Courtesy of Sophia Institute Press

Amid Pandemic Restrictions, New Book Explains Why Music Is Essential for the Mass

By inspiring or inhibiting devotion to the Eucharist, music can shape the eternal fate of the faithful

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With congregational singing banned, hymnals missing from the pews and worship publishers buckling under unprecedented financial strain, liturgical music has suffered greatly throughout COVID-19. To offer consolation to parish musicians and rekindle the faithful’s appreciation for liturgical music, author AnnaMaria Cardinalli has written “Music and Meaning in the Mass,” available from Sophia Institute Press.

A classical guitarist and operatic contralto, Cardinalli understands that nothing can spark and fan the flames of desire — of longing, love, awe and reverence — quite like music can when it is skillfully directed to the task.

Music’s powerful influence on bodies, emotions and minds gives it special significance in the Mass: the devotion it inspires or restrains either consoles or wounds the Eucharistic heart of Jesus. The salvation of the souls gathered at the altar hangs in the balance. Liturgical music, therefore, is “so critical that the eternal fate of the world quite literally rests upon it,” writes Cardinalli.

To assist parish musicians in their soul-saving work, Cardinalli covers the following topics:

  • Why music is capable of conveying meaning — even without lyrics
  • The four keys to choosing an entrance hymn that draws congregants into active participation
  • How the choices that musicians make determine a congregation’s willingness to sing
  • A three-step brief “examination of conscience” for musicians
  • How an instrument’s ability to sustain multiple notes directly influences the participation of the faithful
  • The three principles for ensuring that music accords with theological truth

During this tense time, parish musicians (and all the faithful) are called to reflect on the importance of music in the Mass. With “Music and Meaning in the Mass” as a guide, musicians will be able to use their music as never before, despite current restrictions, to awaken in others a desire to welcome, receive and console Jesus on the altar with a new and vibrant love.

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