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Director appeals for more support for music ministry

By Susan Gately - 07 May, 2016

Priests and bishops need to put more resources into choirs and music, says Ian Callanan of Music Ministry Together.

Ian Callanan

Ian Callanan, Director Music Ministry Together

An authority on liturgical music has appealed for more quality music at liturgies but maintains that this must come “from the top down”.

“There are some very fine choirs and musicians in our churches and for the most part people are doing the best that they can. We are blessed with some excellent choirs however some parishes struggle and they need help,” Ian Callanan Director of Music Ministry Together (MMT) told CatholicIreland.net. But he added,   “priests and bishops need to put more resources into choirs and music,”

Music Ministry Together runs workshops during the year to train members of choirs and according to its director, often hears choir members wishing that their priests might come to these courses too.

He sees people providing music as being involved in a real ministry. “Music is central to what is happening at mass. Members of choirs think of themselves as ‘just being in a choir’. But it is a ministry.”

Mr Callanan says some choirs sing at four main spaces of the liturgy (beginning, end, offertory and communion), instead of music being integral to the Mass, with parts like the Lord have mercy, Holy, holy, Great Amen and Lamb of God being sung.

Asked why there was still quite a preponderance of music which is fifty years old or older in some Irish churches, Mr Callanan said  “It comes down to resources. Some do not have the resources available to them to adapt or they are scared of the unknown.”

He appealed to priests to attend music liturgy workshops (like those provided by MMT). “If they could get enthused about music in liturgy, they could encourage the choir directors to be enthusiastic. Liturgy should be joyful.”

Music Ministry Together summer schoolMusic from pre Vatican II which is still popular in Ireland often has ‘old theology’.

By contrast there is some fine liturgical music coming from the post Vatican II tradition.

As an example of this Mr Callanan praised the work of the St Louis Jesuits whose songs (eg Here I am Lord), reinforce scripture, and the work of other writers like David Hass (You are mine), Marty Haugen (Shepherd me oh God) and Fr Liam Lawton (Cloud’s Veil).

Music Ministry Together’s summer school runs from Tuesday 16 to Sunday 21 August 2016 at the Cistercian College Roscrea with the theme ‘Make Your Home in Me’. The full cost is €300.

“During the summer school, we will gather together as music ministers. We will have various sessions to teach and learn church music together. Choir leaders will experience being choir members and hopefully, some choir members will have a go at being choir leaders,” comments Ian Callanan.

The school (for singers, directors and those playing musical instruments) will explore various styles of liturgy, have moments of catechesis and time to relax and have fun with organised activities and entertainment through the week.

For information see www. musicministry.ie

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