Black Catholic Worship On The Sacred Liturgy

Decent Essays
Black Catholic worship as we know it today became possible in the mid-1960s when the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy was issued by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). The constitution opened worship to local languages and encouraged “inculturation” of the liturgy. The first U.S. Mass in English featured a hymn, “God Is Love,” by Fr. Clarence Rufus Joseph Rivers, the first African American to be ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, who received a 10-minute ovation. Fr. Rivers pioneered what he termed “Soulfull Worship” and soon was joined by other composers and choir directors to bring a new musical wind into Catholic rites. These pathfinders showed how prayer in African American congregations could be both…show more content…
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Another scholar of African American Catholic liturgy, Fr. J-Glenn Murray, S.J., notes:

“What makes our worship uniquely Black is our indomitable and uncanny ability to ‘sing the Lord’s song in a strange land’! (Psalm 137:4)” [“The Liturgy of the Roman rite and African American Worship,” Lead Me, Guide Me: The African American Catholic Hymnal, vol 1, 1987]

The African American Catholic “religious experience is shaped by African factors as well as by those on these shores,” according to Plenty Good Room: The Spirit and Truth of African American Catholic Worship (U.S. Catholic Bishops, 1991), whose principal author was Fr. Murray. This unique blending mirrors the mélange present in African Diaspora culture in general and in a whole range of music – jazz, blues, gospel, mambo, and reggae, to name a few. Robert Farris Thompson in his Flash of the Spirit: African & Afro-American Art & Philosophy writes about a Black Atlantic performance style that has grown out of the collision of West African and Western Eurocentric musical patterns, a
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