Advice and Materials – Music for the Liturgy

A discussion continues to take place in the Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council, turning around the axiom of the interpretation of participatio actuoso and the implications this has for the substance and style of liturgical music. During the complex period since the Council, limited investment was made in Catholic music compared with other Christian denominations.

However there have been real signs of recovery in the United Kingdom. The Dioceses of Brentwood, Liverpool and Westminster have shown significant commitment to good liturgical music over many years. Other dioceses are following, sometimes leading from a cathedral music department, and sometimes from diocesan resources. The Bishop of Leeds has written of “the right of all Catholics to experience good music and liturgy in their own church.” In recent years, our Diocese has taken a bold national lead in an ambitious renewal of liturgical music, working in conjunction with Catholic primary and secondary schools to develop strong foundations for the next generation. This work flows from the Cathedral into schools and over time into parishes. Three centres of regional excellence are now developing in West Yorkshire at Leeds Cathedral, St Joseph’s in Bradford, and St Patrick’s in Huddersfield.

Catholic liturgical music has a bright future, but it is contingent both on the resources for an educational programme to rebuild and reinvigorate and on faithfulness to what the church teaches about the place and purpose of music in the liturgy.

 

Practical Guidance

For Sunday Masses, the following is offered as some practical guidance for parish musicians:

The form of music requiring no instruments or specialist singers is both most easily obtainable and most important liturgically. It should take precedence over the requirement to sing Mass settings and hymns. This comprises the Gospel Acclamation (Alleluia except in Lent when Praise to thee, O Christ is sung) and the dialogue between priest and people in the Eucharistic Prayer (Preface dialogue, Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, Doxology and Amen). Practically speaking, if the priest does not sing then it is impossible to fulfil this primary role of liturgical music: attention and assistance must therefore be offered. A celebrant at Mass may sometimes try to sing too loudly in a well meaning attempt to energise his flock. A gentle dialogue with people is often the best way encourage a meaningful response.

If the ordinary of the Mass is to be sung, a good place to start is with an understanding of the teachings of the church in liturgical music.

The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services. (Sacrosanctum Concilium)

Chant is therefore something we are asked to take seriously and value in its distinctiveness to Catholicism. Some well intentioned attempts have been made to substitute vernacular words for the original text, both at the time of the reformation in Europe and more recently in the 1960s. By and large, these adaptations have not gained widespread use, many considering that the flow of the chant is dependant of the rhythms of the original text and that the transcendental nature of this distinctive Catholic music is lost in translation.

The responsorial psalm is usually sung at Mass as part of the Liturgy of the Word, in dialogue between a cantor and congregation. If a hymn or two is included at Mass, it should be chosen with reference to the appropriateness of the liturgical season, with a scriptural (or scripturally based) text and accompanied at a pitch and tempo designed to encourage singing. The Preparation of the Gifts is not usually an appropriate place for a hymn. A choir or instrumental piece is often used instead at this half way point in the Mass.

Our Choral Scholarships offer superb opportunities for ambitious students looking to develop a range of professional-level musical skills.

For more information or to apply, please contact office@dioceseofleedsmusic.org.uk or visit http://dolmusic.uk/scholarships

Really lovely to be back in Downing - such a warm welcome and great to see / hear our choir members - state school pupils from @bcw_cat @StGtG_CAT and @BPS_Trust - singing so well at both Downing and @Kings_College https://twitter.com/DOLMusic/status/1552299402009640963

Absolutely lovely time this week with the @DOLMusic in Oundle and Ely with @GabrieliCandP Roar, and singing (and eating) in Cambridge colleges today. Could now sleep for days but the students, colleagues and musical experiences were fab. https://twitter.com/DOLMusic/status/1552299402009640963

On our way home now after a really fabulous @GabrieliCandP ROAR trip. Very tired but it's been a classic residential thanks to wonderful colleagues in both organisations, plus a truly lovely bunch of young people who have excelled themselves. Brilliant last day of work for me! https://twitter.com/DOLMusic/status/1551915449629245444

Cambridge part 2 - a lovely lunch, talk, tour and sing in the chapel @downingcollege @DiscoverDowning - thanks so much for having us, with three Downing alumni on our staff we love visiting!

4
Load More...
This message is only visible to admins.
Problem displaying Facebook posts. Backup cache in use.
Click to show error
Error: The user must be an administrator, editor, or moderator of the page in order to impersonate it. If the page business requires Two Factor Authentication, the user also needs to enable Two Factor Authentication. Type: OAuthException
Well done to the Cathedral Children's Choir for their excellent showcase last week! We look forward to seeing them again after the summer holidays - when many of the children will be graduating to the Cathedral Junior Girls' and Boys' Choirs. ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
We were thrilled to hear that Isaac Chen passed his Trinity Foundation Certificate accordion exam with distinction. Congratulations Isaac – very well deserved! ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Huddersfield Youth Choir had their end of term Mass this morning with the Senior Girls and Boys Choirs at St. Patrick’s Church, Huddersfield. We also sadly said goodbye to 6 members of the choir who are moving on to university. Collectively these choristers have over 50 years of dedication to the choirs and parish life. Well done all! ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Bradford Catholic Youth Choir had their end of year concert on Thursday featuring the three Junior Choirs, Senior Boys and Senior Girls' Choirs along with groups from three of the primary schools we sing with, and the Senior Choirs sang for Mass at St. Joseph's Catholic Church-Bradford this morning. It was especially significant as we are saying goodbye to Choral Director Alex Kyle. Alex has worked with the choirs and schools for ten years, first as our Choral Conducting Scholar and then as a full time Choral Director, inspiring thousands of children and providing great opportunities for the choirs. He's taking a new career step and will be studying for a solo voice ensemble MA at York University. Thanks Alex - we'll miss you! ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Our Ripon Youth Choir sang wonderfully this morning at St Wilfrid's Church, expertly leading the congregation through the church's First Holy Communion Celebration Mass. Thank you to the Parish for such a warm welcome! ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook