Although I’ve only been alive a short period of time compared to how long the Church has existed, it is clear to me through studying history that the debate over what music is suitable for Liturgy has been going on for a long, long time. In recent years this musical debate has taken to a new highway, the Internet. Countless bloggers have been writing articles and posting Church documents to prove their point. Some bloggers have even going so far as to author their own quotes ‘written’ by John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Jesus himself, pointed out by Fr. Bob Schreiner in his video from his presentation at the 2010 Life Teen Liturgy and Music conference. It saddens me that some would go so far as to try to put words in the mouths of Church leaders that they wished they would say, but never have.
A recent blog has caused much confusion in Liturgical circles in regards to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM). The GIRM that we received in 2002 will be the GIRM that is in the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal, except that some of the language has been revised just as some of the texts have been revised in the Missal we will receive this coming November. The line that has caused confusion is in GIRM #48 where the four options for gathering songs are given. The fourth option used to read “some other suitable liturgical song.” In the New Missal, this line will read “some other Liturgical chant.” This change was written to be more faithful to the Latin word “Cantus” which more formally translates to the word “chant.” Many people however have taken this change out of context to mean that the Church is saying we can only use chant for the music at Mass. Fr. Richard Hilgartner, the head of the USCCB Committee on Liturgy has weighed in on this controversy stating that the word change is “really talking about what texts are sung, not the musical form.” You can read the full article here:
While reflecting on this idea of Sacred Music and what is appropriate and what is not appropriate, I was drawn to watch Fr. Bob Schreiner’s video once again from the September 2010 Life Teen Liturgy and Music Conference we had in Phoenix. Fr. Bob is an expert on the writings of John Paul II and I was reassured by the words of our late Pope when he stated the following:
“Sacred music is the beauty that invites prayer.”
“Sacred music must have holiness as its reference point.”
“Sacred music must adapt to the legitimate demands of inculturation.”
Yes, of course, chant is a big part of Sacred Music and we can and should expose our young people to it, but we also must ask ourselves: Do teens have a culture of their own or not? I think most of us will agree that yes they do, and we need to do what we can, within the mind of the Church, to reach out to them and meet them where they are at. We all need to ask ourselves if the music that we use and the way we present it invites prayer. If it doesn’t invite prayer, than we need to change, but we need to be open different styles of music that help speak to a culture that so desperately needs to hear the voice of Jesus. We must judge each musical piece we use Liturgically, musically and pastorally and always let the voice of God guide us as we pray the Liturgy of the Church.