I just moved to a new state and started attending mass at the neighborhood parish. The priest who says the majority of the masses is very theatrical, which is his personality, but I am concerned about his version of the EP. He has a piano accompaniment throughout, which is best described as smooth jazz, and he sings everything, including Jesus’ words, in a jazzy sort of manner. I feel uncomfortable when he does this, as it strikes me as irreverent, and sort of putting the focus on him, rather than on the Eucharist. Is this personalized version okay/valid/within his right to customize? I did not receive communion this last time because I felt very uneasy. Thank you.
Have you asked him about it?
Personalized? How so?
Musical accompaniment might be ok to an extent but it is not permitted during the words of consecration. There’s nothing particularly wrong with anything else you’ve said, though, and nothing you’ve written gives cause for concern about an invalid sacrament.
Above all, I’m with @HopkinsReb - what does the priest say about this?
If unleavened bread was present, and grape wine, and the words of consecration were valid, Christ was present.
We should not let other’s behavior separate us from the Lord.
If he is unorthodox, or vain - that’s on him, not you.
Jazzy Eucharistic prayer?
Try snapping your fingers with the beat and watch what happens!
I have not approached him yet. I wanted to ask advice here first. I say “personalized” because the key and cadence of the music are very unique and stylized, even as he sings the words of consecration. It just left me with a sense of unease. Thanks to all who replied.
Here are the views of the Liturgy Office for England and Wales:
The General Instruction (147) encourages that
the Eucharistic Prayer, or at least those parts for
which musical settings are provided in the Missal,
be sung. It is an extremely effective way of
expressing solemnity and is also very appropriate
at concelebrated Masses. The Roman Missal
provides simple chant settings of Eucharistic
There are also published settings by composers.
Care should be taken that the musical setting
allows the text to be well proclaimed and that
music does not provide an interpretation of the
text. There is also an issue where the Eucharistic
Prayer set (such as Eucharistic Prayer II) may
not be suitable to the occasion. The advantage
of many composed settings is that they provide
an accompaniment to support the singing of the
presider. This is not in contradiction of GIRM 32
which refers to the one time practice of some
organists (particularly in the French tradition) to
play over the Eucharistic Prayer. The once similar
practice of singing Sanctus and Benedictus over
the quietly spoken Eucharistic Prayer is similarly
repudiated. It is encouraged that the Prayer be
sung: if provision of unobtrusive support helps this
to happen it should be provided. The problem is
when the accompaniment becomes the dominant
That would seem to support your priest’s approach although your bishop may not agree. If his music allows the congregation to participate more fully in the Eucharistic Prayer, that is beneficial. If it excludes part of the congregation, it is an obstacle.
Thank you. I was looking for something specific from the GIRM, and this is very helpful.
Novelties, errors, confusion, irreverence. And the bishops scratch their heads wondering why well over half their flock doesn’t understand the Eucharist.
“Singing” the Eucharistic Prayer, would technically be permissible, although I would argue that doing it in a “jazzy” way might be in violation of the spirit of the law, if not against the letter of the law. As for an accompaniment by the organ, or other instruments, the definitive answer is: NO. This is a liturgical abuse and is not allowed.
Source: GIRM 32
But this is the sort of stuff that makes people not take mass seriously in my opinion.
Very helpful. I appreciate your reply. I will follow up with him.
I think that is part of why I feel uncomfortable; to me, it seems a little like entertainment in the presentation.
It is perfectly permissible for a priest to sing/chant all of the Mass. It is quite lovely!!
Yes, but as others have noted, it is not permissible to have the organ/piano/other instruments playing ‘in the background’ throughout the Eucharistic Prayer.
I’ve heard this happen once or twice, the priest will intone or chant (perfectly OK) and then when he stops, say at the consecration and raises up the Body or the Blood, the piano which had been softly accompanying him swelled into a louder melody, an ‘improvisation’ on a theme (once it was an improvisation to the first few bars of “Ave Maria”, once it was almost Pachibel canon-esque). Very off-putting.
Organ music, etc., at the Consecration is not a new violation of the rules. Back hundreds of years ago, there were tons of pious, well- meaning compositions for this moment. Trumpet solos. Violin tunes. Flute songs. Even some hymns. If you look in a folk music collection, and you find a tune named “Consecration,” that is usually what it was. Eventually the Church lowered the boom.
But there is supposed to be no music except bells (or rattles, woodblock taps, etc. during Lent). You can even ring the bells up in the bell tower, but you’re not supposed to play other music then.
Ask him and PLEASE let us know what his response was. He’s the Priest so he should know what to do and how. Also PRAY FOR HIM!
Oh goody - - we have a blog post from Father Z on this very topic:
This is perfectly clear. Thank you very much.
At our cathedral the rector positively croons the EP in some melody I’ve never heard before. And yes, it is distracting - not the end of the world, but distracting.