Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Participation in the singing of sacred music is significant within the Roman Catholic liturgy, as it is in rituals of other religious groups and cultures. Liturgical practice places sacred song at the forefront of the Eucharistic Celebration, which in turn is itself at the centre of all communal celebrations within the Catholic Church. In studying this phenomenon, however, it is not enough to look only at the texts and the songs; rather, this study examines song within the context of the role of singing within the community.
In observing and commenting on three communities in which I am active as music minister, I am able to compare and contrast the role, function and power of participatory sacred song in similar yet differing situations. I also engage in a theoretical discussion which will shed light on the many issues in the function and role of music within communal worship. I draw on a combination of theoretical writings on performance (such as the work of Charlotte Frisbie, Richard Schechner and Jeff Todd Titon), Bakhtinian theories of language and the discourse surrounding organizational theory and power (as proposed by Göran Ahrne). This provides a fruitful theoretical framework, from which further discussion regarding specific case studies can result, thus rendering a possible final application of the theoretical thought this frameworkn has provided me with the tools to be better able to discuss the issues of sacred song in its performative context.
By applying these theories to the Church's liturgical documents and practical observations on function, fresh insights can be developed about the function of song. By observing and commenting on what should occur according to the liturgical documents, on what does occur in these three case-studies, the theoretical applications provide a fruitful area for in-depth exploration of the role of participatory sacred song.
Bilich, Antonella F., "Singin' in the Reign: Participatory Song in the Catholic Liturgy" (2000). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6006.
McMaster University Library