Liturgical dance


#1

I’m not looking for a fight, because I fully support the Church. However, such support does not leave me without questions.

This morning in the Morning Prayers of LOH, Psalm 150 (the doxology Psalm) was chanted.

Why, when considering Psalm 150:4, is the Church so adamant about not allowing liturgical dance? Or is it not an issue with the Church?

Thanks!


#2

I’ve been exposed to dancing in church, and found it to be nothing but a performance, an entertainment. It made me uncomfortable to watch, and distracted me from the reason I was there. At least with the singing one can join in, and the words of the hymns have a message, although I prefer weekday Mass with no hymns.


#3

You might like to read this article.


#4

In the West, dance is always and purely a recreational/passionate/fun/party/secular/I’m bored let’s dance activity. Ordinarily we do not do it out of those circumstances.

It would be very weird to see people dancing in church. If you can dance in church, why can’t I play Words with Friends at church? Or do an art expo during the procession?


#5

There are many good things that are not part of the liturgy. There is nothing stopping people from dancing to the Lord; it is just not allowed as an addition to the Holy Mass. The same goes with laypeople preaching–it is just wonderful, but not during the homily. The homily is reserved for the clergy. Most of the things that are not allowed at Mass are like that. The Mass was written under the assumption that our worship if God is not limited to what goes on at Mass, and that if we really “pray always”, there will be plenty of places to express good things that are not included. Therefore, the liturgy includes what is proper to liturgical worship. What belongs to other kinds of worship can be used at those other times…because after all, Psalm 150 also dictates “Let everything that has breath give praise to the Lord,” and that is not a menagerie that we’re going to include in the rubrics, either.

Hope that helps.


#6

It seems to me that one has to keep in mind that the Psalms were not written as liturgical pieces, nor as liturgical paradigms. (Just as David dancing naked before the Ark was not a liturgical event nor do I think it was even intended to be public.) IOW, such “dance” was personal and private.

If one wishes to express oneself privately by dancing, that’s one thing. But it’s not representative of the public prayer of the Church. Never has been. (And please, let’s not get into the Ethiopian Church here: their practice is a rhythmic swaying and not “dancing” as we commonly understand the term.)


#7

Beat me to it :slight_smile:


#8

“Praise him with timbrel and choir; praise him with strings and organs.” Psalm 150:4 (Douay-Rheims Version)

I don’t see any dancing reference in this passage. :confused:


#9

[quote="EasterJoy, post:5, topic:335214"]
There are many good things that are not part of the liturgy. There is nothing stopping people from dancing to the Lord; it is just not allowed as an addition to the Holy Mass. The same goes with laypeople preaching--it is just wonderful, but not during the homily. The homily is reserved for the clergy. Most of the things that are not allowed at Mass are like that. The Mass was written under the assumption that our worship if God is not limited to what goes on at Mass, and that if we really "pray always", there will be plenty of places to express good things that are not included. Therefore, the liturgy includes what is proper to liturgical worship. What belongs to other kinds of worship can be used at those other times....because after all, Psalm 150 also dictates "Let everything that has breath give praise to the Lord," and that is not a menagerie that we're going to include in the rubrics, either.

Hope that helps.

[/quote]

Great explanation.:thumbsup:


#10

[quote="Neofight, post:1, topic:335214"]
I'm not looking for a fight, because I fully support the Church. However, such support does not leave me without questions.

This morning in the Morning Prayers of LOH, Psalm 150 (the doxology Psalm) was chanted.

Why, when considering Psalm 150:4, is the Church so adamant about not allowing liturgical dance? Or is it not an issue with the Church?

Thanks!

[/quote]

It just does not seem to enhance the Mass in our particular culture.

In some Catholic cultures in other countries it is appropriate and meaningful.


#11

I see your point, (and actually i see everyone’s points here…thank you)!

however, the Psalms were very much a part of the Temple liturgy, and obviously are in our liturgy today…even if they were not “written for” the liturgy…it can similarly argued that none of the canon was written for the liturgy but they certainly belong there.

Again, it makes little difference to me, it hardly a theological hill worth dying on, i was just wondering about other people’s thoughts.

Thanks again, to all!


#12

The Catholic church does have liturgical dance. It supports liturgical dance at each and every Mass. People don’t get it, but the rubrics (instructions printed in red in the missal) are in fact choreography (directions of posture, movement, etc.). They are the instructions to the dancer (the priest) as he dances before the Lord in holy attire.
The church’s prohibition on dance during Mass is intended to ensure the continuity (lack of interruption) of the dance which is the Mass itself.

Reb Levi


#13

Psalm 150 is not a prescription or a liturgical rubric, such as are found in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. It is a doxology, a sort of conclusion for the entire book of Psalms.

Even the psalm in question were prescriptive, be aware that some things mentioned in Holy Scripture are culturally conditioned, and some are symbolic. We no longer beat our children with rods, do we (Prov 13:24)?


#14

When I go to Tanzania, such ‘swaying’ is very common, especially among the choir. It’s how they keep time, and the foot shuffling add a bit of percussion\rhythm.

Here is a video I took at our parish’s ‘sister’ parish in Tanzania. It is of the choir beginning the procession into Mass. So the choir will be moving forward (as soon as the altar boys begin :P)

sdrv.ms/V2jAMg

This was at the dedication Mass for the new parish church, which is why all the religious and priests were there. The building that you see in the background is the convent under construction. That building is now complete, as is the parish school (where the sisters teach at)


#15

The word that Douay-Rheims translates “choir” is the Hebrew word (English transliterated) machol. The root of machol is chol, which means “twist” or “sway.” The mem in front of chol indicates “from” or “with”. The word machol is found also is Psalm 149:3, Jeremiah 31:4 & 13, and Lamentations 5:15. In each of those passages it is best translated “dance” or “dancing”. Among the Hebrew language scholars whose works I have consulted, there is very little support in the Hebrew text for translating machol as “choir.” Caveat: I’ve studied Hebrew informally for years, but I am, at best, an educated layperson, not a Hebrew scholar.


#16

Here is the wisdom of Cardinal Arinze on the matter:

youtube.com/watch?v=9rJFdmmqj_s


#17

Wow…that is great wisdom on the subject of liturgical dance,…it definitely does not belong in our culture.

Thanks for that youtube!


#18

It depends on the context of the culture in which it comes up. Historically in the Christian West, dancing became associated with pagan worship and lewdness, which is why the early Church may not have looked too kindly on dance. When the Second Vatican Council formally recognized the need for inculturation in the liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium par. 14, 37-40), it allowed for the culture to once again shape the liturgy, as has historically happened in the Christian East. So in Asia and parts of Africa, you will see “dance” in the liturgy, but keep in mind that their interpretation of the term is quite different from the mentality of those in the West, which has contributed to many opinions on the subject.

This is from a transitional diaconate ordination in Kenya.

youtube.com/watch?v=bw49asb0QyA


#19

Addendum:

The U.S. is a unique case, in that it is a nation comprised mostly of immigrants who bring their culture with them. If the arch/diocese is pastorally accommodating, you may see "liturgical dance" from the particular ethnic culture in which it is the norm, especially in large arch/diocesan liturgical celebrations or Eucharistic Liturgies.


#20

Thanks for the insight on the Hebrew. I notice that Psalm 149:3 uses choir, where as the other citations use the word dance! I wonder how St. Jerome discerned and translated the word?

I notice no one has cited actual dancing in Scripture that are relevant to this discussion, even though there are some!

“So Mary the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took timbrel in her hand: and all the women went forth after her with timbrels and dances.” Exodus 15:20

“And David danced with all his might before the Lord: and David was girded with a linen ephod.” II Kings 6:14

These examples are all out doors of course, perhaps that is the best path to follow? Dancing outside of Church, before entering God’s house. I can not imagine the Levites and Priests dancing in the Temple of Solomon! :smiley:


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