October 21, 2018

October 16, 2018

From Father Jordan

 My Dear Ones,

May the Grace of our Lord remain always with us!

If you were at Mass last weekend, you had a glimpse of what Music, and especially Music in the Liturgy, means to me. I loved playing the organ last weekend. There, at the organ, God always brings me back to the beginning of this walk He and I have had all these years. And, it was at the organ that I first sensed the desire to serve God as His Priest. Music is a great gateway to God and the beauty and majesty of His
Gospel. Music within the Liturgy is a very important part of our liturgical celebrations, and if we allow it, it can be a tremendous help in expressing and growing in our faith!

When we discuss Music within the Liturgy we often enter a difficult terrain of varying tastes, ideas, and beliefs of what is or is not acceptable. Throughout my life as both a professional Church Musician and as a priest and pastor many aspects of the Liturgy and Music within the Liturgy, have changed, but there has always been this constant: we do not sing AT Mass, rather, we SING the Mass. This little phrase teaches us that music is not some nicety we add to the Mass, but rather that Music is an essential part of the Mass. The third edition of the Roman Missal, the big book the priest prays from during Mass, instructs us about the importance of music within the liturgy: the Christian faithful who come together as one in expectation of the Lord’s coming are instructed by the Apostle Paul to sing together Psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles. Singing is the sign of the heart’s joy! (Roman Missal, #39)

I began playing the organ in Church at age 9. In the fifty-two years I have been “on the bench” the musical life of our Church has morphed many times. With the promulgation of the third edition of the Roman Missal, the Church’s desire has been restored: to sing the Mass means to sing the texts appointed by the Church for the Mass, i.e. The Introit or Entrance Antiphon; the Graduale or Responsorial Psalm; and the Communio or Communion Antiphon. The hymns chosen, especially to begin Mass and during the Communion Procession, should be taken from the prescribed texts in the Missal, or be as close to them as possible. At Saint Sebastian’s we have heard this happen when Andrew sings a quiet piece of chant while the priest incenses the altar at the beginning of Mass; or before or after we sing at Communion.

The singing of hymns is really a post Vatican II imposition upon the Roman Liturgy: our celebrations are not meant for hymns, but for the singing of Psalms – the poetry inspired by the Holy Spirit and contained within Sacred Scripture. Why the psalms? Because the psalms are the language of God and the Liturgy is a conversation with God, which God begins using the words of God, and in which God has the final word.

Our congregation sings so beautifully! I am often taken back by the quality of your participation – and I thank God for it – and for all of you. May our celebrations be a joyful song of praise to the One who made the stars!

Until we meet at the altar: O, Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee!

 

In the Lord,

Fr. Jordan, O.P.

 

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