Sing! Sing! Sing! - 31st August 2014

Liturgical musicians serve the Church by playing musical instruments, singing in the choir or taking on the ministry of cantor. Their role is to assist the assembly to offer its praise to God in song.

Liturgical musicians need to possess music skills, just as readers need to be skilled at speaking in public. To play and sing well is very important, but it is not enough. Ministers of music have to be ministers, or servants of the worshipping assembly, as well.

Ministers of music do not perform for the entertainment of those present, but provide the accompaniment and lead to enable the members of the assembly to sing the responses, acclamations and songs of the liturgy.

The main role of the cantor could be described as that of an animator. He or she assists the assembly to do its part by drawing everyone into the common sung prayer. Hence a cantor needs not only vocal skills but also the skills of knowing how to encourage people to participate.

The cantor should never dominate the singing and “drown out” the assembly. Once the people are familiar with the melody, key and timing of a piece of music, the cantor can step back from the microphone and let the assembly do its work unaided.

Before Vatican II, the role of choral singing at Mass was to add beauty and solemnity to the celebration. Today, the primary ministry of the choir – as of the organist and other instrumentalists – is to support and enhance the singing of all present.

Paragraph 64 from the 1982 US document ‘Liturgical Music Today’ sums it up beautifully:
“What motivates the pastoral musician? Why does he or she give so much time and effort to the service of the church at prayer? The only answer can be that the church musician is first a believer and then a minister; he or she is a worshipper above all. Thus the liturgical musician is not merely an employee or volunteer. He or she is a minister, someone who shares faith, serves the community, and expresses the love of God and neighbour through music.”

To assist pastoral musicians with their important but demanding ministry, South Coast Deanery has organised a liturgical music workshop to be held at Mary Immaculate Church, 31 Edmund Rice Drive, Ashmore on Saturday 13th September.

The morning sessions beginning at 9.30am will focus on helping organists, cantors and choirs to encourage the congregation to join in the singing, as well as offering other practical information and insights.

The afternoon sessions is for those who love to have a good sing and will assist anyone who ever has trouble finding new hymns. The Ashmore Choir will introduce new music they have found to be exciting and suitable and all participants will have the opportunity to join in singing.

Everyone is welcome and there is no charge to attend, but it is essential to register as there will only be music (needed for the afternoon session) for those who do so. Please contact Sr Lis Keane (Email, Fax 5510 2244) by Tuesday, 9th September.

Elizabeth Harrington