The music ministry at St. Mary of the Bay is a multi-ensemble collective working to unite the parish in song in the Sacred Liturgy, bringing glory to God and drawing His people to Him.

THE LITURGY. In order to understand why we have music in the Mass, it’s important to understand the Sacred Liturgy. Liturgy comes from the Greek leitourgia, derived from laos (meaning laity) and ergon (meaning work). According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the liturgy is the participation of the people of God in the work of God (CCC 1071). It is the source of our life.

The Sacred Liturgy is the Church’s public and communal worship. The celebration of the Eucharist in the Mass is the Church’s highest form of worship, but the Liturgy also includes the celebration of the other sacraments, the official daily prayer of the Church (the Liturgy of the Hours), and liturgies for special celebrations. As the Church’s official worship, each of these liturgies has at its heart the celebration of the Paschal Mystery–the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

THE FORMATION. Music offers us the ability not only to worship together, but to collectively elevate our worship to the Lord in the Liturgy. During the Mass–as we offer ourselves with Christ–it aids us in fully conscious and active participation in the Paschal Mystery. At Eucharistic adoration, it draws us into deeper contemplation of Christ’s Presence in the Eucharist.

Music ministry facilitates the glorification of God and the sanctification of His people. Gordon Graham, director of the Edinburgh Sacred Arts Foundation, says that, “in short, the role of music is to fashion and inform the giving, not the gift.” The music itself is not the worship, but the mode by which the worship is delivered. It unites the faithful, bringing all into communion with one another and with God.

THE MUSIC. In Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops outlines three judgments when preparing music for the Liturgy: the liturgical, the pastoral, and the musical. How can the music best carry the weight of what is happening in the Mass? How can it draw hearts and minds into deeper relationship with the Lord? How can it express the faith of those gathered? And how is the music technically, aesthetically, and expressively worthy?

There’s been quite a bit of music written to glorify the Lord over the past 2,000 years, and new technology allows us to delve deeply into the treasures of Catholic music. Our recently-installed projector system allows the ministry to expand beyond the repertoire of a single hymnal. This incorporation of works from the breadth of Catholic music repertoire demonstrates the universality and beauty of the Catholic music tradition.

Our weekly Spotify playlists offer those planning to come to Mass the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the music selections beforehand. The playlists can also function as a supplement to Sunday Lectio Divina, as the text of the songs meditates on the Scripture passages of the Day.

We’re currently working to grow small ensembles at each of the weekend Masses at St. Mary of the Bay. Each ensemble member serves the wider assembly in song, facilitating internal and external participation. Individual members of the assembly are guided in deeper prayer through text in the music and are encouraged to join in song.