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Sidebar: The Many Purposes of Music

At the 1995 NAPM Convention, an insightful workshop was offered by Paul Inwood, director of music for the Diocese of Portsmouth, England, and a composer published through Oregon Catholic Press (OCP). Entitled "More Than Just Words," the workshop outlined several purposes of music in liturgy:

Singing "heightens the meaning of the text."

Singing uplifts "special moments" of the liturgy, like the Triduum blessings of fire and water.

Singing and music slow us down and make us take our time at Mass. Slower music "can give the assembly space to pray, especially if there is an instrumental pause."

Singing hymns "opens us up, makes us vulnerable, allows God to speak to us."

Singing hymns also provides a means of identity for the local church, the parish. It bonds the community together. (A parish can be greatly strengthened, Inwood has found, by having a hymn that is like a "theme song" for that community.)

Singing "creates a mood," and designs an environment that encourages our communal and personal response to God's Word.

Even more important, singing instructs the assembly in a way of prayer. Singing hymns moves us and leads us to places of spiritual attentiveness and sensitivity that the spoken word cannot.

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