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Church Music - Built of Living Stones

Church Music - Built of Living Stones

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Published by Dennis
Concerns for Pastoral Musicians In Built of Living Stones. A review of the newest Catholic Church document on art and environment from the perspective of pastoral musicians. This is considered with regard to items of particular interest to church musicians in a church building or renovation, such as the location and configuration of the music area with regard to sound, acoustics, and liturgical factors. A primary concern is that church musicians should be actively involved in building and renovations, since many of the needs of music for liturgy are not well understood by the architectural design team, perhaps not even the building committee.
Concerns for Pastoral Musicians In Built of Living Stones. A review of the newest Catholic Church document on art and environment from the perspective of pastoral musicians. This is considered with regard to items of particular interest to church musicians in a church building or renovation, such as the location and configuration of the music area with regard to sound, acoustics, and liturgical factors. A primary concern is that church musicians should be actively involved in building and renovations, since many of the needs of music for liturgy are not well understood by the architectural design team, perhaps not even the building committee.

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Published by: Dennis on Apr 13, 2009
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11/13/2014

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P
 ASTORAL
M
USIC
 
The Journal of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians June-July 2001
C
ONCERNS FOR
P
 ASTORAL
M
USICIANS
In
 Built of Living Stones
 
Dennis Fleisher, Ph.D.HIS NEW STATEMENT ON ART AND
 architecture for churches, chapels,and oratories of the Latin Church inthe United States, issued by the authority of the National Conference of CatholicBishops, has as its stated purpose “
to assist the faithful
involved in the building or reno-vation” of Catholic places of worship.
1
It isalso intended to offer guidance to architects,artists, liturgical consultants, engineers,builders, and other professionals engaged inthe varied and diverse facets of a churchbuilding project.In its opening chapter,
 Living Stones
estab-lishes its place in the context of other churchdocuments that address art and architectureby stating that it “builds on
and replaces
 Environment and Art in Catholic Worship
 (no. 9, emphasis added). In some otherareas, however, it defers to other extantdocuments, and for “planning appropriatespace for musicians” it specifically cites andreasserts the validity of two staples of pastoral music literature,
 Music in CatholicWorship
and
 Liturgical Music Today
(no.90). Despite such deference, it is now clearthat
 Built of Living Stones
is to be used asthe primary guide for Catholic churchbuilding projects in the coming years.This new document is not intended to be anexhaustive compendium of information forthose involved in Catholic church buildingprojects, i.e., it does not set out to be ahandbook for the resolution of the complexliturgical, architectural, aesthetic, andpastoral issues that arise in the course of most building projects. Rather, in its 261paragraphs, it offers “suggestions andguidelines” to serve as the basis for decisionmaking at the local (parish and diocesan)level regarding art and architecture inCatholic church building projects. Further-more, it suggests that these guidelines canbecome the foundation for the developmentof diocesan guidelines and legislationgoverning liturgical art and architecture.Moreover, the extensive footnotes providean invaluable resource, directing the readerto supporting references in seminal andauthoritative church documents.Since Vatican II, and even more so in thepast ten years, there has been a steadyincrease in the number of church buildingand renovation projects. And with thisgrowth, there has also been a growing needfor authoritative guidance to help addressthe complex issues and dilemmas thatemerge in the course of these endeavors. Butthe most volatile issues (location of tabernacle, pews versus chairs, posture,communion rails, and the like) have, inrecent years, become so divisive that theydefy formulaic resolution. While thisdocument does not, in general, resolve themost volatile issues, it does cite canon lawon some matters and leaves other areas tothe discretion of diocesan bishops.
A Less Contentious Area
While issues concerning music and musicministers are generally a less contentiousarea of church building projects, pastoralmusicians will often find themselvesembroiled in seemingly peripheral but
 
C
ONCERNS FOR
P
 ASTORAL
M
USICIANS
 
In
 Built of Living Stones
 
Page 2
 
disquieting debates regarding the place of music and musicians in Catholic liturgy andin the Catholic church building itself. Whoamong us has not heard the occasionalsentiment from a parishioner to put the choirback in the loft or that music is distractingfrom the liturgy? Yet the place of music inthe liturgy has been reaffirmed in manychurch documents, perhaps most strongly inthe new
General Instruction of the Roman Missal
2
and Pope John Paul II’s 1999
 Letter to Artists.
 Among the elements of church buildingprojects addressed in
 Living Stones,
thereare many statements about music, and,therefore, it seems appropriate that pastoralmusicians invest some thoughtful time inreading, studying, and understanding theentire document and, in particular, becomingconversant with those sections whichaddress the music ministry. In the followingparagraphs, I will present a summary of themajor statements in the document thataddress pastoral music and discuss the majorthemes in the context of music ministry. Ihope that this review will be a helpfulintroduction that initiates further study of thedocument by pastoral musicians, particularlyif your parish is building a new church,renovating, or considering minoradjustments in the music ministry area.You may already be wondering: What can apastoral musician do about these diverse andcomplex issues? Isn’t this moreappropriately the domain of designprofessionals (architects, engineers, andacousticians)? Surely you have noticed thatthere are aspects to music making which,while obvious to us, are not understood byour parishioners, building committeemembers, or design professionals involvedin building projects. Because of this specialknowledge that pastoral musicians possess,many professionals on church building andliturgy committees are now, more than everbefore, welcoming pastoral musicians intothe design process to help address the issuesinvolved in making music for liturgy. Whendiscussing music ministry concerns, one of the nation’s most highly esteemed liturgicalconsultants put it this way: “What are thebest locations for the music ministry? Irecommend to you that, if you arerenovating or building a new church, youanswer this question first. Therefore,brought to the table are the people of themusic ministry.”
3
 
Liturgical Principles forLocating the Music Ministry
“The Living Church” is the first of fourchapters in
 Built of Living Stones.
It ispresented as “a theological reflection on theliturgy and liturgical arts and architecture.”A key section of this chapter, subtitled“Liturgical Principles for Building orRenovating Churches,” presents some well-established liturgical factors as guidingprinciples for the design of the body of thechurch and, within that body, the spaces forthe various ministries that serve the liturgy.In this regard, the document is very clear
inconcept 
about the principles that shouldguide the design of the worship space:
A variety of ministries serve the assembly atthe liturgy . . . As members of the Church,each person forms an essential and distinctpart of the assembly that is gathered by Godin an “organic and hierarchical” way. Eachminister, ordained or lay, is called upon tofulfill his or her role and only that role in thecelebration of the liturgy (no. 36).By its design and its furnishings, the churchreflects this diversity of roles. The one whopresides, those who proclaim God’s word,the ministers of music, those
who assist at thealtar, and members of the congregation all play

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