Catholic Worship Book II is the product of a ten-year project to develop an official liturgical music resource for the Australian Catholic Church. Various committees (working on: texts, music, liturgy, newly-composed music, editorial) critically reviewed liturgical music developments in Australia since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and identified a number of key principles underlying the Catholic Church’s approach to liturgical music. These key principles guided the work of the Catholic Worship Book II project team:
- Sacred music is more holy “the more closely it is joined to the liturgical rite, whether by adding delight to prayer, fostering oneness of spirit, or investing the rites with greater solemnity.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 112). A liturgy “takes on a nobler aspect when the rites are celebrated with singing, the sacred ministers take their part in them, and the faithful actively participate.” (SC113)
- Liturgical music must be worthy of the mysteries being celebrated and must have texts that are theologically sound.
- A balance between contemporary and traditional styles of music is needed.
- An emphasis on ritual music is to be encouraged i.e., so that the assembly can sing the Mass, not just sing at the Mass.
The list of recommended hymns and songs found in Catholic Worship Book II supplements an earlier list published by the ACBC in 2009.
The national Catholic liturgical music repertoire contained in Catholic Worship Book II is not an exhaustive listing of all liturgical music which is considered appropriate for use in Catholic liturgical celebrations. But, this repertoire forms what the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference anticipates will become the well-known core repertoire of Catholic parishes and schools across the continent and that will serve as a common starting-point to which other music can be added as needed and as is appropriate. The ACBC has included in CWBII six complete settings of the Ordinary of the Mass by Australian composers which are recommended for parish use across Australia.
The repertoire found in Catholic Worship Book II provides an indicative standard against which to measure other music when it is being considered for inclusion in Catholic liturgy. The Catholic Worship Book II national Catholic liturgical music repertoire serves as a model indicating the standard of music recommended by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference as appropriate for use in Catholic liturgy due to its musical quality, liturgical appropriateness, and theological soundness. When other music is being considered for use in Catholic liturgy, it is important that it is judged according to the musical, liturgical and theological standards established in Catholic Worship Book II.