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Church Music (1)

I have gotten the question more than once: "why are there no hymns during Mass at St. George?" and I always give the same answer: "the Church says Gregorian Chant is superior". This is not just my assessment, but the Church's determination. It might shock some to find out that this is even the assessment of the documents of Vatican II. Really!

The simplest explanation is that Gregorian Chant was developed by the Church, for the Church to use in Mass. Hymns were developed predominantly by protestants as a reaction against Catholicism. The first protestants in the 1500's did not want to have Mass, or the Eucharist, so they invented a "worship service" and since the Gregorian chants they were used to focused on the Mass, they had to come up with something else; thus, we have the introduction of hymns.

Now, do not get me wrong, there are some beautiful hymns, and some have subsequently been written by Catholics which have beautiful theology to them. I am only pointing out their origins. I am also not saying that hymns are inherently evil since they originally came from protestants; the Church has always sought to take what is of the world and convert it into something good and holy.

Yet, when we consider Chant as opposed to Hymnody, the Church emphatically declares that Chant always has priority, and hymns are an allowable option if needed (as when a parish has not yet learned how to sing chant). So then, why do we not sing hymns at St. George during the Mass? We are aiming at what the Church considers preferable and superior. We are aiming at the highest level of devotion, respect and reverence toward God.

More to come...


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