Chapter III-2. Kinds of Sacred Music.
A. Sacred polyphony.
48. Compositions of sacred polyphony, by the old masters as well as by
contemporary artists, are not to be introduced into the liturgy unless it has
first been established that, either in their original form or in arrangements,
they comply fully with the ideals, and admonitions set forth in the encyclical
Musicæ sacræ disciplina (AAS 48  18-20). If there is any doubt, the
diocesan commission on sacred music is to be consulted.
49. Ancient manuscripts of this music still lying about in archives should be
uncovered, and if necessary, steps taken for their preservation. Musicologists
should make critical editions of them as well as editions suitable for
B. Modern sacred music.
50. Modern compositions of sacred music are only to be used during liturgical
ceremonies if they conform to the spirit of the liturgy, and to the ideals of
sacred music as laid down in the encyclical Musicæ sacræ disciplina (AAS
48  19-20). Judgments in this matter are to be made by the diocesan
commission of sacred music.
C. Popular Religious Song
51. Hymns ought to be highly encouraged, and fostered, for this form of music
does much to imbue the Christian with a deep religious spirit, and to raise the
thoughts of the faithful to the truths of our faith.
Hymns have their own part to play in all the festive solemnities of Christian
life, whether public or of a more personal nature; they also find their part in
the daily labors of the Christian. But they attain their ideal usefulness in all
private devotions, whether conducted outside or inside the church. At times
their use is even permitted during liturgical functions, in accord with the
directions given above in paragraphs 13-15.
52. If hymns are to attain their purpose, their texts "must conform to the
doctrine of the Catholic Church, plainly stating, and explaining it. The
vocabulary should be simple, and free of dramatic, and meaningless verbiage.
Their tunes, however brief, and easy, should evince a religious dignity and
propriety" (Musicæ sacræ disciplina (AAS 48  20). Local Ordinaries
should carefully see that these ideals are observed.
53. All who have the training should be encouraged to compile serviceable
collections of these hymns which have been handed down either orally or in
writing, even the most ancient, and to publish them for the use of the faithful,
with the approval of the local Ordinary.
D. Religious music.
54. The type of music which inspires its hearers with religious sentiments,
and even devotion, and yet, because of its special character cannot be used in
liturgical functions, is nevertheless worthy of high esteem, and ought to be
cultivated in its proper time. This music justly merits, therefore, the title
55. The proper places for the performance of such music are concert halls,
theaters, or auditoriums, but not the church, which is consecrated to the
worship of God.
However, if none of these places are available, and the local Ordinary judges
that a concert of religious music might be advantageous for the spiritual
welfare of the faithful, he may permit a concert of this kind to be held in a
church, provided the following provisions are observed:
a) The local Ordinary must give his permission for each concert in writing.
b) Requests for such permissions must also be in writing, stating the date of
the concert, the compositions to be performed, the names of the directors
(organist, and choral director), and the performers.
c) The local Ordinary is not to give this permission without first consulting
the diocesan commission of sacred music, and perhaps other authorities upon
whose judgment he may rely, and then only if he knows that the music is not only
outstanding for its true artistic value, but also for its sincere Christian
spirit; he must also be assured that the performers possess the qualities to be
mentioned below in paragraphs 97, and 98.
d) Before the concert, the Blessed Sacrament should be removed from the
church, and reserved in one of the chapels, or even in the sacristy, is a
respectful way. If this cannot be done, the audience should be told that the
Blessed Sacrament is present in the church, and the pastor should see to it that
there is no danger of irreverence.
e) The main body of the church is not to be used for selling admission
tickets or distributing programs of the concert.
f) The musicians, singers, and audience should conduct themselves, and dress
in a manner befitting the seriousness, and holiness of the sacred edifice in
which they are present.
g) If circumstances permit, the concert should be concluded by some private
devotion, or better still, with benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. In this
way the devotion, and edification of the faithful, which was the purpose of the
concert, will be crowned by a religious service.