Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gregorian Chant

We remember Pope Saint Pius X especially for his famous Motu Proprio of November 22, 1903 on the reform of Sacred Music and the restoration of the Church’s plainchant. Like Pope Benedict XVI today, Pope Pius X was a musician; he was above all concerned that the faithful of the Catholic Church might pray in beauty. He recognized in Gregorian Chant the native idiom of the Roman liturgy. Gregorian chant shines with an evangelical poverty. It is chaste in its expression. It is entirely obedient to the Word of God that it clothes, carries, and delivers.


Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have reiterated his insistence on the primacy of Gregorian Chant and the value of the traditional Roman polyphony in the liturgy of the Church. On November 22, 2003, the anniversary of Pius X’s Motu Proprio, Pope John Paul II said, “With regard to compositions of liturgical music, I make my own the general rule that St Pius X formulated in these words: 'The more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savour the Gregorian melodic form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple.’” On June 24, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI spoke in similar terms: “An authentic renewal of sacred music can only happen in the wake of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony.”


Singing Gregorian chant made possible for me and many people I know to expereince humility and true divinity of God. One can read documents merely intellectually and try to reason endlessly, or simply try and experience the teachings and the tradition of the Church. Simplicity and humility are essential than intellect to learn the true love of Christ and His sacrifice. Although there have been several stages in my faith journey, only through Gregorian chant I fell in love with the Church, her liturgy and ultimately with God, and come out of 'self-centered worship.'

I believe there are stages to reach the ideal of sacred music in Liturgy, and those stages to be 'honored.'

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