Music in the liturgy – a reflection for Open House some 40 years after Vatican II

The liturgy and its music is at the heart of the Church’s life, and I think that we all know that its renewal can scarcely be expected to be miraculously more advanced than the rest of the church’s life! However, the subject does deserve fuller treatment, and the progress made by the community at prayer in the past 40 years could usefully be acknowledged. By Gerry Fitzpatrick, Director of Music, The Archdiocese of Glasgow In 1965 when the vernacular was introduced it was a daunting task that the Church had set itself. In our own Archdiocese of Glasgow the population was already declining, people were being re-housed from the city centres and so parish communities were being dramatically affected, all kinds of organisations were faltering or breaking down. The renewal of the Holy Week liturgy in the 1950s had encouraged some fresh thinking, and there had been efforts to involve the congregations in the Latin ‘dialogue mass’ – but with very limited success, and when parishes were encouraged to use hymns it was soon realised that, in the main, the hymns were designed for public devotions and not for the liturgy. Furthermore, as Cardinal Wiseman had pointed out in the late 19th century a great many of our devotional hymns were of a very poor quality however popular they were! The Gregorian repertoire was even then substantially confined to...

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