Choirs consisting of lay persons


#1

Were choirs consisting of lay persons allowed prior to Vatican II? If they were allowed, were females forbidden from them?


#2

I would have thought before and now choirs are completely lay people. Are you asking if previously the choirs only comprised of the ordained (i.e deacons and priests)?


#3

Peace and All Good!!

As far as I know, choirs have, in most cases & certainly within diocesan Parishes, been composed of laity. To my knowledge there was never an Ecclesiastical or canonical impediment to female choristers……


#4

Yes, they were allowed. And no, women were not forbidden. Why in heaven’s name would they have been?


#5

Where in the world did you get this idea? I am curious to know. As a female and a member of a choir before Vatican II, I am taken aback by this. I don’t think that there were any choirs of just clerics except maybe in monasteries. Many parishes had choirs made up of young girls. This was their way of contributing to the liturgy as altar serving was reserved for boys. Thomas Day in his book “Why Catholics Can’t Sing” talks about the girls’ choirs of the pre-Vatican II era.


#6

While in our memory women have been allowed in choirs this has not always been the case. As recently as November 1903, Pope Saint Pius X issued his Motu Proprio **On the Restoration of Sacred Music [/FONT]Tra le Sollecitudini which forbid women from being part of Church choirs and decreeing that boys were to be used when soprano and contralto voices were needed.
**Part V – The Singers
12. With the exception of the melodies proper to the celebrant at the altar and to the ministers, which must be always sung in Gregorian Chant, and without accompaniment of the organ, all the rest of the liturgical chant belongs to the choir of levites, and, therefore, singers in the church, even when they are laymen, are really taking the place of the ecclesiastical choir. Hence the music rendered by them must, at least for the greater part, retain the character of choral music.
By this it is not to be understood that solos are entirely excluded. But solo singing should never predominate to such an extent as to have the greater part of the liturgical chant executed in that manner; the solo phrase should have the character or hint of a melodic projection (spunto), and be strictly bound up with the rest of the choral composition.

  1. On the same principle it follows that singers in church have a real liturgical office, and that therefore women, being incapable of exercising such office, cannot be admitted to form part of the choir. Whenever, then, it is desired to employ the acute voices of sopranos and contraltos, these parts must be taken by boys, according to the most ancient usage of the Church.

  2. Finally, only men of known piety and probity of life are to be admitted to form part of the choir of a church, and these men should by their modest and devout bearing during the liturgical functions show that they are worthy of the holy office they exercise. It will also be fitting that singers while singing in church wear the ecclesiastical habit and surplice, and that they be hidden behind gratings when the choir is excessively open to the public gaze.


#7

I would assume though, that some exceptions must have been made for women religious who would sing at their conventual Mass and the Divine Office.


#8

I would assume the same thing. Didn’t sisters serve Mass in convents long before females were allowed to do so in parishes?


#9

Which raises an old question that I’ve never read an authoritative answer to: Did the Church ever formally sanction the practice of creating castrati ?


#10

Not sure. Yesterday I had lunch with the chaplain of a community of Benedictine women outside of Montreal (he himself is a monk from France). The nuns don’t serve mass. He told me there’s a Benedictine monk (brother) who lives as a hermit on a house on the grounds but outside the enclosure. He serves as acolyte at the Mass. He also is the abbey’s maintenance man. I saw him yesterday when at the monastery.

Of course, Benedictine nuns are’t strictly speaking “laity”, they’re consecrated religious, but obviously aren’t ordained.


#11

Were choirs allowed to use pianos or guitars prior to Vatican II?


#12

Pianos and guitars is all after the Second Vomitous Council. Pius X ordered that only male clerics could be in the choir, EXCEPT IN RARE EXCEPTIONS, wherein lay males can participate. Women cannot be in choir.


#13

Interesting. Could you link to the source?

Of course, this is a matter of “practice”, not a question of faith or morals. So you do understand the church can change and evolve its position on such a thing over time.


#14

adoremus.org/MotuProprio.html

You do realize that the Church does not change, right? Vatican II was a deviation. It was an apostate council. It is absolutely invalid. The church does not change on liturgical matters. The Mass of the Ages is unchanged since the A.D. 200’s.


#15

Nonsense. Faith and moral teachings do not change. Practices can and do change regularly, and have from the beginning. There is no restriction on the Church adapting in matters of practice.


#16

But nevertheless it never does, nor should it.


#17

You are endeavouring to spread opinions as though they were truths. Practices may be changed as the Church sees fit, as it has done throughout history. Your contrary assertion is without any foundation whatsoever.


#18

So is Modernism, but hundreds of people on this forum spew modernism on a daily basis.


#19

And accept the Authority of the Church. You appear to be going your own way now?


#20

Au contrair! I am a fierce defender of the authority of the Church, which states that a heretic cannot be the pope, and that the Church cannot promulgate error or heresy. Vatican II promulgated ecumenism, modernism, and religious liberty. Roncalli, Montini, Luciani, Wojtyla, Ratzinger, and Bergi were/are heretics, and not the Supreme Pontiff.


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