Advent will soon be upon us! The Holy Season begins this year on December 2nd, the First Sunday of Advent. Since Advent is in fact the beginning of the Church year, it is appropriate to begin with renewed effort and joy the weekly worship of the Lord in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Over the past few years we have emphasized the singing of all the parts of the Mass, proper’s, dialogues, acclamation’s, psalms, and hymns. At a Sunday Celebration of Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral a very substantial portion of the Mass is sung! That is a great accomplishment that has really taken root and begun to flourish. I am very encouraged when I hear the people taking up their proper role of voicing the praise of God as we are exhorted to in Scripture and the liturgical law of the Church: (from the General Instruction of the Mass)39. The faithful who gather together to await the Lord’s coming are instructed by the Apostle Paul to sing together psalms, hymns, and inspired liturgical songs (see Colossians 3:16). Liturgical song is the sign of the heart’s joy (see Acts 2:46). Thus Saint Augustine says rightly: “To sing belongs to lovers.” There is also the ancient proverb: “One who sings well prays twice.”
With due consideration for the culture and ability of each liturgical assembly, great importance should be attached to the use of singing in the celebration of the Mass. Although it is not always necessary to sing all the texts that are of themselves meant to be sung (e.g., in weekday Masses), nevertheless, the complete absence of all singing by ministers and people—which by law accompanies celebrations which take place on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation—should be particularly guarded against.
In choosing the parts actually to be sung, however, preference should be given to those that are more significant and especially to those to be sung by the priest or deacon or reader, with the people responding or by the priest and people together.
All things being equal, Gregorian chant should hold a privileged place, as being more proper to the Roman liturgy.
Since the faithful from different countries come together ever more frequently, it is desirable that they know how to sing at least some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, especially the profession of faith and the Lord’s Prayer, set to simple melodies.
The last remaining aspect of the Church’s Instruction is that we know how to sing some simpler parts of the Mass in Latin, the official liturgical language of the Catholic Church, our Mother tongue, if you will. So during the Holy Season of Advent this year we will begin to re-learn some simple parts of the Mass in Latin, using the melodies we already know from our ordinary singing at Sunday Mass. We will begin with The Kyrie Eleison (Lord Have Mercy; actually Greek Language!) Agnus Dei, (Lamb of God).
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