Although probably never really said it, St. Augustine is often quoted, “He who sings [well] prays twice.” Song has been central to the Christian worship experience from the very beginning, born from the rich Jewish liturgical tradition of praising God with song. It is likely that at the Last Supper, Jesus and The Twelve sang as part of the Passover celebration. The Gospel of Mark mentions that Jesus and his followers sang songs of praise. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
The choir and the cantor are not the only ministers of music during Sunday Mass. If the goal of “full, active and conscious participation” is to be realized, then everybody must not only sing, but sing prayerfully and well. Parishes where the singing is spirited are parishes that are alive and growing.
For a complete discussion on the importance of music in our worship, see the U.S. Bishops’ letter, Music in Catholic Worship.
From Gregorian chant to the wonderful music of contemporary composers like James Chepponis, explore the links on this page for some examples of great Catholic music.