Sunday, April 22, 2012

On Singing the Actual Text of the Mass

I gave my first liturgical formation in my new parish last Friday and among the many things discussed was the necessity to sing the actual text of the Mass. I noted that there are many composition of the ordinary of the Mass that have taken so much liberty that the words have been adjusted to fit the melody. The melody is the servant of the text and not the other way around. Looking at the Gregorian Chants, we should take note that there was respect for the actual text of the Mass. The music adjusted to the text. I gave 2 examples of contemporary compositions of the Agnus Dei that violated this rule.

At 2 Masses today, the 2 compositions which I pointed out were if I did not give any liturgical lecture two days ago. I said to the congregation: Will you like it if the priest changed the words of the Missal or changed the words of the Readings to suit his taste? We are servants of the liturgy and not its owners. It is not for us to subject liturgical texts to our own whims (and call it artistic license). We must respect the liturgy. If we want our worship to be acceptable, it must be characterized by obedience. We must be obedient to the Church who tells us how our worship is to be done. But how do we know what our mother, the Church, wants? It is simple: look at the liturgical books. The Church has codified her prayers in the liturgical books. This means that if the Roman Missal says: "Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, grant us peace," then, the Church intends us to sing these words as such and in no other way. Our obedience to the will of the Church should mirror the obedience of the Lord Jesus to the Father which is the content of every liturgical act.

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