Choosing Music for Liturgy
Here’s a topic I’ve never addressed in any of my writings: the choosing of music. There are more things to consider than meets the eye. There are the obvious connections to be made: to the readings of the day, the liturgical season, and where a song might best be placed within the Mass. However, a Music Director should also take into consideration things such as the following:
-Is there a balance between traditional and contemporary?...between organ-based and piano-based selections? Are other instruments going to be used? Does the music fit those instruments and the players’ level of ability?
-Does the text reflect good theology? Does it use “we” language, stressing the communal nature of the Mass, or is it more appropriate for private devotions, due to a “it’s just me and Jesus alone” mindset?
-Do the texts I choose only give people what they “like to” have on their lips?...or do I sometimes risk challenging the community by using texts all of us probably “need to” have on our lips?
-Will the music be led by cantors?...a choir?...more than one choir on a given weekend? Can everything remain the exact same for both Masses?...or will it work better stylistically to vary a few of the song choices?
-Is there a seamless, harmonious flow and level of energy throughout the Mass from beginning to end?
-Is everything in the same key?...or the same time signature? (This will create boredom and monotony.)
-Are the songs in a comfortable range for singing?
-Not every song at Mass needs to be thematically related to the readings. Especially on Sundays during Ordinary Time, is there at least one selection that simply offers God praise and thanks, besides the “Gloria” of the Mass?
-Does the Gathering Song truly “invite” people into the celebration and give a sense of “Here we go!”?
-Similarly, does the final hymn of Mass truly communicate a message and feel that “sends us forth” to share what we’ve just celebrated?
Directory of Liturgy & Music
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