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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
September 25, 1987     The Message
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September 25, 1987

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Faith Today Supplement, The Message, Catholic Diocese of Evansville, September 25, 1987 icating God's presence FOOD FOR THOUGHT simply want to use music to com- municate hohestly with people, to inspire them. Great music can do that." "Music has the power to evoke feelings, experiences, ideas and emotions that the spoken word cannot," said Gary Beckmann, music director at St. Teresa of the Child Jesus Parish in Belleville, Ill. He believes music is a special forrof prayer. "Music should not be looked at as something that takes up space and time during Mass," said Beckmann. For him, the ability to pray through the music is an important factor to consider when deciding what music should be sung by the com- munity during a Mass. Not incidentally, he and members of his choir make a retreat each year at St. Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, Ind., where they,join the monastic com- mrtity, for the church's Liturgy of the Hours and the Eucharist. Among other factors to consider in planning music for the Mass are the scripture readings for that day and other themes of the liturgy -- such as the theme of thankfulness. Beckmann begins by'going through the scripture readings, choosing several pieces of music to correlate with them. And he frequently uses a ong of thanksgiving after Com- munion to remind the congrega- tion that it has gathered together to celebrate and give thanks. For Beckmann, all the elements of good liturgical music came together during memorial services for retired Belleville Bishop Albert Zuroweste, who died in March 1987. The music for the service of the reception of the body at the diocese's Cathedral of St. Peter was somber. Yet by the day of the funeral liturgy, the music had a lighter, more joyful tone to convey hope in the resurrection. Through music, the diocesan family found an outlet for the varied feelings associated with death. Joan Kloeckner, music director and organist for St. Bernard Parish in rural Albers, Ill., attests to the effects of great music on a con- gregation. She recalls the Christmas Midnight Mass at which her choir made its debut, singing Handel's "Halleluia Chorus." The congrega- tion was visibly moved. "When I plan the music for a liturgy, I want to help people pray and get into the Mass," she said. "When everything flows, when the music and the readings and homily all fit, the people...really get something out of the Mass. They leave feeling the presence of God." (Konieczny is associate editor of The Messenger in Bellevtlle, IlL) i00a, Catholics con sing Any parish that is serious about wanting people to participate musically in the liturgy must be willing to put time and effort and '.,mey toward that goal. The first prerequisite is to have musicians and music leaders who are compe- tent to lead a congregation. They do not need a master's degree in music (Praise God if they have one0, but they need to be able to play the hymns with pro- per accompaniment, keep a regular and lively tempo, and know how to use their instrument effectively to lead others, whether organ, guitar, flute or whatever. Some parishes are able to find mpetent volunteers. But there are times when poor musicianship is tolerated because it costs so little. Second, a congregation needs a consistent repertoire of music. That does not mean using the same hymns every week; it means that music has to be familiar to people. This requires the use of a solid hymnal as the basic resource. Having a hymnal is important especially for introducing new music to a ;ongregation. Here is an approach that I have found very successful in several parishes. eThe week before the song is to be used for the first time, teach the refrain or the first verse before Mass. Take the verse a section at a time and repeat each section often enough for people to grow com- fortable with it. *The next week, take time for a brief review of the new music just before Mass and use it during the service. *Use the new piece the follow- ing week as well and again within the next two weeks. Then it can be set aside for a time, but not so long that it can be forgotten. Obviously, that approach does not allow teaching a lot of new music in a short time. But giving people manageable doses at a time can build UP a rich repertoire over a year or two. Attention to these basics can work wonders in the worship life of a parish. (Father Mick is pastor of St. Patrick's Parish, Glynnwood, Ohio.) Why do people describe certain works of music as "powerful"? What power can music have? For our writers, music is a powerful "language" of faith. It is a way to express faith. What are some other ways faith is expressed by peo- ple? Why is music an effective language for faith? What roles are fulfilled by music in the Sunday liturgy? After reading the article by Cindy Liebhart, what are some of the main goals of contemporary composers of music for the liturgy? Think Of a song used at Mass that you particularly like. Why do you enjoy it? Is it a form of prayer for you? Does it have a message? Second Helpings. Music is of great importance among the many signs and symbols the church uses to celebrate its faith, says Music in Catholic Worship, published by the U.S. bishops' Committee on the Liturgy. Chosen with care, music "can serve as a bridge to faith as well as an expression of it." But, the booklet advises, the purpose of liturgical music is to serve and never dominate: "Music should assist the assembled believers to express and share the gift of faith that is within them and to nourish and strengthen their interior commitment of faith." The booklet adds that music can unveil "a dimension of meaning and feeling, a communication of ideas and intui- tions which words alone cannot yield. This dimension is integral to the human personality and to growth in faith." (Office of Publishing Services, U.S. Catholic Conference, 1312 Mass. Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005. 1983. Paperback, $3.75.) Help others while you help yourself An Extension Charitable Gift Annui- ty offers a unique opportunity to help yourself as you help home missioners bring the Faith to the most isolated and impoverished regions of our nation. Consider these benefits: Financial Security Our plan assures you of a fixed income for the rest of your life. Tax Advantages Besides an initial charitable contribution deduction, a portion of your annual income is tax free. 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