SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL
MUSIC IN THE LITURGY
5 March, 1967
1. Sacred music, in those aspects which concern the liturgical
renewal, was carefully considered by the Second Vatican Ecumenical
Council. It explained its role in divine services, issued a number of
principles and laws on this subject in the
Constitution on the Liturgy,
and devoted to it an entire chapter of the same
2. The decisions of the Council have already begun to be put into
effect in the recently undertaken liturgical renewal. But the new norms
concerning the arrangement of the sacred rites and the active
participation of the faithful have given rise to several problems
regarding sacred music and its ministerial role. These problems appear
to be able to be solved by expounding more fully certain relevant
principles of the
Constitution on the Liturgy.
3. Therefore the Consilium set up to implement the
Constitution on the Liturgy, on the instructions of the Holy Father, has carefully
considered these questions and prepared the present Instruction. This
does not, however, gather together all the legislation on sacred music;
it only establishes the principal norms which seem to be more necessary
for our own day. It is, as it were, a continuation and complement of the
preceding Instruction of this Sacred Congregation, prepared by this same
Consilium on 26 September 1964, for the correct implementation of the
4. It is to be hoped that pastors of souls, musicians and the
faithful will gladly accept these norms and put them into practice,
uniting their efforts to attain the true purpose of sacred music, "which
is the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful."
(a) By sacred music is understood that which, being created for the
celebration of divine worship, is endowed with a certain holy sincerity
(b) The following come under the title of sacred music here:
Gregorian chant, sacred polyphony in its various forms both ancient and
modern, sacred music for the organ and other approved instruments, and
sacred popular music, be it liturgical or simply religious.
I. Some General Norms
5. Liturgical worship is given a more noble form when it is
celebrated in song, with the ministers of each degree fulfilling their
ministry and the people participating in it.
Indeed, through this form, prayer is expressed in a more attractive
way, the mystery of the liturgy, with its hierarchical and community
nature, is more openly shown, the unity of hearts is more profoundly
achieved by the union of voices, minds are more easily raised to
heavenly things by the beauty of the sacred rites, and the whole
celebration more clearly prefigures that heavenly liturgy which is
enacted in the holy city of Jerusalem.
Pastors of souls will therefore do all they can to achieve this form
They will try to work out how that assignment of different parts to
be performed and duties to be fulfilled, which characterizes sung
celebrations, may be transferred even to celebrations which are not
sung, but at which the people are present. Above all one must take
particular care that the necessary ministers are obtained and that these
are suitable, and that the active participation of the people is
The practical preparation for each liturgical celebration should be
done in a spirit of cooperation by all parties concerned, under the
guidance of the rector of the church, whether it be in ritual, pastoral
or musical maters.
6. The proper arrangement of a liturgical celebration requires the
due assignment and performance of certain functions, by which "each
person, minister or layman, should carry out all and only those parts
which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and the norms of
the liturgy." This also demands that the meaning and proper nature of
each part and of each song be carefully observed. To attain this, those
parts especially should be sung which by their very nature require to be
sung, using the kind and form of music which is proper to their
7. Between the solemn, fuller form of liturgical celebration, in
which everything that demands singing is in fact sung, and the simplest
form, in which singing is not used, there can be various degrees
according to the greater or lesser place allotted to singing. However,
in selecting the parts which are to be sung, one should start with those
that are by their nature of greater importance, and especially those
which are to be sung by the priest or by the ministers, with the people
replying, or those which are to be sung by the priest and people
together. The other parts may be gradually added according as they are
proper to the people alone or to the choir alone.
8. Whenever, for a liturgical service which is to be celebrated in
sung form, one can make a choice between various people, it is desirable
that those who are known to be more proficient in singing be given
preference; this is especially the case in more solemn liturgical
celebrations and in those which either require more difficult singing,
or are transmitted by radio or television.
If, however, a choice of this kind cannot be made, and the priest or
minister does not possess a voice suitable for the proper execution of
the singing, he can render without singing one or more of the more
difficult parts which concern him, reciting them in a loud and distinct
voice. However, this must not be done merely for the convenience of the
priest or minister.
9. In selecting the kind of sacred music to be used, whether it be
for the choir or for the people, the capacities of those who are to sing
the music must be taken into account. No kind of sacred music is
prohibited from liturgical actions by the Church as long as it
corresponds to the spirit of the liturgical celebration itself and the
nature of its individual parts, and does not hinder the active
participation of the people.
10. In order that the faithful may actively participate more
willingly and with greater benefit, it is fitting that the format of the
celebration and the degree of participation in it should be varied as
much as possible, according to the solemnity of the day and the nature
of the congregation present.
11. It should be borne in mind that the true solemnity of liturgical
worship depends less on a more ornate form of singing and a more
magnificent ceremonial than on its worthy and religious celebration,
which takes into account the integrity of the liturgical celebration
itself, and the performance of each of its parts according to their own
particular nature. To have a more ornate form of singing and a more
magnificent ceremonial is at times desirable when there are the
resources available to carry them out properly; on the other hand it
would be contrary to the true solemnity of the liturgy if this were to
lead to a part of the action being omitted, changed, or improperly
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.
13. Liturgical services are celebrations of the Church, that is, of
the holy people, united under and directed by the bishop or priest.
The priest and his ministers, because of the sacred order they have
received, hold a special place in these celebrations, as do also—by
reason of the ministry they perform—the servers, readers, commentators
and those in the choir.
14. The priest, acting in the person of Christ, presides over the
gathered assembly. Since the prayers which are said or sung by him aloud
are proclaimed in the name of the entire holy people and of all
present, they should be devoutly listened to by all.
15. The faithful fulfil their liturgical role by making that full,
conscious and active participation which is demanded by the nature of
the liturgy itself and which is, by reason of baptism, the right and
duty of the Christian people. This participation
(a) Should be above all internal, in the sense that by it the
faithful join their mind to what they pronounce or hear, and cooperate
with heavenly grace,
(b) Must be, on the other hand, external also, that is, such as to
show the internal participation by gestures and bodily attitudes, by the
acclamations, responses and singing.
The faithful should also be taught to unite themselves interiorly to
what the ministers or choir sing, so that by listening to them they may
raise their minds to God.
16. One cannot find anything more religious and more joyful in sacred
celebrations than a whole congregation expressing its faith and devotion
in song. Therefore the active participation of the whole people, which
is shown in singing, is to be carefully promoted as follows:
(a) It should first of all include acclamations, responses to the
greetings of the priest and ministers and to the prayers of litany form,
and also antiphons and psalms, refrains or repeated responses, hymns and
(b) Through suitable instruction and practices, the people should be
gradually led to a fuller—indeed, to a complete—participation in those
parts of the singing which pertain to them.
(c) Some of the people's song, however, especially if the faithful
have not yet been sufficiently instructed, or if musical settings for
several voices are used, can be handed over to the choir alone, provided
that the people are not excluded from those parts that concern them. But
the usage of entrusting to the choir alone the entire singing of the
whole Proper and of the whole Ordinary, to the complete exclusion of the
people's participation in the singing, is to be deprecated.
17. At the proper times, all should observe a reverent silence.
Through it the faithful are not only not considered as extraneous or
dumb spectators at the liturgical service, but are associated more
intimately in the mystery that is being celebrated, thanks to that
interior disposition which derives from the word of God that they have
heard, from the songs and prayers that have been uttered, and from
spiritual union with the priest in the parts that he says or sings
18. Among the faithful, special attention must be given to the
instruction in sacred singing of members of lay religious societies, so
that they may support and promote the participation of the people more
effectively. The formation of the whole people in singing, should be
seriously and patiently undertaken together with liturgical instruction,
according to the age, status and way of life of the faithful and the
degree of their religious culture; this should be done even from the
first years of education in elementary schools.
19. Because of the liturgical ministry it performs, the choir—or the
Capella musica, or schola cantorum—deserves particular mention. Its role
has become something of yet greater importance and weight by reason of
the norms of the Council concerning the liturgical renewal. Its duty is,
in effect, to ensure the proper performance of the parts which belong to
it, according to the different kinds of music sung, and to encourage the
active participation of the faithful in the singing. Therefore:
(a) There should be choirs, or Capellae, or scholae cantorum,
especially in cathedrals and other major churches, in seminaries and
religious houses of studies, and they should be carefully encouraged.
(b) It would also be desirable for similar choirs to be set up in
20. Large choirs (Capellae musicae) existing in basilicas,
cathedrals, monasteries and other major churches, which have in the
course of centuries earned for themselves high renown by preserving and
developing a musical heritage of inestimable value, should be retained
for sacred celebrations of a more elaborate kind, according to their own
traditional norms, recognized and approved by the Ordinary.
However, the directors of these choirs and the rectors of the
churches should take care that the people always associate themselves
with the singing by performing at least the easier sections of those
parts which belong to them.
21. Provision should be made for at least one or two properly trained
singers, especially where there is no possibility of setting up even a
small choir. The singer will present some simpler musical settings, with
the people taking part, and can lead and support the faithful as far as
is needed. The presence of such a singer is desirable even in churches
which have a choir, for those celebrations in which the choir cannot
take part but which may fittingly be performed with some solemnity and
therefore with singing.
22. The choir can consist, according to the customs of each country
and other circumstances, of either men and boys, or men and boys only,
or men and women, or even, where there is a genuine case for it, of
23. Taking into account the layout of each church, the choir should
be placed in such a way:
(a) That its nature should be clearly apparent—namely, that it is a
part of the whole congregation, and that it fulfills a special role;
(b) That it is easier for it to fulfil its liturgical function;
(c) That each of its members may be able to participate easily in the
Mass, that is to say by sacramental participation.
Whenever the choir also includes women, it should be placed outside
the sanctuary (presbyterium).
24. Besides musical formation, suitable liturgical and spiritual
formation must also be given to the members of the choir, in such a way
that the proper performance of their liturgical role will not only
enhance the beauty of the celebration and be an excellent example for
the faithful, but will bring spiritual benefit to the choir-members
25. In order that this technical and spiritual formation may more
easily be obtained, the diocesan, national and international
associations of sacred music should offer their services, especially
those that have been approved and several times commended by the Holy
26. The priest, the sacred ministers and the servers, the reader and
those in the choir, and also the commentator, should perform the parts
assigned to them in a way which is comprehensible to the people, in
order that the responses of the people, when the rite requires it, may
be made easy and spontaneous. It is desirable that the priest, and the
ministers of every degree, should join their voices to the voice of the
whole faithful in those parts which concern the people.
27. For the celebration of the Eucharist with the people, especially
on Sundays and feast days, a form of sung Mass (Missa in cantu) is to be
preferred as much as possible, even several times on the same day.
28. The distinction between solemn, sung and read Mass, sanctioned by
the Instruction of 1958 (n. 3), is retained, according to the
traditional liturgical laws at present in force. However, for the sung
Mass (Missa cantata), different degrees of participation are put forward
here for reasons of pastoral usefulness, so that it may become easier to
make the celebration of Mass more beautiful by singing, according to the
capabilities of each congregation.
These degrees are so arranged that the first may be used even by
itself, but the second and third, wholly or partially, may never be used
without the first. In this way the faithful will be continually led
towards an ever greater participation in the singing.
29. The following belong to the first degree:
(a) In the entrance rites: the greeting of the priest together with
the reply of the people; the prayer.
(b) In the Liturgy of the Word: the acclamations at the Gospel.
(c) In the Eucharistic Liturgy: the prayer over the offerings; the
preface with its dialogue and the Sanctus; the final doxology of the
Canon, the Lord's prayer with its introduction and embolism; the Pax
Domini; the prayer after the Communion; the formulas of dismissal.
30. The following belong to the second degree:
(a) the Kyrie, Gloria and Agnus Dei;
(b) the Creed;
(c) the prayer of the faithful.
31. The following belong to the third degree:
(a) the songs at the Entrance and Communion processions;
(b) the songs after the Lesson or Epistle;
(c) the Alleluia before the Gospel;
(d) the song at the Offertory;
(e) the readings of Sacred Scripture, unless it seems more suitable
to proclaim them without singing.
32. The custom legitimately in use in certain places and widely
confirmed by indults, of substituting other songs for the songs given in
the Graduale for the Entrance, Offertory and Communion, can be retained
according to the judgment of the competent territorial authority, as
long as songs of this sort are in keeping with the parts of the Mass,
with the feast or with the liturgical season. It is for the same
territorial authority to approve the texts of these songs.
33. It is desirable that the assembly of the faithful should
participate in the songs of the Proper as much as possible, especially
through simple responses and other suitable settings.
The song after the lessons, be it in the form of gradual or
responsorial psalm, has a special importance among the songs of the
Proper. By its very nature, it forms part of the Liturgy, of the Word.
It should be performed with all seated and listening to it—and, what is
more, participating in it as far as possible.
34. The songs which are called the "Ordinary of the Mass," if they
are sung by musical settings written for several voices may be performed
by the choir according to the customary norms, either a capella, or with
instrumental accompaniment, as long as the people are not completely
excluded from taking part in the singing.
In other cases, the parts of the Ordinary of the Mass can be divided
between the choir and the people or even between two sections of the
people themselves: one can alternate by verses, or one can follow other
suitable divisions which divide the text into larger sections. In these
cases, the following points are to be noted: it is preferable that the
Creed, since it is a formula of profession of faith, should be sung by
all, or in such a way as to permit a fitting participation by the
faithful; it is preferable that the Sanctus, as the concluding
acclamation of the Preface, should normally be sung by the whole
congregation together with the priest; the Agnus Dei may be repeated as
often as necessary, especially in concelebrations, where it accompanies
the Fraction; it is desirable that the people should participate in this
song, as least by the final invocation.
35. The Lord's Prayer is best performed by the people together with
If it is sung in Latin, the melodies already legitimately existing
should be used; if, however, it is sung in the vernacular, the settings
are to be approved by the competent territorial authority.
36. There is no reason why some of the Proper or Ordinary should not
be sung in said Masses. Moreover, some other song can also, on
occasions, be sung at the beginning, at the Offertory, at the Communion
and at the end of Mass. It is not sufficient, however, that these songs
be merely "Eucharistic"—they must be in keeping with the parts of the
Mass, with the feast, or with the liturgical season.
II. The Singing Of The Divine Office
37. The sung celebration of the Divine Office is the form which best
accords with the nature of this prayer. It expresses its solemnity in a
fuller way and expresses a deeper union of hearts in performing the
praises of God. That is why, in accordance with the wish of the
Constitution on the Liturgy, this sung form is strongly recommended
to those who celebrate the Office in choir or in common.
For it is desirable that at least some part of the Divine Office,
especially the principal Hours, namely Lauds and Vespers, should be
performed in sung form by these people, at least on Sundays and feast
Other clerics also, who live in common for the purpose of studies, or
who meet for retreats or other purposes, will sanctify their meetings in
a very fitting way if they celebrate some parts of the Divine Office in
38. When the Divine Office is to be celebrated in sung form, a
principle of "progressive" solemnity can be used, inasmuch as those
parts which lend themselves more directly to a sung form, e.g.
dialogues, hymns, verses and canticles, may be sung, and the rest
recited. This does not change the rules at present in force for those
obliged to choir, nor does it change particular indults.
39. One will invite the faithful, ensuring that they receive the
requisite instruction, to celebrate in common on Sundays and feast days
certain parts of the Divine Office, especially Vesper,, or, according to
the customs of the particular area and assembly, other Hours. In
general, the faithful, particularly the more educated, should be led by
suitable teaching, to understand the psalms in a Christian sense and use
them in their own prayers, so that they may gradually acquire a stronger
taste for the use of the public prayer of the Church.
40. The members of Institutes professing the evangelical virtues
should be given special instruction of this type, so that they may draw
from it more abundant riches for the development of their spiritual
life. It is desirable also that they should participate more fully in
the public prayer of the Church by performing the principal Hours of the
Office in sung form, as far as possible.
41. In accordance with the norm of the Constitution on the Liturgy
and the centuries-old tradition of the Latin rite, the Latin language is
to be retained for clerics celebrating the Divine Office in choir.
Since however the same Liturgy Constitution concedes the use of the
vernacular in the Divine Office both by the faithful and by nuns and
other members of Institutes professing the evangelical virtues, who are
not clerics, due care should be taken that melodies are prepared which
may be used in the singing of the Divine Office in the vernacular.
III. Sacred Music In The Celebration
Of The Sacraments And Sacramentals, In Special Functions Of The
Liturgical Year, In Celebrations Of The Word Of God, And In Popular
42. The Council laid down in principle that whenever a rite, in
keeping with its character, allows a celebration in common with the
attendance and active participation of the faithful, this is to be
preferred to an individual and quasi-private celebration of the
rite. It follows logically from this that singing is of great
importance since it more clearly demonstrates the 'ecclesial' aspect of
43. Certain celebrations of the Sacraments and Sacramentals, which
have a special importance in the life of the whole parish community,
such as confirmation, sacred ordinations, matrimony, the consecration of
a church or altar funerals, etc., should be performed in sung form as
far as possible, so that even the solemnity of the rite will contribute
to its greater pastoral effectiveness. Nevertheless, the introduction
into the celebration of anything which is merely secular, or which is
hardly compatible with divine worship, under the guise of solemnity
should be carefully avoided: this applies particularly to the
celebration of marriages.
44. Similarly, celebrations which are singled out by the liturgy in
the course of the liturgical year as being of special importance, may be
solemnized by singing. In a very special way, the sacred rites of Holy
Week should be given due solemnity, since these lead the faithful to the
center of the liturgical year and of the liturgy itself through the
celebration of the Paschal Mystery.
45. For the liturgy of the Sacraments and Sacramentals, and for other
special celebrations of the liturgical year, suitable melodies should be
provided, which can encourage a celebration in a more solemn form, even
in the vernacular, depending on the capabilities of individual
congregations and in accordance with the norms of the competent
46. Sacred music is also very effective in fostering the devotion of
the faithful in celebrations of the word of God, and in popular
In the celebrations of the word of God, let the Liturgy of the
Word in the Mass be taken as a model. In all popular devotions the
psalms will be especially useful, and also works of sacred music drawn
from both the old and the more recent heritage of sacred music, popular
religious songs, and the playing of the organ, or of other instruments
characteristic of a particular people.
Moreover, in these same popular devotions, and especially in
celebrations of the word of God, it is excellent to include as well some
of those musical works which, although they no longer have a place in
the liturgy, can nevertheless foster a religious spirit and encourage
meditation on the sacred mystery.
IV. The Language To Be Used In Sung
Liturgical Celebrations, And On Preserving The Heritage Of Sacred Music
47. According to the
Constitution on the Liturgy, "the use of the
Latin language, with due respect to particular law, is to be preserved
in the Latin rites."
However, since "the use of the vernacular may frequently be of great
advantage to the people" "it is for the competent territorial
ecclesiastical authority to decide whether, and to what extent, the
vernacular language is to be used. Its decrees have to be approved, that
is, confirmed by the Apostolic See."
In observing these norms exactly, one will therefore employ that form
of participation which best matches the capabilities of each
Pastors of souls should take care that besides the vernacular "the
faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts
of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them."
48. Where the vernacular has been introduced into the celebration of
Mass, the local Ordinaries will judge whether it may be opportune to
preserve one or more Masses celebrated in Latin—especially sung Masses
(Missae in cantu)—in certain churches, above all in large cities, where
many come together with faithful of different languages.
49. As regards the use of Latin or the mother tongue in the sacred
celebrations carried out in seminaries, the norms of the Sacred
Congregation of Seminaries and Universities concerning the liturgical
formation of the students should be observed.
The members of Institutes professing the evangelical virtues should
observe, in this matter, the norms contained in the Apostolic Letter
Sacrificium Laudis of 15 August 1966 besides the Instruction on the
language to be used by religious in celebrating the Divine Office and
conventual or community Mass, given by this Sacred Congregation of Rites
on 23 November 1965.
50. In sung liturgical services celebrated in Latin:
(a) Gregorian chant, as proper to the Roman liturgy, should be given
pride of place, other things being equal. Its melodies, contained in
the "typical" editions, should be used, to the extent that this is
(b) "It is also desirable that an edition be prepared containing
simpler melodies, for use in smaller churches."
(c) Other musical settings, written for one or more voices, be they
taken from the traditional heritage or from new works, should be held in
honor, encouraged and used as the occasion demands.
51. Pastors of souls, having taken into consideration pastoral
usefulness and the character of their own language, should see whether
parts of the heritage of sacred music, written in previous centuries for
Latin texts, could also be conveniently used, not only in liturgical
celebrations in Latin but also in those performed in the vernacular.
There is nothing to prevent different parts in one and the same
celebration being sung in different languages.
52. In order to preserve the heritage of sacred music and genuinely
promote the new forms of sacred singing, "great importance is to be
attached to the teaching and practice of music in seminaries, in the
novitiates and houses of study of religious of both sexes, and also in
other Catholic institutes and schools," especially in those higher
institutes intended specially for this. Above all, the study and
practice of Gregorian chant is to be promoted, because, with its special
characteristics, it is a basis of great importance for the development
of sacred music.
53. New works of sacred music should conform faithfully to the
principles and norms set out above. In this way they will have "the
qualities proper to genuine sacred music, being within the capacities
not merely of large choirs but of smaller choirs, facilitating the
participation of all the faithful."
As regards the heritage that has been handed down those parts which
correspond to the needs of the renewed liturgy should first be brought
to light. Competent experts in this field must then carefully consider
whether other parts can be adapted to the same needs. As for those
pieces which do not correspond to the nature of the liturgy or cannot be
harmonized with the pastoral celebration of the liturgy—they may be
profitably transferred to popular devotions, especially to celebrations
of the word of God.
V. Preparing Melodies For Vernacular
54. In preparing popular versions of those parts which will be set to
melodies, and especially of the Psalter, experts should take care that
fidelity to the Latin text is suitably harmonized with applicability of
the vernacular text to musical settings. The nature and laws of each
language must be respected, and the features and special characteristics
of each people must be taken into consideration: all this, together with
the laws of sacred music, should be carefully considered by musicians in
the preparation of the new melodies.
The competent territorial authority will therefore ensure that in the
commission entrusted with the composition of versions for the people,
there are experts in the subjects already mentioned as well as in Latin
and the vernacular; from the outset of the work, they must combine their
55. It will be for the competent territorial authority to decide
whether certain vernacular texts set to music which have been handed
down from former times, can in fact be used, even though they may not
conform in all details with the legitimately approved versions of the
56. Among the melodies to be composed for the people's texts, those
which belong to the priest and ministers are particularly important,
whether they sing them alone, or whether they sing them together with
the people, or whether they sing them in "dialogue" with the people. In
composing these, musicians will consider whether the traditional
melodies of the Latin liturgy, which are used for this purpose, can
inspire the melody to be used for the same texts in the vernacular.
57. New melodies to be used by the priests and ministers must be
approved by the competent territorial authority.
58. Those Episcopal Conferences whom it may concern will ensure that
for one and the same language, used in different regions, there will be
a single translation. It is also desirable that as far as possible,
there should be one or more common melodies for the parts which concern
the priest and ministers, and for the responses and acclamations of the
people, so that the common participation of those who use the same
language may be encouraged.
59. Musicians will enter on this new work with the desire to continue
that tradition which has furnished the Church, in her divine worship,
with a truly abundant heritage. Let them examine the works of the past,
their types and characteristics, but let them also pay careful attention
to the new laws and requirements of the liturgy, so that "new forms may
in some way grow organically from forms that already exist," and the
new work will form a new part in the musical heritage of the Church, not
unworthy of its past.
60. The new melodies for the vernacular texts certainly need to
undergo a period of experimentation in order that they may attain a
sufficient maturity and perfection. However, anything done in churches,
even if only for experimental purposes, which is unbecoming to the
holiness of the place, the dignity of the liturgy and the devotion of
the faithful, must be avoided.
61. Adapting sacred music for those regions which possess a musical
tradition of their own, especially mission areas, will require a
very specialized preparation by the experts. It will be a question in
fact of how to harmonize the sense of the sacred with the spirit,
traditions and characteristic expressions proper to each of these
peoples. Those who work in this field should have a sufficient knowledge
both of the liturgy and musical tradition of the Church, and of the
language, popular songs and other characteristic expressions of the
people for whose benefit they are working.
VI. Sacred Instrumental Music
62. Musical instruments can be very useful in sacred celebrations,
whether they accompany the singing or whether they are played as solo
"The pipe organ is to be held in high esteem in the Latin Church,
since it is its traditional instrument, the sound of which can add a
wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lift up
men's minds to God and higher things.
"The use of other instruments may also be admitted in divine worship,
given the decision and consent of the competent territorial authority,
provided that the instruments are suitable for sacred use, or can be
adapted to it, that they are in keeping with the dignity of the temple,
and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful."
63. In permitting and using musical instruments, the culture and
traditions of individual peoples must be taken into account. However,
those instruments which are, by common opinion and use, suitable for
secular music only, are to be altogether prohibited from every
liturgical celebration and from popular devotions.
Any musical instrument permitted in divine worship should be used in
such a way that it meets the needs of the liturgical celebration, and is
in the interests both of the beauty of worship and the edification of
64. The use of musical instruments to accompany the singing can act
as a support to the voices, render participation easier, and achieve a
deeper union in the assembly. However, their sound should not so
overwhelm the voices that it is difficult to make out the text; and when
some part is proclaimed aloud by the priest or a minister by virtue of
his role, they should be silent.
65. In sung or said Masses, the organ, or other instrument
legitimately admitted, can be used to accompany the singing of the choir
and the people; it can also be played solo at the beginning before the
priest reaches the altar, at the Offertory, at the Communion, and at the
end of Mass.
The same rule, with the necessary adaptations, can be applied to
other sacred celebrations.
66. The playing of these same instruments as solos is not permitted
in Advent, Lent, during the Sacred Triduum and in the Offices and Masses
of the Dead.
67. It is highly desirable that organists and other musicians should
not only possess the skill to play properly the instrument entrusted to
them: they should also enter into and be thoroughly aware of the spirit
of the liturgy, so that even when playing ex tempore, they will enrich
the sacred celebration according to the true nature of each of its
parts, and encourage the participation of the faithful.
VII. The Commissions Set Up For The
Promotion Of Sacred Music
68. The diocesan Commissions for sacred music are of most valuable
assistance in promoting sacred music together with pastoral liturgical
action in the diocese.
Therefore they should exist as far as possible in each diocese, and
should unite their efforts with those of the liturgical Commission.
It will often be commendable for the two Commissions to be combined
into one, and consist of persons who are expert in both subjects. In
this way progress will be easier.
It is highly recommended that, where it appears to be more effective,
several dioceses of the same region should set up a single Commission,
which will establish a common plan of action and gather together their
forces more fruitfully.
69. The Liturgical Commission, to be set up by the Episcopal
Conference as judged opportune, should also be responsible for
sacred music; it should therefore also consist of experts in this field.
It is useful, however, for such a Commission to confer not only with the
diocesan Commissions, but also with other societies which may be
involved in musical matters in the same region. This also applies to the
pastoral liturgical Institute mentioned in art. 44 of the Constitution.
In the audience granted on 9 February, 1967 to His Eminence Arcadio
M. Cardinal Larraona, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, His
Holiness Pope Paul VI approved and confirmed the present Instruction by
his authority, ordered it to be published and at the same time
established that it should come into force on Pentecost Sunday 14 May,
1. Constitution on the Liturgy, Art. 112.
2. Cf. St. Pius X, Motu
Proprio 'Tra le sollecitudini,' n. 2.
3. Cf. Instruction of the
S.C.R., 3 September 1958, n. 4.
4. Cf. Constitution on the Liturgy,
5. Constitution on the Liturgy, Art. 28.
of the S.C.R., 3 September 1958, n. 95.
7. Cf. Constitution on the
Liturgy Art. 116.
8. Cf. Constitution on the Liturgy Art. 28.
Cf. Constitution on the Liturgy, Art. 22.
10. Cf. Constitution on the
Liturgy, Art. 26 and 41-32; Constitution on the Church, Art. 28.
Cf. Constitution on the Liturgy, Art. 29.
12. Cf. Constitution on the
Liturgy, Art. 33.
13. Cf. Constitution on the Liturgy, Art. 14.
Cf. Constitution on the Liturgy Art. 11.
15 Cf. Constitution on the
Liturgy Art. 30.
16. Cf. Constitution on the Liturgy, Art. 30.
Cf. Constitution on the Liturgy, Art. 30.
18. Cf. Instruction of the
S.C.R., 26 September 1964, (D.3), nn. 19 and 59.
19. Cf. Constitution
on the Liturgy, Art. 19; Instruction of the S.C.R., 3 September 1958,
20. Cf. Inter Oecumenici, (D.3).
21. Cf. Inter
22. Cf. Inter Oecumenici, n. 48.
23. Cf. Constitution
on the Liturgy, Art. 99.
24. Cf. Constitution on the Liturgy, Art.
25. Cf. Constitution on the Liturgy, Art. 101:2, 3.
Constitution on the Liturgy, Art. 27
27. Cf. Inter Oecumenici, nn.
28. Cf. Inter Oecumenici, n. 37.
29. Cf. below, n. 53.
30. Constitution on the Liturgy, Art. 36-1.
31. Constitution on the
Liturgy, Art. 36:2.
32. Constitution on the Liturgy, Art. 36:3.
33. Constitution on the Liturgy, Art, 54; Inter Oecumenici, 59.
Cf. Constitution on the Liturgy, Art. 116.
35. Constitution on the
Liturgy, Art 117.
36. Cf. Constitution on the Liturgy, Art. 116.
37. Constitution on the Liturgy Art. 115
38. Constitution on the
Liturgy Art. 121
39. Cf. above, n. 46.
40. Cf. Inter Oecumenici,
41. Constitution on the Liturgy, Art 23
Constitution on the Liturgy, Art 119.
43. Constitution on the
Liturgy, Art. 120.
44. a. Instruction of the S.CR., 3 September 1958,
45. Cf. above, n. 24.
46. Cf. Constitution on the Liturgy,