Appropriate Liturgical Music help needed


#1

(I am on the Liturgy Commission and ask the following for one of our choir directors)

We’re working on a common repertoire for all the choirs, including Mass ordinaries, so that the congregation will participate more in the singing. However, all of us choir leaders differ in our knowledge of music in the liturgy, and what we deem appropriate and inappropriate (heretical).

I am not professing to know more than the others, but at the same time, I know that we have differing opinions about what’s acceptable. I’ve heard and read things (from official resources, word of mouth, Googling, our former pastor) about what’s optimal and what’s inappropriate for liturgical music.

However, I know that I can’t really propose ideas at music subcommittee meetings without the resources to back it up. I know already from the various personalities of the choir directors, in addition to the personality type of our pastor; I know that I need official resources.

My concern is that if I don’t research what is correct/acceptable and what isn’t, we may be creating a common repertoire that is in contradiction to Church teaching (on music in the liturgy).

We use the Breaking Bread (BB) Hymnal and pastor has said it is “theologically sound.” :bigyikes:

These are the concepts that I’m unsure about:

  1. Marian songs during communion,
  2. Marian songs after communion (such as the recessional hymn),
  3. Songs that glorify the congregation instead of God (we are this, we are that, we are so great…examples would be We Are Many Parts, Song of the Body of Christ, and many other songs in Breaking Bread that are composed in such a way),
  4. Songs that refer to the altar as a table,
  5. Songs that speak as if we are God in the first person (Be Not Afraid, I Am the Bread of Life, and many other songs in BB).

I’ve ordered a book entitled Why Catholics Can’t Sing and am hoping that it might point me in the right direction.

Thank you for any assistance or links to past discussions on this topic.


#2

‘Be not afraid’ is a common phrase from the bible…

Marian songs are appropriate on the feast days like August 15th…and I know my parish has sung immaculate Mary as a recessional hymn on that day.


#3

Here in Canada we have the Catholic Book of Worship III (which is pretty solid) and Spirit+Song (which I can’t really say the same for). What I did a couple months ago is sat down with a few pieces of paper and the CBWIII hymnal and I wrote down ALL of the hymns that are appropriate and easy for the congregation to sing. I’m not sure if you want to do that with Breaking Bread, but it might help you find a couple more solid hymns. :o

Also, look into the older hymns! There are lots out there. If you would like, I could private message you a list of 25 or more that I use for my home parish. :thumbsup:
God bless!


#4

Hi,
I don’t know if you have spent any time at Church Music Association of America, www.musicasacra.com, but they have a lot of information, including a forum, which always makes for interesting reading. Many many informed musicians there. I would go to that website first, and also chantcafe.org. Also, ccwatershed.org/, which has a blog and many helpful resources (free psalm settings, videos, etc).


#5

I don’t mean to contradict your pastor, but there are many flaws with Breaking Bread, of which you have touched on a few: references to the altar as merely a table, reference to the consecrated Eucharist as bread and wine, and an abundance of songs glorifying the congregation rather than God. I would recommend looking at hymnals from a different publisher such as St. Michael, Corpus Christi Watershed, or Ignatius Press (Adoremus), which follow the Church’s teachings on sacred music more faithfully.


#6

Are you in a diocese that offers classes or certification in liturgy, or close enough to a Catholic university to be able to take any classes on liturgy? Having a strong background is essential if you’re going to be in a position to lead or guide others.

However, all of us choir leaders differ in our knowledge of music in the liturgy, and what we deem appropriate and inappropriate (heretical).

Ultimately, of course, the question is what does the pastor think and beyond that, what does the bishop think? The pastor is the chief liturgist for the parish and the bishop is the chief liturgist for the diocese.

We use the Breaking Bread (BB) Hymnal and pastor has said it is “theologically sound.” :bigyikes:

And again, that’s the pastor’s decision to make. You can make other suggestions but they are merely suggestions, not commands.

  1. Songs that speak as if we are God in the first person (Be Not Afraid, I Am the Bread of Life, and many other songs in BB).

This one stood out to me. One of my favorite psalms is Psalm 46 with the verse “Be still and know that I am God.” Guess I’ll have to throw that one out since it speaks “as if we are God in the first person.”

I’ve ordered a book entitled Why Catholics Can’t Sing and am hoping that it might point me in the right direction.

You might do better with something like Sing to the Lord, a document from the US bishops, than something that, at least according to this review, appears to be nothing more than a personal rant.


#7

Most of what you’re asking about won’t be answered specifically in any official document.

Most Church documents dealing with sacred music instead deal with the nature and types of music, and the instruments allowed.

The discussion seems to be what would best fit with the true nature of the Mass (or, as Ratzinger might say, the ‘spirit of the liturgy’). Why don’t you try to have everyone agree on that. There’s a great book by Ratzinger titled The Spirit of the Liturgy that has a section on music :smiley:


#8

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