The story of Pentecost where everyone was able to speak different languages and share the message of the Gospel demonstrates clearly for me that from the beginning of the church, the Gospel was not meant to be proclaimed in only one way, but in a multitude of ways so that it can reach and be understood by a large diverse group of people. Music is a language of communication, and just as the spoken word exists in multiple languages, so does music. While we recognize French, Spanish, and Chinese (for example) as foreign languages, it is possible to learn to communicate using these languages (so that they no longer are foreign). Musical languages are called styles and include classical, romantic, contemporary and a whole host of other classifications depending upon how refined you wish to be.
Liturgical music today must reflect the multicultural diversity and intercultural relationships of the members of the gathered liturgical assembly. … Liturgical leaders and musicians should encourage not only the use of traditional music of other languages and peoples, but also the incorporation of newly composed liturgical music appropriate to various cultural expressions in harmony with the theological meaning of the rites. (Sing to the Lord, #60)
I know from my experience learning French that when we try to speak or understand a new language, we may encounter some difficulties, but it is also an opportunity to expand and grow. Changing our language requires us to shift perspectives. When we have to think about our words, we become more aware of our choices and can learn more about our own perspective.
In the next few weeks, we will be learning a new musical setting of the Eucharistic acclamations. The words will be familiar, but where the music we have been singing was adapted from music for the previous translation or for other sets of words, this music was written specifically for the most recent translation. As we learn the new music, trust in the Holy Spirit to give you the voice to proclaim God’s praise in a different tongue just as on the Feast of Pentecost.
Bulletin Notes for the Cathedral of Mary, Our Queen, May 24, 2015