If you attend St. James on a regular basis, you may have noticed that there are new songs being introduced during Masses. These new music selections, along with our ongoing efforts to improve our sense of hospitality and formational programs, are a part of our effort to renew our parish.
Decades ago, St. James was a first mover in adopting the newest Catholic liturgical music. Many of these songs became staples of the regular churchgoer’s experience throughout the 1970s, ‘80s, and early ‘90s. Music has a profound impact on the human person and the attachments we develop towards particular styles or genres of music can become deeply ingrained in our persons. This love of particular forms of music is by no means a bad thing; however, if we fail to recognize that the musical tastes of one generation are not necessarily adopted by the next, we will inevitably become a parochial caricature of a different era rather than the living Body of Christ, capable of bringing each new generation into an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church.
However, despite all of our sincere desires to bring the gospel of Jesus to an increasingly secularized society, we are still almost exclusively using the music from 30 years ago, which is not so “contemporary” anymore. It is my sincere desire that St. James continue to be a parish of “first movers,” open to adopting new Catholic liturgical music which not only honors God and the sacred nature of the Mass, but resonates with our culture today.
During Lent this year, we introduced a new song, “Lord I Need You” by Matt Maher. It took a few weeks for the congregation to learn this song – but now I can hear from the pulpit how you all have adopted this song within the Mass. In addition to this song, we have introduced Hillsong Worship’s beautiful hymn of praise, “What a Beautiful Name” as another example of what contemporary worship music can sound like. (For examples of these songs
We plan to incorporate more 21st century worship music into our 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and Saturday/Sunday 5 p.m. Masses, while our 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Masses will have more traditional hymnody and chant. However, if we do not understand the role of music in the Mass and how it is used to draw us into worship and praise of our God, we are missing the point. To that end, we hope to offer some education and examples about the role of music in the Catholic liturgy in an event we are holding this week:
Why We Worship
Wed., May 29 – 6:30 to 8 p.m. – St. James Church
Presented by Tam Conseur, Director of Music and Liturgy, and Jonathan Blevins, Director of Evangelization and Formation
My continued prayer is that through each Mass celebrated at St. James, the mystery and power of the music guide hearts and minds to hear the call of Jesus more clearly.
Your Servant in Christ,
Fr. Matt Foley