After Lockdown, Come out Singing
Br Dzinisa Ngcongo – If birds can sing, why can’t people sing even better?
I fully subscribe to the wisdom attributed to St Augustine: “To sing well is to pray twice” (“Bis orat qui bene cantat”).
Singing well is what makes Catholic music unique both in style and in tone. Catholics, whether in Africa or Europe or the Americas or Asia, have a unique way of singing, one which I think is spiritually uplifting.
Catholic singing is prayer itself, one where we resemble the choirs of angels. There is a fundamental mistake often made by people who do not understand the Roman Catholic Church, and criticise Catholic music as “old and boring”.
We must forgive them because they do not really know what they are saying. Catholic hymns are based on Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.
Catholics do not just sing what comes in mind at any time, but all songs and hymns have a specific time (season) in which they are to be sung.
On the other hand, the Church rejects any song, hymn or chorus which is meaningless or is contrary to our Christian faith. In every celebration, every Catholic is expected to participate consciously, actively and fully.
The Old Becomes New
However, this involvement ought to be always compatible with the Church’s liturgy. Our singing is compatible with each liturgical season, for a liturgical reason. We have an order, and we sing what is right at the right time.
No matter how old some of these hymns are, when they are sung, they become new and thus renew our spirituality. We have hymns for the invocation of the Holy Spirit, we have hymns of supplication, submission as well as of thanksgiving.
They are all an integral part of our prayer life. Moses and the Israelites sang for the Lord; there is no reason why we shouldn’t (Ex 15:1). As Catholics, we believe that music is the symbolic language of worship.
I would like to encourage all Catholics, especially the youth, to be involved in parish or church choirs and participate actively in order to make our worship effective. Perhaps that is one fruitful intention we can carry out of the lockdown
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