Home
Explore
Matrix
Citations
Indexes
Forum
Foundation
Def/Vocab
DocsRef
News
Creativity
Prayer
Schedules
SiteMap

The Myhic Fire

Association

LitMusicToday

LITURGICAL MUSIC TODAY

 INTRODUCTION

1.Liturgical music today exhibits signs of great vitality and creativity. During the nearly twenty

years that have passed since the promulgation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the

Second Vatican Council, the ministerial role of liturgical music has received growing acceptance

and greater appreciation by the Christian people. The sung prayer of our assemblies, often timid

and weak but a few years ago, has taken on the characteristics of confidence and strength. In the

liturgical ministry of music, more and more capable persons are assuming roles of leadership as

cantors, instrumentalists and members of choirs. New musical compositions are appearing in great

numbers and the quality of their craftsmanship and beauty is improving. All these developments

serve as signs of hope for the present and future of liturgical music.

 

2.Ten years ago the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy published Music in Catholic Worship,

itself the revision of an earlier statement.  That document has proven to be very useful in setting out

the principles for Church music in the reformed liturgy. It has served well over these years.

 

3.Since the Roman liturgical books were still in the process of revision ten years ago, the

Committee recognizes that there are subjects that Music in Catholic Worship addressed only

briefly or not at all, such as music within sacramental rites and in the Liturgy of the Hours.

Moreover, the passage of time has raised a number of unforeseen issues in need of clarification

and questions revealing new possibilities for liturgical music. We take this opportunity to note

these developments. This statement, therefore, should be read as a companion to Music in

Catholic Worship and Environment and Art in Catholic Worship.

 

4.The introduction to Music in Catholic Worship includes these words: ". . . mere observance of

a pattern or rule of sung liturgy will not create a living and authentic celebration of worship in

Christian congregations. That is the reason why statements such as this must take the form of

recommendations and attempts at guidance."  These words continue to be true. Guidelines, far

from being absolute, need to be adapted to particular circumstances. But first they must be read,

reflected upon, and valued for the insights they contain. And ultimately they will be successful to

the extent that they are implemented, to the extent that the context out of which they grow is

communicated and understood.

 

5.These guidelines concern the Church's liturgy, which is inherently musical. If music is not valued

within the liturgy, then this statement will have little to offer. On the other had, if music is

appreciated as a necessarily normal dimension of every experience of communal worship, then

what follows may help to promote continued understanding of the liturgy, dialogue among those

responsible for its implementation, and music itself as sung prayer.

                          GENERAL PRINCIPLES

                      THE STRUCTURE OF THE LITURGY

 

6.A sacrament is celebrated either within Mass or with a liturgy of the word. This is the larger

context for making judgments about what will be sung. This consideration will help to preserve the

integrity of the entire liturgical prayer experience while, at the same time preventing the celebration

from being top heavy in one or other part, and ensuring a good flow throughout.

 

7.In all liturgical celebrations proper use should be made of the musical elements within the liturgy

of the word, i.e., responsorial psalm, gospel acclamation, and sometimes an acclamation after the

homily or profession of faith. Music in Catholic Worship treated these sung prayers in its

discussion of eucharistic celebrations.  What was said there is applicable to all other liturgical

celebrations which include a liturgy of the word. Further efforts are needed to make the

assembly's responses in song the normal pastoral practice in the celebration of God's Word.

                            THE PLACE OF SONG

 

8.The structure of the liturgical unit will disclose the elements to be enhanced by music. For

example, the liturgy of baptism or confirmation is placed between the liturgy of the word and the

liturgy of the eucharist when celebrated at Mass. Each rite is composed of a number of elements,

some of which lend themselves to singing. The first place to look for guidance in the use and

choice of music is the rite itself. Often the rubrics contained in the approved liturgical books will

indicate the place for song, and will also prescribe or suggest an appropriate text to be set

musically. Thus, in confirmation, the ritual recommends singing at the end of the renewal of

baptismal promises and during the anointing.  In baptism, the acclamations after the profession of

faith and after the baptism itself demand song, since they are by nature musical forms. [6]

                          THE FUNCTION OF SONG

 

9.The various functions of sung prayer must be distinguished within liturgical rites. Sometimes song

is meant to accompany ritual actions. In such cases the song is not independent but serves, rather,

to support the prayer of the assembly when an action requires a longer period of time or when the

action is going to be repeated several times. The music enriches the moments and keeps it from

becoming burdensome. Ritual actions which employ such use of song include: the enrollment of

names at the Election of Catechumens; [7] the processions in the celebration of baptism; [8] the

vesting and sign of peace at ordination; [9] the presentation of the Bible at the institution of a

reader; [10] the anointing of chrism at confirmation [11] and ordination. [12]

 

10.At other places in the liturgical action the sung prayer itself is a constituent element of the rite.

While it is being played, no other ritual action is being performed. Such would be: the song of

praise, which may be sung after communion; [13] the litany of the saints at celebrations of

Christian initiation, [14] ordination, [15] religious profession, [16] or the dedication of a church;

[17] the proclamation of praise for God's mercy at the conclusion of the rite of reconciliation; [18]

acclamations to conclude the baptismal profession of faith, [19] blessing of water, [20] or the

thanksgiving over oil. [21] Even more important is the solemn chanting of the prayer of

consecration by the bishop at ordinations, [22] or of the prayer of dedication of a church. [23] In

each of these cases the music does not serve as a mere accompaniment, but as the integral mode

by which the mystery is proclaimed and presented.

                            THE FORM OF SONG

 

11. Beyond determining the moments when song is needed, the musical form employed must

match its liturgical function. For instance, at the end of the baptismal profession of faith the

assembly may express its assent by an acclamation. In place of the text provided ("This is our faith

. . . ") another appropriate formula or suitable song may be substituted. [24] An acclamation - a

short, direct and strong declarative statement of the community's faith - will usually be more

suitable for this than the several verses of a metrical hymn. The hymn form, appropriate in other

contexts, may not work here because its form is usually less compact, less intense.

                           PASTORAL CONCERNS

 

12.The pastoral judgment discussed in Music in Catholic Worship may always be applied when

choosing music. Sacramental celebrations are significant moments in an individual's life, but just as

importantly they are constitutive events of the community's life in Christ. The music selected must

express the prayer of those who celebrate, while at the same time guarding against the imposition

of private meanings on public rites. Individual preference is not, of itself, a sufficient principle for

the choice of music in the liturgy. It must be balanced with liturgical and musical judgments and

with the community's needs. Planning is a team undertaking, involving the presider, the musicians

and the assembly.

                         PROGRESSIVE SOLEMNITY

 

13.Music should be considered a normal and ordinary part of any liturgical celebration. However,

this general principle is to be interpreted in the light of another one, namely, the principle of

progressive solemnity. [25] This latter principle takes into account the abilities of the assembly, the

relative importance of the individual rites and their constituent parts, and the relative festivity of the

liturgical day. With regard to the Liturgy of the Hours, formerly a sung office meant a service in

which everything was sung. Today the elements which lend themselves to singing (the psalms and

canticles with their antiphons, the hymns, responsories, litanies and prayers, and the acclamations,

greetings and responses) should be sung in accordance with the relative solemnity of the

celebration. This principle likewise applies to the music sung in all other liturgical celebrations.

                     LANGUAGE AND MUSICAL IDIOMS

 

14.Different languages may be used in the same celebration. [26] This may also be said of mixing

different musical idioms and media. For example, pastoral reasons might suggest that in a given

liturgical celebration some music reflect classical hymnody, with other music drawn from gospel or

'folk' idioms, from contemporary service music, or from the plainsong or polyphonic repertoires.

In the same celebration music may be rendered in various ways: unaccompanied; or accompanied

by organ, piano, guitar or other musical instruments.

 

15.While this principle of upholding musical plurality has pastoral value, it should never be

employed as a license for including poor music. At the same time, it needs to be recognized that a

certain musical integrity within a liturgical prayer or rite can be achieved only by unity in the

musical composition. Thus, it is recommended that for the acclamations in the eucharistic prayer

one musical style be employed.

                         MUSIC IN THE EUCHARIST

 

16.The function of the various chants within the Eucharistic Liturgy has already been set out in

Music in Catholic Worship, as well as above. Additional notes follow regarding specific

elements.

                             ACCLAMATIONS

 

17.The acclamations (gospel acclamation, doxology after the Lord's Prayer, and eucharistic

acclamations - including the special acclamations of praise in the Eucharistic Prayers of Masses

with Children [27]) are the preeminent sung prayers of the eucharistic liturgy. Singing these

acclamations makes their prayer all the more effective. They should, therefore, be sung, even at

weekday celebrations of the Eucharist. The gospel acclamation, moreover, must always be sung.

[28]

                          PROCESSIONAL CHANTS

 

18.Processional chants accompany an action. In some cases they have another function. The

entrance song serves to gather and unite the assembly and set the tone for the celebration as much

as to conduct the ministers into the sanctuary. The communion processional song serves a similar

purpose. Not only does it accompany movement, and thus give order to the assembly, it also

assists each communicant in the realization and achievement of "the joy of all" and the fellowship of

those "who join their voices in a single song." [29]

 

19.While the responsorial form of singing is especially suitable for processions, the metrical hymn

can also fulfill the function of the entrance song. If, however, a metrical hymn with several verses is

selected, its for should be respected. The progression of text and music must be allowed to play

out its course and achieve its purpose musically and poetically. In other words, the hymn should

not be ended indiscriminately at the end of the procession. For this same reason, metrical hymns

may not be most suitable choices to accompany the preparation of the gifts and altar at the

Eucharist, since the music should not extend past the time necessary for the ritual.

                                 LITANIES

 

20.The Lamb of God achieves greater significance at Masses when a larger sized eucharistic

bread is broken for distribution and, when communion is given under both kinds, chalices must be

filled. The litany is prolonged to accompany this action of breaking and pouring. [30] In this case

one should not hesitate to add tropes to the litany so that the prayerfulness of the rite may be

enriched.

 

21.The litany of the third form of the penitential rite at Mass increasingly is being set to music for

deacon (or cantor) and assembly, with the people's response made in Greek or English. This litany

functions as a "general confession made by the entire assembly" [31] and as praise of Christ's

compassionate love and mercy. It is appropriately sung at more solemn celebrations and in

Advent and Lent when the Gloria is omitted. [32] Similar litanic forms of song could be employed

when the rite of sprinkling replaces the penitential rite.

     MUSIC IN THE CELEBRATION OF OTHER SACRAMENTS AND RITES

                          CHRISTIAN INITIATION

 

22.As parish communities become more accustomed to initiating adults in stages, the opportunities

for sung prayer within the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults should become more apparent.

The ritual book gives attention to the following: in the rite of becoming a catechumen, before the

invitation to sponsors to present the candidates, and during their subsequent entry into the church

building; in the rite of election, during the enrollment of names; in the Lenten scrutinies, after the

prayer of exorcism; at the Easter Vigil celebration, an acclamation following baptism, song

between the celebration of baptism and confirmation, and an acclamation during the anointing with

chrism. [33]

 

23.In the Rite of Baptism of Children, there is even greater emphasis on the sung prayer of the

assembly: during the procession to the place where the Word of God will be celebrated; after the

homily or after the short litany; during the procession to the place of baptism; an acclamation after

the profession of faith and after each baptism; an acclamation or baptismal song during the

procession to the altar. [34]

 

24.At confirmation, the Roman Pontifical calls for song after the profession of faith and during

the anointing with chrism. [35]

 

25.Each of the various rites of initiation includes a liturgy of the word and is often followed by the

Eucharist. Thus, in planning for the celebration, proper emphasis should be given to each of the

two or three primary liturgical rites. For instance, in the celebration of the baptism of a child, the

assembly should not sing only at the times noted in the ritual for that sacrament while singing

nothing during the celebration of the Word. Rather, a proper balance would require that singing be

an essential element throughout the entire prayer experience.

 

26.Composers of church music are encouraged to create musical settings of the acclamations from

Sacred Scripture, the hymns in the style of the New Testament, and the songs from ancient

liturgies which are included in the approved ritual books. [36] Much service music, set to texts in

English, Spanish, and other vernacular languages, is still required for the full experience of these

liturgical celebrations where no musical accompanist is present.

                             RECONCILIATION

 

27.Communal celebrations of reconciliation (Forms 2 and 3 of the sacrament, as well as

non-sacramental penance services) normally require an entrance song or song of gathering; a

responsorial psalm and a gospel acclamation during the liturgy of the word; an optional hymn after

the homily; and a hymn of praise for God's mercy following the absolution. [37] The litany within

the General Confession of Sins (alternating between the deacon or cantor and the assembly) or

another appropriate song may also be sung, as well as the Lord's Prayer. Singing or soft

instrumental music may be used during the time of individual confessions, especially when there is

a large number of people present for the celebration.

                           CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE

 

28.Weddings present particular challenges and opportunities to planners. It is helpful for a diocese

or a parish to have a definite (but flexible) policy regarding wedding music. This policy should be

communicated early to couples as a normal part of their preparations in order to avoid last-minute

crises and misunderstandings. Both musician and pastor should make every effort to assist couples

to understand and share in the planning of their marriage liturgy. Sometimes the only music familiar

to the couple is a song heard at a friend's ceremony and one not necessarily suitable to the

sacrament. The pastoral musician will make an effort to demonstrate a wider range of possibilities

to the couple, particularly in the choice of music to be sung by the entire assembly present for the

liturgy.

 

29.Particular decisions about choice and placement of wedding music should grow out of three

judgments proposed in Music in Catholic Worship. The liturgical judgment: Is the music's text,

form, placement and style congruent with the nature of liturgy? [38] The musical judgment: Is the

music technically, aesthetically and expressively good irrespective of musical idiom or style? [39]

The pastoral judgment: will it help this assembly to pray? [40] Such a process of dialogue may not

be easy to apply as an absolute list of permitted or prohibited music, but in the long run it will be

more effective pastorally.

                            CHRISTIAN BURIAL

 

30.Funerals, because of often difficult pastoral situations in which some family members and

friends are overburdened with grief, unchurched or otherwise unable to enter into the liturgy, have

frequently received little or no attention musically. In this respect, funerals may be the least

successfully reformed of our liturgical rites.

 

31.It is the pastoral responsibility of parishes to provide liturgical music at all Masses of Christian

Burial. Attempts to involve the congregation more actively are to be encouraged. Appropriate

participation aids should be prepared and provided for members of the praying assembly.

 

32.Many parishes have found it helpful to form choirs of retired parishioners or others who are at

home on weekdays, whose unique ministry is to assist the grieving members of a funeral assembly

by leading the sung prayer of the funeral liturgy. Where this is not possible, a cantor is able to

perform a similar ministry. In all cases a serious effort should be made to move beyond the

practice of employing a "funeral singer" to perform all the sung parts of the liturgy. Reconsideration

should be given to the location of the singer, that person's role, and the kind of music that is sung.

The cantor ought not individually sing or recite the congregational prayers as a substitute for the

assembly. The same norms applicable to music at any Mass apply equally to the Mass of Christian

Burial. [41]

 

33.The principle of progressive solemnity, already mentioned, applies especially to the rites of

Christian Burial. A few things sung well (acclamations, responsorial psalm, entrance and

communion processionals, and song of farewell during the final commendation) should be given

priority at funerals and may be drawn from a parish's common musical repertoire.

 

                  MUSIC IN THE LITURGY OF THE HOURS

 

34.A growing number of parishes celebrate at least some part of the Liturgy of the Hours, usually

Evening Prayer, during one or more of the liturgical seasons. The question of singing in the office is

treated in the General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours and should be consulted along with

Study Text VII. [42] The following observations expand on what is written there.

                     METHOD OF SINGING THE PSALMS

 

35.The psalms and canticles are songs; therefore they are most satisfying when sung. The General

Instruction lists several ways in which the psalms may be sung: responsorially, antiphonally or

straight through (in directum.) [43] Music may be of the formula type (e.g., psalm tones) or

composed for each psalm or canticle.

                               A.Responsorial

 

36.The responsorial form of psalm singing appears to have been the original style for

congregational use and still remains as the easiest method for engaging the congregation in the

singing of psalms. In this model the psalmist or choir sings the verses of the psalm and the

assembly responds with a brief antiphon (refrain). For pastoral or musical reasons, the General

Instruction permits the substitution of other approved texts for these refrains. [44]

                                B.Antiphonal

 

37.In the antiphonal style, the praying assembly is divided into two groups. The text of the psalm is

shared between them; generally the same musical configuration (e.g., a psalm tone) is used by

both. A refrain is ordinarily sung before and after the psalm by the whole body. This method of

singing has its roots in the choir and monastic traditions. Today where it is used by the

congregation, care must be taken that the latter can be at ease with this form of sung prayer.

                             C.Through-composed

 

38.In a through-composed setting (in directum), the musical material is ordinarily not repeated,

unless the psalm calls for it. The music may be for soloist, soloist and choir or choir alone (e.g., an

anthem). Only rarely will this form be found in settings designed for congregational use. The

purpose of the in directum settings should be to complement the literary structure of the psalm

and to capture its emotions.

                              D.Metrical Psalms

 

39.The General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours makes no mention of the practice of

singing the psalms in metrical paraphrases. This manner of psalm singing developed with some of

the Reformation churches. Due to its four hundred year tradition, a large and important repertoire

of metrical psalms in English is available today. Poets and composers continue to add to this

resource of psalm settings.

 

40.While metrical psalmody may be employed fruitfully in the Church's liturgy (for instance, when

a hymn is part of one of the rites), introduction of this musical form into the psalmody of the

Liturgy of the Hours profoundly affects and alters the praying of the psalms as a ritual. Thus,

metrical psalms should not be used as substitutes either for the responsorial psalm in a liturgy of

the word of one of the rites or for the psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours.

                             FORMULA TONES

 

41.Formula tones (Gregorian plainsong tones, Anglican chants, faux-bourdons) are readily

available and adaptable to modern use. Care should be taken in setting vernacular texts that the

verbal accent pattern is not distorted by the musical cadence. There tones grew out of the paired

half-line pattern of the Vulgate psalter. Modern translations of the psalms, however, have restored

the Hebrew pattern of strophes (stanzas) of three, four, five or more lines. The sense of unit in a

strophe will frequently run beyond the musical pattern of the classical formula tome and will often

require some repetition and even some accommodation for half-lines.

 

42.Another kind of formula tone has more recently been developed (e.g., the Gelineau and

Bevenot systems) which is based on the strophe as a unit. These tones are longer and make

provisions for irregularities in the number of lines. They more naturally fit the Grail psalter, which is

the approved translation of the psalms for the Liturgy of the Hours.

 

43.Where formula tones are employed for the hours of the office, especially with a parish

congregation, variety should be sought in the use of other forms of sung prayer, particularly the

responsorial style. The Old Testament Canticle in Evening Prayer are especially suitable for this

latter method of singing.

                             OTHER ELEMENTS

 

44.The principle mentioned earlier concerning the mixing of different musical idioms has special

application in a sung celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours. Psalms may be sung in the manners

discussed above. Certain psalms, however, might be sung by a choir alone. A few might lend

themselves to recitation. The nature and literary form of the psalm itself should suggest the way it is

to be prayed. Likewise, in the same office some parts may be rendered unaccompanied, others

accompanied by organ, piano, guitar or other instruments.

 

45.Naturally, the hymns in the Liturgy of the Hours should be sung. [45] The responsories also

lend themselves to singing, but as yet the number of published settings is few. [46] The readings

are not usually chanted. [47] The introductory versicles and greetings can be easily learned and

sung. The Lord's Prayer, either in the form of a litany with a fixed response (by far the easiest and

most effective method for praying the intercessions) or as versicles and responses, are suited to

singing. [48]

                             OTHER MATTERS

                     MUSIC AND THE LITURGICAL YEAR

 

46.The mystery of God's love in Christ is so great that a single celebration cannot exhaust its

meaning. Over the course of the centuries the various seasons and feasts have developed to

express the richness of paschal mystery and of our need to celebrate it. While the liturgy

celebrates but one "theme," the dying and rising of Christ, and while Sunday is the original

Christian feast, even so the liturgical year shows forth this mystery like so many facets of a

resplendent jewel. [49]

 

47.Music has been a unique means of celebrating this richness and diversity and of communicating

the rhythm of the church year to the assembly. Music enhances the power of the readings and

prayer to capture the special quality of the liturgical seasons. What would Christmas be without its

carols? How diminished would the fifty-day Easter feast be without the solemn, joyful Alleluia

song?

 

48.Great care must be shown in the selection of music for seasons and feasts. Contemporary

culture seems increasingly unwilling either to prepare for or to prolong Christian feasts and

seasons. The Church's pastors and ministers must be aware of cultural phenomena which run

counter to the liturgical year or even devalue our feasts and seasons, especially through

consumerism. The season of Advent should be preserved in its integrity, Christmas carols being

reserved for the Christmas season alone. Hymns which emphasize the passion and death of Christ

should be used only in the last week of the Lenten season. Easter should not be allowed to end in

a day, but rather, the fifty days of its celebration should be planned as a unified experience.

                            MUSIC OF THE PAST

 

49.The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy sets forth the principles for the recent reform of the

liturgy. At the same time it called the heritage of sacred music "a treasure of inestimable value."

[50] These purposes, while not opposed to each other, do exist in a certain tension. The

restoration of active participation in the liturgy, the simplification of the rites, and the use of the

vernacular have meant a massive change in the theory and practice of church music, a shift already

detailed in Music in Catholic Worship and the present statement.

 

50.Some have viewed this situation with profound regret. For some, the setting aside of the Latin

repertoire of past centuries has been a painful experience, and a cause of bitter alienation. "Now is

the time for healing." [51] It is also the time to make realistic assessments of what place the music

of the past can still have in the liturgies of today.

 

51.On the eve of the Council few parishes were performing the authentic repertoire recommended

by Saint Pius X in his famous motu proprio on music. [52] Rather, most parishes generally used

only a few of the simple chant Masses along with modern imitations of Renaissance motets and

Masses. Moreover, the great music of the past was seldom the music of the ordinary parish

church. Most often it was a product of the cathedrals and court chapels.

 

52.However, singing and playing the music of the past is a way for Catholics to stay in touch with

and preserve their rich heritage. A place can be found for this music, a place which does not

conflict with the assembly's role and the other demands of the rite. Such a practice no longer

envisions the performance of "Masses" as set pieces, but looks more to the repertoire of motets,

antiphons and anthems which can be harmonized more easily with the nature of the renewed

liturgy and with its pastoral celebration. [53]

 

53.At Mass that place will typically include the time during the preparation of the gifts and the

period after communion. A skillful director will also be able to find suitable choral repertoire to use

as a prelude to the Mass, at the end of it, and at the Glory to God. Jubilate Deo, the basic

collection of simple Gregorian chants, should also be employed as a source for the assembly's

participation.

                     MUSIC AND CULTURAL HERITAGE

 

54.Just as the great liturgical music of the past is to be remembered, cherished and used, so also

the rich diversity of the cultural heritage of the many peoples of our country today must be

recognized, fostered and celebrated. The United States of America is the nation of nations, a

country in which people speak many tongues, live their lives in diverse ways, celebrate events in

song and music in the folkways of their cultural, ethnic and racial roots.

 

55.Liturgical music today must be as diverse and multi-cultural as the members of the assembly.

Pastors and musicians must encourage not only the use of traditional music of other languages, but

also the composition of new liturgical music appropriate to various cultures. Likewise the great

musical gifts of the Hispanic, Black and other ethnic communities in the Church should enrich the

whole Church in the United States in a dialogue of cultures.

                          INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC

 

56.The liturgy prefers song to instrumental music. "as a combination of sacred music and words it

forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy." [54] Yet the contribution of

instrumentalists is also important, both in accompanying the singing and in playing by themselves.

 

57.Church music legislation of the past reflected a culture in which singing was not only primary,

but was presumed to be unaccompanied (chant and polyphony). The music of today, as indeed

musical culture today, regularly presumes that the song is accompanied. This places instruments in

a different light. The song achieves much of its vitality from the rhythm and harmony of its

accompaniment. Instrumental accompaniment is a great support to an assembly in learning new

music and in giving full voice to its prayer and praise in worship.

 

58.Instrumental music can also assist the assembly in preparing for worship, in meditating on the

mysteries, and in joyfully progressing in its passage from liturgy to life. Instrumental music, used in

this way, must be understood as more than an easily dispensable adornment to the rites, a

decoration to dress up a ceremony. It is rather ministerial, helping the assembly to rejoice, to

weep, to be of one mind, to be converted, to pray. There is a large repertoire of organ music

which has always been closely associated with the liturgy. Much suitable music can be selected

from the repertoires of other appropriate instruments as well.

 

59.The proper place of silence must not be neglected, and the temptation must be resisted to

cover every moment with music. [55] There are times when an instrumental interlude is able to

bridge the gap between two parts of ceremony and help to unify the liturgical action. But music's

function is always ministerial and must never degenerate into idle background music.

                             RECORDED MUSIC

 

60.The liturgy is a complexus of signs expressed by living human beings. Music, being preeminent

among those signs, ought to be "live." While recorded music, therefore, might be used to

advantage outside the liturgy as an aid in the teaching of new music, it should, as a general norm,

never be used within the liturgy to replace the congregation, the choir, the organist or other

instrumentalists.

 

61.Some exceptions to this principle should be noted, however. Recorded music may be used to

accompany the community's song during a procession out-of-doors and , when used carefully, in

Masses with children. [56] Occasionally it might be used as an aid to prayer, for example, during

long periods of silence in a communal celebration of reconciliation. It may never become a

substitute for the community's song, however, as in the case of the responsorial psalm after a

reading from Scripture or during the optional hymn of praise after communion.

 

62.A prerecorded sound track is sometimes used as a feature of contemporary "electronic music"

composition. When combined with live voices and/or instruments, it is an integral part of the

performance and, therefore, is a legitimate use of prerecorded music.

                             MUSIC MINISTRY

 

63.The entire worshipping assembly exercises a ministry of music. Some members of the

community, however, are recognized for the special gifts they exhibit in leading the musical praise

and thanksgiving of Christian assemblies. These are the pastoral musicians, whose ministry is

especially cherished by the Church.

 

64.What motivates the pastoral musician? Why does he or she give so much time and effort to the

service of the church at prayer? The only answer can be that the church musician is first a disciple

and then a minister. The musician belongs first of all to the assembly,; he or she is a worshiper

above all. Like any member of the assembly, the pastoral musician needs to be a believer, needs

to experience conversion, needs to hear the Gospel and so proclaim the praise of God. Thus, the

pastoral musician is not merely an employee or volunteer. He or she is a minister, someone who

shares faith, serves the community, and expresses the love of God and neighbor through music.

 

65.Additional efforts are needed to train men and women for the ministry of music. Colleges and

universities offering courses of studies in liturgical music, as well as a growing number of regional

and diocesan centers for the formation of liturgical ministers, are encouraged to initiate or to

continue programs which develop musical skills and impart a thorough understanding of the liturgy

of the Church.

 

66.The musician's gift must be recognized as a valued part of the pastoral effort, and for which

proper compensation must be made. [57] Clergy and musicians should strive for mutual respect

and cooperation in the achievement of their common goals.

 

67.As the assembly's principal liturgical leaders, priests and deacons must continue to be mindful

of their own musical role in the liturgy. Priests should grow more familiar with chanting the

presidential prayers of the Mass and other rites. Deacons, too, in the admonitions, exhortations,

and especially in the litanies of the third penitential rite and in the general intercessions of the Mass,

have a significant musical role to play in worship.

 

68.Among music ministers, the cantor has come to be recognized as having a crucial role in the

development of congregational singing. Besides being qualified to lead singing, he or she must have

the skills to introduce and teach new music, and to encourage the assembly. This must be done

with sensitivity so that the cantor does not intrude on the communal prayer or become

manipulative. Introductions and announcements should be brief and avoid a homiletic style.

 

69.The cantor's role is distinct from that of the psalmist, whose ministry is the singing of the verses

of the responsorial psalm and communion psalm. Frequently the two roles will be combined in one

person.

 

70.A community will not grow in its ability either to appreciate or express its role in musical liturgy

if each celebration is thought of as a discrete moment. A long-range plan must be developed

which identifies how music will be used in the parish and how new music will be learned. The

abilities of the congregation should never be misjudged. Some cannot or will not sing, for whatever

reason. Most will take part and will enjoy learning new music if they have effective leaders.

                                COPYRIGHT

 

71.In the last decade pastors and musicians have become more aware of the legal and moral

implications of copyright. [58] As a result parishes and institutions are now more sensitive to the

need composers, poets and publishers have to receive just compensation for their creative work.

Publishers have cooperated in making their requirements known and their music available to

reprint at reasonable rates, an effort for which they deserve the thanks of the Church in the United

States.

 

72.Additional education regarding copyright needs to continue. At the same time, parishes and

other institutions should annually budget sufficient monies for the purchase of music necessary for

the proper celebration of the liturgy. The need for much copying would be lessened.

                               CONCLUSION

 

73.The past decade has shown important signs of growth. The eagerness of many congregations

to make a beginning in singing has been matched by a second harvest of musical compositions. As

time goes by, new generations will come to accept, as a matter of course, what was brand new

and very strange only a few years ago, namely, that all should join in the songs and prayers of the

liturgy.

 

74.The Church in the United States continues on its journey of liturgical renewal and spiritual

growth. It is the hope of the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy that this statement will be further

encouragement in our progress along that course. The words of Saint Augustine remind us of our

pilgrimage: "You should sing as wayfarers do -- sing but continue your journey. Do not be lazy,

but sing to make your journey more enjoyable. Sing, but keep going."

 

 

                                   Back

V

[Home] [Explore] [Matrix] [Citations] [Indexes] [Forum] [Foundation] [Def/Vocab] [DocsRef] [News] [Creativity] [Prayer] [Schedules] [SiteMap]