, '12, 9:58 am
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lvcabbie lvcabbie is offline
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Cool Re: Purpose of Music at Mass

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Originally Posted by Neil_Anthony View Post
Hi,

I think one of the purposes of the music at mass is to help *us* express our worship to God. I think part of that is done by using music that affects us and makes us "feel" more awe-struck or more joyful, which helps us praise God.

I guess I think God doesn't really have a preference in music, so what we really have to offer is our heartfelt joy and praise. And we pick the music that helps us feel those things.

I think Gregorian chant for example helps us contemplate God. I don't think it's God's favorite music, I think its good music to help people pray.

Is this wrong?

Neil
Isn't there a biblical quote somewhere that goes somewhat like - Lift up your voices in praise for The Lord ...?
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  #3  
Old Jan 6, '12, 10:01 am
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nickybr38 nickybr38 is offline
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Default Re: Purpose of Music at Mass

I disagree. I think there is music that God prefers. The singing of the angels. Why else would they do it so unceasingly?

Seems clear to me the instrument God prefers is that of our voice. But that's just my opinion.
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Old Jan 6, '12, 10:08 am
Deo Gratias42 Deo Gratias42 is offline
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Default Re: Purpose of Music at Mass

Given that we are not supposed to follow our feelings, but use reason, I think the majority of music that is used today in Mass is not appropriate for Mass. We're not supposed to sing at Mass, but rather sing the Mass.

The purpose of Gregorian Chant is to lift our heart and soul up to God in order for us to pray.

If you go to Sensus Traditionis, Fr. Ripergger, FSSP, has a great talk regarding music in general, and touches on the music used at Mass. He makes a lot of sense in what he's explaining regarding the philosophy, theology, and even psychology of music.
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Old Jan 6, '12, 10:13 am
Neil_Anthony Neil_Anthony is offline
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Default Re: Purpose of Music at Mass

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Originally Posted by Deo Gratias42 View Post
Given that we are not supposed to follow our feelings, but use reason, I think the majority of music that is used today in Mass is not appropriate for Mass. We're not supposed to sing at Mass, but rather sing the Mass.

The purpose of Gregorian Chant is to lift our heart and soul up to God in order for us to pray.

If you go to Sensus Traditionis, Fr. Ripergger, FSSP, has a great talk regarding music in general, and touches on the music used at Mass. He makes a lot of sense in what he's explaining regarding the philosophy, theology, and even psychology of music.
Could you clarify something for me? You state that we aren't supposed to follow our feelings, but you also state that chant's purpose is to lift our heart and soul to God. I thought those were the same thing? Would you please explain what the difference is?
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Old Jan 6, '12, 10:14 am
jimrob jimrob is offline
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Default Re: Purpose of Music at Mass

Prayer is the lifting up of the heart and mind to God. We can pray with words, with actions. with music and with any of the arts. The music we have at Mass, and on other occasions in church, is a prayer. Some people like to sing or listen to Gregorian chant, others prefer "If I was a wiggly worm".

We will never agree on what is good or bad music. It's very much a matter of personal taste. If my taste, from Albinoni to ZZ Top can be described as catholic, how should we describe the tastes of people who like only one style of music?
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Old Jan 6, '12, 10:15 am
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Default Re: Purpose of Music at Mass

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Prayer is the lifting up of the heart and mind to God. We can pray with words, with actions. with music and with any of the arts. The music we have at Mass, and on other occasions in church, is a prayer. Some people like to sing or listen to Gregorian chant, others prefer "If I was a wiggly worm".

We will never agree on what is good or bad music. It's very much a matter of personal taste. If my taste, from Albinoni to ZZ Top can be described as catholic, how should we describe the tastes of people who like only one style of music?
I think the debate is less what is good or bad music and more what is sacred music and what isn't.
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  #8  
Old Jan 6, '12, 10:20 am
Deo Gratias42 Deo Gratias42 is offline
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Default Re: Purpose of Music at Mass

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I think the debate is less what is good or bad music and more what is sacred music and what isn't.
I think we should just do what Rome says and actually give Gregorian Chant pride and place throughout Mass again.
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Old Jan 6, '12, 10:23 am
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nickybr38 nickybr38 is offline
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Default Re: Purpose of Music at Mass

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I think we should just do what Rome says and actually give Gregorian Chant pride and place throughout Mass again.
Gregorian Chant is easy. It's clearly sacred music.

As a side note. I am a musician. We have a music festival here once a year. Contestants are not allowed to play 'sacred' music in the secular section and secular music is not allowed in the 'sacred' section. I know it's a silly thing to point out but even a neutral organization recognizes that some music is ordered and made for worship and other music is not.
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Old Jan 6, '12, 10:27 am
Neil_Anthony Neil_Anthony is offline
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Default Re: Purpose of Music at Mass

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Originally Posted by nickybr38 View Post
I think the debate is less what is good or bad music and more what is sacred music and what isn't.
I was hoping to look specifically at the purpose of the music, which in theory could be done without getting into the old rut of chant vs folk music Maybe you could explain how chant meets the purpose of "lifting our hearts and souls to God" more than, say, "How Great Thou Art" or "Shine Jesus Shine".
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Old Jan 6, '12, 10:30 am
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Default Re: Purpose of Music at Mass

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Originally Posted by Neil_Anthony View Post
I was hoping to look specifically at the purpose of the music, which in theory could be done without getting into the old rut of chant vs folk music Maybe you could explain how chant meets the purpose of "lifting our hearts and souls to God" more than, say, "How Great Thou Art" or "Shine Jesus Shine".
Lifting our souls and hearts to God seems like a purely subjective motive. Every subject will have a different trigger that helps them focus on our Lord. However, in the context of Mass you need the music that speaks to the majority of subjects so that while a few will be left cold, the majority will find greater focus with the assistance of the music.

Personally I feel that chant serves the greater good because most can't understand it. Now, I know, that sounds silly... but a song like Shine Jesus Shine or How Great Thou Art has words... and we start to focus on those words and can't dive too deep inward because we're too busy on the surface. Saying the words, hearing the music but never going deeper then that. Whereas, if you're hearing music you cannot understand you are able to find that quiet, dark place inside where God is resting and waiting.
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  #12  
Old Jan 6, '12, 10:52 am
AthenaC AthenaC is offline
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Default Re: Purpose of Music at Mass

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Given that we are not supposed to follow our feelings, but use reason ...
Interesting. Well, using reason, it is apparent that God, in His infinite wisdom, gave us feelings. Including feelings of great joy when singing more modern hymns at Mass.

Picture it - ~1500 teens and young adults, singing and clapping "Come Holy Spirit - Let the fire fall!" during the entrance procession of Mass. Tell you what - nothing gets you more fired up (in an appreciate-the-Divine sort of way) than being at Mass with ~1500 other people who love being there just as much as you do.

You are correct that in general we don't follow our feelings, but that is because with our fallen human natures, we need to discern whether a particular feeling should be followed or not. If I feel like slacking off at work, that would not be a feeling I would follow. However, if I feel like giving my crying child a hug, that would be a feeling I would follow. Reason (and our corrrectly-formed consiences) tells us whether or not we should follow our feelings; reason is not a blanket prohibition against following feelings.

I appreciate your point regarding the psychology of music, which my example above helps illustrate. We certainly would not sing and clap a song in a cathedral at high Mass or some such. It greatly depends on the situation and the type of church or Mass. As others have pointed out, "making a joyful noise" is more broad than just Gregorian chants. Also, Rome doesn't say "Gregorian chants and no other"; in their wisdom, they encourage Gregorian chants, I presume to encourage feelings of sacredness or some such. But, also in their wisdom, I presume Rome recognizes that other styles of worship are just as legitimate.
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Old Jan 6, '12, 10:57 am
mburn16 mburn16 is offline
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Default Re: Purpose of Music at Mass

I'm sure this puts me in the minority here, but I simply do not care for the vast majority of Gregorian chant. I like hymns, particularly the more traditional hymns...but I can't help but think that many people here advocating chant would be perfectly happy if we dispensed with hymn-singing altogether.

And quite frankly, if chant is a treasure of the church, than so are many of our hymns. To give them up would be no less of a crime than many believe the lack of chant to be.
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Old Jan 6, '12, 11:09 am
AthenaC AthenaC is offline
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Default Re: Purpose of Music at Mass

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Originally Posted by mburn16 View Post
I'm sure this puts me in the minority here, but I simply do not care for the vast majority of Gregorian chant. I like hymns, particularly the more traditional hymns...but I can't help but think that many people here advocating chant would be perfectly happy if we dispensed with hymn-singing altogether.

And quite frankly, if chant is a treasure of the church, than so are many of our hymns. To give them up would be no less of a crime than many believe the lack of chant to be.
(Emphasis mine)

Wholeheartedly agree.
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Old Jan 6, '12, 11:27 am
Equites Christi Equites Christi is offline
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Default Re: Purpose of Music at Mass

As a musician and obsessive student and lover of music, I've given a deal of thought to this.

What is the purpose of music? Well, simply, beauty is its own end, and music has a nearly - perhaps literally - supernatural capability for beauty. Especially in classical music, it is a union of human passion and sophisticated intellect, the fusion of heart and mind - the expression of man himself.

In Mass, music is used to glorify God by making prayers and religious texts beautiful, and thereby bringing the parishioner into a state of mind which is filled with those things and an appreciation for them.

I have a distaste for modern music in the Mass, but I am coming to grips with the fact that it can be acceptable.

However I will state my misgivings with modern music, and perhaps a proponent of it can address them for me:

I know that music that is contemporary and familiar in style can give the parishioner who likes it joy and being with people who are 'fired up' for their faith is exciting. But does this give the listener respect? There is nothing keeping traditional music from being joyful - just look at many of the traditional Christmas hymns. However these are still very dignified and show reverence for God. If we truly believe that we are coming into union with the Creator of the universe who is Lord over all souls and all things on heaven and earth, is it that appropriate to act like we're at a concert?

What I've found is that usually making the music 'modern' is actually making the music casual. And that's bad. We already have so many poorly catechized Catholics who have no sense of the importance of the Mass. We do NOT need to make them interested in worship from a purely emotional perspective as opposed to the spiritual and theological perspective.
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