Ministers of Liturgical Music, Directors: SttL 45-47

The last of the music ministries discussed in the US Bishops’ 2007 document Sing to the Lord: the director. This person is defined first as a collaborator:

A professional director of music ministries, or music director … (works) with the bishop or pastor to oversee the planning, coordination, and ministries of the parish or diocesan liturgical music program. (45)

A three-point checklist follows. This describes the expectations:

  • fosters the active participation of the liturgical assembly in singing;
  • coordinates the preparation of music to be sung at various liturgical celebrations;
  • promotes the ministries of choirs, psalmists, cantors, organists, and all who play instruments that serve the Liturgy.

This seems to be a good skeleton for any job description, including that all-important responsibility for the singing of the liturgical assembly.

The bishops offer a curious comment, “(M)any potential directors of music are not of our faith tradition. It is significant as we go forward that directors of music are properly trained to express our faith traditions effectively and with pastoral sensitivity.

I would agree some directors are not Roman Catholic. However, the overall faith tradition is Christian. Different varieties of Christian, be they Eastern, Western, Reformation, Anglican, Roman, Coptic, or whatever, do share a single faith. But I would agree that within the cultural and religious expression of a particular faith community that a broad sensitivity should exist, however one might interpret that.

SttL 46 mentions baptism, discipleship, the USCCB document on lay ecclesial ministry, and the importance that music ministry “finds its place within the communion of the Church and serves the mission of Christ in the Spirit.” (Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord #17) I would think that a serious music director (meaning a long-term or career person) find time to digest the document and be prepared for a personal reflection on how one’s ministry aligns with the greater view expressed there.

SttL 47 reminds us of the importance of working together, clergy and music directors, and that the latter are part of a baptismal priesthood, one that leads to a life of discipleship.

That wraps up ministries of music. Any comments on it?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Liturgical Music, Sing to the Lord. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Ministers of Liturgical Music, Directors: SttL 45-47

  1. Liam says:

    Given the context, I suspect there’s an implied “faith *and liturgical* tradition”.

    • Todd says:

      I also think that’s where they’re leaning with this. But it would have a wider application: within Catholicism parishes that have ethnic or cultural traditions. In some cases, it might be a question less of faith and more of culture or even genre. My experience with non-Catholic musicians is that the strong tendency is to appreciate, accommodate, and sometimes even personally integrate into their community.

      • Liam says:

        Understanding that anecdotes =/= data: My first experience under someone from a different liturgical tradition (early 1980s) was not auspicious. It led to more than half the choir forming a new schola. My second experience, much more recent, was much worse.

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