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Church musicians call for revival of Catholic sacred music

March 06, 2017

A group of over 200 prominent Catholic musicians, pastors, liturgists, and scholars have issued a statement of “deep concerns” about the state of Catholic liturgical music.

The statement—released on March 5, marking the 50th anniversary of the Vatican instruction Musicam Sacram—was published simultaneously in English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and German. In it, the signatories argued for a renewed appreciation for the tradition of Catholic sacred music, while decrying the via dolorosa of sacred music in the decades following Sacrosanctum Concilium,” the Vatican II document on the liturgy.

The statement notes that “a good liturgy allows for splendid music, but a low standard of liturgical music also tremendously affects the liturgy.” It laments a loss of a sense for proper liturgical music, which “goes hand in hand with an embrace of secularism.” The sources of the decline in sacred music include a disdain for tradition and clericalism, the signatories argue.

The remedies, the statement suggests, include a strong reaffirmation of the Catholic musical heritage, training for the laity—and especially children—in that tradition, and a commitment to set high standards for liturgical music in cathedrals and basilicas.

 
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  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - Mar. 07, 2017 3:38 AM ET USA

    We have been to a number of parishes in our number of years on the planet and, while musical tastes vary, there is no question that, for us, the traditional hymns accompanied by a strong choir and good organist (all of which we currently enjoy) add greatly to the liturgy of the Mass. And no, all that talent doesn't discourage participation; on the contrary, it encourages!

  • Posted by: ALC - Mar. 06, 2017 4:09 PM ET USA

    I have gotten my hopes up too many times in the past to get excited about this. Our parish music runs from mediocre bordering on heretical to outright hard rock music so loud that it shakes the walls. Sacred Music is named that because it is supposed to raise us up to a higher level, not bring us down to the lowest level of the world.