Sacred Music from the Heart

Our human emotions are an important criterion for the continued renewal and development of Sacred music. There is a great chasm in many places distinguishing the Church’s patrimony, her Heart and Mind, from a more popular view.

Church music and other liturgical arts are easily mistaken in their aim and goal.  Contrived, emotional and superficial, the aim is to entertain, fill a void, please an audience, rather than a humble service to the liturgical ceremony, glorifying God and sanctifying the faithful.

An aforementioned source is Msgr. Guido Marini’s address to a liturgical conference in Mileto.  Translated into a compact book, his reflections are worth reading, re-reading and passing around:

“Thus, singing and music in the liturgy, when they are truly themselves, are born from a heart that searches after the mystery of God and become an exegesis of this same mystery, a word that, in musical notation, opens onto the horizon of Christ’s salvation. Therefore, there is an intrinsic bond among word, music, and chant in the liturgical celebration.

Music and chant, in fact, cannot be separated from the Word of God, of which, indeed, music and chant ought to be a faithful interpretation and revelation. Chant and music in the liturgy stem from the depth of the heart, that is, from Christ who dwells therein – and they return to the heart, that is, to Christ, And from the question of the heart, He comes as the true and definitive response. 

This objectivity of chant and liturgical music should never be consigned to the superficial and extemporaneous nature of our sentiments and fleeting emotions, which do not correspond to the greatness of the mystery being celebrated.”  

Rev. Msgr. Guido Marini, Liturgical Reflections of a Papal Master of Ceremonies, English Translation © 2011, p.40.

2 Replies to “Sacred Music from the Heart”

  1. I find the translator's use of "music" and "chant" to be curious, and potentially enlightening. Music is the matter, whereas chant is the act. Am I getting that right?

  2. Enlightening thoughts indeed. It would be interesting to find the lecture in its original form. Perhaps one thought is Msgr's frequent mention of Pope St. Pius X's qualities of Sacred Music and the congruity of "a certain type of music and singing as particularly consonant with the liturgical celebration."

    One cannot truly answer a translated quotation with another, however, it is clear the motif is to see chant, as you said, as the act. Our actions can be simply emotive, reaching only a superficiality, or in turn, through loving obedience, unite our hearts with the words and music of the Church through her ever ancient, ever new melodies.

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