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Joshua Stika MUS 321 Essay 1 Catholic Worship Music and the Human Person There has been

confusion over recent years over what Catholic worship music is and what it ought to do. The purpose of this essay is to put forth a definition of worship music based on the classification of music as a sign or symbol and its associated functions. Religious symbols are used to express spiritual realities and to foster mans relationship with God. Worship music fulfills its functions as a sign in its specific purposes in the liturgy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church establishes that song and musicfunction as signs (1157). Since humankind is comprised of both body and soul, humans express spiritual realities through physical signs and symbols (Catechism 1146). Additionally, humans use signs and symbols to communicate with others and with God. Human expression through music animates both the body and the soul. Thus Thomas Aquinas was very correct when he asserted, It profits one nothing to praise with the lips if one praise not with the heart (Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 91, a.1). Worship music is to engage the entirety of the human person. As stated, signs serve to help humans express the spiritual and to communicate with God. This is especially true for music, which is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art (Catechism 1156). This is so because music, combined with words, forms a necessary or integral part of solemn liturgy (Catechism 1156). The Catholic Church ascribes great importance to the role of music in worship, probably because it wields such great power in moving both body and soul. Music allows the entirety of the human person to participate in the worship of God in the

Stika 2 solemn liturgy. Musics function as a sign finds more specific applications in the purposes of music in the liturgy, as articulated by Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC). The Second Vatican Councils Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy lists two purposes for worship music in the liturgy: the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful (cited in Joncas 38). These two purposes correlate with the two functions of signs. Worship music glorifies God through the expression of spiritual truths and expresses the spiritual by glorifying God. Worship music aids in mankinds relationship and communication with God by sanctifying the faithful. Also, the holier people are the more their relationship with God will grow. Regarding the fostering of mankinds relationship with God, Aquinas notes that vocal praise, especially music, is necessary in order to arouse man's devotion towards God (ST II-II, q. 91, a. 2). Worship music provides both expression and inspiration for communicating with God. Once mans devotion is aroused, he then begins to be withdrawn from things opposed to God, thus initiating the process of sanctification (ST II-II, q. 91, a. 1). It is interesting to note that while Sacrosanctum Concilium listed two purposes, earlier documents included a third purpose. Musicae sacrae disciplina and the 1958 Instruction mention the edification of the people (Joncas 36,37). Joncas speculates that SCs omission of the third purpose may be significant (38). It may be that the removal of edification reflects an emphasis on the need for continual conversion. The word edification, meaning to improve or build up, suggests that sanctification has been achieved, especially when mentioned alongside the word. Simplifying the purpose to solely sanctification communicates that sanctification is an ongoing process that is always needed. Consequently, worship music will always be needed.

Stika 3 To sum up, worship music is a sign, engaging both body and soul, that helps man express the spiritual and communicate with God. Specifically, liturgical worship music carries this out by glorifying God and sanctifying the faithful. From this definition a rough base forms from which one could determine good Catholic worship music. Good worship music engages the heart as well as the lips, expresses spiritual truths and realities, provides a connection with God, glorifies God, and sanctifies the faithful by exciting devotion in them and drawing them away from sin. It lifts the human person into the mystery and love of God.

Stika 4 Works Cited Aquinas, Thomas. "Summa Theologiae: Question 91." Kevin Knight, n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2012. <>. Catechism of the Catholic Church. 1st ed. Vatican: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1994. Print. Joncas, Michael. From Sacred Song to Ritual Music: Twentieth-century Understandings of Roman Catholic Worship Music. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 1997. Print.