Canadian Catholics may not know his name, but his work has affected all of them.

Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth introduced the 2012 translation of the Roman Missal to the English-speaking world as executive director of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). Anyone who has gone to Mass in English in the last seven years has encountered his work, and this August, can encounter him personally. Msgr. Wadsworth will be the keynote speaker at the B.C. Sacred Music Symposium in Langley.

“Music isn’t something we add to our worship. It’s integral to our worship,” Msgr. Wadsworth told The B.C. Catholic from his office in Washington, D.C.

The current Roman Missal has more music in it than any other missal or liturgical book the Church has ever produced, he said. 

But it’s not good enough to have just any music at Mass; liturgical music stands out from other types, first and foremost by its clear and intimate relationship with Scripture.

“I’m always keen to ask: the (songs) that we’re using, do they have the liturgical voice? Are they the texts of the liturgy or closely linked to them? Quite a lot of the things we’ve sung over the last 50 years in the Church haven’t been,” which can lead to a “weakness in liturgical celebration and lessening of our understanding of the mystery we celebrate when we come together.”

He hopes conversations about sacred music at events like the Langley symposium will inspire choir directors and churchgoers to a deeper appreciation of the music they sing at least every Sunday.

Since the new translation of the Roman Missal was released, he has noticed a renewed interest in the liturgy. With more works coming from ICEL in the coming years, including a new translation of the Liturgy of the Hours, he hopes that revival keeps on coming.

So does Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, who made “Make Every Sunday Matter” a priority for the Archdiocese of Vancouver. Included is making sacred music matter.

“We need to think a little more intentionally about what is truly sacred music,” said the archbishop. “It should uplift. It should positively influence liturgy.”

With Msgr. Wadsworth, a “great expert” in the field, and various workshops for singers of all levels, the symposium has the potential to reinvigorate musicians, pastors, and the people in the pews, he said.

Symposium speaker Father William Ashley, pastor of St. James Parish in Abbotsford, encounters an “awful lot of confusion” about what kind of music is appropriate at Mass.

“We don’t have rap, we don’t have rock. We have particular forms of music that the church teaches about the style and the type of music that should be used in the liturgy.”

The B.C. Sacred Music Symposium was launched in 2018. The second annual event will take place Aug. 2-4 at Sts. Joachim and Ann Parish in Langley and include musical workshops and keynote speeches delivered by Msgr. Wadsworth, Canucks singer and composer Mark Donnelly, and plenty of local talent.

“It’s a great thing to do,” said Msgr. Wadsworth.

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