Sunday, March 5, 2017

“Cantate Domino”: an international declaration on sacred music

On Sunday, March 5, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Church's Instruction on Music in the Liturgy Musicam sacram, over 200 musicians, pastors, and scholars published a declaration under the title "Cantate Domino canticum novum".

The statement recalls the Second Vatican Council's teaching which describes sacred music as "a treasure of inestimable value", and it speaks of elements in common practice "that contribute to the present deplorable situation of sacred music and of the liturgy."

We, the undersigned—musicians, pastors, teachers, scholars, and lovers of sacred music—humbly offer to the Catholic community around the world this statement, expressing our great love for the Church’s treasury of sacred music and our deep concerns about its current plight.

The statement calls on the Church to (1) reaffirm the musical heritage of the Roman rite: Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony; (2) give children an exposure to the beauty of true musical art; (3) promote the professional training of lay church musicians; (4) insist on high standards for music in cathedrals and basilicas; (5) encourage every parish to offer at least one fully sung Mass every Sunday; (6) provide musical training for the clergy, to enable them to sing their part of the liturgy; and (7) educate liturgists in the musical tradition of the Church.

These recommendations, along with a discussion of widespread failings in musical practice, are fleshed out in the full document, which is available here. Versions in five other languages and a list of the signatories can be reached through the coverage at our sister site New Liturgical Movement.

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