Is it permissable to locate the choir in the sanctuary?
To the best of my knowledge it is not forbidden.
But in the opinion of most, the choir does not belong in the sanctuary since the choir is part of the assembly and not on a stage. If the design of the church is such that the choir will be located toward the front of the church then it would be best if the choir were off to the side as much as possible.
I don’t know if it is forbidden, but my last two pastors have ordered all of the choirs to be in the choir loft. However, occassionally we have a choir leader that leads from the first pew. Some used to lead from the side of the sanctuary, but that is no longer happening in our church.
What do you mean by sanctuary? Just the raised platform that the altar is on? Or the entire ‘room’ of the church rather than in the choir loft?
I do not think that the choir should be up on the santuary by the altar. Usually there would be enough room anyway. In churches without a choir loft, the choir has to be in the nave somewhere and acoustically that often ends up being near the front of the church.
My church is in the 1/2 round design and the choir sits in the front pews on the far left or the church. They are in front but not in anyone’s direct line of sight as they look toward the altar.
According to the GIRM - 2002:
The Place for the Choir and the Musical Instruments
312. The choir should be positioned with respect to the design of each church so as to make
clearly evident its character as a part of the gathered community of the faithful fulfilling a specific function. The location should also assist the choir to exercise its function more easily and conveniently allow each choir member full, sacramental participation in the Mass.
- The organ and other lawfully approved musical instruments are to be placed in an
appropriate place so that they can sustain the singing of both the choir and the congregation and be heard with ease by all if they are played alone. It is appropriate that, before being put into liturgical use, the organ be blessed according to the rite described in the Roman Ritual.124
In my church the choir loft is in the back and about 100 steps up…lol Actually, theres only about 20 or steps and a couple landings. The organ is located in the choir loft as well as in the front of the church about 5 or six pews back toward the Blessed Mothers side.
Monastic choirs have traditionally been placed in two sections facing each other across the main aisle, between the chancel and the nave.
I think an ordinarly parish choir works better in a gallery in the back.
My cathedral parish was one of the first to be renovated after Vatican II. They tore out the choir loft and the pipe organ. In 1992 (long story), the choir loft was rebuilt as well as the pipe organ.
I sang in the cathedral choir for 20 years. The first ten years we faced the congregation just off to the side of the sanctuary. It always felt like we were “on stage” and it was embarassing on major feast days when we got applause after Mass.
When the choir loft was rebuilt, it was just wonderful. Non nobis Domine, non nobis. Choirs should be heard but not seen IMHO.