Towards a Common Repertoire of Liturgical Music: Paul Taylor's Suggestions…

Paul Taylor is an Assistant Director of the Melbourne Archbishop’s Office for Evangelisation. His specific area of responsibility is “Worship Resources and Formation”. In the latest edition of the Archdiocesan Liturgical magazine, “The Summit” (Vol 33, no. 3) of which he is the editor, he has reprinted an article which he first published in the Brisbane Liturgical Commission’s “Liturgy News”. The article is called “Towards a Common Repertoire of Liturgical Music”, and it includes a list of almost 120 musical pieces which he judges to be central to an ideal common repertoire in any Australian diocese. I reproduce this list below–I would be interested in your reactions.

Personally, I could happily work as a music director in a parish where the pastor determined to follow this list. I might quibble with about half a dozen or so, but that’s only a 5% disagreement. More importantly, I could happily worship in a parish where these songs were commonly used.

I was particularly interested in his selection criteria, which included:

1) Reflection of a variety of styles
2) Sufficient seasonal and ritual material to cover most parts of the liturgy and the Church year
3) conformance to the requirements of 1967 Musicam Sacram
4) the importance of “traditional” music for high festivals
5) the “commonality” of pieces across a number of published compilations
6) surveys of popular hymns

In fact, I agree with these criteria to a greater extent. What I notice is lacking however, is any criteria which would judge the inclusion or exclusion of a piece on doctrinal, literary, or musical grounds–the first of these (the doctrinal) being the most important.

Elsewhere I have published my own set of criteria–my “ten commandments” for the formation of a parish repertoire. These differ only slightly from Paul’s. In fact, we have discussed these issues together on a number of occasions (his point in the article about Musicam Sacram placing the highest importance on chanting the priest/people responses is one that arose out of these discussions). My own requirements for a Parish repertoire would include the following rules for judging the merits for inclusion of any given piece:

1) Is it focused on God? Is it a song about or addressed to God rather than a song about us or addressed to ourselves? Songs that are addressed to or which focus upon ourselves are a type of idolatry. Songs that put God’s/Christ’s words to us in our mouths as songs to him are liturgically dysfunctional

2) Is it true? ie, Does it express the true Catholic faith? Is what it says about God true? Is what it says about us (and others) true? Does it name God correctly?

3) Is it singable? ie,Can it be sung without accompaniment? Does it avoid difficult timing? Does it avoid difficult changes in tone or pitch?

4) If the text is not a scriptural or liturgical text, does it have dignity as poetry apart from the music? ie,Avoid trite or clichéd language, bad English.

Two footnotes before deciding to introduce or encourage the use of a song

1) Does the song have lasting merit? ie, Has it been in continual use and does it show every indication that it will continue to be used? Will teaching the song be a lasting investment?

2) Is the song widely known? ie, Widely = in Catholic circles, ecumenically, nationally or internationally. Will teaching the song equip them for worshipping elsewhere other than in our local Parish and School? Will it bind them in unity with other Catholics/Christians?

In any case, here is Paul’s suggested list. I wonder if you can pick the one’s I would have left out? I wonder if there are others that you would have included? (nb. You have to nominate which one it should replace in this list, so that it remains at about 120 in number).

Wake, 0 Wake
On Jordan’s Bank
Prepare the Way of the Lord
Creator of the Stars of Night
Come 0 Jesus, Come
0 Come, 0 Come, Emmanuel
0 Come, All Ye Faithful
Joy to the World
Silent Night
Angels We Have Heard on High
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Once in Royal David’s City
The First Nowell
From Ashes to the Living Font
May this Lenten Discipline
Grant to Us 0 Lord
Lord Who Throughout These 40 Days
I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say
Hear Us Almighty Lord
Hosanna to the Son of David
The Children of Jerusalem
All Glory, Praise and Honour
Jesus Remember Me
The Spirit of God
Priestly People
Father, Lord of Earth and Heaven
A New Commandment
Ubi caritas
Where there is Charity and Love
An Upper Room
Pange lingua
At the Cross Her Vigil Keeping
General Intercessions
This is the Wood of the Cross
My People (or equivalent)
Keep in Mind
0 Jesus Crucified
0 Sacred Head
Were You There
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
Easter Proclamation: Exultet
Litany of the Saints
Springs of Water
This is Our Faith
Go in the Peace of Christ
By Your Kingly Power
Christ is Alive
Psalm 117: This is the Day
O Flock of Christ
Jesus Christ is Risen Today
0 Sons and Daughters
Alleluia Sing to Jesus
Holy Spirit, God of Liqht
Come Down, 0 Love Divine
0 Breathe on Me
Veni, Sancte Spiritus
Sing Forth, 0 Sion
Taste and See
Gift of Finest Wheat
I am the Bread of Life
Eat this Bread
Jesus in Your Heart We Find
Firmly I Believe
Holy God, We Praise Thy Name
For All the Saints
Hail Redeemer
Hail Queen of Heaven
Magnificat (Taize)
Immaculate Mary
Hail Mary, Gentle Woman
Salve Regina
All People that On Earth Do Dwell
Praise to the Lord
In Faith and Hope and Love
All the Earth
Gather Us In
With a Joyful Heart
Taste and See
Eat this Bread
Father, We Thank Thee Who Hast Planted
Gift of Finest Wheat
I am the Bread of Life
0 Lord, at Your First Eucharist You Prayed
Now Thank We All Our God
Holy Father, God of Might
All Creatures of Our God and King
Christ Be Our Light
Glory and Praise to Our God
Here I am Lord
How Great Thou Art
Make Me a Channel of Your Peace
On Eagles’ Wings
Praise My Soul
Song of Cosmic Praise
Strong and Constant
Godhead Here in Hiding
Sing My Tongue
Down in Adoration Falling
Soul of My Saviour
Jesus My Lord, My God My All
This Day God Gives Me
Morning Psalm 63
Benedictus (English translations)
0 Radiant Light
The Day Thou Gavest Lord is Ended
Evening Psalm 141
Magnifcat (English translations)
This is a Joyous Happy Day
Baptised in Water
Amazing Grace
Church of God
Come Holy Ghost
Veni Sancte Spiritus (Taize)
Love Divine
When Love is Found
Lord, You Give the Great Commission
Psalm 22: The Lord’s My Shepherd
Song of Farewell: Saints of God
Song of Farewell: May the Angels

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2 Responses to Towards a Common Repertoire of Liturgical Music: Paul Taylor's Suggestions…

  1. Tony Bartel says:

    I have just finished a unit on liturgical music at ACU. The lecturer asked an interesting question. Given the norms of the GIRM and documents such as Musicam Sacram, where would it be appropriate to sing “Here I am Lord” in the eucharistic liturgy?

    One could also ask the same question of “I heard the voice of Jesus say”.

    I still can’t answer the question. And surely it is not good enough just to sing it because people like it.

  2. Schütz says:

    I agree with you about “Here I am, Lord”. It has confused “voice”–our voice in the chorus and God’s voice in the verses. Focused far too much on ourselves, rather than on the praise and worship of God. Sentimental as all get out, too.

    In a discussion some time ago with Australia composer Richard Connolly, we actually compared this song to “I heard the voice of Jesus say”. There are similar problems, but since the “voice” remains that of the singer reporting the words of Christ, it does not offend quite so much.

    I think that the latter actually wins over the former because it is a) universally known, b) simple to sing even without accompaniment, c) of greater literary merit as poetry, and d) a little more true to the scripture passages upon which it is based. Nevertheless, it remains rather more of a pious folk song than a hymn of praise or adoration.

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