SALT LAKE CITY — “A confirmation candidate once said to me, ‘it’s our Mass. Why can’t we sing what we want?’” said Barbara Guenther, who serves as pastoral associate for liturgy and music at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Community in Albuquerque, N.M.
However, Guenther explained that the distinctive liturgical music sung at Mass is written to fulfill certain needs and functions within the Mass.
Guenther will explore how to select appropriate music for the Mass and other similar issues at a liturgical musician workshop she’ll teach on Oct. 21 at St. John the Baptist Parish.
“The workshop helps participants learn about the liturgy or Mass and why they play such an important role in helping the congregation participate fully in worship,” said Guenther.
Participants will come from all over the diocese to learn about the different actions and rituals engaged in during the Mass.
Liturgical music, or church music, originated as part of religious ceremony and often includes a number of ancient and modern traditions. It developed from the musical practices of the Jewish synagogue, which allowed a cantor to sing improvised melodies; early Christian services contained a simple refrain or response sung by the congregation. From these early forms evolved many of the hymns and musical forms that are sung today. Liturgical music is most commonly associated with the Christian tradition, especially the Catholic Mass, the Lutheran Divine Service or Liturgy, the Anglican Holy Communion and other Christian services.
Previous diocesan music workshops have “helped me learn about new ways of approaching the traditional aspects of the Mass,” said Chris Huntzinger, director of liturgy and music at St. Ambrose Catholic Church. “The workshop is also a great opportunity for liturgical ministers to get together and renew their spirituality.”
In the past, the all-day workshop has included such topics as voice sessions, talks about the liturgy, practice sessions for guitarists and vocal coaching for deacons and cantors.
“I’ve learned so much from attending,” said Susan Conner, choir member at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church. “I’m new to serving as a cantor, and the workshop has helped me become more effective in my singing and in understanding the preparation I need to do to lead the congregation in prayerful song.”
Huntzinger and Conner agreed that attending the workshop has helped deepen their Catholic faith because they use their talents more fully in praising God and in helping others to see and hear the beauty of the Mass.
“Music brings so much to the liturgy in all its forms,” said Conner.
Guenther, who holds a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s degree in liturgical studies, brings 25 years of experience in professional parish ministry to her workshops. In addition to her current position, she serves as chairperson of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe Liturgical Commission and is on the board of the Southwest Liturgical Conference.
WHAT: Liturgical Musician Workshop
WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 21, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
WHERE: St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 300 East 11800 South, Draper
COST: $25, includes materials and lunch
Registration required; contact Trisha Norcross in the Office of Liturgy, 801-328-8641 ext. 323 by Oct. 16.