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Ordained in 2011, Father Friel served for five years as Parochial Vicar at St. Anselm Parish in Northeast Philly. He is currently studying toward a doctorate in liturgical theology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
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“As liturgical art, church music is obliged to conform to ecclesiastical law. But to construct artificial polarities here, between legalistic order and a dynamic church music, demanded by the alleged needs of the day, would be to forsake the foundation of a music rooted in liturgical experience. What is in fact the pastoral value of the shoddy, the profane, the third-rate?”
— Dr. Robert Skeris (1996)

God Has No Need of Our Music
published 5 February 2017 by Fr. David Friel

OT EVERYONE appreciates the value of the liturgy, nor do all understand the value of particular aspects of liturgical celebration. For some, church architecture seems frivolous, while to others, it is “organized religion” that poses a difficulty. For some, the very idea of offering a “sacrifice” is interpreted (wrongly, I believe) as unnecessary, unfruitful, or unscriptural.

The value and pertinence of sacred music, also, is very often not well understood or appreciated. After all, some people ask, what good does a choir accomplish? What purpose does singing serve in the act of worship? “God doesn’t need to hear your music,” they might say. “He has no need of your praise or your music.”

A passage from Saint Irenaeus might serve as a clarifying response to such a position:

The Lord gave directions to His disciples to offer first-fruits to God from His own creatures, not as though He stood in need of them, but in order that they, themselves, might be neither unfruitful nor ungrateful. (Irenaeus, Adversus haereses 4.17.5; trans. adapt. from David Power, Irenaeus of Lyons on Baptism and Eucharist {Nottingham, England: Grove Books, 1991}, 15-16)

Indeed, while God may have no need of our music, nor does He have need of our worship, our love, or our very existence. This is precisely how we know the magnitude of His love.

UR DILIGENCE in the work of sacred music, therefore, serves not to fulfill a need on God’s part (as though the Godhead could stand in “need” of anything). Our worship, rather, serves to fulfill our own need to bear fruit for God and to express our gratitude for His munificence.