Lord of Life (non-liturgical)

For use during meetings, pro-life events, or rallies; a more casual, less formal setting.

Distinguishing Between the Sacred and the Profane

In the Sixth Chapter of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, (1) the Second Vatican Council proclaimed that music intended for worship must “accord with the dignity of the Temple,” with "qualities proper to genuine Sacred Music," and that the "instruments accord with the dignity of the Temple." Article 120, line 1 affirms:

“In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies, and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and to higher things.”

Article 120, line 2 continues:

“. . . other instruments also may be admitted for use in divine worship. . . only on condition that the instruments are suitable, or can be made suitable, for Sacred use in accord with the dignity of the Temple.” (2)

I invite visitors to this website to thoughtfully, prayerfully compare their personal, subjective response to the organ version of Jesus, the Lord of Life; and then to the guitar version, which actually preceded the organ version by a couple of years. What prompted me to write the guitar version was the fact that, due to the first appearance of multiple sclerosis, my fingers became contracted and totally useless for several months. (I wasn’t worried; things like this seemed to gradually cease.) But the music would not be stilled! So it was fun, meantime, having my guitar-playing friends cut a dozen demos with me at a local recording studio.

As is being observed more and more frequently from even disparate quarters, the concept of the Sacred is rapidly receding from people's consciousness. Throughout all of Western society there is a general erosion in actual belief in God; hence, things of God such as His works, His creation of Heaven and hell, His revelation, and, of course, His Church and Sacraments. It only follows, therefore, that the meaning of the concept of the "Sacred" is greatly distorted, and diminished.

The Latin word sacer means "set apart, untouched, taboo." That which the Sacred is set apart from is the "profane," from the Latin pro + fanum, literally "outside the temple." Here we can understand "profane" in its wide sense as the everyday, the usual -- not necessarily as something bad, or something to be condemned -- but the common, the popular, the trite; the secular (from saecularis, ‘world’).

“In the history of all religions of mankind we find this distinction: this separation of the Sacred and the profane. Christianity (historical Catholicism – m.o.h.) has always taken great care to treat that which is Sacred under Sacred forms, and to exclude everything profane.

“This distinction can be better understood in light of the subordination of the profane to the Sacred, or rather by maintaining that the Sacred holds a higher place as something above ordinary life: something nobler, more worthy, exalted as the content of religion itself ... like the desired goal which is eternal life. In this sense it is desired for worship.”

Speaking at the Fifth International (Catholic) Church Music Conference in ChicagoMilwaukee (1966), Monsignor Guilherme Schubert of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, continued:

“When music, rhythms and instruments which are borrowed directly from contemporary profane music are brought into the church, it occasions serious consequences in scandal, separations from Church and cult, a diminishing respect for the Church; and increasing religious doubt and confusion.” (3)

This is indeed a serious charge; and though first enunciated in 1966, finds prophetic fulfillment in much "contemporary" music still in use today.

I invite the visitor to ponder my assessment of post-Conciliar Catholic Church music, Stones Instead of Bread. (4) Most importantly, it provides a method whereby even non-musicians are given five principles by which they can appraise any piece of music as to its suitability for use in our Catholic Churches.

1 http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents...
2 Ibid., Sixth Chapter, Article 120: line 1.

3 Overath, Johannes, Ed. Sacred Music and Liturgy Reform after Vatican II (Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Fifth International Church Music Congress, Chicago-Milwaukee, August 21-28, 1966); and Rome, Italy: Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae) (CIMS) 1969, Printed by the North Central Publishing Company, Saint Paul, Minnesota, p. 246.
4 www.nicholasmaria.com/some-reflections-contemporary-hymns.