Permissible to Change Responsorial Psalm?

Is it permissible to change the responsorial psalm to anything other than what is assigned for that day or any listed alternatives? Also, Is this considered an abuse? Thank you.

In general, no. But it is possible that a different Mass is said than the one for the day. There might be an optional memorial of a saint or a votive Mass on a day that isn’t impeded by a higher celebration, in which case one either uses the readings of the day or the readings from the common of whichever saint or commemoration is being observed. Memorials as well can either use the readings of the day or the readings of the feast. And on some Sundays there are options for the Psalm. But one cannot mix and match, so to speak.


Actually, the current GIRM and regulations are pretty loose. One can always go to a “seasonal psalm,” and there are a lot of those.

Of course, if people really understood and loved the Psalms, they would grapple with the one assigned; and they would use the correct antiphon too. And Father would preach the psalm in his homily, as used to be very common. But since people see them as an option and a musical interlude instead of great Scripture, they mess around casually and ignore the ones they don’t like, and Father is often afraid to write them into homilies lest the music director switch something at the last moment or the musical setting use different words.

But it is legal, because,a lot of people dislike “warlike” or “difficult” psalms, and those sorts of people wrote the regs. Annoying.

As an occasional choir director, I have read what the GIRM and the USCCB document “Sing to the Lord” have to say about this. I’m not going to look it up right now, but here is what I remember (which may or may not be accurate):
*]The Psalm of the day is the one that should be used.
*]The pastor may give his permission to change it to another appropriate Psalm or hymn.

I don’t remember it being as “loose” as Mintaka says. But that may be because at my parish we simply never, NEVER change the Psalm. We’ve even been known to alter the version of the Psalm in Respond and Acclaim if there’s the slightest deviation from the original text (e.g., repeating a word or phrase in the refrain).

Our pastor is pretty “hard core” about some things in the liturgy. :smiley:

From the USCCB website’s General Instruction of the Roman Missal:
The Responsorial Psalm

  1. After the First Reading follows the Responsorial Psalm, which is an integral part of the Liturgy of the Word and which has great liturgical and pastoral importance, since it fosters meditation on the Word of God.

The Responsorial Psalm should correspond to each reading and should usually be taken from the Lectionary.

It is preferable for the Responsorial Psalm to be sung, at least as far as the people’s response is concerned. Hence the psalmist, or cantor of the Psalm, sings the Psalm verses at the ambo or another suitable place, while the whole congregation sits and listens, normally taking part by means of the response, except when the Psalm is sung straight through, that is, without a response. However, in order that the people may be able to sing the Psalm response more easily, texts of some responses and Psalms have been chosen for the different times of the year or for the different categories of Saints. These may be used instead of the text corresponding to the reading whenever the Psalm is sung. If the Psalm cannot be sung, then it should be recited in a way that is particularly suited to fostering meditation on the Word of God.

In the Dioceses of the United States of America, instead of the Psalm assigned in the Lectionary, there may be sung either the Responsorial Gradual from the Graduale Romanum, or the Responsorial Psalm or the Alleluia Psalm from the Graduale Simplex, as described in these books, or an antiphon and Psalm from another collection of Psalms and antiphons, including Psalms arranged in metrical form, providing that they have been approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop. Songs or hymns may not be used in place of the Responsorial Psalm.

I sit corrected. :blush:

Thank you for taking the time to post this!

So it seems as if the USCCB has allowed them to be changed as long as it is to another approved Psalm? :confused:

The rule says what the rule says. And it says there are a number of approved sources.

I have been to a church where they took the responsorial psalm and rearranged the words to work with the music they had. This didn’t seem right - is it ok for this to be done or not?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit