GILH 267-269: Singing in the Office

We’re now in th estretch run of GILH. From here on out, we talk about music, that lifting factor to Catholic blogs everywhere.

Part II of Chapter V gives direction as to the role of music at the LH. In reading carefully over the next few posts, we might find an insight or two to apply to the general celebration of liturgy and the role of music.

#267 clarifies what is meant by either “say” or “recite.”


267. In the rubrics and norms of this Instruction, the words “say .. .. recite,” etc., are to be understood to refer to either singing or recitation, in the light of the principles that follow.

Rome never mandates what it knows cannot be implemented in all places. But it does put a strong emphasis on the ideal. Singing the LH in communal settings is included, and I presume this includes the occasional parish setting as well as in religious life:

268. “The sung celebration of the divine office is more in keeping with the nature of this prayer and a mark of both higher solemnity and closer union of hearts in offering praise to God. . . . Therefore the singing of the office is earnestly recommended to those who carry out the office in choir or in common.” [Musicam Sacram 37. See also SC 99.]

269. The declarations of Vatican Council II on liturgical singing apply to all liturgical services but in a special way to the liturgy of the hours. [See SC 113.] Though every part of it has been revised in such a way that all may be fruitfully recited even by individuals, many of these parts are lyrical in form and do not yield their fuller meaning unless they are sung, especially the psalms, canticles, hymns, and responsories.

I like the notion in #269. There’s wisdom in the view that the words on the page do not complete the understanding of the text or in some cases, the experience of divine revelation. Language is deeper than just words. That fact should give all church musicians a sense of respect for what they provide for their faith communities.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to GILH 267-269: Singing in the Office

  1. Darwin says:

    Two weeks in, we’re finally getting pretty good at having the left and right halves of the chapel recite their stanzas in unison. So we’re still a bit of a ways out, but one of these days we would like to manage to get psalm tone chant going on. In some ways, I think this would help everyone keep together.

    It’s been awkward to train people without moving from a prayerful into a classroom frame of mind, but I think that in another month or two we will probably try to introduce simple psalm tones. Right now we only sing a hymn.

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