Gender specific pronouns

I have heard more than once at a mass a cantor substituting “God” or some other substitution when the text in my Missal says “he/him.” Are there other versions of a missal that someone may be using?

For example, at the mass I attended today, this was a stanza of the Psalm as it appeared in my missal:
*R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
He has changed the sea into dry land;
through the river they passed on foot;
therefore let us rejoice in him.
He rules by his might forever.*And she substituted stuff like
“God has changed the sea.”
“…rejoice in God…”
“God rules by might forever”

Is this something cantors are doing of their own accord? Or might the musical texts they are using have these substitutions?

I run into the same thing in my neck of the woods.
In my experience, it is usually something the canot/music director chooses to do on their own, sometimes with the OK of the Pastor. The reason often given is to be “inclusive”. I do not believe they have the “authority” to do so, and in the grand scheme of things, at least in my Diocese, this is the least of my worries. :frowning:

It’s hard to say. There are cantors and/or music directors who will change the words. That could be with or without the pastor’s approval.

But I also know that sometimes there ARE musical texts that have those kinds of gender pronoun/ noun substitutions.

I sing in the choir and we run into situations where choir copies of music have one set of words, the music books used by the assembly have other words, and the psalm setting book used by the cantor might have either set of words or something that is different from either version. :shrug:

I’m a cantor and usually those changes are already written in the cantor’s responsorial psalm book. I don’t know any cantors that would go to the trouble of changing words on purpose, either to be more “inclusive” (whatever that’s supposed to mean.) or to change them back if they’ve already been changed. Every now and again they might sing the wrong word on accident, but they generally have enough to think about without changing the words.

GIA and OCP ruthlessly neuter hymns on a regular basis. One time about 20 years ago, for an edition of Gather, GIA changed the words to about 14 hymns to make them “gender-inclusive” - yes, even neutering God. And then they realized that permission was never properly sought from the authors. So they had to undo those changes and issued an apology in the front of the next edition of Gather. Unfortunately, this incident happened exactly at the point when our parish bought hundreds of the hymnals for pew usage, so although a few of our choir editions are newer and “corrected”, the vast majority of them were neutered. Now of course this only mattered for a handful of songs, but there were many more that were neutered with the appropriate permission, so that hymnal is just a hodgepodge.

I once recounted here the nightmare I underwent when we had an OCP Christmas last year and all I had was an Adoremus hymnal. I wrote post-it notes on each change of lyrics in the hymns and there were a lot. The only one that OCP didn’t mess with, was “Silent Night”.

Personally, I disagree with all forms of gender-neutral language, because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If a hymn is written one way, please don’t butcher the words that everyone already knows. But in going forward and writing new songs/prose, there is something to be said for horizontal inclusive language. It is the wave of the future. But it still isn’t right to neuter God in this respect. God is revealed to be male and therefore we use male pronouns of Him.

That’s unfortunate that the hymn books do that. What’s really bizarre (or a hole in their goal) is that they leave the term “Father” only to refuse the term “him” later in the same sentences.

I belong to an ethnic Polish parish in which all of the priest are from the Old Country and were educated and ordained there. To put it mildly, although all of the liturgical reforms are in effect and are observed, no one, no Cantor or Lector would dare interject gender neutral pronouns in any hymn, reading, or prayer.
If someone dared do such a thing in either English or Polish, there would be a sensational uproar, not just by the congregation, but with our clergy. I can guarentee that any of our priests would deliver a lecture to the offender that they would never forget, and, they would never again have a public role in anthing to do with our parish…and such a thing would follow them if they went elsewhere in the Polish American Community. You can say that our congregation, which is largely made up of immigrants and first generation Americans is very conservative when it comes to our Faity, and thank G*D for it!

As others have mentioned, sometimes the music used by the cantor incorporates gender neutral words. I cantor, as well, and sometimes the text in the music books are different from the text in the missalettes. I personally don’t know anyone who goes out of his/her way to change the text in order to be all-inclusive.

I was a member of one community about 13 years ago, and the neutering of God was pervasive and encouraged by the Dominican friars there. As a community, everyone omitted “men” from the Creed and sang “peace to God’s people on Earth” in the Gloria. It was so bad that I once asked if we could pray the “Our Parent”.

There were a lot of liturgical abuses going on in that community. I am fortunate that no such hijinks occurs where I am now.

I’ve met priests who avoid male pronouns for God, and it sounds so awkward.

God loves God’s people
God cares for God’s people

That sort of thing.

I don’t know if you’re aware of it or not, but “Per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso” (“Through Him and with Him and in Him”) is actually translated as “Przez Chrystusa, z Chrystusem i w Chrystusie” in the Polish Mass. They don’t use the pronoun and I think the reason is that in the Latin “ipsum” and “ipso” (not “eum” or “eo”) are intensive; there is no real way to express the intensity in English except perhaps with tone inflection which very few priests employ.

None of the cantors I know would do this on their own - they sing what is on the sheet music. Sometimes, however, what is printed in the sheet music differs slightly from what is in the missal - especially if the missal is from one company and the music for the psalm is from another.

Here are the verses from the OCP Respond & Acclaim that were sung in our parish this past Sunday:

Shout joyfully to God, all the earth
Sing praised to the glory of his name;
Proclaim his glorious praise.
Say to God, "How tremendous are your deeds!

Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you,
Sing praise to your name!"
Come and see the works of God,
His tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.

He has changed the sea into dry land;
Through the river they passed on foot;
Therefore let us rejoice in him.
He rules by his might forever.

Hear now, all you who fear God,
While I declare what he has done for me.
Blessed by God who refused me not
My prayer or his kindness!

Why bring up “neutering” hymns??? :tsktsk:

The OP asked about substituting the word “God” for “him/his” in the responsorial psalm… :shrug:

What did you think it was to neuter a hymn?

A few years ago, it was stylish in a couple of places to substitute “Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier” for “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” in the baptismal formula. CDF ruled the baptisms invalid. The people so baptized had to be notified so they could be re baptized.

Cantors should be using translations that are approved for use at mass in the United States.

I was at a parish different from my own and I was astounded to hear the Deacon proclaim the Gospel ( which was the calling of SS Peter, Andrew, James and John). He changed the words ‘fishers of men’ to 'catchers of people"

At all of the places where I have ever worked continuously or as a freelancer (I’ve freelanced in over 100 parishes and am currently on permanent staff at two parishes), I have never had a say as to what is used for the music. I use whatever the parish has and what the music director or the priest tells me to use. I have found that there are many books with descrepencies, not with every psalm, but you will find them.

I realize you have issues with OCP and GIA, but I guess I didn’t realize that using a proper noun - God - instead of a personal pronoun - he - in the responsorial psalm was considered “neutering a hymn”. :rolleyes:

Honestly, without knowing the source of the sheet music used at the Mass the OP attended, it would be speculation on our part to say if the cantor changed things on his/her own, if the music/choir director made the change, or if the cantor sang what was printed. :shrug:

Well, in that case, the music director should be providing materials with approved texts. My point was that not all music is legit just because it was printed in the cantor’s music.

On a related note, I once asked to be taken off my parish lector schedule because the then-pastor was scratching out masculine pronouns in the lectionary and pencilling in neutered renderings.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit