Our liturgical prayer and its music is guided by the following principles:

“…the Carmelites have always had a unique respect for the power of the resurrection in Christian life and for its celebration in the liturgy. Its respect for the heralds of the resurrection, especially Saint Mary Magdalene and the Three Marys, as well as its celebration of the resurrection must always be a life-giving, joyful experience for all who participate in it”.

(Carmelite Liturgical Spirituality – Carmelite Spiritual Directory Project – Horizons 12 – ©2000 James Boyce., O.Carm.)

“Liturgical worship is given a more noble form when it is celebrated in song, with the ministers of each degree fulfilling their ministry and the people participating in it. Indeed, through this form, prayer is expressed in a more attractive way, the mystery of the Liturgy, with its hierarchical and community nature, is more openly shown, the unity of hearts is more profoundly achieved by the union of voices, minds are more easily raised to heavenly things by the beauty of the sacred rites…

(Musicam Sacram – Instruction on Music in the Liturgy -Second Vatican Council – Sacred Congregation of Rites – March, 1967)

“Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the Liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as “”a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people”” (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.”

(Sacrosanctum Concilium – Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy – Second Vatican Council -December 4, 1963)

“Art and music, particularly in our time, should also stretch our imagination, test our limits, call us to larger and more inclusive ideas and views. And, in the context of our worship, far from making us turn in on ourselves, art actually intensifies our sense of the world around us. Art pushes us to see beyond the obvious to what lurks in the crevices of the human-divine experience.

Art reveals something of God to us. It has the capacity to broaden and deepen our understanding and help us make connections with the divine. Art, if it is good, has the capacity to draw us in to capture our attention to speak to the depths of our being. But it does not stop there.

If we are captured or drawn in by a painting or a piece of music we are not simply held on the surface of the canvas or momentarily aware of the sound of the notes on a page, we are moved beyond the here and now and given a glimpse, an insight, into the eternal in what the French organist-composer Olivier Messiaen might call
a ‘transport de joie’, an outburst of joy”.

(Olivier Messiaen, L’Ascension: Quatre méditations symphoniques (1933-4), iii: ‘Transports de Joie’)

(From the sermon “A time of Festival” given by S.F. Nolan, O.Carm., in Chichester Cathedral (UK) marking the Opening of the Chichester Festivities. Feast of St Peter Apostle, 29th June 2008) https://www.carmelites.ie/217.html



Liturgical Music (aka Ministerial Music, Christian Ritual Music, Pastoral Music, Church Music) is that music which:

  • Is at the service of a community of the People of God assembled – the Assembly or Congregation – and theirs and the Church’s liturgy (a corporate act of worship (prayer/dialogue with and about God). For example – The Mass or Eucharist, the Prayer of the Church (Divine Office – Morning and Evening Prayer etc.), Wedding and Funeral liturgies, within or outside of the Mass.
  • Carries the prescribed texts (prayer) of these liturgies. For example –  Mass ordinaries ((Lord/Christ have mercy (Kyrie Eleison), Glory to God (Gloria), Holy (Sanctus)), psalmody, acclamations and responses, canticles, for example – the Magnificat (Song of Mary).
  • Is coupled with scripturally-based or inspired texts for hymnody and worship songs, extra-liturgical prayers, motets and anthems, generally included in a liturgy and relevant to it, but not prescribed liturgical prayer texts for a given liturgy. These are sung to accompany a liturgical ritual or action, for example – a procession or during reception of the Eucharist.
  • Is Sacred Music in that the substance of its liturgical prayer texts, set to music, reveals something of God, and expresses elements of our faith and belief. It speaks of the Divine.

Sacred Music (aka Religious Music, Spiritual Music) is that music which although revealing something of God (the Divine) by way of its text, either scripturally-based or inspired, is not intended for use in liturgy as prayer as with Liturgical Music.

For example – G. F. Handel’s oratorio: Messiah, or Krzysztof Penderecki’s: St. Luke Passion.

Various choirs and orchestral groups perform concerts of sacred music in the respective acoustics and aesthetic environments of our churches. Click the links below for more details:




Today, rather than speak of religious music or of sacred music, it is preferable to speak of music of the Christian liturgy or the ritual music of Christians, music that accomplishes the ministerial function the liturgy calls for, as part of the celebration. Thus, it can be called ministerial music. There is no intended slight toward music in such a phrase. On the contrary, it is an affirmation of the dialogue between music and rite, beauty and prayer. When this dialogue is authentic, music and rite become prayer”.

(Visions of Liturgy and Music for a New Century – Lucien Deiss, C.S.Sp – The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota. © 1996 by the Order of Saint Benedict , Inc., Collegeville, Minnesota)

  • It is this desire for a life-giving, joyful experience for all who participate in our liturgy that underpins our use of music in liturgy in the parish, which, in the care of the Carmelites, is infused with Carmelite spirituality.
  • Our song, – our sung prayer in liturgy – be it in Mass ordinaries and acclamations, hymnody, psalmody, and the sung texts of other liturgies for which we gather as a community of God’s people –  the Church – is never an added extra. Nor is it a concert or performance of ‘religious’ or ‘sacred’ text set to music, during which Scripture is read,  prayer recited, or the Eucharist shared. It is prayer. Sung prayer, by all present. We sing the liturgy (our prayer) together, rather than ‘singing during the liturgy’. Thus a Mass ordinary, hymns, psalms or acclamations are not external to our prayer. They are prayer. They are part of our dialogue with God.
  • Music infuses our prayer with this life and joy, the joy of the resurrection, regardless of season or feast. And whether of the human voice or of instrumental accompaniment, repertoire or extemporisation, music does not exist for itself and is not a stop/start affair. Music is woven through our liturgy, it partners and underpins it, drawing together the elements of that liturgy; prayer, symbol and ritual – into the whole – which becomes the gathered community’s prayer of supplication, praise and thanksgiving, and our prayer for the world, our communities, for each other and ourselves.
  • Liturgy, with all its components – prayer (spoken or sung), scripture and its quality exegesis, ritual and symbol – is the starting point from which we take the Gospel to the world, to be Christ in the world – “Go ye hence and take this with you”: take that which you have prayed (sung or spoken) for and about, that which you have learned.


Text, Musical Styles / Genres

  • With the exception of the set texts of liturgy, care is taken with the selection of texts for hymnody, psalmody, and otherwise, to ensure that an intelligent contemporary faith language, suitable for contemporary Australia is used to clearly express the prayer and its theology and at the same time be poetic in its construction. But always with a theology that is within our Catholic tradition and often reflecting Carmelite spirituality. Its catechetical value is also a major consideration.
  • The musical styles and genres of Mass Ordinaries, acclamations, hymnody, psalmody and otherwise embrace a broad range from plainsong through newer contemporary and avant garde forms from our Catholic and other Christian traditions. Our primary consideration is to ensure that the music suitably expresses the text as prayer, and/or appropriately expresses that point in the liturgy with its associated emotion, rather than it being simply beautiful music for its own sake.
  • The sources for our texts and music for hymnody, psalmody and otherwise are not limited to any one collection, but chosen from many sources. In addition to newer tunes and texts, noble hymn tunes and other music from various periods and traditions are often coupled with contemporary texts in order to preserve music from the collective memory of many generations, thus giving them new life and a place in the repertoire of our contemporary sung liturgical prayer.

Apart from sung prayer texts, instrumental music is an integral part of our liturgical prayer.

The Organ

The organ is our principal liturgical instrument. In its earlier forms, the organ took its place in Western Christian worship somewhere between the 10th to 12th centuries. Far from being ‘old instruments’ used in liturgy as museum pieces from the past, organs have their place in contemporary music, liturgical or otherwise in the same way as other instruments, classical or contemporary.

The organ of today is an extremely versatile ‘modern’ instrument by way of its range of dynamics and musical colour, and accommodates contemporary forms of music as it has done for centuries.

New organs continue to be built the world over and existing organs are renewed and upgraded regularly for use in liturgy and in the secular music arena.

“The pipe organ is to be held in high esteem in the Latin Church, since it is its traditional instrument, the sound of which can add a wonderful splendour to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lift up men’s minds to God and higher things.”

Musicam Sacram – Instruction on Music in the Liturgy (Second Vatican Council) – Sacred Congregation of Rites – March, 1967

Organ repertoire and improvisation weaves through our liturgy to link, underpin and partner it, drawing together the elements of that liturgy; prayer, symbol and ritual into the whole. It does not exist for itself. Under the command of a competent  organist – who is both technically accomplished and liturgically trained, aware and sensitive – the organ can “pray with and for the Assembly” in its joy and in its sorrow.

“It is highly desirable that organists and other musicians should not only possess the skill to play properly the instrument entrusted to them: they should also enter into and be thoroughly aware of the spirit of the Liturgy, so that even when playing ex tempore, they will enrich the sacred celebration according to the true nature of each of its parts, and encourage the participation of the faithful”.

Musicam Sacram – Instruction on Music in the Liturgy (Second Vatican Council) – Sacred Congregation of Rites – March, 1967

Organ Specifications and History

Click here for a full specification of the organ at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.

Click here for a history of the organ at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (Courtesy of the Organ Historical Trust of Australia ((OHTA)).

Other Instruments

•    Other instruments including the piano, brass instruments, percussion and others are used as styles and genres of our music dictate, but always to support the liturgy and prayer of the Assembly, not for their own sake or that of the instrumentalists.

“The use of other instruments may also be admitted in divine worship… provided that the instruments are suitable for sacred use, or can be adapted to it, that they are in keeping with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful.”

Musicam Sacram – Instruction on Music in the Liturgy (Second Vatican Council) – Sacred Congregation of Rites – March, 1967

St Joseph's Church
cnr Rouse and Stoke Streets
Port Melbourne
Mon, Wed, Fri 9am
Sunday 9am
Children welcome at all Masses

Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church
Cnr Richardson & Wright Streets
Middle Park
Tue, Thu, Sat 9am
Saturday (Vigil) 5pm
Sunday 10.30am
Children welcome at all Masses


The Carmelite Parish Office is currently open Tuesday and Wednesday between 9.00am and 4.00pm and Friday between 9.00am and 12.00pm (except public holidays). The Parish Office is closed on Monday and Thursday. The Parish Office phone number is 9681 9600. If we can’t answer at the time, please leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible. You can email any other enquiries to parish@sj-mc.org.au and once again, we will get back to you as soon as possible. The After Hours emergency number is 0419 136 030.