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Catholic Church Music

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Catholic Church music has been used from times immemorial, and continued by every Christian denominatin. Oriental religions, like Hinduism, use music for their rituals, as a slow chant, enhances the meaning of the sacred words. However, the oriental ethos, does not permit anyone to equate their religious music to the secular, used in the worldly pursuits. The Hebrews, too, being of oriental thinking, used monotone, for their incantations. This was continued in Islam, where the Muezzin sings his call for prayer in a plaintive chant.    This tradition has seen a distortion in recent modern times, with Christian music adopting secular themes and rhythms, just to   ' keep up with the times ' - with a concomitant loss of Faith.

The early Church, having its origin in Judaism, followed the Hebrew customs. The "Dominus Vobiscum" - The Lord be with you * "Et cum spiritu tuo" - and with your Spirit -  in the Latin rite, used the early "tones" (raagas).  In the times of Charlemagne, the Gauls, used local chants, and from where our plain chant.(Gregorian Music) was promoted by  Pope Gregory and formalized it,

In 1200 AD, Guido d"Arezzo, a monk, hit upon the idea of using, phonetic names for the scale, which was so far using the Greek Alphabet. He chose the hymn "Sancte Joannes" - the first syllables of each line were, ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, and the last were Sancte Joannes. He formed one name from these two, and made "SI" - because Joannes, was spelled Ioannes. Later "ut" was dropped, and the Lord's name - Dominus was substituted, so we got our do re mi fa sol la si - When the instrumentation was used, as the keys producing the notes were static, they were given the name ABCDEFG - and dor re mi, was solely used for vocal music, which used the pitch according to the individual's ability, but the relationship between the notes always remained the same, thus one set for the human voice.

The Catholic Church, is the mother of all other Churches, as the others are offshoots, having protested the rules of the Catholic Church. Thus music in the churches have followed different paths. They were also Language based, as Lutheran Church was originally rooted in German practices, and Anglican Church in English practices. Both used solemn music to represent sacred texts, and continue to do to this day. However, American Baptists, used their local music, and we have the Negro Spirituals, and Evangelical Music.

The Catholic Church, used Gregorian music, until the Renaissance, and introduced polyphony around the year 1400 when the Church Organ was the common accompanying instrument. Chords were discovered early, and used to set the hymns, and Giovanni Palestrina became the first to make professional music with this novel science of "Harmony". Bach used it profusely, to compose Lutheran music, and so too, all over Europe, it became the practice. When the Classical Musicians like Mozart, Haydn came in Austria, they composed master works, for the Mass, and are performed even till today, as classical performances.

As classical music of the renaissance, distracted from the original purpose of the Liturgy which was Worship, and people came more to hear the music, Pope Pius IX banned it and re-introduced the Gregorian music, and strict limitations were imposed on polyphonic compositions.

With the Vatican II, these rules were relaxed. as the Liturgy started using vernacular languages, and the vernacular music became the vogue. However, in many countries, musicians were not trained to compose special pieces for the sacred worship, and they started using secular melodies, for the text, which was a unhappy marriage. Again, the music attracted the worshipers, and they wanted more and more jumpy music, and it became an entertainment, which singers checking their microphones, and behaving as if that they were theater performers.

Thus it is high time, we train Church Musicians, and give guide lines. The simple rule: think of what the words are, meditate on it, and try to portray it in your music. The person who hears, should be carried towards God, and not to the music. Truly, music should be the handmaiden of the Liturgy which is formal worship.

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