Speak up, sing out

“The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care. Choirs must be diligently promoted, especially in cathedral churches; but bishops and other pastors of souls must be at pains to ensure that, whenever the sacred action is to be celebrated with song, the whole body of the faithful may be able to contribute that active participation which is rightly theirs.”(Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, #114)

“When the choir is not exercising its particular role, it joins the congregation in song. The choir’s role in this case is not to lead congregational singing, but to sing with the congregation, which sings on its own or under the leadership of the organ or other instruments.” (Sing to the Lord, #31)

“As a leader of congregational song, the cantor should take part in singing with the entire gathered assembly. In order to promote the singing of the liturgical assembly, the cantor’s voice should not be heard above the congregation. As a transitional practice, the voice of the cantor might need to be amplified to stimulate and lead congregational singing when this is still weak. However, as the congregation finds its voice and sings with increasing confidence, the cantor’s voice should correspondingly recede.” (Sing to the Lord, #38)

In our modern world, many of our activities have become very passive. We watch television, listen to concerts, and even watch sporting events. For a price, we even have the convenience of not preparing our own food. Others plant the seeds, tend and harvest the fruits of the land and then serve them to us ready to eat.

When we celebrate Mass, however, we need to take an active role. Just as we can’t ask someone else to eat dinner for us, we can’t expect the other people present to stand, sit, or sing for us. There are far more of you in the pews than those of us in leadership roles. Even in my short tenure here, I’ve experienced the power of the assembly to overwhelm an amplified speaker and the organ. How thrilling it would be to hear such robust responses (both spoken and sung) at Mass each weekend. Speak up, sing out, and proclaim your faith. Don’t delegate; participate!

Encouraging you to fulfill your role in song,
Glenn