I have been meaning to offer some formation on why we are doing certain things at Mass these days. It’s only taken me nearly four months! (but there’s a lot going on!) Most of this has to do with what we’re singing and how. I’ve explained briefly before Mass that because we have been instructed not to have congregational singing, we are using pieces from the Church’s beautiful liturgical tradition that are more difficult to sing. On one hand, this allows us to worship God with beautiful music even if we can’t all sing it. On the other hand, it’s an opportunity to become more familiar with it. But we should really try to appreciate it on a deeper level.
Trevor Rowland is still looking out for us even though he’s working for another parish, in the Diocese of Arlington. He recently shared with me a five-part series on Sacred Music prepared by the Director of Sacred Music at a parish in Oregon. It turns out that the pastor of this parish is a priest I know from my time in Rome. Msgr. Cihak was a student priest during my time as a seminarian and later he assisted as a Master of Ceremonies for Papal Liturgies – if you’ve watched one of the Pope’s Masses on TV in the not too distant past, you might recognize him!
Msgr. Cihak worked with his Director of Sacred Music, Edward Atkinson, to prepare a series of short videos to help his parishioners appreciate Sacred Music, starting with what it means to call music “sacred.” Since I am a big fan of not “reinventing the wheel,” I took the opportunity to reconnect with Msgr. Cihak and asked his permission to share these with you. He happily agreed – in fact, they intended for them to be used in this way.
Every parish has its own characteristics, so some of the points made in these videos may not be completely relevant to us, but on the whole, I think they will speak to where most of us are coming from (Edward Atkinson’s story is very similar to mine [with the major exception of me not being a musician!], maybe you’ll find the same.) Whatever the case is, I hope that they will help each of us grow in our appreciation for the beautiful way that the Church provides us to worship God.I’ll share a new one each week for the next four weeks, but feel free to find the rest and watch them all at once.