The church building is the sounding board for the voice of the entire assembly (congregation, choir, organ, instrumentalists, and ministers). Sound should be able to fill the room both directly and reflectively without obstruction and/or absorption. This type of environment is essential to the proper formation of a community engaged in prayer. Materials which hinder the acoustical environment include carpeting, cushions, acoustical plaster and/or tile, and perforated surfaces.

Architects, liturgical planners, and acoustical engineers must execute their roles within the above mentioned parameters. It is imperative that these professionals possess a working knowledge of the unique requirements essential to a worship space, requirements unlike those of any other public space. Likewise, parish committees charged with the responsibilities of reviewing plans must be diligent in compiling all available information necessary to make an informed and responsible recommendation.

We are witnessing increased numbers of situations in which desirable acoustical environments have either been seriously damaged or destroyed. Some new buildings are being designed and constructed with a lack of understanding of, or disregard for the principles set forth by the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy in "Environment and Art in Catholic Worship" which document we strongly support.

Audibility of all (congregation and minister) is a primary requirement. A space that does not require voice amplification is ideal... Since the liturgical space must accommodate both speech and song, there must be a serious acoustical consideration of the conflicting demands of the two. The services of an acoustical engineer can enable architect and builder to be aware of certain disadvantages in rooms that are exclusively "dry" or "live"! A room designed to deaden all sounds is doomed to kill liturgical participation.

Environment and Art in Catholic Worship, n.51

January, 1990

Corpus Christi, Texas

 

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