Music Ministry
(732) 741-0500 ~ Fax: (732) 741-1489
94 Broad Street, Red Bank, NJ 07701

Music Ministry

We are our best as Church when we gather to do what they Lord has asked us to do in his memory. Namely to celebrate the Eucharist. Do this in memory of me. We know from the teachings of the Second Vatican Council that the Eucharist is the 'source and summit of the Christian life' in that the Eucharist is the culmination of God's saving actions in Jesus Christ and of our worship and union with Him who leads us to the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. As the source and summit of the Christian life, the Eucharist is so to speak a two-way street. The Eucharist leads us as our starting point out into the world of daily life and it takes us back home to the Eucharist after our sojourn in the world. The obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation seeks to codified this centrality of the Eucharist in our Catholic lives.

We therefore are called to full, conscious, and active participation. No longer a passive experience being in the sacramental presence of the Lord calls to action. Each is called to be engaged in the “parts” of the liturgy that are proper to them. All should not only have a sense of knowing what they are doing, but seek to take it to heart, to embody, what is said in the prayers, sung in the music and done in the sacraments. We consider how we are called to be disciples of Christ. We actively participate in each part of the liturgy in the hopes of growing in the discipleship Christ calls each person to within the liturgy.

We know that our Eucharistic liturgy has a rich and beautiful tradition of music, from Georgian chant and Latin hymns to contemporary music. All of which invites us to this full, conscious and active participation. Pope Francis has clearly defined the purpose of music at Mass. He said that it is "first of all a matter of participating intensely in the mystery of God, in the 'theophany' that takes place in every Eucharistic celebration, in which the Lord makes himself present among his people, who are called truly to participate in the salvation realized by the crucified and risen Christ" (Homily at Santa Marta, December 12, 2013). Lifting our hearts to God in liturgy always goes beyond the boundaries of human speech. Thus, liturgy, by its very nature, calls upon the help of music and song to praise to God. Music varies from culture to culture. And so do the musical instruments. In liturgy, it is possible to enculturate the many types of songs and instruments in as much as they enhance the celebration and lead us to focus on God. 
At Mass, there are times when we may choose to simply listen to the music and let our hearts rise in praise of God. But, moments of silently listening to music and song at Mass should be rare. Not joining in the songs of the congregation limits and diminishes our participation in the liturgy. The walls of our churches should reverberate with the sound of our singing at liturgy. In the words of the Letter to the Ephesians, we should "be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart…"

We are blessed at St. James with dedicated, faithful and talented musicians and vocalists who participate in our music ministry. As we welcomed to our parish last Spring our new Music Director, Jill Russo, who has a distinguished career in liturgical music as well as a family background of church organists (Jill grew up listening to her mother played the organ for many years at a local parish), it is an opportunity to build up the volunteers who support of our Music Ministry with their time and talent as well as to introduce new aspects to enhance our Music Ministry, always with the purpose that our Music Ministry not become a mere performance, but one that encourages participation in praise of God through the beauty and uplifting of song.

As a reminder our Adult Choir always welcomes new members. The Adult Choir generally practices on Wednesday evenings and leads the assembly in song during the 9:00 am Mass as well as the special liturgies throughout the year such as Holy Week. Joe Clark with Jill leads our Contemporary Ensemble at the 10:30 am Mass. This group seeks in a particular way to include more musical instruments as well as a wider range of songs from the riches of our traditions. This fall, our parish is seeking to establish a children and young persons choir. While details have not been totally work out, it is the hope that this choir will be able to lead the congregation is song on a regular basis every couple of weeks as well as leading participation at special liturgies, i.e., the Family Mass at Christmas. We will also be look for leaders of songs for our other Sunday Masses to help us to praise God in music.

Our Music Ministry needs your help. If you are interested in singing, playing an instrument, leading song or want to help with organizing music etc. let Jill know. Her email address is jrusso@sjredbank.org or contact the parish office 732-741-0500. We are looking to begin this September.

As St. Augustine taught: To sing is to pray twice. Let’s us help one another to praise our God! Don’t be bashful, give it a try, volunteer!