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The Power of Sacred Music to Move the Soul

Jul 24, 2018 By Whitney Hetzel

As a runner, I recognize that music has an effect on my emotional state and even on my psyche. I often run alone and love the solitude, peace, and recollection gained when running in silence—but there are times when I need music to lift me up and to motivate me. I don’t know what I would do without my marathon playlists. They have kept me going for 26.2 miles, helping me avoid thinking about whatever aches or pains I felt at the moment. On such runs the music not only encourages me—it literally keeps me moving forward.

I think this is true for the spiritual life, as well. We need the consistent silence that comes from time spent with God in prayer. At other times, music can help raise our minds heavenwards and bring into clearer focus what God might be trying to say to us.

I discovered Gregorian chant a few years ago when a friend gave me her CD featuring the sacred music of the Monks of Norcia. Sometimes I play the chants while I am working around the house or at the computer, and the music becomes a kind of sacred background sound. The chants calm me and I can more easily lift up my work to God.  

Benedicta: Marian Chants from Norcia (CD) Click the image to purchase this CD

Saint Augustine attested to the power of sacred music to move the soul. Once, while on a silent retreat for women, I heard what sounded like heavenly music as we finished adoration in the chapel. We had begun to sing “O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine,” and although I’m certain there were no professional voices in the group, I will never forget the angelic sound coming from those women. It truly moved my soul.

It is undeniable that, as human beings, we have a strong connection to music. Today, unfortunately, we are usually exposed to music that degrades and demoralizes. 

We should ask ourselves:

What kind of music do I listen to?

What music do I allow in my car or my home?

Do I ever listen to sacred music and use it to seek an encounter with God?  


Adrian Dupont says
Aug 26 2018 5:18PM
Loved your article! As a fellow Catholic and Marathoner it is nice to hear you share the same thoughts and feelings on this subject. I have been listening to Gregorian Chants for over 20 yrs, and can say it has truly brought me to a place of quiet peacefulness. I listen prior to attending Mass, before prayer, after a run, and it's background music throughout the week doing chores at home and running errands in my car. Music has been an integral part of my life. It has brought me closer to God.
Karen says
Aug 12 2018 1:42AM
Hi. What music do you listen to while going for a run?
I love to listen to upbeat Christian music while running but I also like running to “oldies”. Actually I listen to a mix of music while running. I even listen to music by the Missionaries of the Poor!ilike ending my run with sacred chant ... it places me in a calm mood to move to whatever I am doing next. And it helps me to end by thanking God for the ability to run.
Tori Hirsch says
Jul 25 2018 10:51AM
Is there any way you could leave a link to the chants or any sacred music you might recommend?
Hello! Where it says "a friend gave me her CD featuring the sacred music of the Monks of Norcia." in the blog, you can click on the blue text "Monks of Norcia." That will lead you to some of the chants and sacred music Whitney recommends, which you can buy from The Catholic Company. Hope that helps!

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Commentary by

Whitney Hetzel Whitney Hetzel

Whitney Hetzel is a wife, mother of nine children, homeschooler, and catechist. Passionate about her Catholic faith and physical fitness, she trains for marathons and triathlons and blogs at to help other women stay healthy and fit while juggling the demands and joys of domestic life.

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