Chapter III-6. Duty to cultivate sacred music and sacred liturgy.
A. Training of the clergy, and people.
104. Sacred music, and the liturgy are intimately bound together; sacred
chant forms an integral part of the liturgy (no. 21), while hymns are used to a
great extent in private devotions, and at times even during liturgical functions
themselves (no. 19). For that reason, instruction in both sacred music, and
sacred liturgy cannot be separated from each other: both belong to the life of
the Christian, though in varying degree, depending upon one's own of life, and
rank among the clergy, and faithful.
Hence, every Christian should have some instruction in the sacred liturgy,
and sacred music, in accordance with his station in life.
105. The Christian family is the natural, and in fact, primary school of
Christian education. It is in the family circle that the little children are
first introduced to the knowledge, and life of a Christian. The aim of this
first education should be that the children learn to take part in the private
devotions, and even in the liturgical functions, particularly the Mass, as their
age, and understanding enable them. Furthermore, they should begin to learn, and
love the hymns sung both in the home, and in the church (cf. above, no. 9,
106. In private or elementary schools the following directions should be
a) If the schools are conducted by Catholics, and are free to set up their
own programs, the school children are to be given additional training in sacred
music, and hymn. Above all, they are to be more thoroughly instructed in the
holy sacrifice of the mass, adapted to their own age level, and in the manner of
participating in it; they should also be taught to sing the simpler Gregorian
b) If the schools are public, and subject to the laws of the state, the local
Ordinaries should see to it that these children, too, are educated in the sacred
liturgy, and the sacred chant.
107. This applies to an even greater degree to the intermediate or secondary
schools, so that adolescents may acquire the maturity to lead a good social, and
108. Universities, and colleges of arts and sciences, too, must strive to
deepen and further this musical, and liturgical education. It is important that
those who have completed higher studies, and who take upon themselves the
responsibilities of public life, have a complete appreciation of all the aspects
of Christian life. Thus all priests who have charge of university students
should endeavor to imbue in them a deeper understanding of the sacred liturgy,
and the sacred chant, both as to its theory, and its practice. If circumstances
permit, they should use the forms of Mass participation described in paragraphs
26 and 31.
109. Young men aspiring to the priesthood need an even greater knowledge of
the liturgy, and sacred music than do the faithful; wherefore, they should be
given complete and sound instruction in both. Hence, everything prescribed by
Canon Law in this matter (canon 1354, 1 and 3; 1365, 2), or specifically ordered
by competent authority, must be observed in every detail under serious
obligation of conscience (cf. especially the apostolic constitution Divini
cultus, on the wide promotion of the liturgy, Gregorian chant, and sacred
music, of Dec. 20, 1928: AAS 31  33-41).
110. Men and women religious, as well as members of Secular institutes,
should be given a thorough and progressive formation in both the sacred liturgy,
and the sacred chant, beginning with their probation and novitiate.
Competent instructors should be procured to teach, direct, and accompany the
sacred chant in all the houses of these communities, and those dependent upon
them. Religious superiors should see to it that the entire community is
adequately trained in the chant, and not just select members.
111. Some churches, by their very nature, require that the sacred liturgy,
and sacred music be carried out with special dignity, and solemnity. Such
churches are the principal parish churches, collegiate and cathedral churches,
and important centers of pilgrimages. Those attached to these churches, whether
clergy, servers, or musicians, should diligently prepare themselves to perform
the sacred chant, and carry out the liturgical functions in a pre-eminent
112. The foreign missions present special problems in the introduction, and
adaptation of the sacred liturgy, and sacred chant.
A distinction must first be made between people who have their own culture,
very rich, and in some instances going back for thousands of years, and people
who still have not developed a high level of culture.
With this in mind, some general principles may be established:
a) Missionary priests must be trained in the sacred liturgy, and sacred chant.
b) If the people to whom the priests are sent already have a highly developed
musical culture, the missionaries should cautiously try to adapt this native
music to sacred use. In particular, private devotions should be arranged so that
the native faithful can use their own traditional language, and musical idiom to
express their religious devotion. But the missionaries should remember that even
the Gregorian melodies can sometimes easily be sung by native peoples, as
experience has shown, because these melodies often bear close resemblances to
their own native music.
c) But if the natives are of a less civilized race, then what has been said
in paragraph "b" must be adapted to suit the capabilities, and character of
these peoples. Where there is a good religious family life and community of
spirit, the missionaries should be very careful not to extinguish it, but rather
to rid it of superstitions, and imbue it with a true Christian spirit.
B. Public and private schools of sacred music.
113. Pastors and those in charge shall see to it that there are servers
present, boys, young men, and even adults, for liturgical functions and private
devotions. These servers should be noted for their devotion, well instructed in
the ceremonies, and adequately trained in sacred music, and hymns.
114. The boy choir, an organization praised over and over by the Holy See
(Apostolic constitution Divini cultus: AAS 21  28; Musicæ sacræ
disciplina: AAS 48  23), is even more important to the performance of
sacred music, and the singing of hymns.
It is desirable, and every effort should be made, that every church have its
own boy choir. The boys should be thoroughly instructed in the sacred liturgy,
and particularly in the art of singing with devotion.
115. Moreover, it is recommended that every diocese have a school or
institute of chant and organ where organists, choir directors, singers and
instrumentalists can be properly trained.
In some cases a number of dioceses will prefer to collaborate in organizing
such a school. Pastors and others in charge should be alert in detecting, and
sending talented young men to these schools, and encourage them in their
116. The great importance of academies and schools of higher learning which
are established specifically for more comprehensive studies in sacred music must
be recognized. The Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome, established by
St. Pius X, holds first place among these.
Local Ordinaries should send priests with special talent and a love for this
art to such schools, particularly to the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in
117. In addition to the schools established to teach sacred music, many
societies, named after St. Gregory or St. Cecilia or other saints, have been
founded to promote sacred music in various ways. The increase of such societies
and their associations on a national or even international scale can do much to
further the cause of sacred music.
118. Since the time of Pius X, every diocese has been required to have a
special commission of sacred music (Motu proprio Inter sollicitudines,
Nov. 22, 1903: AAS 36 [1903-1904] no. 24; Decr. Auth. SRC 4121). The members of
this commission, both priests and laymen, specially selected for their
knowledge, experience, and talent in the various kinds of sacred music, are to
be appointed by the local Ordinary.
The Ordinaries of a number of dioceses may, if they wish, establish a joint
Since sacred music is so closely bound with the liturgy and with sacred art,
commissions of sacred art (Circular letter of the Secretariate of State, Sep. 1,
1924, Prot. 34215), and of the sacred liturgy (Mediator Dei, Nov. 20, 1947: AAS
39  561-562) are also to be established in every diocese. These three
commissions may meet together -at times it is even advisable- to work out their
common problems by a mutual exchange of opinions and solutions.
Local Ordinaries should see to it that these commissions meet frequently, or
as often as circumstances require. Moreover, the local Ordinary himself should
occasionally preside at these meetings.
This instruction on sacred music, and the sacred liturgy was submitted to His
Holiness Pope Pius XII by the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred
Congregation of Rites. His Holiness deigned to give his special approval and
authority to all its prescriptions. He also commanded that it be promulgated,
and be conscientiously observed by all to whom it applies.
Anything contrary to what is herein contained is no longer in force.
Issued at Rome, from the office of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, on the
feast of St. Pius X, Sept. 3, 1958.
C. Card. Cicognani, Prefect
+ A. Carinci, Archbp. of Seleucia, Secretary