Gregorian chant: church documents


Can someone please direct me to papal or church documents affirming the important status of Gregorian chant in the Church’s liturgy? This is for a paper I am writing on Gregorian chant. Thanks in advance.


Paragraph 50 of Musicum Sacram (1967) talks about the importance of Gregorian chant and says it should have pride of place in sung celebration in Latin. Earlier documents such as Mediator Dei (1947) describe it as especially suited to the Roman liturgy.

The same documents make clear that this isn’t so simply for historical or nostalgic reasons (as so often suggested on this forum!) but in fact because chant is so interlinked with the liturgy itself and through it, in most contexts, we are able to pray the mass, rather than praying at mass. Interestingly its promulgation through the church was associated with the movement to enourage full participation in the liturgy - “restoring to popular use in the parts proper to the people” and preventing the faithful from “attending the Holy Sacrifice like dumb and idle spectators.”


  1. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.

But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action, as laid down in Art. 30.


Ha ha ha - - if only our priests knew and followed this.

closed #5

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