Contemporaryliturgical music in the Catholic Church
Contemporaryliturgical music in the Catholic Church
Liturgicalmusic began as a major component of religious ceremonies, especiallyin the Catholic Church. It was part of the Holy Communion and theDivine service. Liturgical music involves not only the use of theChant and the polyphonic styles but also the use of homophones thatare accompanied with or without musical instruments. Apparently, theguiding principles of such music were clearly spelled out as holy,exuding sanctity and purity and presented in a manner that rejectsall forms of profanity. Additionally, the music is founded on thedoctrines of sacred music to the extent that people listening to thatmusic will not extract any other impression other than good. Over thetime that has passed, contemporary liturgical music has evolvedconsiderably to include a variety of styles that depend on age,culture and language. There has been contention arising from theintegration of traditional music, flair and methods of church music.While some claim that it increases the levels of congregationalparticipation, others condescend that this progression is unhealthyfor the standard church services. However, the misconceptionsregarding spirituality and aspects of worship have begun to change.This is due to the revision and rediscovering of the beauty andfunction of the Chant and traditional hymnody in serving the purposeof liturgy
Effectsof Contemporary Liturgical Music
Oneof the most discussed effects of contemporary liturgical music in theCatholic Church has been identified and described as weakening to thedistinctive nature of worship. In this regard, the use of modernstyles seems to diminish the essential criteria of religion such aspastoral, liturgical and musical. Much unlike the earlier Gregorianchant and the use of the organ, modern music employs a wide varietyof instruments and the language used thereof is considered an issue.For instance, music that utilizes inclusive language such as “I amthe Bread of Life” had to be edited. Additionally, the younggeneration’s styles of worship that have emerged are termed astrashy, and communicate dissent.
Musicis in itself worship and also prayer. As such, original liturgicalmusic has been identified as a real art, capable of workingefficiently by drawing the congregation towards the truth andholiness. It also awakens the impulse to worship. The effect ofcontemporary liturgical music seems to deviate from the initialefficacy since most of the music is centered on the presentation andrhythm, cutting off the continuous adoption of musical treasuresespecially the Chant. In essence, not all types of music can beconsidered liturgical. This is why contemporary music may not possessthe sense of prayer and dignity in a religious perspective. Cases ofinsensitive means of expression and texts that have not beenadequately analyzed are examples of issues that surround modernliturgical music to the extent that the prayer and worship practicesof the church are altered. Songs such as Gloria and Sanctus are worksof theology and prayer. In contrast, the contemporary music playedtoday tends to distract the congregation by encouraging bubblyenthusiasm and thus overshadows the purpose of the liturgy itself.
Modernmusic has been further fuelled by the growth and development of urbanareas. In this regard, the contemporary liturgical music has played asignificant role in the spread of Christianity and Catholic religionby providing more acceptance and reaching out to the different ages,nations, cultures and languages. This widespread movement bringsabout a consequence in the prayer and worship patterns especially inthe youth and also in the rural and urban populations. Furthermore,the materialization of the folk music revival had a great impact inprayer and worship since it involved a solo singer. Therefore,transferring this type of music to the congregation poses as aproblem. The lack of full participation in liturgical musicdiminishes its importance and affects the way of spiritual adoration.
Contemporaryliturgical music has moved further from the fundamental valuesbecause currently, the music is not prayerful. As seen in manyCatholic congregations, musical artists are more recognized followingthe use of such music as a form of entertainment rather thanspiritual connection with the Creator. The excitement generated bythe songs implores people to dance and sing with the rhythm. As aresult, the concentration on the sacredness and holiness of the wordsbecomes reduced and lose their meaning. More often than not, thecongregation will divert its focus to singing praises and less timewill be allocated to the divine function of worship and prayer.
ModernCatholic music is sometimes characterized by dancing. The adoption ofdancing into liturgy can almost be regarded as a cult practice. Theaim of body movement is widely considered part of incantation, magicpractices, or even mystical ecstasy. Liturgical music is in itselfbeautiful, and the utilization of dance as a mode of making the musicattractive tends to deviate from its spiritual essence. Dancing alsodisrupts the prayerful mood of the participants who will be moreinclined to be enjoined in the act, or observing the movement ratherthan the inner partaking of the songs’ meaning and meditation.
Inthe way of presentation, how the congregation reacts to liturgy saysa lot about the music itself. Nowadays, it is common for theparticipants and church members to applaud the presentation of ritualmusic with intensities that vary depending on the quality of theperformance. Ovation is a critical indication of how the importanceof liturgy has been replaced by the religious entertainment thatpraises human involvement instead of centering onto the spiritualityof the music. The uniqueness of authentic liturgy is utterly definedby the focus on God himself who enters into the people and draws themto him thus encouraging true worship and prayer rather than theuplifting of human performance.
Externalactions usually accompany liturgical music for instance reading,singing and bringing up of gifts. Although the external effects aresecondary, how they are done is critical in the overall presentationof liturgical music. However, such activities and movements haveevolved and in today’s era, it is a regular practice for differentplayers to enter into the liturgy in a manner that is best describedas theatrical. This has gone to the extent that the entrance becomesthe essential portion of the ritual to which everyone anticipates.Eventually, the spiritual point of ritual becomes degenerated andimproper. Too much external activities deviate the congregation intoparody and finally, the direction towards prayer and supplication isneglected.
Currently,liturgy has been disintegrated into various parts. However, theessence of the liturgy in music cannot be dissolved because the faithand unity of the church are bound to God and must then be visible inliturgical music. If these spiritual aspects are absent or minimal asin the contemporary world, then it may be observed as though thechurch community is reveling itself. Furthermore, the disintegrationinto various sectorial parties of all kinds is a portion of thereasons as to why liberalism keeps on emerging in Catholic music. Italso leads to the oppositions and arguments that raise havoc on howliturgical music should be made.
St. Michael`s Catholic Church. "Pope Benedict XVI on Sacred Music." St. Cecilia Schola Cantorum. 2000. http://www.ceciliaschola.org/notes/benedictonmusic.html (accessed June 1, 2016).