About this blogger:
Renowned as composer, conductor, theorist, author, pedagogue, and organist, Aurelio Porfiri has served the Church on multiple continents at the highest levels. Born and raised in Italy, he currently serves as Director of Choral Activities and Composer in Residence for Santa Rosa de Lima School (Macao, China).
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“If I could only make the faithful sing the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Credo, the Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei…that would be to me the finest triumph sacred music could have, for it is in really taking part in the liturgy that the faithful will preserve their devotion. I would take the Tantum Ergo, the Te Deum, and the Litanies sung by the people over any piece of polyphony.”
— Giuseppe Cardinal Sarto, Letter to Msgr. Callegari (1897)

The Importance of Words
published 13 May 2014 by Aurelio Porfiri

T IS INTERESTING from time to time to follow all the debates going on about the future of liturgical music. There are always many competing on the issue of what is liturgical and what is not. Certainly this is a topic that deserves attention, even if sometimes the risk of repeating the same things for years is always present. Indeed the real topic is not if liturgical music is important, but for what liturgical music is important.

Undoubtedly one of the major problems is the false understanding about the role of music in the liturgy; a role that is not to be there on its own, per conto suo, we would say in Italian. Music and liturgy are intimately connected. So, without the deep understanding of the liturgy, there is no liturgical music. It is useless to fight, sending back and forth phrases from Sacrosanctum Concilum or Saint Pius X’s Motu Proprio: everything has to be understood in the framework of a deep attention and respect for the liturgy. Everything will follow from this. Words are important. This is why I am diverging the attention from the music to the liturgy. Of course music has a life in itself, but when liturgical, it becomes like a bride that from that moment will be intimately connected with her husband.

Is liturgy possible without music? Yes. But the way music makes liturgy alive in the hearts of the faithful is unquestionably great. Why do we not want to learn the lessons from history? If we will do it, we will see thousands of great men and women whose faith was nourished from music. I hope everyone can have the same possibilities from this that they have had.

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