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March 13, 2007


From Sacramentum Caritatis

42. In the ars celebrandi, liturgical song has a pre-eminent place. Saint Augustine rightly says in a famous sermon that "the new man sings a new song. Singing is an expression of joy and, if we consider the matter, an expression of love.". The People of God assembled for the liturgy sings the praises of God. In the course of her two-thousand-year history, the Church has created, and still creates, music and songs which represent a rich patrimony of faith and love. This heritage must not be lost. Certainly as far as the liturgy is concerned, we cannot say that one song is as good as another. Generic improvisation or the introduction of musical genres which fail to respect the meaning of the liturgy should be avoided. As an element of the liturgy, song should be well integrated into the overall celebration. Consequently everything – texts, music, execution – ought to correspond to the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, the structure of the rite and the liturgical seasons. Finally, while respecting various styles and different and highly praiseworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy....

62. ... I am thinking here particularly of celebrations at international gatherings, which nowadays are held with greater frequency. The most should be made of these occasions. In order to express more clearly the unity and universality of the Church, I wish to endorse the proposal made by the Synod of Bishops, in harmony with the directives of the Second Vatican Council, that, with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful, such liturgies could be celebrated in Latin. Similarly, the better-known prayers of the Church's tradition should be recited in Latin and, if possible, selections of Gregorian chant should be sung. Speaking more generally, I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant.

Posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. at March 13, 2007 7:56 AM

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So, we're singing the "Holy, holy, ..." in Latin this Lent. In spite of preparation before Mass, it's not going well. What really tells me people don't understand what's going on is that the assembly doesn't realize that after they sing the Sanctus, it's time to kneel down.

So, we can have directives for this sort of thing, but in the midst of our daily lives, what priority do we give these goals?

Posted by: Maureen Lahiff at March 14, 2007 6:56 AM

This is all good news. We are blessed to have a Pope with an appreciation of good music to lead us to a new level of worship and away from the drivel of the recent past which seeks to glorify man (and does so badly), rsther than glorify our all-loving God.

Posted by: Dan Kidd at March 14, 2007 10:45 AM

Yippee from me too!

Posted by: Mary Jane at March 16, 2007 5:11 AM

I know from happy experience that the faithful can be taught to recite parts of the Mass in Latin and to sing parts in Gregorian Chant. It will be a long slow road, but one well worth taking. I like very much the two sections of the Exhortation that Fr. Jeff has quoted. I also like #45 especially: "...Efforts should also be made to encourage those forms of prayer confirmed by tradition, such as the Liturgy of the Hours, especially Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Night Prayer. By praying the Psalms, the Scripture readings and the readings drawn from the great tradition which are included in the Divine Office, we can come to a deeper experience of the Christ-event and the economy of salvation, which in turn can enrich our understanding and participation in the celebration of the Eucharist."
We offer Evening Prayer once a month immediately after the Sunday evening Mass. It takes no more than 15 minutes - even when we chant one of the Psalms. Out of a congregation of 300-400, 8-12 people stay. Discouraging at one level, but still worth doing. I always feel that I have entered more deeply into the prayer when I do it with others.

Posted by: Peggy Doherty at March 16, 2007 12:08 PM

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