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Lift Every Voice and Sing

The why, when, where and how of singing at Mass

Father David Jones

Catholic Practices

Why? Because the bible says it. The Apostle Paul instructs us to gather as believers who are watching and waiting for the Lord and sing psalms, hymns and spiritual canticles. Why? To keep the faith and the focus of what we are doing. Nothing is worse than having a great solo performed during church. Why?

Why, because it is a solo. It is done for or by one person, alone. In church, WE sing to the LORD! A soloist or a choir or all arrangements in between can help us sing or they can entertain us. We do not come to church to be entertained, we come to be gathered in Jesus’ name.

When? When the bible and church talk about singing, they are talking about praying. Some prayers are better expressed in song. They are talking about the parts of the Mass that are designed to be sung, that beg to be sung, which are flat if recited. Like the GLORIA and the HALLELUJAH and the AMENS of the MASS!

Where? We tend to focus on the songs that accompany the processions, entrance, offertory, communion and recessional. However, preference of singing should be given to the parts of the Mass where we are not in motion, but rather where we are standing in the need of prayer and crying out to God with one voice and one heart. The “LET US PRAY” and the “I BELIEVE” parts.

The parts where the whole church, not just the parish or those in the building, but the whole church is responding, speaking, asking and telling God something. Those are the important parts of the Mass, second only to the times when God is telling us something. Yep! Sometimes even the readings ought to be sung!

How? Together. That’s the reason why WE sing. Because we are together in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We agree, AMEN! We are on one accord. AMEN! We are one. AMEN! We are experiencing the same thing at the same time and in the same spirit. AMEN!

In church you never walk alone, so lift every voice and sing, because we are climbing Jacob’s ladder, marching to Zion and making heaven our home.

Everything that speaks to the heart and comes from the heart is a song.

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