Singing as sacrifice

We can also draw some conclusions about musical practice in the Church, especially this time of year, right around the Feast of St. Cecilia, early Christian martyr, and patron saint of music. Our worship should be as musical as Israel’s worship was sacrificial. That is to say, it should be thoroughly and completely musical, as musical as we can make it. As James B. Jordan likes to say, If you can sing it, why say it? Israelites had to offer physically perfect animals “without blemish.” Our musical worship should aspire to exhibit the same quality. Are our musical offerings the best we can offer? Are they true? Are they lovely? Is this hymn, Psalm, canticle suitable to ascend to the presence of God? Will it be sweet-sounding in his ear?

Finally, we do not have the luxury of delegating this responsibility to “professionals.” Each member of the Church has unique gifts to serve the body. Some lead and exercise authority; some teach; some are shepherds. Choirs have their place. Accompanists are essential, and instrumental ensembles are good. But every baptized Christian is a priest, and all offer the sacrifice of praise together. If you sing badly, sing badly to the Lord, or learn to sing better. You do not have the option of being silent. If you are baptized, you are a priest. It is your job to offer a sacrifice of praise. Singing is one of your main jobs. So sing.

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