One significant element in both music and liturgy is silence. In musical performance and in ritual prayer, silence is more than the absence of sound or a passive pause in action. It is the music found in the space between the notes. All good musicians get this, but we don’t always know how to translate that into the liturgy.
First we must understand what sacred silence is. As silence is inherent to music, it is an integral part of prayer. Ritual silence is stillness in action. We quiet our bodies so that our minds can actively focus. What we focus on depends on when it occurs in the Mass. In the penitential act and after every “Let us pray,” we are silent and still in order to recollect our thoughts.We quiet our bodies so that our minds can actively focus. What we focus on depends on when it occurs in the Mass. Click To Tweet
After the readings and homily, we reflect on what we have just heard. After Communion, we praise God in our hearts together, and before Mass we prepare ourselves for communal prayer (see General Instruction on the Roman Missal, 45).
Especially after the readings and Communion and before Mass, music ministers determine whether and how these prescribed silences happen. Be attentive to the space you give in these moments. And at every ritual silence, take care to also be still as much as possible—not turning pages or adjusting instruments but focusing yourselves as leaders of prayer.
This post was first published in “GIA Quarterly: A Liturgical Music Journal.”
Image credit: ramin ata from Getty Images.
Read more reflections on the Sunday readings here:
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- Can we be salt and light?
- Who is advocating for those in need?
- Bonded to Christ’s Mission
- Deepening the unity