Sunday, December 9, 2007


Continuing our little series on the USCCB document, Sing to the Lord, the supposed successor to Music in Catholic Worship...

The Organist and Other Instrumentalists

41. The primary role of the organist, other instrumentalists, or instrumental ensemble is to lead and sustain the singing of the assembly and of the choir, cantor, and psalmist, without dominating or overpowering them.

42. The many voices of the organ and of instrumental ensembles, with their great range of expression, add varied and colorful dimensions to the song of the assembly, especially with the addition of harmonization.

What ever happened to "the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem"??? Now it's "the organ and instrumental ensembles", with many, I'm sure, getting the impression that "instrumental ensembles" may consist of a few guitars, piano, an electric bass guitar, possibly drums, bongos, and let's not forget that tambourine and those maraccas, as opposed to the instruments used in orchestras in such places as St. Agnes, Assumption Grotto, and St. John Cantius. These three parishes are amongst the models of sacred liturgy.

43. Those with the requisite talent and training should be encouraged to continue the musical tradition of improvisation. The liturgical action may call for improvisation, for example, when a congregational hymn or choral piece concludes before the ritual action is completed. The art of improvisation requires its own special talent and training. More than mere background sound is called for. When worthy improvisation is not possible, it is recommended that musicians play quality published literature, which is available at all levels of difficulty.

I do a lot of improv myself, sometimes even just before the last verse (and some those may include a modulation up a half or whole step).

44. There are also times when the organ or other instruments may be played alone, such as a prelude before the Mass, an instrumental piece during the Preparation of the Gifts, a recessional if there is no closing song, or a postlude following a closing song.

OK - good.

The Director of Music Ministries

45. A professional director of music ministries, or music director, provides a major service by working with the bishop or pastor to oversee the planning, coordination, and ministries of the parish or diocesan liturgical music program. The director of music ministries fosters the active participation of the liturgical assembly in singing; coordinates the preparation of music to be sung at various liturgical celebrations; and promotes the ministries of choirs, psalmists, cantors, organists, and all who play instruments that serve the Liturgy. In the present day, many potential directors of music are not of our faith tradition. It is significant as we go forward that directors of music are properly trained to express our faith traditions effectively and with pastoral sensitivity.

The music director often doubles as the organist and/or choir director. To boot, I do have a couple of friends who are very well-versed in Catholic liturgy/music, but yet are either converts to the Catholic faith, or still practicing (personally) the Anglican and Lutheran faiths. I am a cradle Catholic, but one of my best mentors in Catholic music is Anglican.

46. Since every ministry is rooted in the Sacraments of Initiation, which form the People of God into “a community of disciples formed by and for the mission of Christ,” the director of music ministries has a role that “finds its place within the communion of the Church and serves the mission of Christ in the Spirit.”

47. Directors of music ministries and other lay ecclesial ministers exercise their role in relation both to the ordained and to the community of the faithful. Directors are collaborators with bishops, priests, and deacons, who exercise a pastoral ministry based on the Sacrament of Holy Orders, which configures them to Christ the Head and consecrates them for a role that is unique and necessary for the communion of the Church. At the same time, lay ecclesial ministers are members of the lay faithful, “sharing in the common priesthood of all the baptized” and “called to discipleship.”

They should at least appreciate the Catholic faith of which we celebrate.

On our next post, we will go into the section marked "Leadership and Formation". I've noticed that no one uses the word "Education" anymore in terms of teaching within the Catholic capacities, but "Formation". Sounds like some kind of military term, kind of like, We're gonna make Catholics out of alla you! substituting the word "Catholics" for "soldiers".


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