What is the best way for me and best resource to use to celebrate sung Liturgy of the Hours?
John Gaffney Music and Liturgy, Compositions and Workshops has created the best resource for you to celebrate the sung Divine Office during Triduum and after at celebrateliturgynow.com. Yes, the Office will be celebrated completely sung at celebrateliturgynow.com. As Sacrosanctum Concilium stated, the liturgies of the Divine Office are “one wonderful song of praise.” Sacrosanctum Concilium also is clear, “The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy. Holy Scripture, indeed, has bestowed praise upon sacred song. Therefore sacred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion as it is more closely connected with the liturgical action, whether it adds delight to prayer, fosters unity of minds, or confers greater solemnity upon the sacred rites. Liturgical worship is given a more noble form when the divine offices are celebrated solemnly in song, with the assistance of sacred ministers and the active participation of the people” (112-113). In the beginning the liturgy was completely sung. Not simply sung by just sticking some hymns in it, but singing the words of the liturgy itself that are connected to the various prayers, scripture, blessings, actions, rituals, gestures, postures and movement in the liturgy. That tradition became somewhat lost during the Middle Ages and after, however, the Second Vatican Council revitalized this ideal of sung litugy as you just read in her documents. The Third Edition of the Roman Missal (which we began using on the First Sunday of Advent, 2011), really emphasizes the ideal of sung Liturgy for Eucharist (Mass) with easily singable notation over every part of the Order of Mass, which is mostly dialogues between the celebrant and congregation (which are actually the most important parts of Mass to be sung) as it is an action of the “totus Christus” or the whole-Christ, both the Christ-head (the celebrant in “persona Christi”) and Christ’s body (the baptized congregation), a sung intermingling within the whole Christ. Sadly most parishes STILL have not embraced this ideal (I guess it’s only been just over 2000 years since this has been the norm and over 60 years since Vatican Council II re-emphasized this ideal…Maybe by the year 4000 all parishes will embrace this most sacred tradition? By then hopefully we’ll all be in the kingdom singing the dialogues between the choirs of angels and Christ at the heavenly liturgy). Also the orations (prayers), acclamations, Eucharistic Prayers, blessings, dismissals are intended to be sung. Even the readings are given chant tones to be sung to in the Roman Missal, which also promotes singing the Propers (an appointed antiphon and psalm) during the entrance, offertory and Communion processions (instead of replacing them with another hymn or song, which is usually what happens at most parishes in the USA. Hymns are really foreign to the Roman Rite when it comes to Mass, our songbook is the Psalter or Book of Psalms found in the Old Testament). And so at this point in time most parishes are no longer “singing the liturgy,” our tradition that still remains the ideal and should be the norm, but are rather “singing at the liturgy,” which is not our tradition or considered the ideal in any way. Because of wanting to promote the ideal and what should be the norm: sung liturgy, and since when we pray the Hours we join in that “hymn which is sung throughout the ages throughout the halls of heaven”, the creators of celebrateliturgynow.com decided that the Divine Offices that we plan will be sung, “one wonderful song of praise.” Together those working on celebrateliturgynow.com have over one hundred years of education, training, and experience in preparing and teaching liturgy and sacred music. We have created a method and schema so that even if you are not a musician or have no musical training, “can’t sing” (if you’ve been given the gift to speak, you can sing, especially simple chant), and/or have never celebrated any of the Hours of the Divine Office before, you still will easily be able to sing the Divine Office right from the start at celebrateliturgynow.com with no problem, guaranteed! For each Hour, the website will feature a customized “order of worship” with the official texts from the Breviary, musical notation (you do not need to know how to read it to participate, it’s there for musicians who want notation in front of them), and clear instructions on the proper gestures and postures at different points in the Morning and Evening Prayer (Lauds & Vespers for every Sunday). Even when we can resume attending Mass, remember Eucharist is only half of our liturgical life, celebrating at least one of the Hours, especially on Sundays should be part of it too!). Gather your family and your healthy friends (please be health-conscious and responsible when doing this) and pray the Hours at celebrateliturgynow.com during Eastertide and after. You will enter into fully conscious and active participation in the liturgy (which again is the “aim to be considered before all else” and if you’re baptized, your “right and duty by reason of your baptism”).
Is there any subscription fee to use CelebrateLiturgyNow?
None whatsoever. We just humbly ask that you spread the word about celebrateliturgynow.com so more and more of the baptized can join together in sung liturgical prayer. celebrateliturgynow.com will be completely free to use for most or all of Eastertide and probably until the U.S. is under control of Covid-19. After that a small subscription fee will apply to continue to use the service, however, more will be offered such as sung Morning and Evening Prayer for weekdays as well as some of, if not all of the other Hours will be added in a sung format and lectures on topics in liturgical/musical theology by John Gaffney will be available to watch. The hundreds of hours of work to prepare celebrateliturgynow.com was done for the same reason the greatest musical genius of all time, Johann Sebastian Bach, signed all his hundreds of glorious composition manuscripts, “For the Glory of God.” Please also take a look around johngaffney.org, which produced this web service, and listen to some of John Gaffney’s choral compositions and even click through to GIA Publications if you are a choral director and preview and hopefully purchase scores. Most of John’s choral anthems were composed for the average parish choir to easily grasp (yet still contain proper voice leading and compositional technique) so the choir can focus on blend, shape and sound, rather than spend a lot of time learning parts. Also check out the Workshops Page to see some of the most popular music and liturgy workshops/lectures John has created and done for multiple parishes and dioceses and consider having him come to your parish or diocese to give a workshop/lecture.