Resources like GIA Quarterly are useful for helping you choose music. But you also want to understand the liturgical principles that will guide your choices. We’ll explore these over the next few weeks.
Choosing liturgical music is a bit like film scoring. The music helps tell the movie’s story and moves it along, but it never overshadows the plot. In liturgy, the overarching story is the liturgical year. Throughout the course of the year, the entire story of Christ unfolds.Advent and Lent are preparatory seasons. Therefore, consider planning Advent together with the Christmas season and Lent with the Easter season, so that you can pay closer attention to how each season gradually crescendos into the next. Click To Tweet
Therefore, instead of just choosing music Sunday by Sunday, step back and look at the complete story. The liturgical year has an ebb and flow. Some seasons call for simpler choices; others involve more ritual acclamations; still others invite more festivity. Read the “Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar” to get a fuller image of the year.
Advent and Lent are preparatory seasons. Therefore, consider planning Advent together with the Christmas season and Lent with the Easter season. This way, you can pay closer attention to how each season gradually crescendos into the next. Begin by reading the Gospel texts for both seasons in one sitting to get a sense of the overall flow. Christmas and Easter, too, are theologically connected because the paschal mystery is one unified event. Christ’s incarnation and resurrection are like facets in the same jewel. So think of ways to musically highlight this Christmas-Easter connection.
This post was first published in “GIA Quarterly: A Liturgical Music Journal.”