projector screen to display text hymns?

I was in Saigon, Vietnam. My parish church was built in modern style. It is installed on the sanctuary for two projector screen to display text for the parishioners sang hymns. I find it inconsistent with the solemn nature of the church. It seems like karaoke in Mass. I do not like that. So I have asked in other places like that? EU, USA …? Consistent with the rules of the liturgy does not? rules of holy art? :shrug:

Sorry for the ability to write my English is quite bad. Thanks

(nếu ai đó biết tiếng Việt, xin trả lời bằng ngôn ngữ ấy. cám ơn)

I understand your feelings (and your English), I’ve always hated to see hymn lyrics projected on a screen, or even on the back sanctuary wall, so that we can sing. Like you, it makes me feel as though I’m at karaoke and takes away from the dignity of Mass.

I don’t know what copyright laws are like in your country but here you need a license to project lyrics. Since you need to pay for a license anyway, why not get a more extended license and do up a parish hymnal of the most popular lyrics sung by the parish? That’s what we did in a former parish.

De Musica Sacra de Musica Liturgia
Sacred Congregation for Rites - September 3, 1958

  1. The use of any kind of projector, and particularly movie projectors, with or without sound track, is strictly forbidden in church for any reason, even if it be for a pious, religious, or charitable cause.

I saw a lot of this when I was a Protestant. On one hand, I didn’t care for it, because I usually wanted to read and sing one of the harmony parts (bass) out of the hymnal. On the other hand, I can see the reasoning that projecting the words on the wall gets people’s noses out of hymnals and their heads looking up towards heaven.

On the third hand, Canto’s post trumps all. Rome says no projectors, so I agree with that. No projecting hymn words in Mass.


I think one of the reasons for the projector screen is so that people are singing with their heads up (looking at the screen) rather than down (“buried in a hymnal”). But the same thing can be accomplished by 1) using hymns that most people are familiar with (by using less variety of hymns), or 2) letting the choir do their thing and letting the congregation listen. (But #2 tends to elicit a bad reaction from some people.)

I read somewhere recently that using a projector is common in Asia due to the difficulty in getting missals & hynmnals.

I’ve never known it to be posture related but rather cheap related: not having the money or wanting to spend the money to buy hymnals. In most parishes where I’ve experienced it, it was blatant copyright violation since they didn’t have a license to do it.

Darn. You beat me to it. I was going to say that. :smiley:

The National Shrine of the Little Flower in Michigan has two MASSIVE screens that come down out of the ceiling - you can see them in the background of some of the photos here:

Call to Holiness Conference 2009

Sure - it’s practical, but I think it is entirely unnecessary and a bit tacky - especially for one of the most beautiful art deco Churches I’ve ever seen.

Scroll down on the page to see a link to a wonderful slide show of this conference with more photos of this truly beautiful Church. This is where we were married, but we no longer belong to this parish.


My wife and I visited a church in Mesa, AZ, (St. James I think) last year that seemed so alien I had to go out to the lobby and verify it was Catholic! Behind the altar a portion of the sanctuary wall was designed to be used as a movie screen, hymns and prayers were shown during Mass, the Tabernacle was off to the side 20 or 30 feet, there was a bandstand (not a choir loft) off to one side and stadium seating. Looked more like one these modern protestant audio-visual centers than a church.

So does this rule still hold true? I ask this becuase there is debate if such rules are still to be obeyed since the Novus Ordo came into being and Vatican II took place.

I agree. I think what makes it look tacky is because the screens sit up against incredibly beautiful sacred art and architecture. It just looks totally out of place. There is an old Catholic church in my diocese which did something similar. The projector screens look like they’re sitting on top of the heads of Mary and Joseph and they cover some of the original artwork in the church. That looks a bit tacky as well. It doesn’t look as bad when it is in a modern church, although I personally still don’t think they’re necessary. For myself, I can’t stand looking at text to a hymn without the music. But that’s because I read music, so most people probably don’t mind it. (Although it’s almost as frustrating when they are playing the hymn in a different key than what is in the hymnal.)

This is a good question. Technically I think we’d have to say it does, since there do not seem to be any more recent rules on the topic that supersede it. On the other hand, two paragraph earlier in that document has been widely ignored by bishops in distributing recorded messages and homilies from themselves and the Holy Father, so there is at least some evidence that it is considered out of date and partially in abeyance. On the third hand, I believe it was the paragraph after it that was used by a local bishop in his spat with EWTN, when the network was prevented from broadcasting ad orientem masses.

I’ll also point out that an exceedingly strict reading of this rule would allow giant screen televisions, so long as they are not projection TVs. However, I think most would take a more liberal view of what is meant by “projector.” Actually, this approach might also have relevance to the thread on smartphones at mass.

And I’m not sure if you can tell by the photos, but these actually come down in front of balcony seating. If you can see between the screens but on the ground level, that is where the tabernacle resides in a small chapel that can be seen when looking over and past the front of the altar - it is an octagonal Church with small chapels or niches all around the perimeter, and the main one on that end is where the tabernacle is.

So - when you are looking at the screens, you are really ignoring the fact that the tabernacle is right there in front of you, between/below them. :rolleyes:

It is sad to think of what our local crisis pregnancy centers could have done with the money spent to put in that system which is quite sophisticated. :frowning:


this is quite an old document, does this still apply today or has it been overruled by a more recent one?

i know projectors have been common in the Philippines because missals and song books tend to get “misplaced” all the time

My wife is from an Asian country, and she tells me that this is very common.

I think the problem isn’t buying hymnals, but always having to replace the hymnals that disappear. As far as copyright infringement, it’s not much of a concern in my wife’s country. On just about any street corner you can buy pirated copies of movies that haven’t even been released yet.

sounds like back home :rolleyes:

and i’ll tell you this. first time i went to Mass here in North America, i was amazed that the Missals were books on the pews. even more amazed that they were in relatively good condition (no pages torn out or scribbled on), and even more amazed that they were there at all week after week

See, I don’t get that. The local Anglicans and United Churches all have hymnals and they don’t seem to lose that many. It’s obvious that some are probably 30 years old.

We’ve now had hymnals for the last 8 years and they have not disappeared or been defaced. Who does these things? Our various ministers may have a copy at home while they need them but they are brought back.

At my Parish, I usually hear the complaint that it is people getting ready for marriage that take them and never bring 'em back.

there is a different mentality in the other countries
i know you wouldn’t be able to relate because its different here in Canada (in a very good way)
but back there, sadly thats the reality

i guess this could go into that thread about the Bishop’s authority. maybe he can allow projectors in such cases because he knows that the area he is in, people then to “borrow and be forgetful” or that some people are just outright not careful enough with the materials

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