Is the Mass supposed to be sung?


Some, but not all of our parish priests sing most of the Mass. Is it at the priest’s discretion whether or not it is sung?

Thanks! :smiley:




It is the norm for certain parts to be sung, but usually priests have permission to elect not to sing those parts. It also has to be considered whether or not a particular priest would detract from the intention of singing the Mass by doing so. There are ordained men whose singing voices are not only short of excellent but who cannot hold a tune and who put a strain (not to mention a painful-to-hear timbre) onto their voices when they try to do so. Some, too, like the Holy Father, have diminished lung capacity or damaged vocal chords. For that practical reason, it is not likely that singing will ever be required of all priests, all of the time.

Still, a bishop has some latitude in what he can require of priests in his diocese under normal circumstances. This is what our Archbishop Sample wrote while he was still Bishop of Marquette:

**f. What should we sing at Mass? **

1] The liturgical books (the Missal, Graduale and Lectionary) envision that, as a rule, we sing the Mass at Mass, rather than sing songs during Mass. To truly sing the Mass as described below is the ideal and should be an overall priority for parish worship.

2] The sung parts of the Mass consist of the Ordinary, the Propers, the Orations and the Dialogues:

The Ordinary consists of the Mass parts which are the same every Sunday: Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei. At times it is also appropriate to sing the Credo. Ordinarily these pertain to the congregation, although on occasion a skilled choir is permitted to sing a more challenging setting alone. They may be sung in Latin or the vernacular, in Gregorian settings or in other forms of sacred music.

The** Propers **are the parts which vary according to the calendar: Entrance Chant, Responsorial Psalm, Alleluia with its verse, Offertory Chant and Communion Chant.

Entrance Chant, Offertory Chant and Communion Chant
As the name implies, these are the chants sung at the Entrance, preparation of the Gifts and Communion respectively. These are found in the Graduale Romanum, the Missal and the Graduale Simplex, and are intended to be sung in Latin or the vernacular. Using the texts and musical settings for these chants is the first and preferred option.
It is worth noting that many of the texts for these chants as they are found in the Roman Missal are new, and musical settings for them, in Latin and English, are currently being composed by Church musicians.

** Responsorial Psalm and the Alleluia with its verse **
These are the chants between the readings. The Responsorial Psalm with its response is normally taken from the Lectionary as assigned for that day. A “seasonal” Psalm with its response selected from the Lectionary may also be sung. A selection from the Graduale Romanum or the Graduale Simplex may also be used.

The Alleluia verse is normally taken from the Lectionary itself or the Graduale. During Lent, the Alleluia is replaced by the Verse before the Gospel.

The **Orations and Dialogues **are the texts of the Collects and other prayers, and those in which the celebrant and people address each other, for example the greeting and its response: “The Lord be with you” - “And with your spirit”. Musical notations for these dialogues are provided in the Missal and should be used.


Thanks for the help!:thumbsup:




I think it is a disciplinary issue. I went to daily Mass once several years ago and the priest apologized in advance because the bishop had required the Mass be sung at least once per year but he (the priest) was tone-deaf.

There is something about chant (even among the tone-deaf) that elevates the senses above what the spoken word does.


we have a mass and the priest sing the all the mass parts and is it really is beautiful


I agree! It is truly beautiful…


All of the Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgies are sung, all of the public prayers. Sometimes the Epistle may be read or intoned in monotone, if the reader does not have the training. I presume that this is the rule also with all the Eastern Catholics too?


With regard to a man who’s not the greatest of singers – and I’ve heard a few! – I still thought the Holy Mass benefited in reverence. Archbishop Sample’s excellent pastoral took into account many aspects; he certainly spent a lot of time thinking on these issues.

b. Orations and Dialogues
For the Sung Mass, the celebrant should learn to sing, without instrumental
accompaniment, the celebrant’s chants for the orations and dialogues to the
melodies given in the Roman Missal, with the responses sung by the faithful.
There is the simple human reality that some priests are not gifted with the ability
to sing, or at least to carry a melody. In these cases, it might be more desirable
for the celebrant to chant recto tono (on the same note) the parts that belong to
(Rejoice in the Lord Always, p. 14)

amsjj :slight_smile:

Jesus, God and man,
imprisoned by love in Thy most holy Sacrament,
have mercy upon us.

  • Blessed John Henry Newman, December 22, 1851

Tú y yo sabemos por la fe que oculto en las especies sacramentales está Cristo,
ese Cristo con su Cuerpo, con su Sangre, con su Alma, y con su Divinidad,
prisonero de amor.

  • San Josemaría Escrivá, 1 junio 1974

… Our Lord Himself frequently said; and it is recorded as an Apostolic tradition from Him
by St. Justin the Martyr. He says ‘Jesus often said, “They who are near Me are near a fire”’.

  • Abp. W. B. Ullathorne, August 1st 1886


All your help is greatly appreciated! God Bless!


One note, there are no responsorial psalms in the Graduale Romanum; in the Graduale Romanum the responsorial psalm is replaced with the Gradual. The Gradual is a couple of psalm verses; it, along with the offertory, is usually one of the most melismatic parts of the propers. It is divided into two parts. Usually a cantor or the schola intones it, then the entire community (in my case a monastic setting) chants the first verse, then the schola only chants the more difficult second verse. The psalm used for the Gradual is not usually the same psalm as in the missal, though on occasion it is.

The Graduale Simplex on the other hand has a responsorial psalm with antiphon. In the Simplex some of the antiphons are borrowed from the Divine Office.

In the Graduale Romanum during Lent the Alleluia verse is replaced by the tract. On the first Sunday in Lent it is most of psalm 90(91) and is VERY long! I timed our monks, and it is in the order of 14-15 minutes. Ditto on Psalm Sunday, the tract large chunks of Ps. 21.


It is usually better that Mass is sung, yes.


Thank you. I took that as an excerpt from a much longer pastoral letter on sacred music, so perhaps those points are made elsewhere in his letter.


One church I go to, the priest sings many parts, another sings only a few parts, yet another does no singing. It depends on the priest as some just cannot sing.


in any particular instance, it is the priest’s choice. That being said, it is better if the parts are sung. Singing is the highest form of prayer. The more the better. That was part of the reforms of VII. Before, if a choir couldn’t do all the propers, NO parts could be sung. Now, some parts can be sung (priest’s prayers, dialogs, ordinary) for Masses such as Daily Masses and early Sunday morning, and then all the parts could be sung on the Sunday Masses (priest’s prayers, dialogs, ordinary, propers + motets).

Unfortunately, the newfound flexibility had the opposite effect, and singing, of the priests prayers, the propers, and the dialogs, has all but vanished.


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