Why We Sing in Church, and Why, for now, We Will Not
“I sing because I’m happy. I sing because I’m free…” those words are taken from a popular Gospel hymn, His Eye is On the Sparrow, written in the early 1900’s by Martin and Gilbert.
The words continue to ring true for us today. Singing can express what we feel more fully than just mere words. Together in church we sing our joy, sorrow, concern, lament, hope, praise and unity. We reach out to God in song and simultaneously we connect to one another.
The Church holds singing as necessary and integral to the celebration of Mass. It is not an add-on or an adornment, but rather an essential element to worship. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the first major document of the Second Vatican Council, states that “a liturgical service takes on a nobler aspect when the rites are celebrated with singing and the faithful actively participate” (SC, No. 113). The 2007 document, Sing to the Lord: Music in Catholic Worship, the first document on liturgical music issued by the United States Catholic Bishops, states, “Good music makes the liturgical prayers of the Christian community more alive and fervent so that everyone can praise and beseech the Triune God more powerfully, more intently, and more effectively” (STL, No. 5).
But now, as churches begin to open for public worship across the Archdiocese of Chicago, we have been asked to refrain from congregational singing, out of care and concern for the health and safety of all who gather to pray. As the research on aerosol spray during singing is being analyzed, the prudent approach is to abstain from singing, at least for now. The cantor will continue to sing certain parts of the Mass, while other parts belonging more properly to the people, will be spoken so that all may participate.
All of us involved in music ministry at St. Giles promise to do our best to make our liturgical music meaningful and prayerful for all who attend worship in our beautiful space. I am grateful to all of the St. Giles’ music ministers who help us to sing the prayers that God has placed in our hearts. It is our intention that we will gradually return to a fuller expression of worship as soon as it is safe to do so. Please remember that our highest priority now is the health and safety of our community.
I look forward to seeing you in church again! Feel free to drop me a line if you have any comments or suggestions as we move forward.
Sue Kaszynski, Music and Liturgy Director
The St Giles faith family takes great pride in the number of gifted volunteers who contribute their time and talents to enhance the liturgies in our parish. It is their goal to be a support to the whole congregation, allowing Full, Conscious Active Participation (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy) in Mass.
Feel free to contact Sue Kaszynski, Music and Liturgy Director at 708-383-3430 x 423, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more or to begin your journey.