Saturday, June 02, 2007

Church, Music and Church Music

This weekend the Chicago Gospel Music Festival is being held right in Millennium Park. (Other years it has been in Grant Park; now it is right across the way!) I managed to get by the youth tent to hear a church group singing their hearts out. There's a real need for music that takes hold of the whole person like that, bringing a message about Jesus that unites the mind and heart to the energy of the body. It seems to me that almost all cultures have that in their religious tradition. (Case in point: Chicago will be hosting the Whirling Dervishes in a week or two!) We don't ordinarily think of the Catholic tradition in those terms. Our traditional Church music is much gentler and more contemplative than Gospel music. Think of last week's chanting of "Veni Sancte Spiritus" for Pentecost. Oh, but I learned a little tidbit at choir practice on Pentecost morning (a tip of the hat to Paul, our Pontifical-Academy-trained maestro). It seems that the familiar music for "Veni Sancte Spiritus" did not develop from Gregorian Chant, but from secular music. It was sung with a more dancing, lilting sound than we usually associate it with. So maybe part of our tradition got lost along the centuries. Maybe Church music isn't always supposed to be so very "churchly" after all!

1 comment:

spqr said...

"If music be the food of love, play on" (regardless of the genre)