Parish Finances and Music

From the MusicaSacra Forum comes a complaint about the low financial priority given to parish music, dated December 1, 1849.

Not only the interests of music generally, but of religion itself suffer, and to a greater extent than a superficial thinker may suppose, by this short-sighted policy of robbing it of the PERFECTIONS of an art, which the Creator evidently designed should minister to its extension.

Undoubtedly many Pastors were told by people greeting them after Mass that the music at their Christmas Masses was beautiful, or even angelic and heavenly. Beautiful music is of utmost importance to a parish. Musicians are co-workers in the truth; troubled or doubting hearts that even the most skilled preaching cannot reach, might be moved by a glorious descant or a quiet, perfectly conceived cadence. Beautiful music does not and cannot happen by itself, without the skilled leadership of a dedicated expert. It is my hope that the efforts of musicians everywhere will be fairly compensated, to encourage excellence in our profession.

The time musicians spend at Mass itself is the tip of the iceberg, and is the result of many years of education and the acquisition of artistic culture, followed by many hours of direct planning and rehearsal for the high liturgies of the year. Imagine Christmas Mass without music! (Imagine the collection from a Christmas Mass without music.) Think of the many people who must respond positively to the Music Director’s leadership in order for this music to come together.

I think we will all agree that a just and living wage, which is all that Music Directors customarily ask, is a small price for a parish to pay for what the Second Vatican Council calls “the highest of all the sacred arts.”