Kenya: Catholics to Streamline Dancing in the Church

Nairobi, Kenya - The Catholic church has moved to standardise liturgical dancing during Mass.

Murang'a Bishop Peter Kihara said church choir masters were required to vet the dancing during rehearsals and to ensure only approved hymns were sung.

"Choir music should be aligned with the doctrine and liturgy of the Catholic church. There have been cases where choir masters and composers have come up with all sorts of music, which tended to be a disgrace to the Catholic faith," Bishop Kihara said.

The bishop, who chairs the liturgy commission of the Kenya Episcopal Conference, said scrutinising church music and streamlining dancing should not be construed to mean the church was against this form of praise to God.

He was speaking at St Benedict church, Nairobi, where he launched a revised edition of the Catholic Church hymnal, Tumshangilie.

The second edition of Tumshangilie took 10 years to review under the guidance of Benedictine priest Fr Peter Meinberg, a former chairman of the Association of Liturgical Music.

Liturgical dancing is usually performed by the youth during offertory and during processions when the priest enters and exits the church.

The dancing and ululation accompanied by the kayamba and drumming were allowed by the Second Vatican Council held between 1965 and 1968. The doctrine and liturgy of the faith were reformed to suit modern times.

It was not until the 1995 African Synod, during the visit to Kenya by Pope John Paul II, that the reforms were implemented.

Meanwhile, Catholic bishops have gathered in Nairobi for their first meeting this year to discuss matters affecting the church and also come up with a common position on national issues.

The bishops' meeting starts today and will end on Friday.