Liturgical instrumental music

Apart from sung prayer texts, instrumental music is an integral part of our liturgical prayer.

The Organorgan4

The organ is our principal liturgical instrument. In its earlier forms, the organ took its place in Western Christian worship somewhere between the 10th to 12th centuries. Far from being ‘old instruments’ used in liturgy as museum pieces from the past, organs have their place in contemporary music, liturgical or otherwise in the same way as other instruments, classical or contemporary.

The organ of today is an extremely versatile ‘modern’ instrument by way of its range of dynamics and musical colour, and accommodates contemporary forms of music as it has done for centuries.

New organs continue to be built the world over and existing organs are renewed and upgraded regularly for use in liturgy and in the secular music arena.

"The pipe organ is to be held in high esteem in the Latin Church, since it is its traditional instrument, the sound of which can add a wonderful splendour to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lift up men's minds to God and higher things.”

Musicam Sacram – Instruction on Music in the Liturgy (Second Vatican Council) – Sacred Congregation of Rites - March, 1967


Organ repertoire and improvisation weaves through our liturgy to link, underpin and partner it, drawing together the elements of that liturgy; prayer, symbol and ritual into the whole. It does not exist for itself. Under the command of a competent  organist – who is both technically accomplished and liturgically trained, aware and sensitive – the organ can “pray with and for the Assembly” in its joy and in its sorrow.

“It is highly desirable that organists and other musicians should not only possess the skill to play properly the instrument entrusted to them: they should also enter into and be thoroughly aware of the spirit of the Liturgy, so that even when playing ex tempore, they will enrich the sacred celebration according to the true nature of each of its parts, and encourage the participation of the faithful”.

Musicam Sacram – Instruction on Music in the Liturgy (Second Vatican Council) – Sacred Congregation of Rites - March, 1967

 

Organ Specifications and History

Click here for a full specification of the organ at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.

Click here for a history of the organ at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (Courtesy of the Organ Historical Trust of Australia ((OHTA)).

 

Other Instruments

•    Other instruments including the piano, brass instruments, percussion and others are used as styles and genres of our music dictate, but always to support the liturgy and prayer of the Assembly, not for their own sake or that of the instrumentalists.

“The use of other instruments may also be admitted in divine worship... provided that the instruments are suitable for sacred use, or can be adapted to it, that they are in keeping with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful.”

Musicam Sacram – Instruction on Music in the Liturgy (Second Vatican Council) – Sacred Congregation of Rites - March, 1967

More in this category: Our Liturgy and Liturgical Music »