Hospitality is Everyone’s Responsibility, Why Do We Sing at Mass?

Hospitality is Everyone’s Responsibility

When we welcome visitors to our home, whether family, friends or strangers, we normally tidy the house, greet guests at the door, provide enough food and drink for everyone and make sure that all are comfortable and included in the conversation. This hospitable behaviour applies also to the worshipping community.

Even in those parishes which have designated ministers of hospitality, everyone at Mass has a ministry of welcome and warmth to the community and is called to ‘be present’ to others as fellow members of the Body of Christ.

This isn’t just a ‘feel-good’ fad or part of some trendy push to be inclusive. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal doesn’t pull any punches about our attitude towards others at Mass.  It clearly calls on the faithful to share charity toward all who share with them in the celebration. They therefore are to shun any appearance of individualism or division, keeping before their mind that they are all brothers and sisters to each other.  They should become one body ……..  There is a beautiful expression of this unity when the faithful maintain uniformity in their actions and in standing, sitting or kneeling.

In other words, liturgy is not a time for ‘doing my own thing’ or ‘my time with God’. We’re all in this together!

It is up to each one of us to ‘pay attention’ to those who are with us at Mass and to make everyone welcome.

Why Do We Sing at Mass?

Just as the team song unites people across all ages and background at a football match, singing together at Mass draws us into a single worshipping community. The entrance song in particular helps transform us from a disparate group of Mass-goers into a community with a common purpose.

Music enables us to express faith through song. We use the words and tunes of gifted composers to say what we often cannot ourselves put into words.  The hymns that we sing speak of the wonders of God, of the life, death and resurrection of Christ, and of the power of the Holy Spirit among us.

Sometimes words take on a much deeper meaning when sung. The melody of favourite hymns has become as much a part of their message as the text.  The Celtic Alleluia, for example, is popular because the joyous lilting melody expresses so well the Good News which it announces.  An effective musical setting conveys a meaning that goes beyond the words themselves.

Singing offers us a unique means to express joy and enthusiasm.

Music plays an important part in helping us enter into the spirit of the different liturgical seasons. The sombre tone of Good Friday is so effectively captured in songs such as “When I survey the wondrous cross”. The music of Easter enables us to express our joy in the resurrection of Christ.

We sing because we are people pf prayer and, according to an ancient proverb, the one who sings prays twice!

Elizabeth Harrington