September 28, 2010: Singing is Praying Twice

by Mary Galvano

“He who sings, prays twice.” In contemplating that phrase I can’t help but think how music was formed into what it is today. Singing and music is a result of prayer itself. The original organized music was made for the Mass and it was the Catholic Church that is responsible for the “Do Re Mi” system, the first scales of notes, born from Gregorian Chant. Not only is Gregorian Chant the music of the Catholic Mass, it is the root to all organized music. It originated in Europe during the 10th and 13th centuries, named after Pope Gregory I, Bishop of Rome from 590 to 604. Now scholars say it goes back even centuries earlier. It is an amazing thing and something in which to be proud to think of the influence our Church has made on the world of music. This is the very reason we need to keep this original music alive in our churches and at the Mass. This sets us apart from other denominations. Our history of music goes back further than any other Christian church.

Modern music today in the Church is beautiful and just like the invention of the first songs we need to keep creating new songs. However, the original songs were made especially for the Mass as a prayer. Do we sing songs at Mass as prayers or do we sing songs for entertainment? You would never hear of or get an argument from someone that practices Eastern religion for the continued use of their ancient chants. It is their tradition and the chants are their prayers. Why then should we, the members of the true Church, discard our own holy, sacred chants and songs? They were made for the same purpose to inspire the highest form of praying and to keep tradition alive within the Catholic Church.

I believe that a lot of “praise and worship” music also known as contemporary music brought in from other denominations is not made for the purpose of the Mass. Praise and worship music is wonderful and necessary in our walk with the Lord. In fact, this music can be the most inspiring music. However, let us all make an effort to keep the history of our own sacred Catholic music alive in our churches today and in the future. It tells a history of who we are as a faith. While still welcoming new songs, continuing the use of Gregorian Chant and our sacred songs of old will deepen our spirituality in the Church. This miraculous music is truly praying twice.

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