What is church music Sunday?
For centuries, the Introit (a small portion of a psalm text chanted at the beginning of the liturgy) for the Fourth Sunday of Easter was from Psalm 98, “Sing to the Lord a new song” (“Cantate Domino”) This day was often known as “Cantate Sunday” and, in some traditions, became a day to celebrate music in the church. The Introit no longer exists in today’s worship. However, in current lectionaries, Psalm 98 is appointed to be sung between the first and second reading on the Sixth Sunday of Easter during Year B. For that reason, since the publication of Lutheran Book of Worship in 1978, that Sunday has often been known as “Church Music Sunday.” (See page 585 in Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship.)
Since this Sunday often falls near the end of the choir season, some congregations use this opportunity to publicly thank all who make music in their congregation. This usually takes the form of festive music and specific prayers. A luncheon or party may follow the liturgy.
Although the connection to a particular Sunday in the church year is no longer strong, the idea of publicly recognizing ministries in the church is an excellent idea. This can be done on any appropriate Sunday or festival as long as it does not detract from the central focus of the day.