The following comes from a Jan. 25 story in the Catholic Sentinel (Portland).
Archbishop Alexander Sample on Jan. 25 released a pastoral letter to the Archdiocese of Portland on sacred music for Mass, seeking to highlight “perennial truths”: sanctity, beauty and universality.
“Only music which possesses all three of these qualities is worthy of Holy Mass,” Archbishop Sample writes, explaining that ancient or modern music can qualify but that Gregorian chant is the preferred music for Roman Catholic worship.
“Sing to the Lord a New Song,” a 21-page letter, seeks more chant at Masses and urges all parishes to try to get a pipe organ.
“The beauty, dignity and prayerfulness of the Mass depend to a large extent on the music that accompanies the liturgical action,” the archbishop writes.
He cites many popes, including Pope Francis, who warned of “mediocrity, superficiality and banality” in liturgy.
When it comes to choosing music for Mass, the archbishop holds that there are objective principles, not simply taste.
Sacred music’s purpose is the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful, he writes, explaining that sanctity, beauty and universality are the essential qualities that flow from that dual purpose.
Not every form or style of music is capable of being rendered suitable for the Mass, he writes. As examples, he says that the Gloria of the Mass in a polka beat or in rock style is not sacred.
The archbishop explains that Gregorian chant has long held “pride of place” in Roman Catholic liturgical music, a statement reiterated during Vatican II. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI and the U.S. Catholic bishops restated this teaching….