Faith 101: Liturgical Music: Let THIS be the Time

by Adam Setmeyer | Mar 31, 2014

By: Anna Bittner

“Let this be the time.”

You probably recognize this phrase as part of the opening song we’ve used at nearly every Mass during this Lenten season here at Marian. In fact, you might have noticed several changes (or lack thereof) to the Mass music. Did we just forget to pick new songs from week to week? Actually, there’s a reason for why we do what we do, a method to our madness. Liturgical music is really important. And there’s definitely a reason as to why we’re doing what we’re doing right now.

A lot of things go into selecting liturgical music, so let me back up a bit. Music ministry is outlined in a variety of liturgical documents, most recently, in Sing to the Lord, a liturgical document by the USCCB. We have to make three judgments of each piece of music: the Liturgical, Pastoral, and Musical Judgments. Along with that, we have to consider the season. In this case, the season is Lent. What’s so important about Lent, and how does it affect the music we use at Mass?

Let this be the time... that we open our minds to new ideas.

First of all, the service music we use during Lent is affected. We do not sing the Gloria, and the “(Alleluia)” word is no longer proclaimed during the liturgy, though we still do give glory and praise to God before the Gospel is proclaimed. Marian musicians take this one step further by we changing the Mass music setting altogether. Rather than using a happier, upbeat music setting like Mass of Joy and Peace, we switch to chant: much simpler, but still singable. We return to our roots, using the chanted melody that many Catholics are somewhat familiar with.

Let this be the time... that we remember our past.

Another change that you may have noticed is the musc during communion. The text during communion is to help the community recognize its unity as we are drawn together by partaking in the Body and Blood of Christ. The communion song’s message always focuses on God’s love for us and our role as members of the community. Hence, the song “Whatever be the Love,” coupled with “Ubi Caritas” as a familiar piece that both helps the full Marian community join in song over a familiar piece, but also proclaims God’s love.

Let this be the time... that we celebrate our common ground.

The challenge we face is finding a way to raise our voices in song, while still focusing on the center of the Lenten message of sacrifice and renewal. As we return to the text, we return also to the message of Lent. The Triduum (beginning on Holy Thursday and proceeding through Easter Vigil) is without a doubt my favorite liturgical season because of its theological richness. It concludes our season of Lent with the dramatic events of the Paschal Mystery: Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection. We see God’s plan, salvation history, coming alive in our midst as we awaken to Christ’s saving action for each and every individual. We have died with Christ through the season of Lent, and at the end, we too are able to rise with him. May the character of our music lead us to the reality of death and resurrection, a turn to the newness of Christ’s ongoing presence and entering into a call to deeper relationship.

Let this be the time... That we find Christ’s presence anew in our lives.

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