From the perspective of a father, Tim O’Malley of Notre Dame writes about the importance of chant in the liturgical life of children.
My son, despite his natural religious imagination, gets bored. Very bored. He wants to leave half-way through Mass, because there is no movement. There is no music. Only the naked human voice reading and reading and reading.
Last Sunday, we went to the Melkite Liturgy on campus. The entire liturgy, as anyone knows who has attended Eastern liturgies, is sung. Despite our son’s lack of familiarity with the words on the page, he hummed along the entire time (sometimes even during the Eucharistic Prayer). With his slight speech delay, with his limited grasp of understanding of English, the chant allowed him to participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice in a way that he rarely experiences.
Not once did he ask to leave.
Not once was he bored (though he did perform frequent prostrations and crossing of himself).
Once I visited the cathedral in Lisieux, St. Therese’s home parish, with a particular view to understanding how her young imagination was filled with thoughts of heaven. Images, in particular, abounded. Everywhere you looked there was a saint: on the walls, on the altars, carved into the flooring. A smiling Blessed Mother gazed down from the Marian altar.
Appealing to a child’s mind, so receptive to truth, is easy. We have an app for that. It’s called authentic liturgy.