I’ve heard the question: “Why don’t we just not have music in the Mass? We could say the prayers without music.” They’ll say “The services could be shorter or the homily longer without the music.” And it’s true: not everyone has a beautiful singing voice, so why force someone who can’t sing to sing? (Or, why let them?!)
There is a very good reason why there is music in the Mass: because it brings deeper meaning and praise to God! It draws people into union with the Angels, singing the great Amen or Hallelujah! It moves our hearts to sing, “How Great Thou Art” or “Amazing Grace.” It stirs in us the Holy Spirit and raises our prayers to the ears of God Himself. Here are some fascinating reasons why we need all musicians to participate in the Mass.
It creates active participation
No, not that Church music (haha Eric Church, although his concerts are great!)
Good music lightens the mood and lifts the soul to song. Many people, will listen to different types of music to go along with the mood they are in, or to lift them out of a mood they want to get out. The same happens throughout the Mass, from the introductory rite through to the climax of the Amen to the conclusion sending the congregation out into the world. There are so many times that a congregation will continue to sing the hymns sung during Mass all the way home! This active participation can make the difference between a humdrum boring Mass into real connection with heaven.
Music brings meaning
Just listening to the tune of a song can imply the sacredness of the piece or if the song would be more appropriate as a secular style. There are a certain holiness to the “Gloria” even without the lyrics that is heard and felt. There is a time and a place for different styles of music, it puts us in the mood to dance the night away or give praise to God.
A chance to respond
Instead of the priest always talking or the readers always reading and the congregation only listening, music and melody allows us to actively participate in the Mass. We listen and respond like a conversation during the ‘Lord, have mercy.” We join with the angels singing “Glory to God in the Highest”. We also respond to the high prayer during the Consecration with a resounding “amen”. This musical ‘conversation’ draws us into the heavenly realm of singing along with the angels, who are constantly singing God’s praises.
Music adds mysticism
The role of music during the Mass isn’t just to add entertainment or ‘something different’ than just a reading voice, but to lead each soul to participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass played out through the building up of the songs played throughout the Mass. Even the mood of the Mass can change depending on the music played at a funeral verses Easter Sunday. It draws the soul into a deeper prayer and union with the physical and spiritual realm that can’t be obtained through words alone.
Music and the Meaning in the Mass by Annamaria Cardinalli will guide you through the reasons behind why music is an integral part of the Mass and why you should offer your talents to celebrate the Mass. It is difficult for parishes to find talented musicians and singers, who are willing to volunteer. It takes time and practice, but the musician will understand why their role is so important to the holiness of the Mass. The last section of the book covers each part of the Mass and why each musical interlude builds until the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist and concludes with sending out the congregation to share the message of the Gospel. If you are a musician or singer and are shy about sharing your talents with the congregation at Mass, or are missing the reasons why religious music is part of the Mass and not the secular style of music found in Protestant churches, this will bring you confidence as to why you must call your parish today and speak with the music director.
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