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Everyone seems to have their own opinions about which Catholic hymns are good and which ones are bad. But whether you enjoy the music at mass or have problems with it, we can all agree that there is something special about a congregation singing prayer as one. In today’s piece about singing through the Ascension liturgy, Zoe Romanowsky interviews Pastoral Associate and tenor Noah Jacob Tyler, who sings for a Baltimore parish. Noah says:
Many mystical experiences involve letting go, getting lost, or losing control of various “faculties,” as Teresa of Avila called them. Great music, especially in its truest liturgical context, releases the soul up to the feast of the Lamb at the Sanctus, and down to the ‘worm and no man’ during Lent. Prayer is not contained in any words, but in this movement of the soul. Sacred music is also full of “handles” and missing some of them is often the point. Sometimes the text of the music catches me and evokes a prayer. Other times, I’m oblivious to the text and catch only a rhythm or short cadence that has such perfect balance or splendor, it draws me back to the God of beauty.
Regardless of whether we love or loath a piece of music, singing out at Mass a way for the faith communion to pray as one. As St. Augustine said, “who sings, prays twice.”