By Sandra Burch
The Catholic Weekly
FREELAND — The purpose of music in the Mass is to help the people.
That was the message David Haas and Lori True delivered Saturday, March 17, during a workshop for singers and musicians at St. Agnes Church.
Haas resides in Eagan, Minn., where he is director of the Emmaus House Center for Music, Prayer, and Ministry. He also serves as campus minister/artist-in-residence at Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School in St. Louis Park, Minn., where he also teaches in the theology and music departments. He has produced more than 45 collections of original music. His liturgical works are sung throughout the world and appear in hymnals.
True is campus minister and director of liturgy and music at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn., and associate director of “Music Ministry Alive!” A workshop presenter, concert performer, master cantor and recording artist, she is a published composer of liturgical music with GIA publications and has authored articles on the topics of liturgy, music, cantoring and liturgical preparation and planning. A mother of two, she formerly served as a parish music and liturgy director at various parishes and communities in New Hampshire and Minnesota and has served as an author and consultant to many parishes and faith communities, as well as being a faculty member for the annual Knockadoon Folk Liturgy Course in Knockadoon, Ireland.
“We have six principles for music in liturgy,” Haas, a native of Bridgeport, told the 30 people gathered for the workshop. “The first principle is that the liturgy is a celebration, the celebration of a conversion experience. Second, the liturgy is about we, not me. It is the common work of the people, a time to celebrate being community.
The third principle, he said, is that we have a galaxy of ministries.
“Are those ministries being used?” he asked.
Ritual and symbol is the fourth principle. Through rituals we keep ourselves grounded, he said. Symbols are ambiguous and they engage the senses. We are to use them with a sense of flair.
“Music is ritual speech,” he said, addressing the fifth principle. “Music shapes, forms and catechizes more than any form of education. When we pick out the music for liturgy we need to remember: Is it worthy?
“The last principal is purpose. The liturgy is not liturgy. liturgy is how we live the liturgy in our everyday life.”
“When we are planning the songs for liturgy,” True said, “the planning is all about how we are helping the church/the people to change and to grow in their relationship with God.
“When we teach a new song to the congregation, we need to step away from the cantors stand and go to the congregation and make eye contact with them.”
True also taught breathing lessons and asked two different cantors to practice a Psalm. After each, she went over what they did well and gave pointers on how to improve.
“David is always inspiring and then you add Lori True and it is a double blessing,” said Joshua Lukens from St Vincent Parish in Shepherd. “I learned to re-appreciate the work of the musicians.”
Haas and True also gave a concert on Friday, March 16, in the church. As Haas told the more-than 300 concertgoers, “this is not your normal concert where everyone sits and listens to musicians, this concert is an audience participation concert.”
“I thought it was awesome,” said Kathy Maxwell of St. Agnes Parish. “Music kept me in the Church throughout high school. This concert was confirmation for me to stay in the Catholic faith.”
“This concert and workshop was excellent, uplifting and inspiring,” added Gerri Dark from St. Vincent Parish. “We can have God flow through us to the people through our cantoring. We are part of the holy people stepping out to be a leader of the holy people in worship and praise of God.”