The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
psalms, often accompanied by musical instruments, were already
closely linked to the liturgical celebrations of the Old Covenant.
The Church continues and develops this tradition: “Address . . .
one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and
making melody to the Lord with all your heart.” “He who sings
Song andmusic fulfill their function as signs in a manner all
the more significant when they are “more closely connected . . . with
the liturgical action,”
according to three principal criteria: beauty
expressive of prayer, the unanimous participation of the assembly
at the designated moments, and the solemn character of the cele
bration. In this way they participate in the purpose of the liturgical
words and actions: the glory of God and the sanctification of the
How I wept, deeply moved by your hymns, songs, and the
voices that echoed through your Church! What emotion I
experienced in them! Those sounds flowed into my ears,
distilling the truth in my heart. A feeling of devotion surged
within me, and tears streamed down my face—tears that did
The harmony of signs (song, music, words, and actions) is
all the more expressive and fruitful when expressed in the
of the People of God who celebrate.
singing by the faithful is to be intelligently fostered so that in
devotions and sacred exercises as well as in liturgical services,” in
conformity with the Church’s norms, “the voices of the faithful
may be heard.” But “the texts intended to be sung must always be
in conformity with Catholic doctrine. Indeed they should be drawn
chiefly from the Sacred Scripture and from liturgical sources.”
The sacred image, the liturgical icon, principally repre
It cannot represent the invisible and incomprehensible
God, but the incarnation of the Son of God has ushered in a new
“economy” of images:
5:19; St. Augustine,
En. in Ps.
72, 1: PL 36, 914; cf.
112 § 3.
24 St. Augustine,
9, 6, 14: PL 32, 769-770.