Adoremus, Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy
De musica sacra et sacra liturgia
Instruction on Sacred Music and Sacred Liturgy
Sacred Congregation for Rites – September 3, 1958
In our time the Supreme Pontiffs have issued three important documents on the subject of sacred music: the Motu proprio Inter sollicitudines of Saint Pius X, Nov. 22, 1903; the Apostolic constitution Divini cultus of Pius XI of happy memory, Dec. 20, 1928; and the encyclical Musicæ sacræ disciplina of the happily reigning Supreme Pontiff Pius XII, Dec. 25, 1955. Other papal documents have also been issued, along with decrees of the Sacred Congregation of Rites in regard to sacred music.
As everyone realizes, sacred music and sacred liturgy are so naturally inter- woven that laws cannot be made for the one without affecting the other. Indeed in the papal documents, and the decrees of the Sacred Congregation of Rites we find materials common to both sacred music, and sacred liturgy.
Before his encyclical on sacred music, the Supreme Pontiff, Pius XII, issued another encyclical on the sacred liturgy, Mediator Dei (November 20, 1947), which very clearly explains, and demonstrates the relation between liturgical doctrine, and pastoral needs. It has therefore been considered appropriate to put together from the above documents a special instruction containing all the main points on sacred liturgy, sacred music, and the pastoral advantages of both. In this way their directives may be more easily, and securely put into practice.
It is for this purpose that the present instruction has been prepared. Experts in sacred music, and the Pontifical Commission for the General Restoration of the Liturgy have given advice and assistance.
The organization of this instruction is as follows:
Chapter I: General Concepts (no. 1-10).
Chapter II: General Norms (no. 11-21).
Chapter III: -1. Principal liturgical functions in which sacred music is used.
Special Norms (no. 11-21).
1. Principal liturgical functions in which sacred music is used.
a. General principles regarding the participation of the faithful (no. 22-23).
b. Participation of the faithful in sung Mass (no. 24-27).
c. Participation of the faithful in low Mass (no. 28-34).
d. Conventual Mass, or the Mass in choir (no. 35-37).
e. Assistance of priests in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and so-called "synchronized" Masses (no. 38-39).
B. Divine Office (no. 40-46).
C. Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament (no. 47).
2. Kinds of sacred music.
A. Sacred polyphony (no. 48-49).
B. Modern sacred music (no. 50).
C. Hymns (no. 51-53).
D. Religious music (no. 54-55).
3. Books of liturgical chant (no. 56-59).
4. Musical instruments and bells.
A. General principles (no. 60).
B. Classic organ, and similar instruments (no. 61-67).
C. Sacred instrumental music (no. 68-69).
D. Musical instruments, and mechanical devices (no. 70-73).
E. Broadcasting, and television of sacred functions (no. 74-79).
F. Times when the playing of musical instruments is forbidden (no. 80-85).
G. Bells (no. 86-92).
5. Persons having principal functions in sacred music and the sacred liturgy (no. 93-103).
6. Duty to cultivate sacred music and sacred liturgy.
A. Training of the clergy, and people (no. 104-112).
B. Public, and private schools of sacred music (no. 113-118).
Chapter I explains a few general concepts; chapter II then takes up the general norms for the use of sacred music in the liturgy. With this background chapter III presents the entire subject of sacred music, and sacred liturgy in detail. Each section establishes its own general principles, and then applies them to particular cases.
1. "The sacred liturgy comprises the entire public worship of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, Head and members" (Mediator Dei, Nov. 20, 1947: AAS 39  528-529). "Liturgical ceremonies" are sacred rites instituted by Jesus Christ or the Church; they are carried out by persons lawfully appointed, and according to the prescriptions of liturgical books approved by the Holy See; their purpose is to give due worship to God, the Saints, and the Blessed (cf. canon 1256). Any other services, whether performed inside or outside the church, are called "private devotions", even though a priest is present or conducts them.
2. The holy sacrifice of the Mass is an act of worship offered to God in the name of Christ and the Church; of its nature, it is public, regardless of the place or manner of its celebration. Thus, the term "private Mass" should never be used.
3. There are two kinds of Masses: the sung Mass ("Missa in cantu"), and the read Mass ("Missa lecta"), commonly called low Mass.
There are two kinds of sung Mass: one called a solemn Mass if it is celebrated with the assistance of other ministers, a deacon and a sub-deacon; the other called a high Mass if there is only the priest celebrant who sings all the parts proper to the sacred ministers.
4. "Sacred music" includes the following: a) Gregorian chant; b) sacred polyphony; c) modern sacred music; d) sacred organ music; e) hymns; and f) religious music.
5. Gregorian chant, which is used in liturgical ceremonies, is the sacred music proper to the Roman Church; it is to be found in the liturgical books approved by the Holy See. This music has been reverently, and faithfully fostered, and developed from most ancient, and venerable traditions; and even in recent times new chants have been composed in the style of this tradition. This style of music has no need of organ or other instrumental accompaniment.
6. Sacred polyphony is measured music which arose from the tradition of Gregorian chant. It is choral music written in many voice-parts, and sung without instrumental accompaniment. It began to flourish in the Latin Church in the Middle Ages, and reached its height in the art of Giovanni Pierluigi Palestrina (1524-1594) in the latter half of the sixteenth century; distinguished musicians of our time still cultivate this art.
7. Modern sacred music is likewise sung in many voice-parts, but at times with instrumental accompaniment. Its composition is of more recent date, and in a more advanced style, developed from the previous centuries. When this music is composed specifically for liturgical use it must be animated by a spirit of devotion, and piety; only on this condition can it be admitted as suitable accompaniment for these services.
8. Sacred music for organ is music composed for the organ alone. Ever since the pipe organ came into use this music has been widely cultivated by famous masters of the art. If such music complies with the laws for sacred music, it is an important contribution to the beauty of the sacred liturgy.
9. Hymns are songs which spontaneously arise from the religious impulses with which mankind has been endowed by its Creator. Thus they are universally sung among all peoples.
This music had a fine effect on the lives of the faithful, imbuing both their private, and social lives with a true Christian spirit (cf. Eph 5:18-20; Col 3:16). It was encouraged from the earliest times, and in our day it is still to be recommended for fostering the piety of the faithful, and enhancing their private devotions. Even such music can, at times, be admitted to liturgical ceremonies (This music had a fine effect on the lives of the faithful, imbuing both their private, and social lives with a true Christian spirit (cf. Eph 5:18-20; Col 3:16). It was encouraged from the earliest times, and in our day it is still to be recommended for fostering the piety of the faithful, and enhancing their private devotions. Even such music can, at times, be admitted to liturgical ceremonies (Musicæ sacræ disciplina, Dec. 25, 1955; AAS 48  13-14)., Dec. 25, 1955; AAS 48  13-14).
10. Religious music is any music which, either by the intention of the composer or by the subject or purpose of the composition, serves to arouse devotion, and religious sentiments. Such music "is an effective aid to religion" (Musicæ sacræ disciplina, idem.). But since it was not intended for divine worship, and was composed in a free style, it is not to be used during liturgical ceremonies.
11. This instruction is binding on all rites of the Latin Church. Thus, what is said of Gregorian chant applies to all the chants which are used in other Latin rites.
Sacred music is to be taken generally in this instruction as embracing both vocal and instrumental music. But at times it will be limited to instrumental music only, as will be clear from the context.
A church ordinarily means any sacred place; this includes a church in the strict sense, as well as public, semipublic, and private oratories; again the context itself may restrict the meaning to a church in the strict sense.
12. Liturgical ceremonies are to be carried out as indicated in the liturgical books approved by the Holy See; this applies to the universal Church, to particular churches, and to religious communities (cf. canon 1257). Private devotions, however, may be conducted according to local or community customs if they have been approved by competent ecclesiastical authority (cf. canon 1259).
Liturgical ceremonies, and private devotions are not to be mixed; but if the situation allows, such devotions may either precede or follow a liturgical ceremony.
13.a) Latin is the language of liturgical ceremonies; however, the liturgical books mentioned above, if they have been approved for general use or for a particular place or community, may make use of another language for certain liturgical ceremonies, and in such cases, this will be explicitly stated. Any exceptions to the general rule of Latin will be mentioned later in this Instruction.
b) Special permission is needed for the use of the vernacular which is a word-for-word translation in the celebration of sung liturgical ceremonies (Motu proprio Inter sollicitudines AAS 36 [1903-1904] 334; Decr. auth. S.R.C. 4121).
c) Individual exceptions to the exclusive use of Latin in liturgical ceremonies which have already been granted by the Holy See still remain in effect. These permissions are not to be modified in their meaning nor extended to other regions without authorization from the Holy See.
d) In private devotions any language more suited to the faithful may be used.
14. a) In sung Masses only Latin is to be used. This applies not only to the celebrant, and his ministers, but also to the choir or congregation.
"However, popular vernacular hymns may be sung at the solemn Eucharistic Sacrifice (sung Masses), after the liturgical texts have been sung in Latin, in those places where such a centenary or immemorial custom has obtained. Local ordinaries may permit the continuation of this custom ‘if they judge that it cannot prudently be discontinued because of the circumstances of the locality or the people’ (cf. canon 5)" (Musicæ sacræ disciplina: AAS 48  16-17).
b) At low Mass the faithful who participate directly in the liturgical ceremonies with the celebrant by reciting aloud the parts of the Mass which belong to them must, along with the priest and his server, use Latin exclusively.
But if, in addition to this direct participation in the liturgy, the faithful wish to add some prayers or popular hymns, according to local custom, these may be recited or sung in the vernacular.
c) It is strictly forbidden for the faithful in unison or for a commentator to recite aloud with the priest the parts of the Proper, Ordinary, and canon of the Mass. This prohibition extends to both Latin, and a vernacular word-for-word translation. Exceptions will be enumerated in paragraph 31.However, it is desirable that a lector read the Epistle and Gospel in the vernacular for the benefit of the faithful at low Masses on Sundays and feast days. Between the Consecration, and the Pater noster a holy silence is fitting.
15. In sacred processions conducted according to the liturgical books, only the language prescribed or permitted by these books should be used. In other processions, held as private devotions, the language more suited to the faithful may be used.
16. Gregorian chant is the music characteristic of the Roman Church. Therefore, its use is not only permitted, but encouraged at all liturgical ceremonies above all other styles of music, unless circumstances demand otherwise. From this it follows that:
a) The language of Gregorian chant, because of its character as liturgical music, must be exclusively Latin.
b) The priest and his ministers must use only the Gregorian melodies given in the standard editions when they sing their parts according to the rubrics of the liturgical ceremonies. Any sort of instrumental accompaniment is forbidden.
This is binding also on choir, and congregation when they answer the chants of the priest or his ministers according to the rubrics.
c) Finally, if a particular indult has been granted for the priest, deacon, subdeacon, or lector to read solemnly the Epistle, Lesson, or Gospel in the vernacular after they have been chanted in their Gregorian melodies, they must be read in a loud and clear voice, without any attempt to imitate the Gregorian melodies (cf. no. 96e).
17. When the choir is capable of singing it, sacred polyphony may be used in all liturgical ceremonies. This type of sacred music is specially appropriate for ceremonies celebrated with greater splendor, and solemnity.
18. Modern sacred music may also be used in all liturgical ceremonies if it conforms to the dignity, solemnity, and sacredness of the service, and if there is a choir capable of rendering it artistically.
19. Hymns may be freely used in private devotions. But in liturgical ceremonies the principles laid down in paragraphs 13-15 should be strictly observed.
20. Religious music should be entirely excluded from all liturgical functions; however, such music may be used in private devotions. With regard to concerts in church, the principles stated below in paragraphs 54, and 55 are to be observed.
The Sacred Text
21. Everything which the liturgical books prescribe to be sung, either by the priest and his ministers, or by the choir or congregation, forms an integral part of the sacred liturgy. Therefore:
a) It is strictly forbidden to change in any way the sung text, to alter or omit words, or to introduce inappropriate repetitions. This applies also to compositions of sacred polyphony, and modern sacred music: each word should be clearly, and distinctly audible.
b) It is explicitly forbidden to omit either the whole or a part of any liturgical text unless the rubrics provide for such a change.
c) But if for some reason a choir cannot sing one or another liturgical text according to the music printed in the liturgical books, the only permissible substitution is this: that it be sung either recto tono, i.e., on a straight tone, or set to one of the psalm tones. Organ accompaniment may be used. Typical reasons for permitting such a change are an insufficient number of singers, or their lack of musical training, or even, at times, the length of a particular rite or chant.
a. General principles regarding the participation of the faithful:
22. By its very nature, the Mass requires that all present take part in it, each having a particular function.
a) Interior participation is the most important; this consists in paying devout attention, and in lifting up the heart to God in prayer. In this way the faithful "are intimately joined with their High Priest…and together with Him, and through Him offer (the Sacrifice), making themselves one with Him" (Mediator Dei, Nov. 20, 1947: AAS 39  552).
b) The participation of the congregation becomes more complete, however, when, in addition to this interior disposition, exterior participation is manifested by external acts, such as bodily position (kneeling, standing, sitting), ceremonial signs, and especially responses, prayers, and singing.
The Supreme Pontiff Pius XII, in his encyclical on the sacred liturgy, Mediator Dei, recommended this form of participation:
"Those who are working for the exterior participation of the congregation in the sacred ceremonies are to be warmly commended. This can be accomplished in more than one way. The congregation may answer the words of the priest, as prescribed by the rubrics, or sing hymns appropriate to the different parts of the Mass, or do both. Also, at solemn ceremonies, they may alternate in singing the liturgical chant (AAS 39  560)".
When the papal documents treat of "active participation" they are speaking of this general participation (Mediator Dei: AAS 39  530-537), of which the outstanding example is the priest, and his ministers who serve at the altar with the proper interior dispositions, and carefully observe the rubrics, and ceremonies.
c) Active participation is perfect when "sacramental" participation is included. In this way "the people receive the Holy Eucharist not only by spiritual desire, but also sacramentally, and thus obtain greater benefit from this most holy Sacrifice". (Council of Trent, Sess. 22, ch. 6; cf. also Mediator Dei: AAS 39  565: "It is most appropriate, as the liturgy itself prescribes, for the people to come to holy Communion after the priest has received at the altar".)
d) Since adequate instruction is necessary before the faithful can intelligently, and actively participate in the mass, it will help to note here a very wise law enacted by the Council of Trent: "This holy Council orders that pastors, and all those who are entrusted with the care of souls shall frequently give a commentary on one of the texts used at Mass, either personally or through others, and, in addition, explain some aspect of the mystery of this holy Sacrifice; this should be done especially on Sundays, and feast days in the sermon which follows the Gospel (or "when the people are being instructed in the catechism)" (Council of Trent, Sess. 22, ch. 8; Musicæ sacræ disciplina: AAS 48  17).
More Perfect Worship
23. The primary end of general participation is the more perfect worship of God, and the edification of the faithful. Thus the various means of congregational participation should be so controlled that there is no danger of abuse, and this end is effectively achieved.
b. Participation of the faithful in sung Mass.
24. The more noble form of the Eucharistic celebration is the solemn Mass because in it the solemnities of ceremonies, ministers, and sacred music all combine to express the magnificence of the divine mysteries, and to impress upon the minds of the faithful the devotion with which they should contemplate them. Therefore, we must strive that the faithful have the respect due to this form of worship by properly participating in it in the ways described below.
25. In solemn Mass there are three degrees of the participation of the faithful:
a) First, the congregation can sing the liturgical responses. These are: Amen; Et cum spiritu tuo; Gloria tibi, Domine; Habemus ad Dominum; Dignum et justum est; Sed libera nos a malo; Deo gratias. Every effort must be made that the faithful of the entire world learn to sing these responses.
b) Secondly, the congregation can sing the parts of the Ordinary of the Mass: Kyrie, eleison; Gloria in excelsis Deo; Credo; Sanctus-Benedictus; Agnus Dei. Every effort must be made that the faithful learn to sing these parts, particularly according to the simpler Gregorian melodies. But if they are unable to sing all these parts, there is no reason why they cannot sing the easier ones: Kyrie, eleison; Sanctus-Benedictus; Agnus Dei; the choir, then, can sing the Gloria, and Credo.
In connection with this, the following Gregorian melodies, because of their simplicity, should be learned by the faithful throughout the world: the Kyrie, eleison; Sanctus-Benedictus; Agnus Dei of Mass XVI from the Roman Gradual; the Gloria in excelsis Deo, and Ite, missa est-Deo gratias of Mass XV; and either Credo I or Credo III. In this way it will be possible to achieve that most highly desirable goal of having the Christian faithful throughout the world manifest their common faith by active participation in the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and by common and joyful song (Musicæ sacræ disciplina: AAS 48  16).
c) Thirdly, if those present are well trained in Gregorian chant, they can sing the parts of the Proper of the Mass. This form of participation should be carried out particularly in religious congregations and seminaries.
26. High Mass, too, has its special place, even though it lacks the sacred ministers, and the full magnificence of the ceremonies of solemn Mass, for it is nonetheless enriched with the beauty of chant, and sacred music.
It is desirable that on Sundays, and feast days the parish or principal Mass be a sung Mass.
What has been said above in paragraph 25 about the participation of the faithful in Solemn High Mass also applies to the High Mass.
27. Also note the following points with regard to the sung Mass:
a) If the priest and his ministers go in procession by a long aisle, it would be permissible for the choir, after the singing of the Introit antiphon, and its psalm verse, to continue singing additional verses of the same psalm. The antiphon itself may be repeated after each verse or after every other verse; when the celebrant has reached the altar, the psalm ceases, and the Gloria Patri is sung, and finally the antiphon is repeated to conclude the Introit procession.
b) After the Offertory antiphon is sung, it is also allowed to sing the ancient Gregorian melodies of the original Offertory verses which once were sung after the antiphon.
But if the Offertory antiphon is taken from a psalm, it is then permitted to sing additional verses of this same psalm. In this case, too, the antiphon may be repeated after each verse of the psalm, or after every second verse; when the offertory rite is finished at the altar the psalm is ended with the Gloria Patri, and the antiphon is repeated. If the antiphon is not taken from a psalm, then any psalm suited to the feast may be used. Another possibility is that any Latin song may be used after the Offertory antiphon provided it is suited to the spirit of this part of the Mass. The singing should never last beyond the "Secret".
c) The proper time for the chanting of the Communion antiphon is while the priest is receiving the holy Eucharist. But if the faithful are also to go to Communion the antiphon should be sung while they receive. If this antiphon, too, is taken from a psalm, additional verses of this psalm may be sung. In this case, too, the antiphon is repeated after each, or every second verse of the psalm; when distribution of Communion is finished, the psalm is closed with the Gloria Patri, and the antiphon is once again repeated. If the antiphon is not taken from a psalm, any psalm may be used which is suited to the feast, and to this part of the mass.
After the Communion antiphon is sung, and the distribution of Communion to the faithful still continues, it is also permitted to sing another Latin song in keeping with this part of the Mass.
Before coming to Communion the faithful may recite the three-fold Domine, non sum dignus together with the priest.
d) If the Sanctus-Benedictus are sung in Gregorian chant, they should be put together without interruption; otherwise, the Benedictus should be sung after the Consecration.
e) During the Consecration, the singing must stop, and there should be no playing of instruments; if this has been the custom, it should be discontinued.
f) Between the Consecration, and the Pater Noster a devout silence is recommended.
g) While the priest is giving the blessing to the faithful at the end of the Mass, there should be no organ playing; also, the celebrant must pronounce the words of the blessing so that all the faithful can understand them.
At Low Mass
c. Participation of the faithful in low Mass.
28. Care must be taken that the faithful assist at low Mass, too, "not as strangers or mute spectators" (Divini cultus, Dec. 20, 1928: AAS 21  40), but as exercising that kind of participation demanded by so great, and fruitful a mystery.
29. The first way the faithful can participate in the low Mass is for each one, on his own initiative, to pay devout attention to the more important parts of the Mass (interior participation), or by following the approved customs in various localities (exterior participation).
Those who use a small missal, suitable to their own understanding, and pray with priest in the very words of the Church, are worthy of special praise. But all are not equally capable of correctly understanding the rites, and liturgical formulas; nor does everyone possess the same spiritual needs; nor do these needs remain constant in the same individual. Therefore, these people may find a more suitable or easier method of participation in the Mass when "they meditate devoutly on the mysteries of Jesus Christ, or perform other devotional exercises, and offer prayers which, though different in form from those of the sacred rites, are in essential harmony with them" (Mediator Dei, AAS 39  560-561).
In this regard, it must be noted that if any local custom of playing the organ during low Mass might interfere with the participation of the faithful, either by common prayer or song, the custom is to be abolished. This applies not only to the organ, but also to the harmonium or any other musical instrument which is played without interruption. Therefore, in such Masses, there should be no instrumental music at the following times:
a. After the priest reaches the altar until the Offertory;
b. From the first versicles before the Preface until the Sanctus inclusive;
c. From the Consecration until the Pater Noster, where the custom obtains;
d. From the Pater Noster to the Agnus Dei inclusive; at the Confiteor before the Communion of the faithful ; while the Postcommunion prayer is being said, and during the Blessing at the end of the Mass.
Prayers and Hymns
30. The faithful can participate another way at the Eucharistic Sacrifice by saying prayers together or by singing hymns. The prayers and hymns must be chosen appropriately for the respective parts of the Mass, and as indicated in paragraph 14c.
31. A final method of participation, and the most perfect form, is for the congregation to make the liturgical responses to the prayers of the priest, thus holding a sort of dialogue with him, and reciting aloud the parts which properly belong to them.
There are four degrees or stages of this participation:
a) First, the congregation may make the easier liturgical responses to the prayers of the priest: Amen; Et cum spiritu tuo; Deo gratias; Gloria tibi Domine; Laus tibi, Christe; Habemus ad Dominum; Dignum et justum est; Sed libera nos a malo;
b) Secondly, the congregation may also say prayers, which, according to the rubrics, are said by the server, including the Confiteor, and the triple Domine non sum dignus before the faithful receive Holy Communion;
c) Thirdly, the congregation may say aloud with the celebrant parts of the Ordinary of the Mass: Gloria in excelsis Deo; Credo; Sanctus-Benedictus; Agnus Dei;
d) Fourthly, the congregation may also recite with the priest parts of the Proper of the Mass: Introit, Gradual, Offertory, Communion. Only more advanced groups who have been well trained will be able to participate with becoming dignity in this manner.
32. Since the Pater Noster is a fitting, and ancient prayer of preparation for Communion, the entire congregation may recite this prayer in unison with the priest in low Masses; the Amen at the end is to be said by all. This is to be done only in Latin, never in the vernacular.
33. The faithful may sing hymns during low Mass, if they are appropriate to the various parts of the mass.
34. Where the rubrics prescribe the clara voce, the celebrant must recite the prayers loud enough so that the faithful can properly, and conveniently follow the sacred rites. This must be given special attention in a large church, and before a large congregation.
The Mass in Choir
d. Conventual Mass, or the Mass in Choir.
35. The conventual Mass, among all other liturgical ceremonies, has a special dignity: this is the Mass which must be celebrated daily in connection with the Divine Office by those whom the Church obliges to choir service.
For the Mass, together with the Divine Office, is the summit of all Christian worship; it is the fullness of praise offered daily to Almighty God in public, and external ceremony.
Since, however, this perfection of public, and corporate worship cannot be realized daily in every church, it is performed vicariously by those who have the "choir obligation", and are deputed for this service. This is especially true of cathedral churches acting in the name of the entire diocese.
Thus all "choir" ceremonies should be performed with special dignity and solemnity, making use of both chant and sacred music.
36. the conventual Mass should, therefore, be a solemn Mass, or at least a high Mass.
Even if particular laws or indults have dispensed from the solemnity of the "choir" Mass, the canonical hours are not to be recited during the conventual Mass. It would be more appropriate to celebrate a conventual low Mass according to the manner outlined in paragraph 31; however, any use of the vernacular is to be excluded.
The Conventual Mass
37. Regarding the conventual Mass, the following prescriptions are to be observed:
a) On each day only one conventual Mass is to be celebrated; this must correspond to the Office recited in choir unless the rubrics direct otherwise (Additiones et variationes in rubricis Missalis, ti. I, n. 4). However, if there are pious foundations or other legitimate reasons which require more than one conventual Mass, they still remain in force.
b) The conventual Mass follows the rules of a sung or low Mass.
c) Unless the superior of a community decides that it should be said after Sext or None, and this only for a serious reason, the conventual Mass is to be said after Terce.
d) Conventual Masses "outside the choir", which until now were sometimes prescribed by the rubrics, are now abolished.
e.) Assistance of priests in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and so-called "synchronized" Masses.
38. In the Latin Church sacramental concelebration is limited by law to two specifically stated cases. The Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, in a decision of May 23, 1947 (AAS 49  370), declared invalid the concelebration of the sacrifice of the Mass by priests who do not pronounce the words of consecration, even though they wear the sacred vestments, and no matter what their intention may be. But when there are many priests gathered for a meeting, it is permissible "for only one of their number to celebrate a Mass at which the others (whether all of them or many) are present, and receive Holy Communion from one priest celebrant". However, "this is to be done only for a justifiable reason, and provided the Bishop has not forbidden it because of the danger that the faithful might think it strange"; also, the practice must not be motivated by the error, pointed out by the Supreme Pontiff Pius XII, which taught that "the celebration of one Mass at which a hundred priests devoutly assist is equal to a hundred Masses celebrated by a hundred priests" (cf. Address to Cardinals and Bishops, Nov. 2, 1954: AAS 46  669-670; and Address to International Congress on Pastoral Liturgy at Assisi, Sep. 22, 1956: AAS 48  716-717).
39. So-called "synchronized" Masses, are, however, forbidden. These are Masses in which two or more priests simultaneously, on one or more altars, so time their celebration of Mass that all their words, and actions are pronounced, and performed together at one and the same time, even with the aid of modern instruments to assure absolute uniformity or "synchronization", particularly if many priests are celebrating.
The "Opus Dei"
B. Divine Office.
40. The Divine Office is said either in choir, in common, or alone.
The Office is said in choir when it is recited by a community obliged by Church law to choir duty; it is said in common when recited by a community not bound to choir duty.
However it is said, whether in choir, in common, or alone, it must always be looked upon as an act of public worship offered to God in the name of the Church, if it said by persons deputed to this obligation by the Church.
41. The Divine Office by its very nature is so constructed that it should be performed by mutually alternating voices; moreover, some parts even presuppose that they be sung.
42. Thus the celebration of the Divine Office in choir must be retained, and promoted. Likewise, its performance in common, including the singing of at least some parts of the Office, is earnestly recommended when circumstances of places, persons, and time permit.
43. The recitation of the psalms in choir or in common, whether sung in Gregorian chant or simply recited, should be performed in a solemn, and becoming manner; care should be taken that the proper tones, appropriate pauses, and perfect harmony be preserved.
44. If the psalms of a particular canonical hour are to be sung, they should be sung at least partly according to the Gregorian tones; this may be done either with alternate psalms, or with alternate verses of the same psalm.
Vespers When Possible
45. Where the ancient, and venerable custom of singing Vespers according to the rubrics together with the people on Sundays, and feast days is still practiced, it should be continued; where this is not done, it should be re-introduced, as far as possible, at least several times a year.
The local Ordinary should take care that the celebration of evening Masses does not interfere with the practice of singing Vespers on Sundays, and feast days. For evening Masses, which the local Ordinary may permit "for the spiritual good of a sizable number of the faithful" (Apostolic Constitution Christus Dominus, Jan. 6, 1953: AAS 45  15-24; Instruction of the Supreme Congregation of the Holy Office, same day: AAS 45  47-51; Motu Proprio Sacram Communionem, March 19, 1957: AAS 49  177-178), must not be at the expense of other liturgical services, and private devotions by which the people ordinarily sanctify the holy days.
Hence, the custom of singing Vespers or of holding private devotions with Benediction should be retained wherever such is done, even though evening Mass is celebrated.
46. In clerical seminaries, however, both diocesan and religious, at least part of the Divine Office should frequently be said in common; so far as possible if should be sung. On Sundays and feast days, Vespers at least must be sung (cf. canon 1367, 3).
47. Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is a true liturgical ceremony; hence it must be conducted in accordance with the "Roman Ritual", ti. X, ch V, no.5.
Wherever an immemorial custom exists of imparting the Eucharistic Benediction in another way, the Ordinary may give his permission for the custom to continue; but it is recommended that the Roman custom of giving Benediction be prudently given preference.
A. Sacred polyphony.
48. Compositions of sacred polyphony, by the old masters as well as by contemporary artists, are not to be introduced into the liturgy unless it has first been established that, either in their original form or in arrangements, they comply fully with the ideals, and admonitions set forth in the encyclical Musicæ sacræ disciplina (AAS 48  18-20). If there is any doubt, the diocesan commission on sacred music is to be consulted.
49. Ancient manuscripts of this music still lying about in archives should be uncovered, and if necessary, steps taken for their preservation. Musicologists should make critical editions of them as well as editions suitable for liturgical use.
B. Modern sacred music.
50. Modern compositions of sacred music are only to be used during liturgical ceremonies if they conform to the spirit of the liturgy, and to the ideals of sacred music as laid down in the encyclical Musicæ sacræ disciplina (AAS 48  19-20). Judgments in this matter are to be made by the diocesan commission of sacred music.
C. Popular Religious Song
51. Hymns ought to be highly encouraged, and fostered, for this form of music does much to imbue the Christian with a deep religious spirit, and to raise the thoughts of the faithful to the truths of our faith.
Hymns have their own part to play in all the festive solemnities of Christian life, whether public or of a more personal nature; they also find their part in the daily labors of the Christian. But they attain their ideal usefulness in all private devotions, whether conducted outside or inside the church. At times their use is even permitted during liturgical functions, in accord with the directions given above in paragraphs 13-15.
52. If hymns are to attain their purpose, their texts "must conform to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, plainly stating, and explaining it. The vocabulary should be simple, and free of dramatic, and meaningless verbiage. Their tunes, however brief, and easy, should evince a religious dignity and propriety" (Musicæ sacræ disciplina (AAS 48  20). Local Ordinaries should carefully see that these ideals are observed.
53. All who have the training should be encouraged to compile serviceable collections of these hymns which have been handed down either orally or in writing, even the most ancient, and to publish them for the use of the faithful, with the approval of the local Ordinary.
D. Religious music.
54. The type of music which inspires its hearers with religious sentiments, and even devotion, and yet, because of its special character cannot be used in liturgical functions, is nevertheless worthy of high esteem, and ought to be cultivated in its proper time. This music justly merits, therefore, the title "religious music".
55. The proper places for the performance of such music are concert halls, theaters, or auditoriums, but not the church, which is consecrated to the worship of God.
However, if none of these places are available, and the local Ordinary judges that a concert of religious music might be advantageous for the spiritual welfare of the faithful, he may permit a concert of this kind to be held in a church, provided the following provisions are observed:
a) The local Ordinary must give his permission for each concert in writing.
b) Requests for such permissions must also be in writing, stating the date of the concert, the compositions to be performed, the names of the directors (organist, and choral director), and the performers.
c) The local Ordinary is not to give this permission without first consulting the diocesan commission of sacred music, and perhaps other authorities upon whose judgment he may rely, and then only if he knows that the music is not only outstanding for its true artistic value, but also for its sincere Christian spirit; he must also be assured that the performers possess the qualities to be mentioned below in paragraphs 97, and 98.
d) Before the concert, the Blessed Sacrament should be removed from the church, and reserved in one of the chapels, or even in the sacristy, is a respectful way. If this cannot be done, the audience should be told that the Blessed Sacrament is present in the church, and the pastor should see to it that there is no danger of irreverence.
e) The main body of the church is not to be used for selling admission tickets or distributing programs of the concert.
f) The musicians, singers, and audience should conduct themselves, and dress in a manner befitting the seriousness, and holiness of the sacred edifice in which they are present.
g) If circumstances permit, the concert should be concluded by some private devotion, or better still, with benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. In this way the devotion, and edification of the faithful, which was the purpose of the concert, will be crowned by a religious service.
56. The standard editions of the liturgical chant of the Roman Church are:
Roman Gradual, with the Ordinary of the Mass.
Roman Antiphonal, for the Day Hours.
Offices of the Dead, Holy Week, and Christmas.
57. All publication rights to the Gregorian melodies as they appear in the liturgical books approved by the Roman Church are the property of the Holy See.
58. The following decrees of the Sacred Congregation of Rites remain in force:
Instruction on the Publication, and Approval of Books Containing the Gregorian Liturgical Chant, Aug. 11, 1905 (Decr. Auth. SRC 4166)
Declaration Concerning the Publication and Approval of Books Containing the Gregorian Liturgical Chant, Feb. 14, 1906 (Decr. Auth. SRC 4178); and the decree which treats of particular questions regarding the approval of books containing the chant for the "Propers" of certain dioceses, and religious congregations, issued Feb. 24, 1911 (Decr. Auth. SRC 4260).
The rules established by the Sacred Congregation of Rites on Authorization to Publish Liturgical Books, Aug. 10, 1946 (AAS 38 [1946} 371-372), also apply to books of liturgical chant.
59. Thus, the authentic Gregorian chant is that which is published in the standard Vatican editions, or which has been approved by the Sacred Congregation of Rites for a particular church or religious community. Publishers who have this authorization are obliged, therefore, to reproduce both the melody, and the text exactly as approved in all details.
The rhythmic signs which have been inserted into some chant editions on private authority are permitted so long as they not alter the melodic line of the grouping of the notes, as they appear in the Vatican editions.
A. Some General principles.
60. The following principles for the use of musical instruments in the sacred liturgy are to be recalled:
a) Because of the nature, sanctity, and dignity of the sacred liturgy, the playing of any musical instrument should be as perfect as possible. It would be preferable to omit the use of instruments entirely (whether it be the organ only, or any other instrument), than to play them in a manner unbecoming their purpose. As a general rule it is better to do something well, however modest, than to attempt something more elaborate without the proper means.
b) The difference between sacred, and secular music must be taken into consideration. Some musical instruments, such as the classic organ, are naturally appropriate for sacred music; others, such as string instruments which are played with a bow, are easily adapted to liturgical use. But there are some instruments which, by common estimation, are so associated with secular music that they are not at all adaptable for sacred use.
c) Finally, only instruments which are personally played by a performer are to be used in the sacred liturgy, not those which are played mechanically or automatically.
B. The classic organ and similar instruments.
61. The principal musical instrument for solemn liturgical ceremonies of the Latin Church has been and remains the classic pipe organ.
62. An organ destined for liturgical use, even if small, should be designed according to the norms of organ building, and be equipped with the type of pipes suitable for sacred use. Before it is to be used it should be properly blessed, and as a sacred object, receive proper care.
63. Besides the classic organ, the harmonium or reed organ may also be used provided that its tonal quality, and volume are suitable for sacred use.
64. As a substitute, the electronic organ may be tolerated temporarily for liturgical functions, if the means for obtaining even a small pipe organ are not available. In each case, however, the explicit permission of the local Ordinary is required. He, on his part, should consult the diocesan commission on sacred music, and others trained in this field, who can make suggestions for rendering such an instrument more suitable for sacred use.
65. The musicians who play the instruments mentioned in paragraphs 61-64 should be sufficiently skilled in their art so that they can accompany the sacred chant or any other music, and can also play alone with appropriate skill. Indeed, since it is also often necessary to be able to improvise music suited to the various phases of the liturgical action, they should possess sufficient knowledge of, and capability in the techniques of organ playing , and of sacred music.
Organists should religiously care for the instruments entrusted to them. Whenever they are seated at the organ during sacred functions, organists should be conscious of the active part they are taking in glorifying God, and edifying the faithful.
66. The organ playing, whether during liturgical functions or private devotions, should be carefully adapted to the liturgical season and feast day, to the nature of the rites and exercises themselves, and to their various parts.
67. The organ should be located in a suitable place near the main altar, unless ancient custom or a special reason approved by the local Ordinary demand otherwise; but the location should be such that the singers or musicians occupying a raised platform are not conspicuous to the congregation in the main body of the church.
C. Sacred instrumental music.
68. Other instruments besides the organ, especially the smaller bowed instruments, may be used during the liturgical functions, particularly on days of greater solemnity. These may be used together with the organ or without it, for instrumental numbers of for accompanying the singing. However, the following rules derived from the principles stated above (no.60) are to strictly observed:
a) the instruments are truly suitable for sacred use;
b) they are to be played with such seriousness, and religious devotion that every suggestion of raucous secular music is avoided, and the devotion of the faithful is fostered;
c) the director, organist, and other instrume