Speaker shares music as essential method of worship


Franciscan University of Steubenville students overcame early morning yawns Oct. 15 to attend a lecture on music and catechesis by a visiting music director at 8 a.m. in the Gentile Gallery. 

Jeff McGarrity, director of music at St. Thomas More Parish in Denver, Colorado, addressed students, lecturing on the importance of music ministry in the catechetics field, in a talk entitled “Sing a New Song to the Lord: Music for Catechetics.” With his notes propped on a grand piano, he stood behind the instrument and played various hymns and songs throughout the lecture to punctuate his talking points. 

Music, McGarrity said, is the essential, not an optional, way to direct people to the glory and majesty of God. “A friend once said that good food is God’s love made edible,” he said. “I would suggest that music is God’s love made audible. (It is) the way that we hear God’s love.” 

McGarrity offered an example of learning through song by singing names of the books in the New Testament to piano accompaniment. He hadn’t sung that song in over a year, he said, but he could still remember all the books. 

McGarrity also discussed the importance of discernment between songs and how to decide upon which pieces are suitable for given situations. He listed three musical considerations to keep in mind when choosing songs: ease of singing, predictability and style of music.  

Participation is a key part of musical worship, he said. The leaders in music have to be sure that they are making allowances for the other participants in worship. “We have to always be discerning,” he said, in the same way that a chef has to decide what foods to make. We have to make decisions between songs.  

McGarrity covered a list of the types of music, explaining the differences between hymns and songs and between praise and worship and contemporary Christian. Before ending, he provided the audience with resources for where to legally obtain music for worship. 

Senior Shelby Martin found the talk to be an enlightening source of information on the influence of music in church ministry. “It was a great opportunity to learn more about the importance of music,” she said, “and to learn about the rich tradition of music in the church and how we can use it in our catechesis.”