Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Children Love Plainchant

From The Catholic Herald:
Our experience has proven that children can learn chant, even difficult chant, and they can do so beautifully. They don’t need watered-down kiddie music. They don’t need hand motions and clapping. They don’t need gimmicks. They will rise to a challenge. They will sing the Missa Cum Jubilo, in Latin, from a choir loft, in a way that gives glory to God and helps the congregation to pray better.

After a usual Sunday Mass, one of the complaints I hear from adult parishioners is that they have never learned Latin or how to chant. Because of this, they are uncomfortable joining in the singing. Those who are willing to learn can catch on fairly quickly, but I also understand that for some of us chant is always going to feel somewhat foreign, to an ear that has been formed for decades by a certain style of metrical hymnody and modern folk-influenced music at Mass. This means that one of the best ways (maybe the only way) to truly restore a vibrant cultural tradition of chant is to work with the children and help form their musical experience from a young age.

Some doubt the value of spending time teaching the children to chant. This is a sentiment with which Second Vatican Council disagrees, maintaining in Sacrosanctum Concilium that chant “should be given pride of place in liturgical services”. Redemptionis Sacramentum, an instruction issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship, adds: “It is the right of the community of Christ’s faithful that especially in the Sunday celebration there should customarily be true and suitable sacred music…” In other words, if I do not help my parishioners to learn sacred chant, I am failing them as their pastor.
Pope St Pius X explains in his encyclical Inter Sollicitudines that chant is the pinnacle of sacred music because it is holy, of high artistic merit and universal. For this reason, he writes, “Special efforts are to be made to restore the use of the Gregorian chant by the people.”

The beauty of sacred chant is as important as truth when it comes to revealing the gospel and evangelising our culture. For instance, St Augustine learned the truth of the Catholic faith through sacred chant. He writes in his Confessions, “The voices flowed into mine ears, and the truth was poured forth into my heart.” He further explains, “I am moved, not with the singing, but with the things sung.” (Read more.)

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