Liturgy Corner

Carmel Parish Bulletin articles from the Liturgy Committee


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Music and Hospitality

Carmel Bulletin, 14 August 2016

The Second Vatican Council’s instruction on music said: “One cannot find anything more religious and more joyful in sacred celebrations than a whole congregation expressing its faith and devotion in song” (Musicam Sacram, no. 16).  That, of course, is easier said than done!

While it may take effort to encourage everyone in the church to sing, it can also be easy to discourage singing.  Different factors can contribute to people feeling that they are not encouraged to join in the music that is being led by the music ministers.  In turn, we now have in the Church plenty of statistical and anecdotal evidence that proves that people’s engagement and connection with the music in liturgical celebrations is a key factor in them wanting to return to a particular parish community.

Parish Vision StatementAs part of our parish vision that all families feel supported, connected and valued as they live and grow in their faith, and our strategy to welcome all who come to worship, our Liturgy Committee and music leaders have been working on a way to develop a more focused and consistent music repertoire.  As it is developed and implemented, we hope this repertoire will help everyone in our parish know what we’re singing.

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Parish Mass Settings Workshop

This morning, music ministers from our parish gathered together to learn more about some of the Mass settings that are available and recommended for use.  This is an integral part of the formation we’re providing in our parish as we implement the new English translation of the Roman Missal.

Our parish has generally been using the revised edition of Mass Shalom since the beginning of this year.  After being introduced to several other settings this morning, they can now move ahead with using more settings with their liturgical assemblies.

While our workshop attracted a relatively small number, we had at least one representative from each of our various music groups.  This means that these representatives can take the music back to their groups and start work.

Thank you to everyone who joined us this morning.  I hope you found it to be informative and productive.  Thanks also to Frank, who took a few pics with his iPad.

Introducing music group representatives to new Mass settings for the revised English translation of the Roman Missal, 23 July 2011

Introducing music group representatives to new Mass settings for the revised English translation of the Roman Missal, 23 July 2011

Introducing music group representatives to new Mass settings for the revised English translation of the Roman Missal, 23 July 2011

Introducing music group representatives to new Mass settings for the revised English translation of the Roman Missal, 23 July 2011


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2/1/11 – New Mass Settings

This is an important weekend.  Yes, we are celebrating the feast of the Epiphany (on the earliest date possible in the liturgical calendar).  It is also the first weekend of the New Year, 2011.  This means that in Australia, we can begin to take the first steps towards implementing the new English translation of the Roman Missal.

The bishops in each country are responsible for determining when and how a new liturgical book such as the missal is to be implemented.  In the United States, for example, they hope to implement the missal – all of it – from the First Sunday of Advent this year.

Given the amount of work and preparation involved in implementing a liturgical text as large as the missal, our bishops have opted for a different approach.  Based on the recommendation of their National Liturgical Council, Australia will gradually implement the missal in stages.  The first stage begins now.

From 1 January 2011, parishes are able to begin using Mass settings (collections of parts of the Mass set to music) that have been newly composed or revised to suit the texts of the incoming missal.  From Pentecost Sunday, parishes are to gradually introduce the assembly’s spoken responses, with all spoken responses mandatory from November.  The prayers the priest recites would then be introduced sometime from November onwards, depending on when the published missal is available to parishes.

In Wentworthville, we already have copies of the revised edition of Mass Shalom by the Late Br Colin Smith CFC on order.  Australian composer Paul Mason has reworked this well-known Mass setting to the new texts.  Once it arrives, we will start to gradually introduce it into the Mass.  We will also display the words to help you learn the changes.

Hopefully we can all work together, not only to learn the new texts of the missal, but also to reflect on the meaning of our Church’s prayers, and come to a deeper understanding of the Eucharistic celebration.


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30/5/10 – Our Music Ministry: Still More Helpers Needed

Music MinistersLast weekend, we began an initiative to encourage more parishioners to join our music ministry.

It has been great to see people already volunteering their support.  There is still time for you to volunteer – there are more forms available from the parish centre.

In particular, there are some Masses that need particular support:

  • We have a new organist, Astrid, at 10:30 a.m. Mass on the first and third Sundays of the month.  Astrid needs, however, the help of a small group of singers to lead the music with her
  • Our Sunday evening Mass also needs musicians and singers so that we may provide live music on a more regular basis.

Our team of music ministers is only too willing to help and support people who are interested in joining them.  If you believe your gifts and talents lie in areas other than music and singing, then help our music ministry by looking for musicians and singers within our parish.  An encouraging word from others may be all that’s needed for them to give it a go.


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23/5/10 – Join the Music Ministry

The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few…

This weekend, we are appealing to you as we look to improve our parish’s music ministry.  The first part of this is working to ensure that all our Sunday Masses have live music.  This requires the participation of more singers and instrumentalists in our ministry.

You may ask why we members of the Liturgy Committee consider the provision of music to be so important?   Music has been an integral part of our Church’s prayer since its earliest days.  In St Paul’s letters to both the Ephesians (5:19) and the Colossians (3:16), he implores them to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God.

Furthermore, the bishops of Second Vatican Council remind us that “liturgical worship is given a more noble form when celebrated in song.”  They remind us that music allows our prayer to be expressed in a more beautiful way, and that our sense of worshipping together as one body in Christ is strengthened through the action of us all joined together in sung prayer (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 113).

Our music ministers are a relatively small group who show a great deal of commitment.  They appreciate the positive feedback they receive from parishioners on special occasions when our music is of a very high standard.  They will be the first to tell you, however, that they need more people to help them provide quality music Sunday after Sunday.

Perhaps you enjoy singing, and maybe people have even suggested to you that you should?  Perhaps you can play a musical instrument?  If you fall into either of these categories, we ask you this weekend to consider joining one of our existing music groups, or forming one of your own.  The music ministers here in Wenty provide a great deal of support to each other, and are always willing to help new ministers in whatever way they can.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, St Paul urges Christians to use their spiritual gifts for the building up of the Church and the kingdom of God.  This Pentecost Sunday, please take some time to consider how you may use your gifts for the good of all.


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16/5/10 – Music Ministry

Next Sunday is Pentecost Sunday.  Over recent years, we have focused each Pentecost Sunday on the various liturgical ministries in our parish.  This year, we are going to focus on one liturgical ministry in particular.

Music should be an integral part of every liturgical celebration, particularly on Sundays.  Music can give our prayer greater richness and help raise our minds and hearts to God.  The role of music ministers is crucial to enriching the liturgical celebration in a unique way.

It doesn’t mean, however, that Music Ministers need to have decades of experience and professional music training!  While we’re lucky to have some music ministers who do, others may be music students, or just sing because they enjoy doing so.

Our parish needs more music ministers at each of our Sunday Masses.  You may be able to assist by playing an instrument or joining a group of singers.  We’ve had a good number of parishioners who have served our parish for many years and find their ministry very rewarding.  Hopefully more parishioners can join them.

Next week, we’ll share more with you about the music ministry here in Wentworthville and how you can participate in it.


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Substituting the Psalm

On Tuesday, Fr Edward McNamara, regular liturgy contributor for the Catholic news site Zenit, published his usual “Q & A” style liturgy column for the week.  This week’s article responded to the submitted question of whether a song, perhaps relating to the second reading or the gospel, could be used in place of the responsorial psalm.

Fr McNamara quite rightly answered this question in the negative, referring to no. 61 in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.

This matter of the responsorial psalm is frequently misunderstood by music ministers and others.

The main reason for this, I believe, is that in the celebration of Mass, music is normally used with a ritual action.  We typically see music accompany processions and the like.  Yet in the case of the Responsorial Psalm, the music is the ritual action.  A clear understanding of the parts of the Mass and their purpose is crucial.

The notion that the psalm can be replaced with another song doesn’t wash when we consider the responsorial psalm first and foremost as a proclamation of scripture, which is what it is.  That is why it is a part of the Liturgy of the Word.  We have quite rightly encouraged the use of music at the responsorial psalm because the psalms have always been the “songbook” of the Jewish faith from which they originate.  Yet if those who make the music selections, and those who sing the psalm forget that at this point of the Mass, their primary duty is to proclaim the scriptures, then it’s all too easy to start thinking that “it’s okay to use another song instead.”

To sing the psalm of the day each week does require sound resourcing and commitment on the part of music ministers, and not all parishes can sustain this while ensuring the psalm is proclaimed well.  In consideration of this, the liturgical documents do offer alternatives:

  • Common or Seasonal Psalms. Not all parishes may be able to learn all the psalms in the lectionary, but learning a collection of core psalm repertoire for each season of the year is by no means impossible.  There are only 20 common psalms for all four seasons of the Church year (which isn’t much given that’s every Sunday across the three-year cycle).  Our own parish music suggestions resources recommend a common psalm for each Sunday.
  • Psalms in Metrical Form. Many composers have set psalms to more song- or hymn-like forms of music, which music ministers may find easier to learn and use with their assemblies.  Take care, however, with such settings where it says the lyrics at “Based on…” the psalm.  Some composers alter or vary the words of the psalm, and some may bear little resemblance the the version you will find in the lectionary.  Others are much more faithful to the psalm text, and/or quote it directly.
  • Chant. I’m not saying you need to learn Gregorian chant here.  If you do have music for the response, then with knowledge of a few chords, you can easily chant the lines of the psalm on a single note.  The psalms of Michel Guimont may help here, but they can be even simpler than that if you wish.
  • Sing the Response Only. If your parish lacks the resources to sing the entire psalm, then perhaps the best alternative is to sing the response only, then have a Minister of the Word proclaim the verses from the lectionary.

Like all things in liturgy, the documents set forth the principles and guidelines that underpin what we do and articulate for us an ideal to strive for.  Given the great diversity within our Church, we also have some accommodations that allow us strive towards those ideals in light of the nature of each worshipping community.  The Responsorial Psalm is a case in point.  Although I would recommend to any liturgical musician that they visit their nearest Catholic bookstore that sells music (such as Pauline Books and Media, for example) and look at the collections of psalms that are available.  A number of composers have set the entire three-year Sunday cycle of psalms to music, and some are quite simple and straightforward to use.