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The Place of Prayer at a Synod
Liturgy and the Synod
Liturgy and prayer have been important aspects of preparation for the Archdiocesan Synod Assembly that is taking place this weekend. Naturally, liturgical celebrations also play an integral role in the synod assembly itself. They are not just an added extra or 'bookends', that is, something that is a convenient way of beginning and ending the synod gathering days.
The canonical instructions for conducting diocesan synods emphasise the importance of prayer for the success of a synod - as for all ecclesial events and initiatives- "so that it might become an authentic event of grace for the particular church".
This quote from the 'Ceremonial of Bishops' expresses well the vital link between the liturgy and the synod assembly:
From the longstanding practice of the Church, a council or a diocesan synod includes liturgical services. The governance of the Church is never to be looked upon as a mere administrative act; under the influence of the Holy Spirit, its governing assemblies are gathered in the name of God and for God's glory, and they therefore are an expression of the unity of the Mystical Body of Christ, which shines with greater clarity in the liturgy. It is right that those who bear the one responsibility together also share in the one prayer together. (CB #1169)
During the synod, members gather regularly for worship, to give thanks and praise to God, to ask God's blessing on the important work that they are undertaking, and to pray for the presence of the Holy Spirit in their deliberating, discerning, and decision making.
Last year, a small group was formed under the direction of Kari Hatherell OSU, Pastoral Associate at the Cathedral, to produce a special synod hymn. Those involved were people with solid experience in liturgy, spirituality and music, including Jane Greenwood who wrote the hymn text.
Five principles guided the work of the group: (1) the hymn would be sung at the end of a liturgy and function as a commissioning of the people; (2) the text needed to be local in content and images; (3) the text also needed to be able to extend beyond the experience of the Synod; (4) the hymn tune would be metrical and regular; (5) several hymn tunes could accompany the same text which would make it versatile for a variety of settings.
When the final text was launched at the First Synod Preparation Day, it was sung to the tune Beach Spring, well-known as the tune of Marty Haugen’s “God of Day and God of Darkness”. Other metrical tunes able to be used with this text are HyfrYdol (“Alleluia! Sing to Jesus” and “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling), Hymn to Joy (Joyful, Joyful, We Adore You), and Nettleton (Sing a New Church into Being).
By including this hymn in Masses during the weekend of the Synod Assembly, parishes throughout the diocese can express their support for the synod and unity with the synod members.