Bring back the richness of the sacred liturgy through music

Duck Young (Michael) Kong / Comment

Gregorian chant has been sung in the Catholic Church for centuries. But now, it seemed to have vanished. When people hear the phrase “Gregorian chant” these days, they either have no recollection of it, or they think of the only chants they ever hear: the Kyrie, the Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei during mass.

According to the Second Vatican Council, “the Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as proper to the Roman liturgy; therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services”.

Since Gregorian chant has not been banned, the germs of beauty may be injected into masses during festal seasons by singing at least the Kyrie, the Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei, and eventually the Gloria, in the common chants that are lovely and delightful and joyous. Melodies of the Missa de Angelis can be learned as the starting point.

Author Anthony Esolen said that people may say Gregorian chant is too difficult. However, if the printed notes are provided, it is not that difficult according to the expert. Since its leisurely tempo is simplicity itself, Gregorian chant embodies that “noble simplicity” that the conciliar and post-conciliar documents on the liturgy call for.

The function of chant is to add solemnity to Christian worship. Gregorian chant allows the faithful to transcend their thoughts in prayer and speak to God. It carries prayer, meditation, reverence, awe, and love in rhythm and melody. The music and prose are perfectly integrated in chant. And, the text is at the heart of the composition in sacred music. It is a form of sacred art that stems from the pure spiritual, theological, and biblical inspiration that emanates from the heart. Eventually, it helps the faithful to devotion and prayer in a most splendid and reverent way.

Ordinary people like special days and special seasons. The old church calendar was filled with distinctions between one kind of feast and another, one season and another. There is no reason why the richness of sacred music can be back again. The Church with its special obligations toward sacred chant, that splendid music of the medieval Church, must manifest them whenever the occasion is presented.