In the Holy Father’s Midnight Mass sermon there is a good and profound thought about liturgy, indeed, liturgical music.
Watch the movement of the Holy Father’s thought. He moves from the unification of God and Man in the Word made flesh who began to dwell among us on Christmas. However, he also speaks of the material universe and the heavens uniting. A sign of the harmony of heaven and earth can be found in sacred music in the liturgy. Remember that liturgy is an encounter with MYSTERY. It is no accident that we sing O magnum mysterium at Christmas.
Here is the excerpt from the Holy Father’s sermon with my emphases. He has quoted Gregory of Nyssa and St. Anselm and made a fascinating arguement for concern for the earth’s environment. Then, he moves to this:
The Earth is restored to good order by virtue of the fact that it is opened up to God, it obtains its true light anew, and in the harmony between human will and divine will, in the unification of height and depth, it regains its beauty and dignity. Thus Christmas is a feast of restored creation. It is in this context that the Fathers interpret the song of the angels on that holy night: it is an expression of joy over the fact that the height and the depth, Heaven and Earth, are once more united; that man is again united to God. According to the Fathers, part of the angels’ Christmas song is the fact that now angels and men can sing together and in this way the beauty of the universe is expressed in the beauty of the song of praise. Liturgical song – still according to the Fathers – possesses its own peculiar dignity through the fact that it is sung together with the celestial choirs. It is the encounter with Jesus Christ that makes us capable of hearing the song of the angels, thus creating the real music that fades away when we lose this singing-with and hearing-with.
A marvelous gloss on sacred music and what it does in the liturgy. It is a sign of, and a creator of, unity between heaven and earth, man and the heavenly choir before God’s throne in anticipation of what will come in fullness only after Christ’s final Coming.