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Why try to sing better? Why rehearse?

posted Sep 22, 2012, 10:02 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Jun 23, 2013, 2:29 PM ]
Whether you're performing with one of our musical ensembles, or whether you're sitting in the pew, why is it important to try to make better music?  Why is musical beauty important for the liturgy?

This was the subject of a seminar I attended this summer at the National Pastoral Musicians conference.  (It wasn't about different styles of music, that's another topic; but the quality of the music being performed.)   Better music heightens our awareness during liturgy; inspiring full, active and conscious participation.  Spirited community singing and attentive listening to sung prayer expresses reverence and respect by fully engaging the mind, body and spirit in the act of music making and praise.   

According to Sacrosanctum Concillium, we sing and make music during liturgy “to Glorify God and for the sanctification of the Human race.”  Many references to making music and singing praises to God can be found in Scripture.  On the Feast of the Ascension, for example, we sing Psalm 47:
Sing praises to God, sing praises...
sing ye praises with understanding.

By striving to create more beautiful sacred music, we form relationships with our music and with each other; which in turn draws us closer to God.  The result of this effort to create beauty during liturgy is well defined by Blessed John Paul II:
Hence, between heaven and earth a sort of channel of communication is established
in which the action of the Lord and the song of praise of the faithful meet. 
The Liturgy unites the two sanctuaries, the earthly temple and the infinite heavens,
God and man, time and eternity.

Give Praise Through the Beauty of Music, Feb. 26, 2003

As our music making and expressions of praise attempt to create this sacred portal of communication Blessed John Paul II writes about, don't just “sing praises”.  Make an effort to try, to the best of your ability, to sing your praises more musically, and more beautifully...