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You are here: Documents > Sacred Music > Instruction On Sacred Music and Sacred Liturgy  Back one page.

Table of Contents
Table of ContentsChapter III-1. Principal liturgical functions in which sacred music is used.Chapter III-3. Books of Liturgical Chant.

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 [1956] 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 liturgical use.

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 [1956] 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 [1956] 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 "religious music".

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.

Table of ContentsChapter III-1. Principal liturgical functions in which sacred music is used.Chapter III-3. Books of Liturgical Chant.

You are here: Documents > Sacred Music > Instruction On Sacred Music and Sacred Liturgy  Back one page.

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You are here: Documents > Sacred Music > Instruction On Sacred Music and Sacred Liturgy  Back one page.

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All contents © copyright, 1998-2014
The Catholic Liturgical Library
http://www.catholicliturgy.com