Does the person who sings the psalm have to be a Catholic?
  • lacrimosa
    Posts: 23
    Can a non-Catholic lead the responsorial psalm? Or a Catholic who because of an irregular marriage situation may not receive the sacraments?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,677
    One way to approach the question of a non-Catholic singing the responsorial psalm is by looking at the rules for lectors in the 1993 Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism.

    If the non-Catholic is Eastern Orthodox, this paragraph relates to the subject:

    126. Catholics may read lessons at a sacramental liturgical celebration in the Eastern Churches if they are invited to do so. An Eastern Christian may be invited to read the lessons at similar services in Catholic churches.


    If the non-Catholic belongs to another ecclesial community, this paragraph seems to be relevant:

    133. The reading of Scripture during a Eucharistic celebration in the Catholic Church is to be done by members of that Church. On exceptional occasions and for a just cause, the Bishop of the diocese may permit a member of another Church or ecclesial Community to take on the task of reader.

  • lacrimosa
    Posts: 23
    Is it different when singing is involved as in the psalm? I've seen posts here regarding bringing in non Catholics to cantor.

    What about the Catholic whose marriage situation prohibits him from receiving Communion?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,677
    As far as I can tell, it's OK for an Eastern Orthodox. For a Protestant Christian, ask the pastor (he may be able to tell you whether the diocese has given any guidance). For a non-Christian, I think it's not appropriate.

    [I'm choosing to just deal with the one question so far. Maybe someone else can respond about the marriage situation.]

    Incidentally, are you the music director, or do you have some other role in the matter?
  • lacrimosa
    Posts: 23
    I don't have a particular responsibility here. I have a friend who would like to sing the psalms but he thinks his marriage situation disqualifies him.
  • PaixGioiaAmorPaixGioiaAmor
    Posts: 1,473
    That would be less of a problem, imo, than a non Catholic doing it.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,677
    Some dioceses have guidelines that are relevant. A document from the archdiocese of Los Angeles, for instance, states that lectors should be "practicing Catholics whose lives witness to the Word which they proclaim." That would seem to exclude people in objectively irregular marital situations.

    While that may be only a local guideline and not a law, it's a good principle for pastors to follow in general.

    [Is it different when singing is involved as in the psalm?]
    I don't know of a reason to treat psalmists differently from readers.
  • The psalm IS a reading, whether sung or (unfortunately) said in the spoken voice.
    PLUS: in liturgicalese, sing and say are synonymous, i.e., they both mean 'sing'.
    And: Counting the psalm, then, there are four 'readings' at mass, and they should all be sung.
    Thanked by 1kenstb
  • An interesting question.

    If non-Catholics or Catholics in an irregular marriage situation should not act as the cantor of the responsorial psalm, should the same be required of all choir members if the verses of the responsorial psalm are sung by the choir?

    Just askin'!
    Thanked by 1Choirparts
  • kenstb
    Posts: 358
    I would not allow a non Catholic to be a cantor. Regardless of the amount of talent a person has, or the lack of homegrown talent, I don't see how I could allow someone who essentially disagrees with the Catholic Church to serve in it. A cantor, historically was taken from the community in which he ministered. Every cantor that I supervise and train must be a practicing Catholic.  It is a ministry, not a gig.  With regard to the individual's marital situation, rely on the advice of your pastor. If he gives the okay, then go with it.
  • Fr Chepponis raises an interesting question about choir membership. Somehow, I, for one, would tend to make allowances for choir that I wouldn't make regarding an actual cantor. At Walsingham we don't have this worry because the entire congregation sing the psalm In Directum to Anglican chant. (Incidentally, we have in our choir an outstanding bass who is a graduate voice student at the UofH who is Jewish. Marvellously fine fellow!)
    Thanked by 1kenstb
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,545
    It is a ministry, not a gig.


    This is the alpha and omega of it.

    I worked with a synagogue once for their High Holy Days, and the role of cantor was a great honor, and I know its been that way forever. Being that we've grown out of that tradition (which Christ himself dutiful observed, with apostles in tow), it ought to remain just as a distinct an honor in Catholic liturgy.

    Here is a person entrusted to present (sing, say, proclaim, mumble, shout, mutter, state, or whathaveyou) the word of God. It's not a Shumann art song to be performed. No matter how beautiful the psalm's setting or how beautiful the voice in said setting, its not a vocal gig. It's a liturgical ministry.

    The local Byzantine parish by me has a beautiful cantor ministry. Of course, those cats are singing the whole time, so nothing's distinctly a performance. They've got the little choir in the back corner and a cantor comes halfway up the middle aisle to proclaim/sing/read/present at the appropriate time and then back with choir. It's very clearly an honorable distinction in the ministry, and a task taken on by a practicing member of their community.

    Not a chance for a community-theater-soccer-mom to flaunt a whacky-inflatable-wavy-arm-man routine in front of her "audience" once a week.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,677
    [Fr. Chepponis asks: If non-Catholics or Catholics in an irregular marriage situation should not act as the cantor of the responsorial psalm, should the same be required of all choir members if the verses of the responsorial psalm are sung by the choir?]

    Sad to say, very few choirs around here sing the verses of the responsorial psalm, so this question is a mere hypothetical!

  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,301
    Combining Fr. C's question with MJO's practice : Should non-Catholics be allowed to sit in the congregation?
  • Actually, Adam (as you are no doubt aware!), there was a time when non-Catholics, the unbaptised, non-Christians were not allowed to remain for the anaphora. (I suppose that there are Some who would think we should still be observing that discipline.)
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 195
    Why stop at the cantor, you could extend Fr. C's post to EMHCs, lectors, servers and so on. How many times have you received Holy Communion from a EMHC, heard the psalm proclaimed or the readings from individuals in the state of mortal sin? Does the state of a persons soul change what you heard or received. Does it somehow invalidate the Word of God or Consecrated bread and wine? Can we look into the hearts of these individuals and say they should or shouldn't be serving the Lord?

    As to the original posters question regarding irregular marriage, check with your Pastor and abide by his decision. Also check with your Pastor or with your dioceses to determine if there are any relevant guidelines with regards to non-catholic's participating in the Liturgy of the Mass.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,886
    I know of Catholic parishes that have professional cantors who are certainly not Catholic. I suspect that if we start looking for the sinless to sing in the choir and be cantors, we are going to have much more silence in the mass.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,686
    Hmmmm.

    Shall non-Catholics be barred from choir-singing? There's rumor that a local choir director was canned because there were two Jewish folks singing in the choir. By all accounts, they were the two best singers, too.

    As to those 'in mortal sin,': shall we check for utilization of artificial birth control? Seems to me that determining the state of one's soul is beyond the pay-grade of the liturgy director.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Choirparts
  • kenstb
    Posts: 358
    It is extremely dangerous to presume that we know the state of anyone's soul.  
    As to the comment about EMHCs, it would be silly to allow a person who doesn't accept the reality of the Eucharist to approach the sacred vessels and distribute Holy Communion. In the Catholic Church, we don't have an open communion rail.  After all, in the credo we all profess our unity of faith. If one is unable to do so, why would that person be asked to assume a position of leadership?
    As for singers, in my experience, singing in the choir gives the singer an opportunity to experience what we believe and be persuaded by our example.  I have seen many new singers welcomed into the church at the Easter Vigil, so I am convinced that the ministry of music is a great tool in evangelization.  Still, there is a difference between welcoming strangers and diluting our faith.  A cantor is both a minister of the Word and of music. Such a person should be convinced of the truth in our cause.  
  • Could the ministry of the choir not be evangelical in its work? Every year in our high school we have non-Catholic students who enter the church in no small part due to the witness given on campus. Maybe the seed planted in choir would lead a non-Catholic to convert? About 25% of my choir is not Catholic (which helps continue the communion chant while the Catholics receive), and just last year one graduated who converted as a Junior.

    Incidentally, the whole choir sings the psalm verses each week at Mass. For a Jewish member, now graduated, that was one of her favorite parts. There is such beauty in the making of music--I've never found it surprising that the appeal crosses faiths.
  • PaixGioiaAmorPaixGioiaAmor
    Posts: 1,473
    I agree with what has been said so far.

    I think it's VERY problematic to try to ascertain the state of one's soul. Therefore, I wouldn't touch the issue of "irregular marriage situation."

    I also agree that music is evangelization; I wouldn't bar non-Catholics from singing in the choir.

    Psalm proclaiming, scripture proclaiming - I think should be done by one who claims to be Catholic. Beyond that, I don't think it's our business. But if they say "I'm a Methodist," there's probably a better choice for a cantor - although, again, there shouldn't be a problem with them singing in the choir.
    Thanked by 1kenstb
  • PaixGioiaAmorPaixGioiaAmor
    Posts: 1,473
    There's rumor that a local choir director was canned because there were two Jewish folks singing in the choir. By all accounts, they were the two best singers, too.


    So weird.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,886
    I think the church long ago dealt with the belief that the validity of sacraments depended on the moral character of the ministers. That heresy was called Donatism and it was condemned. We are all sinners.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,301
    Yes, but it hasn't dispensed with the belief that the validity of sacraments is related to the validity of the orders of the minister.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,886
    True, on the validity of orders. But as for the other "ministries," the wait for perfect candidates is going to a long one.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,677
    Of course we are not Donatists, worried that the sinfulness of ministers would make a sacrament void. That is not the reason behind anyone's concern, so there is no reason to set up that strawman and push him over.

    The purpose for a pastor to apply a restriction in choosing lectors or cantors is to avoid open, public contradiction between the Church's teaching and the lives of the ministers presenting it. It's not a matter of pretending to discern the state of someone's soul, but a matter of noting public actions. Marriage, by its nature, is a public act.

    This is not about prying into people's personal lives, into matters not known to the public. Marriage, even civil marriage, is a declaration before society.

    There are other types of public acts a pastor might want to consider: e.g., the speeches of civic authorities.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,301
    there was a time when non-Catholics, the unbaptised, non-Christians were not allowed to remain for the anaphora. (I suppose that there are Some who would think we should still be observing that discipline.)


    I'm in favor of this rule, and would extend it to people who don't know how to turn their cell phones off (pagans, clearly), people with exceptional coughing skills (infidels, or else their faith would have healed them), and anyone who can't tell the difference between a whisper and talking very loudly (gnostics, every one).
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,886
    True, Chonak, but there seems to be a great deal of prying into the private lives of others going on. I couldn't tell you what the people around me on Sunday morning do after they leave the mass, and I don't want to know.
  • kenstb
    Posts: 358
    Many Catholics come to the faith through the unspoken testimony of those who serve. Not everyone is lucky enough to be born into the faith like me. In my parish, choir membership and the training of singers, musicians and cantors is MY responsibility. The pastor is commanded (at his installation) to preach, teach and sanctify the congregation. He is in a better position to decide whether someone is free to serve, and I would bring the question to him. After all, such issues are above my pay grade. I have enough trouble getting my singers to stay on key, in rhythm and to remember their lines.
    As regards the choir director who was terminated, I would think that there must be more to it than simply having a few Jewish people as singers. If that is the case, I'm really sad for him and for the priest who sacked him.  
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • I was a member of the choir to which Dad29 refers, & I can tell you, that’s pretty much what happened. The parish Tridentine Mass community (lacking the direction of a wise, holy priest BTW) was vehemently opposed to the idea of having non-Catholic singers in the choir, let alone a couple of agnostic Jews. So somebody had to go. Almost everybody, as things eventually played out: the director’s dismissal (& poor treatment of non-Catholic singers on the part of the congregation) caused such hard feelings among members of the choir, that most all resigned in protest. Early on, we did establish some “ground rules” for non-Catholics participating in the choir. They were expected to be respectful of our Catholic traditions: to treat other members in the choir as friends, not adversaries; not to argue or push secular “agendas” on others, to listen to the priest’s sermon during Mass (no texting, checking email or Facebook, or other electronic pursuits). We opened & closed each rehearsal with a brief prayer; occasionally, our non-Catholic singers would participate voluntarily, though they were not forced to do so. These were pretty much the same “rules” imposed on everyone in the choir, but I have to say, our 2 Jewish friends were the most open-minded, hard-working, team-oriented singers in the entire group. And I think it’s important to note, both expressed interest (directly or indirectly) in learning more about Catholic Christianity. I used to tell other members of the choir, we needed to be all about evangelization—if only through a smile & a friendly manner. The Holy Spirit would take care of the rest. These singers have become quite embittered as a result of the whole sad experience. A wonderful opportunity to bring souls to Christ has been squandered.
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • Deus misereatur.
    Thanked by 1Cricket17
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,886
    They will know we are Christians by our love... Does that also mean they will wonder if we are Christians because of our lack of it.
    Thanked by 2Cricket17 barreltone
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,301
    Why would you want to bring souls to Christ when a scorched-earth campaign to prove your own ritual purity is so much more fulfilling?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,130
    No, anyone should be allowed to sing in the choir, especially if they have a good voice... heck, I know a few Satanists who have INCREDIBLE vocal abilities... If you exclude one denomination, then you will have to exclude them all.
  • Thanks for the kind comments. I guess what I'm trying to say is, you can't apply a "scorched earth" policy to every Catholic choir. In principle, I would agree with those who say all-Catholic membership is best, just because it's easier if everybody's (literally) singing from the same hymn book. But the Holy Spirit doesn't always present you with an ideal set of circumstances: you have to work with what you've got, try to maintain a semblance of Catholic "culture" in the group, & continually EVANGELIZE, sotto voce. I think if you do all that (& we did), you've got a choir that is fully & faithfully Catholic. Unfortunately, irreparable damage was done to the parish music programme: a wonderful director was lost, also a whole group of very experienced, talented singers. None of these is a common commodity these days.
    Thanked by 2chonak hilluminar
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,130
    They will know we are Christians by our love


    I don't ever remember ever reading that in the bible. Are you perhaps referring to the wretched 70's lyric that attempts to put a spin on the scripture which says,

    "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another."

    If that is the case, unfortunately the word and meaning of 'LOVE' is greatly misunderstood, and ill defined by our relativistic culture today.

    On the other hand, HATE is a crime except when it is used against Christianity and its followers. True LOVE does not embrace all, it embraces the truth, and rejects falsehood (to which many today subscribe... the broad and easy highway which leads to destruction.)

    LOVE is why we have a class of 'Christians' who are called martyrs in our Church. It is because the world HATES those who follow Christ and his Church, and they are willing to stand up for what they believe even if it enrages the unbeliever to the point of (earthly) death.

    As Christians we are taught by Christ to love our enemies, but that in no way means embracing their beliefs, practices, philosophy or anything else that the world can fabricate or evil can conjure up.
  • PaixGioiaAmorPaixGioiaAmor
    Posts: 1,473
    You're a bit much.
    Thanked by 1MarkThompson
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,677
    Hasn't this thread rather gone off-topic? The original question was not about members of the choir, but about psalmists. (Pace Fr. Chepponis and his slippery-slope question.)

    Thanked by 2CHGiffen francis
  • kenstb
    Posts: 358
    Speechless.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    As Christians we are taught by Christ to love our enemies, but that in no way means embracing their beliefs, practices, philosophy or anything else that the world can fabricate or evil can conjure up.

    As in everything, context must be applied within argument. My dad loved me. When I did wrong (in circa the fifties) he spanked me, which was a generation's lesser punishment for even minor infractions. I am grateful for that admonition to keep me on the straight and narrow.
    That said francis, your tautology is flawed because it dwells in ideology, not circumstance. The assignment of rendering psalmody by Jews of any practicing stripe, even within a circumstance as relayed by the OP, is an irrelevancy.
    Taking literalism seriously, what type of stone would the Decologue most ideally have been etched? Would it have meant more or less if they'd been enscribed upon petrified wood?

    If we humans require proof positive apparent upon our fellow Christian/Catholic travellers, should we, like, have a bar code tattoo that's registered by an approved Vatican agency? Oops, I forgot, under HHF all infrastructure bets are off.
  • Sad to say, very few choirs around here sing the verses of the responsorial psalm
    Hmmm... I wonder how many choirs sang on verses of "Shepherd Me, O God" as the responsorial psalm this past Sunday?!

    (OK, now I'll duck and cover!)
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Choirparts
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,130
    melo... your fluency shrouds your point. can you make it clearly for all to easily understand?
    Thanked by 1Ben Yanke
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,782
    I suppose there's a similar problem with the congregational turba: you just never know who might be sitting out there. Maybe I can turn some of this into ammunition for replacing the Gradual substitute ahem, Fourth Lesson with something better than Guimont. ;-)
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,886
    OK, that just does it. From now on:
    All cantors must clutch rosaries while chanting psalms
    Singers must wear underwear stamped with the Pope's coat of arms
    No music by heathen composers such as Bach - music by Catholics only
    Knights of Columbus will be armed and guard the door against entry by heretics
    Scapulars will be worn by all
    The Fatima Crusader will be required reading by all musicians
    The first musician to smile during mass will perish in the eternal flames.
    Thanked by 1Cricket17
  • PaixGioiaAmorPaixGioiaAmor
    Posts: 1,473
    Not to derail further, but quickly, what in the world is wrong with Guimont? The mere fact that GIA publishes him?
    Thanked by 2Adam Wood Spriggo
  • BruceL
    Posts: 995
    Hmmm... I wonder how many choirs sang on verses of "Shepherd Me, O God" as the responsorial psalm this past Sunday?!

    (OK, now I'll duck and cover!)


    The confession times at Our Lady of the Suburbs this week are....
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Choirparts
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,886
    Not to derail further, but quickly, what in the world is wrong with Guimont? The mere fact that GIA publishes him?


    I think Guimont is a big improvement over some of the psalm settings from certain other composers.
  • PaixGioiaAmorPaixGioiaAmor
    Posts: 1,473
    Yes. I think he's far superior to most out there and just as good as (and better than) many of the Chabanel Psalms that everyone here raves about.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Spriggo
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,886
    In all fairness, the Chabanel Psalms have gotten better, too. I wasn't enamored with some of the early efforts, but they have improved with time.
    Thanked by 1PaixGioiaAmor
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    melo... your fluency shrouds your point. can you make it clearly for all to easily understand?

    Morning francis and all,
    In answer to the above: not really, tho' I much enjoyed the pun!
    1. I like being an enigma; that's well-known.
    2. It'd be easier to explain why Jim Chepponis' little quip is just a quip, and not one of the seven seals. (See what I did there, Adam?)
    3. Give it some time, it'll likely come to you and all.
    I will offer this pithiness- anyone auditing our conversations here, without context, might think it more demanding a task to be a "pastoral musician" than a sommelier. It ain't.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,886
    What's a pastoral musician? (also ducking and running) ;-)