Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Where has all the silence gone?

Brian at Christus Vincit brings up a good point - silence can be more edifying than bad music. But he puts it more poetically than that:

At the same time, in many cases, a good solid Low Mass, without music, can be just as good, if not better, and far more prayerful, than enduring sixty minutes of entertainment. Sure, I'd rather have music at Mass - if it's done right, and the selections are good, and well-presented. But in the case of the banal dominating the Mass schedule, a good serene Low Mass is far better for a prayerful environment.
Jeffrey Tucker at NLM put it even more succinctly, "Music has to be very good to be better than silence." That's a good analog to the old Spanish proverb, "Don't speak unless you can improve upon the silence." Perhaps that sounds harsh, but then again we weren't always quite so worried about whether we had just offended or been offended.

A wise person whose name now escapes me once said, "the Mass is supposed to lift your spirit, not lift your spirits." The priest says, "Lift up your hearts!" not "Lift up your hands!" - it is a reminder that this is a prayerful time, not a dance party. If the Spirit inclines you to move, to some extent, so be it, but also remember that this is a prayerful time for everyone around you and God is not likely to be trying to make you the center of everyone else's attention. As goes for music, so goes for motion. And always, always, defer to what centuries of experience have proven to be good examples.