Music is an art which when sung, people may cry, enjoy, dance depending with the type of the piece being sung. Music is a powerful tool in human life. It may be used to unite people, to spread the message, to express feelings and also to attract attention.

Sacred music in the Catholic Church has become a vital tool for prayer, worship, spreading the Gospel and has been used as a better substitute for meditation. But the question comes now, do we really know how to use the art of music for the upliftment of other people’s souls and spirituality or it is now causing divisions other than good among the faithful?

The Catholic Church in Zimbabwe started composition of native songs in the 1960s with the likes of veteran composers, Stephen Ponde, Fr Emmanuel Ribeiro and Calisto Chawasariraleading the wagon of the first black composers in the country. Back then, only the Archdiocese of Harare and Gweru Diocese had composers and two courses were arranged for each year that is in April and August and with a manageable number of songs that would have gone through thorough revision and correction before they are given to the Church, a situation which might be different today.

St Cecilia Day celebrations were brought to liven music competitions when it was introduced in 2005. Accordingly, this was to unite the local Church that people may come together and celebrate in union the important day of the Feast of St Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians and Catholic music. The event brings together Catholic choirs from all over the country to spend the whole day singing in praise of the Lord, with the aspect of competition in it. Do all people who participate in these celebrations know exactly the purpose of the event?

In these competitions, some people cry if they fail to lift the trophy, some lose hope to the extent of abstaining from going for choir competitions with the reason of alleged unfair adjudication in favor of prominent choirs or individuals in certain choirs.
“St Cecilia celebrations are very important because they unite people from all over Zimbabwe who speak different languages to come together to present their gifts to the Lord through music, but the major problem is that people know and understand the day and forget its purpose when they are  celebrating it. Competitions are there just to supplement the celebrations but they should not take people’s minds and focus away from singing in commemoration of the Day itself”, said SekuruJ. K Dzingai, one of the long standing composers of Zimbabwe Catholic Church music.

The majority of people have lost the meaning of the competitions. “It is vital to revise old songs because many of our young people become strangers when such pieces are sung and revision courses will have a great impact to our music as a Church”, he advised.

Responding to criticism to the introduction of solfa notation system in the local music Dzingai argued that many songs especially those which were composed some time ago have lost originality due to lack of written notes of each of them and notation of songs helps to keep originality.
“Notation of songs is very important because it keeps the song’s original composition even if the composer is dead and those who will come after us will be singing the correct version which is different with many songs that were composed long time ago that have lost their originality. Some say it’s not Catholic because they haven’t done that and if we put notes it simply becomes Catholic”, he added.