Music for Catholic Weddings

Music for Catholic Funerals




We Are What We Eat:
How Musical Texts Shape
the Theology, Paradigms
and Values of the Faithful---
Building a Parish Repertoire
with Musical Texts
That Nourish and Embolden


For liturgical music to meet its goal of transforming the person, and the community experiencing it, there must be a solid, passionate marriage between the primal, ageless power of melody and the timeliness of forward-thinking lyrics.  At it’s best, this unity speaks ever more deeply and intelligently to the heart, mind, soul, and psyche of the person holding that music in their hands and being invited to bring it to their lips. The faithful who come to worship each week ought to be fed with a rich diet of enduring melodies and resonating lyrics that speak with the faithfulness, relevance and beauty that authenticity-hungry parishioners deserve, and good liturgy demands.

The Roman Catholic tradition is rich with soul-touching, time-and-style-enduring melodies, but the lyrics set to many of these melodies understandably reflect theological and pastoral paradigms which, though appropriate for their time, (hundreds, even thousands of years ago) are, in this third millennium, proposing concepts that do not adequately express contemporary theological understandings. Many are inconsistent with the pastoral implications of the Second Vatican Council. Sound good, they may. Make us feel good, they might. But if they do not challenge us to do good, they have not met their fullest purpose. Good liturgy, and all the elements which comprise it, is not merely about transcendence. At its best, it is about transformation.(Sacrosanctum Concilium, #9-10)

We Ministers of music pay (laudable) attention to the proficiency of our choirs and our instruments, the aesthetic beauty and dramatic power of our craft, and to the scriptural thrusts and seasonal movements that drive our liturgies.  However, we may sometimes forget that alongside these noble tasks, and at their very core, is our  elemental responsibility to feed the hungry faithful who come to our church table each week with rich, transformative sustenance. Not only are the words we sing in liturgy meant to be yoked to the scripture of the day, but, as they reinforce and illumine the same words we hear in the readings, they are as important in the nurturing and formation of one's faith as are the words we hear in scripture and homily. (Inter  Oecumenici, 9/26, 1964 #7)  Yes, a beautifully performed hymn may stir emotions with its power, lift us to an experience and appreciation of the Transcendent, and offer aesthetic delight.  But if the words sung in that hymn do not transform and move us to a richer understanding of our relationship with God, who we are as church, and the costly challenges of the Gospel, then, as beautiful as it may be, that music has not reached its full potential and achieved its real purpose. 

Project Dynamic:

The task of moving a parish music program toward its fullest potential begins with Observation , progresses to Theological Reflection , and culminates in Practice. This movement may also be expressed as Seeing> Judging>Acting.  Another syntax for this process is expressed in the dynamic of  Experience > Theory> Practice.

With this movement in mind, it is important to begin the conversation with the elemental question of OBSERVATION: What have we seen, observed, experienced, as the historical context of ritual singing? We then move to JUDGMENT: Why throughout the millennia have we sung?  What elements and principles have shaped the power and efficacy of the music we have sung through the years, and will sing in the future?  And we conclude with the question of PRACTICE: What kind of lyrics nurture a parish? ------------- MORE---Download Complete Thesis