Music and liturgy seem inseparable, yet we seldom pause to ponder their relationship in depth. In this volume, Kathleen Harmon offers her own insights by creatively exploring the complex interplay between congregational singing and the liturgical celebration of the paschal mystery:
• Harmon asserts that liturgical music, in the form of communal singing, is a vehicle through which the ritual reenactment of the paschal mystery is effected.
• She addresses concrete and practical pastoral applications of the relationship between music and liturgy. She focuses on how the liturgical singing of the assembly creates the collective consciousness of church as the Body of Christ.
• Music, then, is much more than just a component of liturgy; it is, in Harmon's view, absolutely constitutive both of liturgy’s deepest essence and its fullest realization.
Professional music scholars, graduate students, music directors, and anyone else seeking a sophisticated analysis of liturgical music will find this volume a rich sourcebook of new ideas.
Kathleen Harmon, SNDdeN, is the music director for programs of the Institute for Liturgical Ministry in Dayton, Ohio and contributor to Living Liturgy: Spirituality, Celebration, and Catechesis for Sundays and Solemnities, an annual resource published by Liturgical Press. She is also a columnist for Liturgical Ministry and serves as director of music for St. Paul Parish in Englewood, Ohio.
When I finished reading this book, I knew I would return to it in the future. Its final chapter will be [a] prelude to the start of music planning for the upcoming year. . . . I highly recommend this book.
We can't let the size of this little volume deceive us. In its mere ninety-six pages is packed a theology of liturgy and theory of singing which Kathleen Harmon meshes into an understandable, creative, and expansive explanation of why we truly must sing the liturgy. The theology: at the core of the celebration of liturgy is the paschal mystery with its inherent tension between dying and rising. The theory: the force-resistant phenomena of singing draws us out of ourselves to embrace a new identity, presence, union with one another. The meshing: surrendering to the force-resistance of singing brings us face to face with the paschal mystery demand to die to self and be transformed into ever more perfect members of Christ's Body. Harmon gives us more than a theology of liturgical singing-she inspires us to sing the liturgy, to live the paschal mystery.
Joyce Ann Zimmerman, CPPS, PhD, STD, Director, Institute for Liturgical Ministry
In The Mystery We Celebrate, the Song We Sing: A Theology of Liturgical Music Kathleen Harmon once again demonstrates her ability to integrate various elements of recent liturgical theology and to place this at the service of the liturgy as envisioned in the church's documents. In this book she focuses on the liturgy and its music as the means of encountering, signifying, and empowering the living of Christ's paschal mystery by the faithful assembly. Though the task set forth in the title of the book is accomplished by the end of chapter 3, it is in the final chapter that her concern for the pastoral musician's life of discipleship in ministry shines. This is a worthy, practical book and a source of much-needed insight and encouragement for all who minister in music.
Alan J. Hommerding, Senior Liturgy Publications Editor, World Library Publications
Music has been part of religion for as long as both existed. The Mystery We Celebrate, the Song We Sing: A Theology of Liturgical Music is a study of liturgical music and the relationship of the two through the ages. It also touches upon liturgical music's spiritual relevance and its contributions to religion as a whole. A scholarly examination from first page to last, enhanced with an index, The Mystery We Celebrate, the Song We Sing: A Theology of Liturgical Music is highly recommended for community library Christian collections.
Midwest Book Review