Non-Catholics and the Gospel Acclamation
  • At the college campus where I do music ministry, there is a Protestant who spends much of his time with the Catholics. He has even joined the choir at Mass, and sings every Sunday. We are, of course, very happy to have him with us, both for the sake of ecumenism, because he's a swell fellow, and because he has one of the better voices in the choir. My question for you lovely folks: would it be permissible for him to lead the Gospel Acclamation?

    On other threads and forums I have looked at whether it would be appropriate for him to cantor the psalm. From what I've gathered, it seems that lectors are, outside of special circumstances, supposed to be part of the church. As the psalm is sung Scripture, the cantor ought to follow the same norms as the lector. That's all well and good. However, I have been unable to find similar guidelines for singing the Gospel Acclamations. Any help, or suggestions of resources?
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,462
    To be the annoying person who answers a question with a question: is there a good reason the choir doesn't lead it as a group, and sing the verse?
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  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,224
    We had a Jew singing with us for over a year EF (with all the difficult texts!)

    He would also chant Matins with his wife every night!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,388
    This would be the least of my worries. If a Protestant wants to spend time with Catholics and participate, something good might be happening.
  • At the heretic training groundcollege campus where I lead sacred musicdo music ministry, there is a hereticProtestant who spends much of his time with the Catholics. He has even joined the choir at Mass, and sings every Sunday. We are, of course, very happy to have him with us, both for the sake of ecumenitisNostrae Aetateecumenism, because he's a swell fellow, and because he has one of the better voices in the choir. My question for you lovely folks: would it be permissible for him to lead the Gospel Acclamation?


    Properly speaking, a Protestant can't participate in the Mass at all. I don't mean that he's not allowed, but that he's not capable of doing it, anymore than a man is capable of being pregnant, or a women of being ordained. At a secondary, but still highly important level, liturgical offices shouldn't (morally) and can't (legally) be filled by anyone who isn't known for his uprightness of life and acceptance of Church teaching. His singing skills aren't the point.
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  • Participation in music like this is a fantastic way to lead to RCIA. I've witnessed it myself many times. I have never hesitated from allowing those in the choir to serve as a cantor (though I too prefer the entire choir to lead the Gospel Acclamation), and being Catholic is not a qualification to join the choir—I don't ask.
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,341
    I've previously written about a young woman who joined our RC Church choir as an agnostic. Not sure if she was a heretic since she didn't have any opinion on the church. She has a beautiful voice and she sang some propers as solos and she rehearsed them and sang them well. She said the propers propelled her desire to join RCIA and become a Roman Catholic. So I say, go for it.
  • Properly speaking, a Protestant can't participate in the Mass at all. I don't mean that he's not allowed, but that he's not capable of doing it, anymore than a man is capable of being pregnant, or a women of being ordained.
    Not sure about this. Protestants are not allowed to receive sacraments, but my understanding is that the basis of participation in the liturgy per se is baptism, not orthodoxy, and that non-Catholics are generally welcome to join in prayers and singing at Mass and other Catholic services. As for the choir, as I have written before on this forum, Church documents describe two kinds of choirs or scholae: a strictly liturgical choir, which is all male, and a choir of the faithful, which may be mixed or all-female. An FSSP priest I know has stated his opinion that a valid argument could be made in favor of non-Catholic singers supplementing a weak Catholic choir, in which case the Catholics would constitute the real choir "legally" speaking. To answer the question, I would not have a non-Catholic singing the psalm or alleluia verse alone unless there were some urgent necessity such as the assigned cantor getting sick without a Catholic replacement. In fact, if that were to happen, I would probably sing it myself.
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,388
    Protestants can sing in the "choir of the faithful' as you noted. Choir is not an exclusive club. Someone's pantaloons are too tight.
    Thanked by 3Carol JL WillWilkin
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,351
    I wouldn't want a non-Catholic to be singing from the sanctuary, except as a reader, acting in accord with the official norms for ecumenism, which allow the occasional admittance of a non-Catholic as reader for a Scripture passage (other than the Gospel). These norms presumably only apply in the modern form of Mass.
  • Choir is not an exclusive club.
    Except that good ones usually kind of are!
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,388
    Some choirs are harder to get into than others, for sure, but that is often based on ability.
  • MadOrganist,

    I will take the correction. I have run into some people who are unbaptized but call themselves Protestants, and recently a person who calls himself an agnostic atheist, so I think it's completely possible to envision the situation I described (i.e., not capable of participating) but that, if you're right and valid baptism exists within Protestant circles, then what I described isn't exclusively true.
    Thanked by 1madorganist
  • At least in these parts, where the majority of professional church singers are completely irreligious, it has never seemed to be an issue for any one of them to cantor.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Schoenbergian,

    When I was much younger, I didn't understand.

    In one parish, both the headmistress and the pastor played the ecumenism card, but fundamentally, ecumenism is irrelevant. We're not talking about receiving medical care. Catholic hospitals don't serve only Catholics. Rather, this is the most perfect worship by the bride of her bridegroom, and non-Catholics (who may have great skill) simply mustn't take leadership roles in the expression of a faith and worship they don't share. Increasingly, I see this in black-and-white terms: adulterous second 'Marriage' arrangements, contraception, non-Catholics leading the worship of the Mass.
    Thanked by 2Incardination CCooze
  • Quite a few responses have focused on merely being part of the choir which is not really the gist of CGZ's comments (at least the way I read them). I thought the distinction being made was between singing in the choir (which most certainly can be an outreach) and taking an official role within the Liturgy... which I think is most certainly quite different.

    In exceptional cases in the EF, a lay person can be the sub-deacon of a Solemn Mass. Would none of you see an issue with having a Protestant or non-Christian in that role... purely because you see it as ecumenical? Or in the OF, would none of you raise an eyebrow at having a Protestant or non-Christian act as a Eucharistic Minister simply because you think this could be good for the individual in question?

    A non-Catholic musician performing a specific MUSICAL role in a Catholic Liturgy is one thing. Performing a LITURGICAL role is quite another. It is not a specious distinction between the two.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen CCooze
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,401
    Most Protestants are baptised (if they aren't, they aren't Christian, full stop) and most of those are valid Trinitarian-formula baptisms (Mormons and such are special cases). I feel more comfortable with making such a physical/ritual distinction than to base the decision on Protestantism per se. After all, a great many Catholics are functionally Protestant in their understanding of the Eucharist and attitude toward church teaching. As somebody converted through music, I'd like to see latitude given when possible, but at the same time, I'd like to maintain the sacredness of sacred ministers.

    What about making cantors sign the Oath Against Modernism?
  • A personal observation, rather than a direct answer to the question:
    The final "inciting incident" which led to my conversion was when the organist I was dating at the time wished to have me serve as a cantor at his parish (I have a degree in vocal performance) and his priest refused because I was a protestant. I'd already served as a cantor at the local cathedral a couple of times when the boyfriend subbed there, so I was very angry and confused with the priest's decision. Ultimately, I realized that my deep distress over the situation had to do with the larger issue of feeling excluded from liturgical participation and a desire for the Eucharist. Had that priest not held firm to his understanding of the role of a cantor, I might not have come to that realization, which in turn led to a master's degree in sacred music and a full-time job as a music director.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,462
    "What about making cantors sign the Oath Against Modernism?"

    That smacks of treating cantors as if they were clerics...before 1967. We don't do it for lectors, acolytes, or converts or ... organists.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWS8Mg-JWSg


    The solution is more likely found it simply having the choir/schola lead/sing this.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,388
    Let's face it, the roles of acolytes, cantors, lectors, etc. have been significantly downgraded. They are not clerics, in fact many of them have no training whatsoever for the roles they are attempting. The problem is not with musicians, but with the leadership of the church - or lack of it.
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  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,401
    I knew I should have done that in purple.
    Except it wasn't JUST a troll. And yes, I know that liturgical musicians didn't have to sign, back when one had to sign.
    But I think that all the LAITY should sign, voluntarily, to shame the clergy into signing.
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,388
    Interestingly, when I worked for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), it wasn't uncommon for adults to be re-baptized multiple times. They looked at it as a kind of renewal, re-commitment, or similar. Different mindset.

    But I think that all the LAITY should sign, voluntarily, to shame the clergy into signing.


    Too many of the clergy have no shame. Good luck with that!
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,462
    "all the LAITY"

    You could count yourself fortunate merely to be ignored.

  • mikevp
    Posts: 4
    [-]
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,224
    Let's face it, the roles of acolytes, cantors, lectors, etc. have been significantly downgraded. They are not clerics, in fact many of them have no training whatsoever for the roles they are attempting. The problem is not with musicians, but with the leadership of the church - or lack of it.


    Brilliant...

    In EF land I suppose I would not choose a non-Catholic to sing a lesson (Easter Vigil), but as for a Cantor of the Propers, I would not see a problem, we have plenty of professional choirs around and they sing the Propers and most are not Catholic. I agree that this is not ideal, and that Liturgical roles should be filled by Catholics, but if we are going to split hairs, these Catholics should not be public sinners...

    As for the OF as CharlesW writes above they are hardly clerical roles (they can be filled by women!) It is all very well citing documents written by dead popes etc. but what is the practice in Rome? what is going on in the average church?

    It is all very well to follow a stricter set of rules, but does it make sense, and will you be backed up by your Parish priest or bishop?
  • It is not suggested in GIRM, or anywhere else AFAIK, that the Acclamation before the Gospel ought to be sung from the ambo. In the most solemn form it accompanies the procession with the book of the Gospels from altar to ambo (GIRM #175 or #133), and singing from the ambo would get in the way. Also the verse/s may be sung by the choir, and the Alleluia is to be sung by the people, leading by a cantor is just one option.
    GILM does not list it as suitable for the lectern
    #33. Since the lectern is the place from which the ministers proclaim the word of God, it must of its nature be reserved for the readings, the responsorial psalm, and the Easter proclamation (Exsultet) The lectern may rightly be used for the homily and the general intercessions, however, because of their close connection with the entire liturgy of the word. It is better for the commentator, cantor, or director of singing, for example, not to use the lectern.
  • Could we get the cantors to SING the oath against modernism?

    Could some intrepid soul turn it into a litany?
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  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 720
    but what is the practice in Rome? what is going on in the average church?


    Let's not go there. Maybe the "average church" has someone at the lectern, which is covered in a rainbow flag. Maybe the priest is wearing a rainbow-coloured stole. Maybe the same person who serves as lector leads an LGBT group, after Mass, on how to make the Church more "accepting" of LGBT or "ecumenical" agendas. Apparently there will even be a "gay pride" "parade" in Rome next month, so...

    People keep saying, "while not ideal..."

    Well, then... What is the best / ideal practice?
    Let's do that, instead of what might be the current or popular practice in Rome or elsewhere.

    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,388
    I agree with much of what some of you are saying, but... I am not in charge and neither are any of you. Do you see a problem here?
  • Yes... so you are saying we must seize power. #Resist. #SeizeThePower. Wait, what forum am I on?
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,388
    No Aunt Esther - oops, Maxine Waters - here. Re-teach, Re-teach, Re-teach. Seems like all I do.
    Thanked by 1Incardination