changing the text in musical settings
  • bjerabek
    Posts: 63
    I need some ammo for when/if I am challenged when I announce that I am going to get rid of the Mass settings that we have that do not have all the correct words (for example, a Gloria that occasionally paraphrases for the sake of making the text fit the melody). I know of the quotation from Sacrosanctum Concilium to the effect that no one has the authority to add to, subtract from, or otherwise change the texts of the sacred liturgy. But can anyone provide me with other references which speak specifically about sacred music, i.e. that composers should respect the texts of the liturgy and not change them to fit the music? I would be grateful for any and all citations from recent Church documents (i.e. since 1962) that can help me defend my case. Thanks.
  • G
    Posts: 1,387
    The Holy See’s 2004 letter, Redemptionis Sacramentum:

    59. The reprobated practice by which priests, deacons or the faithful here and there alter or vary at will the texts of the Sacred Liturgy that they are charged to pronounce, must cease. For in doing thus, they render the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy unstable, and not infrequently distort the authentic meaning of the Liturgy.

    The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2002) :

    Nevertheless, the priest must remember that he is the servant of the Sacred Liturgy and that he himself is not permitted, on his own initiative, to add, to remove, or to change anything in the celebration of Mass. [GIRM§ 24]

    The Vatican II Constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22.3:

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

    Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • Isn't there an out-clause for musical settings, though? I don't recall, but someone mentioned that slight alterations are allowable for musical settings. Would one ban a Renaissance motet for too many or not enough iterations of the Kyrie?
  • G
    Posts: 1,387
    I think there may be for Children's Masses....

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • It it also permissible to remove the Responsorial Psalm in the Mission Field, where the character of the Psalm may be deemed not helpful in the turn of the people towards the church.

    (Would I make this up?) Please, someone rescue me as I have been unable to find the official statement that includes this....I was doing a massive search of the Vatican Documents of Vatican II when this was discovered.