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50th Anniversary of De Musica Sacra

10/9/2008 - 7:47 PM PST

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liturgical music, will bear greater success when it flows from Gregorian Chant.

Today in our diverse culture, it is important to embrace the liturgical and musical principles that Pius XII presents, so that a universal expression of the Liturgy can be realized by embracing the sacred music tradition of the Latin Rite, which places Gregorian Chant and Polyphony at the center.

When popular religious songs dominate the Sacred Liturgy, the universality of liturgical music that is offered by Gregorian Chant, designed for people of all cultures and times, is sacrificed. Popular religious songs, by their very nature, tending towards the vernacular and composed with contemporary styles, cannot serve the needs of a universal liturgy.

In the recent past, a certain mindset prevailed that insisted the People of God could not appreciate Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony. “Sacrosanctum Concillium,” building on “De Musica Sacra,” in contrast, insists otherwise and, moreover, asserts that Catholics enjoy a right to sing the traditional liturgical chant in Latin for their spiritual and intellectual benefit.

In the pastoral implementation of these norms, seeking to form Catholics in the true spirit of worship, the clergy can help restore Catholic culture in liturgical practice, but will, in reality, face political opposition in the parish, religious house, diocese and seminary. Thus, formation is necessary on every level so Catholics can come to joyfully embrace the liturgical and musical treasury of the Roman Rite.

If the restoration of liturgical music is to be taken seriously, we must begin with formation of our future clergy in the seminary. “De Musica Sacra” insists that competent liturgical musicians are needed to instruct priesthood candidates in a program of courses that will invigorate them with a love for Catholic liturgical music. This education must employ these future Church leaders with the means to pastorally implement a real Catholic restoration of liturgical music, an investment of inestimable worth.

[1] “De Musica Sacra et Sacra Liturgia” was issued on September 3, 1958, the Feast of St. Pius X.
[2] Benedict XVI’s comments in the Sistine Chapel, on Saturday, June 24, 2006.
[3] “Instrumentum Laboris,” 61.
[4] “Gregorian chant, which the Roman Church considers her own as handed down from antiquity…is proposed to the faithful as belonging to them also [assisting] … the faith and devotion of the congregation.” —Pope Pius XII (1939-1958), Encyclical Letter Mediator Dei, Sec. 191, November 20, 1947.



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Pius XII



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