IN THIS CASE, MUSIC, FAR FROM SENDING THE SOULS TO GOD, TURNS THEM AWAY FROM HIM

During the preaching of parish missions the Oblates aimed at maximum involvement by the people. Singing was one of them, but with certain conditions:

In the missions. I recommend you use hymns with a refrain, which the congregation can repeat. I insist that there be refrains which the whole congregation can sing, nothing more.
I don’t find anything more wearisome than listening to some isolated voices which annoy you by their unison without anyone being able to hear one word of what they utter. It is the very opposite of devotion. In this case, music, far from sending the souls to God, turns them away from him. Instead of praying at such a precious moment, people languish. People prefer to pray fervently without being distracted by the singing.
And so I would like to suppress, in our missions, any adoration, any hymn, in which the refrain could not be repeated by the entire congregation. Hence I insist on hymns with a refrain because during the mission all must sing.

Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille, 6 April 1837, EO IX n 611

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One Response to IN THIS CASE, MUSIC, FAR FROM SENDING THE SOULS TO GOD, TURNS THEM AWAY FROM HIM

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    In other words, our liturgies are not concerts that we attend and listen to but remain detached from because we are unable to take an active part in them. Our liturgies are not great concerts that we attend and listen to in a detached way, and then walk away from commenting on fine singing but never giving it another thought.

    I am reminded again of how Eugene preached to those who were most abandoned by the structures of the Church, beginning with the poor of his own area who spoke neither proper French or Latin; speaking and understanding only Provencal.

    Speaking with and to others in their own language was a practice that Eugene used and demanded from the very beginning of his ministry; a practices that is carried on to the present day.

    Is there anything more joyous than being able to sing praise to our God? I think this may be a part of our shared DNA as humans, a way that is hard-wired in our very being. Singing a refrain enables many of us to take an active part in our liturgies – it is not just ‘them’ up there but all of us together. It is one of the ways that we join in proclaiming the Word of God. It is a way that Jesus walks among us.

    Sometimes I find myself singing silently as I wake up – my soul singing to God as I am led by the Spirit. Other times I find myself silently singing in the background as I sit here in this place and reflect with Eugene and the many other members of the Mazenodian Family.

    “O Great Spirit, earth, sun, sky and sea; you are inside and all around me.”

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