Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Scriptures teach us to “Sing unto the Lord a new song” and “sing in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs”

This week and next I would like to encourage you in my pastor’s letter to consider the importance of music in our worship. This week let’s think about congregational singing of hymns.

The hymns are chosen to complement the readings of the day. Why should you pay attention and sing the hymns? There are five reasons:

First, the hymns are catechetical. Through poetry and music, they teach theology. The hymns we choose are always sound and profound. Through them we and our children deepen our understanding of the faith in a simple and beautiful way—by singing.

Second, the congregational hymns speak from the heart. Our intellects may be engaged, but the beauty of music warms and lifts the heart to God. As St .Augustine wrote, “He who sings prays twice.”

Third, when we sing together, we experience the unity of our faith. We join in one voice, one mind and one heart to affirm one Lord, one faith, one baptism.

Fourth, our worship is enhanced and we experience the joy and the power of the gospel when we sing mightily together. Doesn’t your heart surge with inspiration when the whole congregation lifts the roof singing a great hymn like Lift High the Cross or Crown Him With Many Crowns?

Fifth, Satan hates singing. He hates everything beautiful, good and true. Therefore, we should consider singing to be one of the weapons in our spiritual armory. When you come to Mass at OLR take a worship aid. Follow the hymns and sing to the best of your ability! If you don’t know the hymn, don’t worry about making mistakes – try to learn it!

This is part of what it means to “participate fully” in the celebration of Mass. Singing hymns of praise to God opens our heart to God. When we sing we become a little bit vulnerable. That’s why, in my opinion, many Catholics remain cross armed and tight lipped during the hymns: they fear opening their heart to the Lord. Let us leave that attitude and action at the church door and “come into His presence singing!”

Your Pastor,

Fr. Longenecker