Music in the Catholic Liturgy
"Liturgical musicians are first of all disciples, and only then are they ministers. Joined to Christ through the Sacraments of Initiation, musicians belong to the assembly of the baptized faithful; they are worshipers above all else. Like other baptized members of the assembly, pastoral musicians need to hear the Gospel, experience conversion, profess faith in Christ, and so proclaim the praise of God. Thus, musicians who serve the Church at prayer are not merely employees or volunteers. They are ministers who share the faith, serve the community, and express the love of God and neighbor through music." Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, #49
Some parishes have been worshiping with paperback hymnals and missalettes for years. Many of the songs and hymns they have used in these resources are found in the hard hymnal. The Gather hymnal includes well known music and many newly composed songs encompassing many musical styles. The lectionary edition includes a full three-year lectionary, providing the reading citations and music for psalm refrains as well as the text of psalm verses. There are twelve new or revised Mass settings of various styles within the hymnal to enrich the singing experience of parishioners. Mass cards are no longer needed in the pews because the dialogues and prayers are printed inside the front cover of the hymnal. A hymnal also helps a parish to be practice thoughtful 'green' stewardship of the earth by deleting the need to produce new paper books every year!
The liturgy draws all into the paschal mystery deepening our understanding of Christ's model of suffering, dying, and rising to new life.
The purpose of liturgical music is not to entertain but to help participants in the liturgy surrender to the transforming dynamic of the liturgy. As a result, we need music that is consistent rather than constantly changing.
We need to repeat acclamations we sing from the time of the Gospel acclamation to Lamb of God. We need to repeat seasonal hymns, scriptural hymns, Eucharistic hymns, and psalms until they become beloved texts and sounds our people long to sing over and over. And since we will sing them over and over, the music must be well written, substantial, and time-tried proving its last-ability.
Texts and music touch sense and memory, intellect and emotion, and form us as members of the Body of Christ who go into daily life to be Christ to one another. Pastoral music will be effective when it is cultivated thoughtfully into memory and spirit. Let us not be afraid to repeat the use of music.