Music & Lent

I’ve never experienced this in Lent before so I’m not sure of the answer. Does the rule about no music during Lent unless it’s to support singing apply to Mass only or to all liturgies?

I ask because I attended a funeral this morning that was celebrated in a Liturgy of the Word. There was prelude and postlude music and music during the opening procession. There was no singing at all, unless you count Leanne Rimes “Please Remember” played between the Homily and the General Intercessions.

You don’t want to hear about the Responsorial Psalm.

In all my years in Music Ministry only one priest has advanced the “no music” rule.
Most just stress to keep it appropriate, and subdued in keeping with the tone of Lent.
There’s so much meditative music, and hymns with beautiful, appropriate lyrics. I see no need to limit the music. Silence also has it’s virtues. Particularly if the music ministry is lacking.
Once a Music minister knows the limitations and abilities of his or her choir, it’s a matter of doing the music well, or not at all.
As I said, I’ve only had one priest ask me to not do music except for the Mass parts.

(you’ve also hit on a pet peeve of mine…substituting random “similar” pieces for the exact text of the Psalms. I don’t like it. There are many wonderful Psalm settings. Why do we always think we can do better than what the Church herself provides? :shrug:)

You really do instrumental music during Lenten Masses?

If that’s your pet peeve, you’d have been apoplectic this morning. Substituted for the Psalm was a poem written by the deceased. Something about her brother and her sis and her parents.

Oh, and the instrumental music? Pink.

You’re kidding right???

Yes, instrumental music is nice during Offertory and also post communion.
Especially if your cantors have voices that are “too big” if you know what I mean.

God bless you.
Was the deceased a beloved parishioner or a friend of the parish? Not that it matters…but sometimes when people ask for such things to be done, it’s because they haven’t attended a Catholic funeral in yonks. People believe that indulging them in these bad choices is to exhibit compassion, and also, hope that the extended family will investigate Catholicism. :shrug:
But yeah…wow. :o

I’m glad someone said it. Ten points. :thumbsup:


I had a friend once who had a vibrato you could throw a horse thru.
Nice lady. Ca-razy vibrato.
We used to laugh about it all the time. :stuck_out_tongue:
She was a good sport. :cool:

I wish.

Yes, instrumental music is nice during Offertory and also post communion.
Especially if your cantors have voices that are “too big” if you know what I mean.

I’m not really sure what you mean but that may simply be my personal experience. We don’t usually have solos during Mass. 98% of what is sung is congregational and we have nothing in the very short time post-Communion. Good really since the only music we have is mediocre guitar strumming. We never have any music during Lent that is not accompanying the singing.

God bless you.
Was the deceased a beloved parishioner or a friend of the parish? Not that it matters…but sometimes when people ask for such things to be done, it’s because they haven’t attended a Catholic funeral in yonks. People believe that indulging them in these bad choices is to exhibit compassion, and also, hope that the extended family will investigate Catholicism. :shrug:
But yeah…wow. :o

Neither, she was the granddaughter of a devout parishioner but I doubt grandma (who is in the choir and knows what we would normally sing) had any input in the funeral. The mom is a musician and the music was provided by the pianist in her band.

According to the General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM), #313

"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.

In Advent the organ and other musical instruments should be used with a moderation that is consistent with the season’s character and does not anticipate the full joy of the Nativity of the Lord.

In Lent the playing of the organ and musical instruments is allowed only to support the singing. Exceptions are Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Solemnities, and Feasts."

Yes, but the GIRM applies only to Mass. My question was whether anyone knew if this restriction applied other liturgies as well.

I was afraid of that. Doesn’t make sense when instrumental music is a universal language and Vatican II held the pipe organ in high esteem but who am I to argue?

Really, I thought that was a very well known rule. It’s been in place for decades. IIRC, during the Triduum before Vat. II there was no music at all from the Gloria at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper until the Easter Vigil.

And I just found the answer I was looking for in 1967’s Musicam Sacram

  1. In sung or said Masses, the organ, or other instrument legitimately admitted, can be used to accompany the singing of the choir and the people; it can also be played solo at the beginning before the priest reaches the altar, at the Offertory, at the Communion, and at the end of Mass.

The same rule, with the necessary adaptations, can be applied to other sacred celebrations.

  1. The playing of these same instruments as solos is not permitted in Advent, Lent, during the Sacred Triduum and in the Offices and Masses of the Dead.

Reading about liturgical music like this always brings me back to a thought of what our ideal should be. Even if there be no rule outside of Mass for the use of instruments other than accompaniment of singers, it is consistent with the tenor of the season not to use them.

Then, the ideal might be something like this:

God bless.

Well, the IGMR/GRIM doesn’t apply for the 1962 liturgical books but it seems Lent is organ-silent in some of the EFs as well.

I agree. Palestrina would be perfect for almost any season.

The abbey I’m associated with is usually a pretty good guide when it comes to liturgy. During other seasons, the organ is played before and after Mass as well as at the Offertory after the Offertory antiphon (which is in Gregorian chant).

At Vespers, the organ is sometimes played after the Office. It is also played at Lauds and Vespers to support the psalmody.

During Advent and Lent, the organ is not played at all except at feasts, solemnities and Gaudete and Laetare Sundays (and they really are; the entrance hymns Gaudete and Laetare are chanted on those days). During Lauds and Vespers, the organ isn’t even played to support the psalmody; it is all a cappella. But that may be a local practice.

I believe that people whose parish is an Abbey, or who live near a Convent church, or a Monastery have musicians who heed these “rules”.

But in the average parish in a city setting, even a rural setting, the musicians are pretty much un-restricted by their pastors.
Soft solo piano music is offered and encouraged by most of the priests that I know.
They find it reflective and non-disturbing, compared to much of what passes for “Mass music” these days.
Just sayin…it’s cool to quote documents, but in the average American parish…little of this happens. And the persons in charge don’t see any problem with it. The priests use their discretion and advise the musicians accordingly.
Nice to be in perfect line with the rubrics if you can get it…but honestly, my parish doesn’t even own an organ. Nor do they want to purchase one because they in no way will pay the salary for a trained organist who is Catholic and well-read on liturgical appropriateness. It’s all they can do to make the payments on the church.
That’s why I said that we often have soft, instrumental (Catholic) music. It’s what the pastor has asked for.

Pianistclare, it is sadly true that the average parish does not have trained or paid musicians, or an organ which someone knows how to play. It is also true that in most parishes, pastors are not musically inclined and do not realize the importance of music in the liturgy.

Speaking from a quarter century of first-hand experience as a parish organist, many, many parish musicians and music directors are strong-willed in their field and bristle at their pastor’s suggestions about music at Mass. You would not believe the resistance that some musicians put up against a pastor who attempts to exercise his rightful authority over liturgical music. Some have even filed lawsuits against parishes or reported parishes for some obscure copyright violation (which one particular music publisher has been known to prosecute with a vengeance). That same publisher is known for siding with musicians against their pastor, and in one case I was involved in, attempted through a series of phone calls to pit the pastor against his music director because the former had cancelled the parish’s subscription to their hymnals.

What is needed is good catechesis to both pastors and musicians about what the Church expects for Mass and other liturgies. If bishops would only create diocesan guidelines based on what the Church teaches, such as how much music is allowed in Lenten Masses, or whether recorded music is indeed forbidden or permitted, it would make parish life much easier. However, except for a tiny handful of dioceses like Marquette, Michigan, no such documents exist.

Well stated.
I do know this goes on…I’ve often been introduced to a priest and have had him reply
“Oh, so you’re a terrorist for the Church?”
Uh. no. But nice to meet you as well. :rolleyes:

It’s also part of the Music ministers job to be criticized by everyone and their granny every week for something they didn’t play or did play. You have to have a pretty thick skin to play music for church. That’s probably why most are so prickly.
I love playing in the church…but I refuse to work for pennies, to the detriment of my family AND get the thrill of having people scream at me on a regular basis.
Most priests are kind. The laity are a bit harsh, in general.
Plus, only the musician is paid, if at all. Mostly. The SINGERS are not. As our Pre-K teacher once said
“you get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit”.
Sort of applies here, within reason. It’s hard for a music minister to put a plug on someone who sings badly when they are beloved parishioners.
I’ve heard THAT so many times…tis true, we should be kind and gentle.
But when one group says “oh I love them they’re so nice” and the next group says “I hate the way they sing, can’t you put a stop to it?” it’s exceedingly difficult.

But I agree with your whole post. Thank you!

I’m determined to go to the Abbey at the beginning of July after my daughter is no longer in need of my help with the new baby and we go off on our holiday. I want a couple of days of Liturgies to set my summer off to a good start.

And it appears my original question was perhaps not the correct one. It should have been “Is instrumental music allowed during a funeral?” And the answer is “no” according to Musicam Sacram.

I’ve been to quite a few Spanish Masses with guitars; in fact I just returned from one. A little more subdued from I’m used to hearing but nice. I don’t remember ever hearing a guitar without some vocals. Certainly not like you hear from the organ and sometimes the piano. I’ve heard some beautiful instrumental classical pieces on the guitar but never in a Catholic church.

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