Thursday, April 03, 2008


Here is an article written by a music director friend for his church's bulletin. It is reprinted with permission. I particularly like the last paragraph, but it builds up well towards it.

Christos anesti! Christ is risen!

Alithos anesti! He is Risen indeed, alleluia!

You may remember a priest who visited last year in the Easter season to ask support for his charity. You may also recall that, in the course of his homily, he asserted that Catholics are less joyful about the resurrection than people in other Christian traditions. That is quite an offensive claim to make, and is often made against any liturgical church. However, I noticed he rushed out during the closing hymn and remained silent during the Latin Gloria at the late Mass. The Gloria is one of the most joyful texts in the Mass and the closing hymn was no doubt a festive Easter tune filled with alleluias – where is the joy in shunning this music?

This Easter at our late Mass, like last year, we are privileged to sing the ancient “Gloria” chant in the original Latin. This is the most familiar of the chant settings, nicknamed “Mass of the Angels”. The beauty of this Gloria has inspired countless saints through the ages. I have no doubt the founders of this parish intended that music’s beauty to compliment the beauty of our church.

Some may object, as a matter of opinion, that they do not find chant to be joyful. I’m reminded of my brother, a Marine who occasionally attends the evangelical ministry at his base. At first it was very strange for him, accustomed to the Mass, but eventually he came to like the upbeat music and high emotion. However, one day in discussing church with him he confessed to me, “Sometimes I want to get really happy and praise the Lord, but a lot of the time I’m too worn out to get all that joyful. It makes me feel like a bad Christian.” What he was beginning to understand is that contemporary worship idioms are designed to create joy, not to express it. Contrarily, the Church’s ancient liturgies give us a place to express our joy in the Gloria, to praise in the Sanctus, to beg forgiveness in the Kyrie and Confiteor. These parts of the Mass do not manufacture emotion, but give us an outlet for the soul’s disposition towards God. True, sometimes we may not feel the Easter joy, but that does not make our alleluia any less pleasing to God, since it is the soul which sings and not only the intellect. Thus let us truly rejoice that the Gloria has been restored in this great Easter season, and sing our joy with the Church!

1 comment:

Gavin said...


I did get one complaint on this actually. One of my choristers was very opposed to it and said "I don't agree." I wasn't sure what she disagreed with logically, and so I couldn't really respond. I kept hemming and hawing and kept repeating "well what I meant was.... well, you saw the article!!" Eventually I made the point that it's about how we see music: is it music for the sake of the effect of the music or is it music as a tool itself. I don't think she bought it, but it seemed to pacify her. I'm at least happy people are thinking about my articles! I'll send you whatever I write next, although I'm not sure what to write.