Sunday, July 02, 2006

Liturgy Is No Time For Popular Music

The following is an interview with Francis Cardinal Arinze found in the summer 2006 issue of Sacred Music, Vol. 133 No.2:

The Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship spoke to Inside the Vatican about sacred music, November 2005:

ITV: In Sacrosanctum concilium (Vatican II's Decree on the Liturgy), it indicated at Mass, pride of place must be given to Gregorian chant. But the reality is that few Catholics under the age of 50 would ever have heard a Te Deum sung in their parish church. Liturgical music today is largely guitars and tambourines, etc. Is this an appropriate form of musical expression for divine worship?

Arinze: For music in the liturgy, we should start by saying that Gregorian music is the Church's precious heritage. It should stay. It should not be banished. If therefore in a particular diocese or country, no one hears Gregorian music anymore, then somebody has made a mistake somewhere.

But, the Church is not saying that everything should be Gregorian music. There is room for music which respects that language, that culture, that people. There is room for that too, and the present books say that is a matter for the Bishops Conference, because it generally goes beyond the boundaries of one diocese.

The ideal thing is that the bishops would have a Liturgical Music Comission which looks at the wording and the music of the hymns. And when the commission is satisfied, judgement is brought to the bishops for approval, in the name of the rest of the conference.

But not individuals just composing anything and singing it in church. This is not right at all. No matter how talented the individual is. That brings us to the question of the instrument to be used. The local church should be conscious that church worship is not really the same as what we sing in a bar, or what we sing in a convention for youth. Therefore it should influence the type of instrument used, the type of music used.

I will not now pronounce and say never guitar. That would be rather severe. But much of guitar music may not be suitable at all for the Mass. Yet, it is possible to think of some guitar music that would be suitable, not as the ordinary one we get every time, the visit of a special group, etc.

The judgement would be left to the bishops o the area. It is wiser that way. Also, because there are other instruments in many countries which are not used in Italy or in Ireland, for instance.

But music should nourish faith, burst from our faith and should lead back to the faith. It should be a prayer. Entertainment is quite another matter. We have the parish hall for that, and the theater. People don't come to Mass in order to be entertained. They come to Mass to adore God, to thank him, to ask pardon for sins, and to ask for other things that they need. Those are the reasons for Mass. When they want entertainment, they know where to go: Parish hall, theater, presuming that their entertainment is acceptable from a moral theological point of view.

*Emphasis added.

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