pastor's control over music
  • Can anyone tell me if there is something in an authoritative document that says explicitly that the pastor has ultimate control over all sacred music that is used in worship, or is that principle something which is only deduced from other things?
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Well, I always kind of assumed the Bishop has ultimate control over all sacred music, and that oversight is delegated to the pastor, who in turn delegates it to an individual he deems competent.
  • Right. But that is a deduction (and an assertion that the bishop has control over *MUSIC* [not just liturgy in general]). Is there something explicit in a document that you could point me to? I could find, for example, that a bishop has oversight over the *LITURGY* -- in Canon Law. I am wondering if there is something somewhere that says something about his oversight (or the priest's) for music in particular.

  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    I'm unaware of any document that explicitly states that the bishop has control over music, any more than it explicitly says the bishop has the combination to the diocesan safe or oversees paying the electric bill. Nonetheless, here are a few items that go fairly far in establishing the preeminence of the bishop in terms of music as liturgy:

    Sacrosanctum Consilium:

    SC 22. 1. Regulation of the Sacred Liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop.

    2. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the Liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established.

    3. Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the Liturgy on his own authority.

    SC 42. But because it is impossible for the bishop always and everywhere to preside over the whole flock in his Church, he cannot do other than establish lesser groupings of the faithful. Among these the parishes, set up locally under a pastor who takes the place of the bishop, are the most important: for in some manner they represent the visible Church constituted throughout the world.

    SC 114. The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care. Choirs must be diligently promoted, especially in cathedral churches; but bishops and other pastors of souls must be at pains to ensure that, whenever the sacred action is to be celebrated with song, the whole body of the faithful may be able to contribute that active participation which is rightly theirs, as laid down in Art. 28 and 30.

    SC 45. For the same reason every diocese is to have a commission on the Sacred Liturgy under the direction of the bishop, for promoting the liturgical apostolate.

    Sometimes it may be expedient that several dioceses should form between them one single commission which will be able to promote the Liturgy by common consultation.

    SC 46. Besides the commission on the Sacred Liturgy, every diocese, as far as possible, should have commissions for sacred music and sacred art.

    These three commissions must work in closest collaboration; indeed it will often be best to fuse the three of them into one single commission.

    Musicam Sacram:

    MS 12 It is for the Holy See alone to determine the more important general principles which are, as it were, the basis of sacred music, according to the norms handed down, but especially according to the Constitution on the Liturgy. Direction in this matter, within the limits laid down, also belongs to the competent territorial Episcopal Conferences of various kinds, which have been legitimately constituted, and to the individual bishop.9

    From a practical, secular, legal standpoint, our diocese is legally embodied as a sole corporation in the person of the Bishop himself. As such, all employees of the diocese, its churches and its schools are technically direct employees of the bishop. In that role he appoints pastors and parish administrators to function in his stead at the parish level. Their directives have the same legal authority of that bishop.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,293
    In addition to the references priorstf gave above, Fr. McNamara's column touched on the topic 11-11-2003 with some GIRM citations about authority belonging to the ordinary or to the bishops' conference. [Source:]

    "The new General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM), explaining the different modes of singing the proper of the Mass, gives as the fourth and last alternative 'a suitable liturgical song similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop.' .... (No. 48; see also Nos. 86 and 87). "

    "Referring specifically to the United States, it states: "Bearing in mind the important place that singing has in a celebration as a necessary or integral part of the Liturgy, all musical settings of the texts for the people's responses and acclamations in the Order of Mass and for special rites that occur in the course of the liturgical year must be submitted to the Secretariat for the Liturgy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for review and approval prior to publication" (No. 393).

    According to these passages, the diocesan bishop and the bishops' conference have the power to approve liturgical songs and Mass settings in addition to those in the approved Roman books, e.g., the Graduale Romanum.
  • The STTL while only an advisory document stresses that pastoral concerns override the implementation of reforms.

    But that may be only my interpretation, colored by the fact that I dreamed last night of being shot down over pastoral concerns.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Those are the worst dreams you have, noel? I've had nightmares of everything from clown Masses to my boss rapping the Epiphany introit. All of which included something about "oh, you have to give in a bit to keep people happy."
  • I notice that Jesus rarely gave in to make people happy.
  • I can just see it. "And they sang a hymn."

  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,574
    Connecting Bishop to PASTOR is Canon 515 (and 528 § 2).
    Connecting Pastor to VICAR is Canon 545.
    Resource Library
    Code of Canon Law
    scroll down to Book II. Part III. Section II. Title III.
    Chapter VI. Parishes, Pastors, and Parochial Vicars

    For the time-challenged
  • When I was in St. Louis to attend a Job Corps accreditation conference, I was able to make some time to attend the Gateway Liturgical Conference. I was blessed to meet with and listen to Archbishop Malcolm Rajith, the Secretary to the Congregation for Divine Worship. He spoke of beauty and the Ars Celebrandi. He spoke of the problems of horizontalism in the Mass. He noted that the bishop, as the chief liturgical steward of his diocese, is responsible for ensuring that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated in a manner that is pleasing and acceptable to the Lord. He quoted extensively from Sacramentum Caritatis.

    After his address, I asked him (off-stage) about how music relates to all of this. I told him that a lot of the music out there today swings heavily towards the horizontal. He said that he understood what I meant and that the Holy See would be issuing a document on music early next year. I am hoping that this will clarify a lot of things.

    Sing to the Lord, for me, is pretty much a paper tiger. The bishops missed a wonderful opportunity to give us a meaningful document that would be in compliance with Liturgiam Authenticam. That, sadly, did not happen.
  • bjerabek asked
    Can anyone tell me if there is something in an authoritative document that says explicitly that the pastor has ultimate control over all sacred music that is used in worship, or is that principle something which is only deduced from other things?

    An answer can be found in the GIRM:
    Chapter VII

    The Choice of the Mass and Its Parts

    352. The pastoral effectiveness of a celebration will be greatly increased if the texts of the readings, the prayers, and the liturgical songs correspond as closely as possible to the needs, spiritual preparation, and culture of those taking part. This is achieved by appropriate use of the wide options described below.

    The priest, therefore, in planning the celebration of Mass, should have in mind the common spiritual good of the people of God, rather than his own inclinations. He should, moreover, remember that the selection of different parts is to be made in agreement with those who have some role in the celebration, including the faithful, in regard to the parts that more directly pertain to each.

    Since, indeed, a variety of options is provided for the different parts of the Mass, it is necessary for the deacon, the lectors, the psalmist, the cantor, the commentator, and the choir to be completely sure before the celebration which text for which each is responsible is to be used and that nothing be improvised. Harmonious planning and carrying out of the rites will great assistance in disposing the faithful to participate in the Eucharist.