Getting bishop's permission
  • Andrew Motyka
    Posts: 935
    I've been on the phone with the bishop's office in my diocese trying to get approval for a musical collection of antiphons. The bishop has indicated that he really wants to work with me to give approval for this collection, but he actually isn't sure exactly what he's supposed to do regarding approval.

    I wouldn't be surprised if this is a common issue. It's unlikely that most composers seek approval of their work, even though they're supposed to. So, does anyone know? Is there a specific process a bishop is supposed to follow when making official approval of music for the Mass?
  • Cantate
    Posts: 33
    The "official" part would need to go through the chancellor, since it's the chancellor who is basically the official notary of the bishop. All official declarations, proclamations, appointments, and approvals flow through him (or her). Now, practically, it's up to the bishop as to how much he personally would be involved in the approval process. A bishop who is musically well-versed and liturgically minded may review the compositions himself and decide whether they are appropriate and worthy of the liturgy. However, I suspect most bishops would hand the task over to their Directors of Worship or Directors of Liturgical Music or, lacking those, Cathedral Directors of Music. That person would review the submission, hopefully with the will of the bishop in mind, and make the recommendation whether or not to grant a nihil obstat and imprimatur. So, I'd check with the chancellor's office.
  • Andrew Motyka
    Posts: 935
    Thanks, Cantate. That makes things even fuzzier, believe it or not. The individual with whom I spoke was the chancellor, and had no idea. She spoke with the bishop, who asked if I would bring any relevant materials (I assume he simply means the compositions) when I see him tomorrow. I hope he looks at them himself, because it's my pastor who is the Director of Worship (which is fine, but might be a conflict of interest), and I am the Cathedral Director of Music.

    I guess my other question is: when the GIRM refers to "approval" for music, does it necessarily mean a nihil obstat and imprimatur, or is there a different kind of approval for liturgical music?
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,436
    There is no specified procedure for approval.
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    I'm not sure why you should ask for approval, Andrew, unless it's demanded. Is that not to offer a hostage to fortune?
  • Andrew Motyka
    Posts: 935
    Frankly, I'm curious if I can get it. Because it's a full collection of communion antiphons, it technically doesn't need permission at all (since it falls under option 1).

    If it weren't a book of propers, however, I believe the GIRM assumes the book should be presented to a bishop for approval.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,115
    But is the translation approved? That's the other thing to consider.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,452
    Don't ask. Don't tell? If the translation is approved, do you need approval?
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,776
    When Professor Ford got approval for "By Flowing Waters", the letter ran as follows:

    "By Flowing Waters: Chant for the Liturgy", although not an official liturgical book, is approved for publication by the USCCB Committee on the Liturgy. The chants are translated from the Graduale Simplex and may be used as sung settings of the Responsorial Psalm, Entrance, and Communion Chants.

    Monsignor James P. Moroney
    Executive Director
    The U.S. Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy

    If you adapt this, it'll probably be sufficient.
  • Andrew Motyka
    Posts: 935

    There is no approved translation of the Graduale, but the psalms are RGP, so yes.


    Yikes. I wasn't planning on going to the USCCB for permission. That might be more than I can handle.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,776
    *Adapt*, I said.
    Thanked by 1Andrew Motyka
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,669

    It might be too presumptive to do for a Bishop... but when dealing with priests, I find many of them appreciate it if you write out a letter for them and ask them to sign it (of course, stating that if there's anything in the letter they want changed you'd be glad to do that for them).
  • While I don't doubt the merit of your work, and hope you get the approval you seek, I don't see how it could fall under option 1, which specifically refers to the chants from the Graduale.

  • I could be wrong, as I had to look up the new girm. 'as set to music there or in another setting'... reading that in continuity would suggest new works of simplified settings such as psalm-tones, Rossini. Translation is not mentioned, so I'm thinking option 1 would refer to Latin with simpler music...
    Lotsa questions for me... so I'll start a new thread when I have time.
    Best wishes, Andrew!
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,115
    87. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, there are four options for singing at communion:

    (1) the antiphon from the Missal or the antiphon with its psalm from the Graduale Romanum, as set to music there or in another musical setting;
    (2) the antiphon with psalm from the Graduale Simplex of the liturgical time;
    (3) a chant from another collection of psalms and antiphons, approved by the conference of bishops or the Diocesan bishop, including psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms;
    (4) some other suitable liturgical chant (cf. no. 86) approved by the conference of bishops or the Diocesan bishop. This is sung either by the choir alone or by the choir or a cantor with the people.

    The GIRM allows the graduale texts to be sung in other musical settings, and still qualify as option one, but the translation is another issue. Since it does not specify anything for translation, and refers to the latin book only, I'd argue that besides singing the missal antiphons, to satisfy option one, you must sing the text in latin. However, with approval, it can most certainly qualify under option 3.
  • Paul_D
    Posts: 133
    This is rather curious:

    87. In the dioceses of Canada ... [1 & 2 as above], ... or some other suitable liturgical chant approved by the Conference of Bishops of Canada.

    87. In the dioceses of the England and Wales ... [1 & 2 as above] ... (3) a song from another collection of psalms and antiphons, approved by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

    In the USA, even the Diocesan bishop can approve! Why they must be so highly trained in liturgical music ... NOT!
  • Paul F. Ford
    Posts: 819
    Andrew, your fine work deserves your bishop's imprimatur. He needs to seek a competent liturgical canonist/canonical consultant to grant the nihil obstat (s/he guarantees that there is nothing in the texts themselves that is against faith). Then he or his vicar general grants the imprimatur.

    Msgr. Frederick McManus was the liturgical canonist who granted the imprimatur for my book. I'd be willing to be his canonical consultant for your project. I have served as censor deputatus (the technical term) for other diocesan bishops on other theological, liturgical, and spiritual books.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Paul F. Ford
    Posts: 819
    In Ben's helpful citation above, the words 'antiphon' and 'chant' refer to texts and not tunes. If Andrew were using the exact text of the Latin antiphons of either the Missal or the Graduals (Category 1 and 2), he'd be looking for the highest form of approval of liturgical books, the concordat cum originali.

    As to under what category Andrew's work falls, it would be U.S. "(3) a chant from another collection of Psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including Psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms."
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Ignoto
  • Andrew Motyka
    Posts: 935
    Argh! I had already handed in the request for approval to the bishop when I came back to read this thread. It's okay; if I receive the approval, it doesn't really matter which option it falls under.

    Paul Ford, thank you for your generous offer! If the bishop needs someone to look it over (I think I agree with you; I will ask for an imprimatur), I will mention you. My bishop is a canonist, but I do not know his specialty.

    Thanks, everybody, for your input.