VIETNAM – Sacred music, an instrument of evangelization

Saint Augustine said: “He who sings prays twice”. The Catholic Church in Vietnam is also aware of the spiritual power of music in the liturgy. For this reason, the Commission for Sacred Music of the Archdiocese of Hanoi, in the presence of Archbishop Joseph Vu Van Thien and numerous priests, religious, musicians and liturgists, brought together around 300 representatives of the church choirs of the Archdiocese for a seminar.
Fr. Roch Nguyen Duy, church musician and secretary of the “Commission for Church Music” of the Vietnamese Bishops’ Conference, brought the importance of church music closer to the participants during the seminar that took place in the last few days in the “Bang So – Pastoral Center” in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi. It is an honor for the choir members to raise their voices in praise of the Lord: “They serve the Church in faith and participate fully in the liturgical celebrations, knowing that they are members of the community gathered and sanctified by Jesus Christ”. The organization and performance of the choir is a spiritual act of unity and love,” stressed Archbishop Joseph Vu Van Thien, “During the liturgical celebrations, the choir sings the hymns according to the principles of music theory and according to the ecclesiastical guidelines, so that the liturgies can be carried out according to the modalities of worship”. In addition to the event in Hanoi, the Pastoral Commission for Sacred Music of the Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City has also organized the “Festival of Sacred Music 2022” in the Pastoral Center in Ho Chi Minh City in recent weeks, which is attended by priests, men and women religious , musicians and numerous choirs from the parishes of the archdiocese.
At the festival, participants had the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas about singing in church life. Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang of Ho Chi Minh City said: “Singing a hymn is not like singing a popular piece of music. In church music, singing and making music is a service: both the collective singing and the solo singing are an integral part of the liturgical celebration, intended to help lift the souls of the faithful to God, and the singers themselves are called to a genuine love of God and a fervent life of faith”. “The goal is to glorify God by sanctifying the liturgical community, not to showcase individual talents, but to ensure that the community of participants can encounter God,” he emphasizes. “In the liturgy, every art form has the task of bringing the souls of the faithful to God,” emphasizes the chairman of the commission for sacred music of the Vietnamese Bishops’ Conference, Msgr. Louis Gonzala Nguyen Hung Vi, while Fr. Roch Nguyen Duy, secretary of the commission, the composers recalled “drawing on the Bible and the Psalms and thus enriching the heritage of Vietnamese sacred music”. Vietnamese Catholic church music has steadily evolved since the 1940s, helping not only to accompany the faith of God’s people, but also to promote values in social and cultural life. Several generations of musicians, singers, orchestras and Catholic choirs have successively developed Vietnamese sacred music in a variety of compositions and styles. Sacred music has greatly influenced the religious life of the Vietnamese. Hundreds of thousands of existing liturgical chants in Vietnamese language are a really useful tool for evangelization today. (AD/PA) (Agenzia Fides, 10/6/2022)