Should Catholic Church musicians be paid?

Should Catholic Church musicians (music/liturgy director, choir directors, cantors, organists, pianists, other instrumentalists, etc.) be paid?

I know this has been discussed on CAF, but I think it’s usually in the context of general discussion about liturgical music. I wanted to separate out JUST this issue–should they be paid? Please feel free to link to other past threads on this topic. Thanks.

BTW, in the name of openness–I play piano for Masses on a regular basis, and I am not paid in my own parish. When I play at other parishes, I am paid, usually around $75/Mass.

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Yes they should be paid like any other employee. Our liturgy director is paid a living salary. It is a full time job between planning Masses, funerals, choirs.

All our musicians and cantors are paid. Our music director/organist and our choir director are on salary but all else get paid by the Mass. We do have volunteers at our choir mass but that is because the choir members take turns some leading the hymns and acclamations and others serving as psalmist.

Our diocese even has guidelines as to what the stipend should be. For weddings and funerals it is higher than for Sunday Masses. I think our cantors get $125 each for a wedding or funeral.

We should sing because of our Love of God and called to share and serve at the Eucharist in the way we are called to do so. To be paid would demeen our love and Worship God. You wouldn’t want someone being paid to worship God would you. Whether you the Music Director or a choir member or whatever, you sing because God has called you to sing and for that want no money what so ever because it would spoil our worship of God.

Okay we are paid at Weddings but for us it goes into a choir fund. Other choirs may receive individually. It will vary internationally. But we all chose ours go into our own fund and we choose what we want but it all goes through the Church Council by our choice. Though if there are any juniors they receive cash per wedding.

I wouldn’t dream of being paid to sing at a Eucharist whether lead a hymn or psalm or whatever. I sing because I love singing and think being paid would take away worshippig God because that is what it feels like it come down to. Being paid to Worship God.

We are there to worship God and not be paid…:thumbsup:

Some cantors in some parishes that I know aren’t even Catholic. They are another Christian denomination and the parish pays them for their singing skills. I know this because we paid one to sing at our wedding.

Does that include priests who are paid to celebrate Mass. We pay visiting priests to come to celebrate Mass? All our priests get a salary paid for by the parish.

In Rerum Novarum Pope Leo XIII said that all workers should be paid at least a living wage.

From what I’ve seen, an organist’s yearly salary is not even a living wage.

Yes, we should be paid.

If someone is working full time/part-time, of course they should be paid. It varies from parish to parish. A director of music/organist are paid but rarely in my experience cantors and never choirs. There are exceptions of course. A lot depends on how a parish perceives the importance of good music in liturgy. As the old saying goes you get what you pay for. In the parishes I’ve been associated with over the last 35 years we have been blessed with talented parishioners who generously give of their time and talent.

I second that. Music directors are in the office planning liturgies during the week. Why shouldn’t they be paid.

At my parish cantors are not paid, but do recieve a small gift of appreciation at Christmas.

For Christmas and Easter when we use musicians from outside the parish they are paid,

We do not pay cantors and musicians, although I believe that wedding parties pay the musicians, or should. Or liturgy director is a full time person and is fluent on the organ and piano, great voice, directs choirs and cantors. Certainly he loves what he does, but that does not mean he should not be paid for the service he renders the parish.

Come on now. In the time of Pope Leo XIII nobody was strumming away on a guitar to entertain the faithful. Plus, you have taken Leo XIII’s statement completely out of context. No, musicians should not be paid. They should attend Church to worship and their contributions should be for the greater glory of God.

In terms of comparing ANY such role with that of the Priest, there can be no comparison. The Priest doesn’t need the musicians in order to say Mass. The musicians are there (in theory) to enhance the “participation” of the faithful and are not absolutely essential. One can quote Sacrosanctum Concillium to try to refute this comment, but the point stands regardless. Pope Leo XIII probably never imagined hiring a band for Mass would ever become an issue.

Just because my parish values music enough to pay me a full time salary to be a music director, to play music for ANYTHING that comes up, including 4 masses over Christmas, the Sunday previous and after, holy days, and all of Holy Week…

DOES NOT MEAN I don’t do it for the greater glory of God.

I’ve been given gifts, nothing wrong with making a living at doing that.

It really depends on the parish and what the musicians responsibilities are.

Some parishes have a strong tithing culture and that includes time and talents. The musicians give of their talents in the same way others might give of their cash donations.

Some parishes simply can’t afford to pay. I used to belong to a rural parish where the only paid employee was the secretary. The bookkeeper, the grounds keeper, the DRE and the musicians were all volunteers.

If the parish is able and if they want something more than just leading the singing, then the job should be a paid one, IMO.

I agree that anyone playing a guitar during mass should have it broken over his head (just kidding, but it does irritate me.) I don’t think hiring a band should ever happen.

There is a LOT of work, legitimate work, that goes into being a music director. I agree that music ministry should be worship and glory given to God, so I never like it when the performers aren’t religious. But we are not just worshipping. If that were the case we would be no different than the people in the pews. If someone is a musician as a hobby and occasionally supplements the music, I could understand lack of payment. That is not what a music director, or even an organist, is.

Depends on the parish and its budget and what you define as “paid.” Normally I would say the music/liturgy director should be paid and usually that person in that position is also the regular organist and pianist. It is usually expected that it is a regularly budgeted, salary position.

Choirs and cantors usually get some kind of stipend per extra mass they perform , such as funerals and weddings. Regular Sunday Mass schedule, no I do not believe they should be paid. People volunteer to be in the choirs and sing as a cantor, to give their time and talents to that particular ministry in the parish. I have volunteered several times in my life time to be a part of one choir or another and I would never expect to be paid for being a part of those groups. That being said though, the times I was a part of those choirs and we were requested to sing at a funeral mass or wedding, we did get some kind of “contribution” but we never kept it for ourselves and passed it along to Father to apply to where he thought it was best needed. I feel the same should be applied to instrumentalists if they are not the music/liturgy director.

Scripture tells us that ALL gifts come from God and are inspired by the Holy Spirit. So all of us should use what talents we possess for the greater glory of God. By your logic none of us would be paid for any job that we do. It’s one thing to have a choir of volunteers, that’s been the norm in my experience. But to expect someone to do a full time job, or even a part time job, with the responsibility of leadership, in service of the parish without paying them a living wage is ludicrous.

Only if we want music at Mass.

Obviously a parish can only pay what it can afford to pay so mileage may vary.

But in general, I think a parish musician who puts in more than about four or five hours a week is doing a job and deserves to be paid.

My parish has a full time paid music director and some paid instrumentalists. And we have some other people who volunteer time. We hire instrumentalists for some special occasions and for Christmas and the Triduum. If parishioners want cantors and instrumentalists for weddings or funerals they pay musicians a stipend.

I am a believer that, especially within the Catholic church, at least the key musicians should be paid. I myself was the lead musician at our church and was paid a monthly fee and was also under contract. By implementing this, the pastor was assured that I would appear every Sunday to play for Mass. Those musicians who were not paid would show up sporadically as they were all volunteers and there was no payment to ensure their attendance.

So, yes, even though musicians ought to give up their talents for God, my experience in the church has been that, without that monetary exchange, it’s a hit or miss as to whether any musician will show up for Mass and that kind of shaky commitment does not glorify God the way we ought to.

God Bless

I can’t believe this is a question!
Mass is not a concert where you pay for the music. Certainly, occasions, and I’m thinking weddings, funerals etc, outside of a normal Sunday obligation should be worth considering. A musician may have to take time off to be there, or it may be their livelihood.
But even at that, it shouldn’t be coming out of the parish resources, but rather the happy couple etc…
But, on a Sunday mass? I mean where do you stop? Do we pay EMHCs, readers, the altar servers? What about those who give time outside mass, those on Pastoral Councils, Finance Committees, Altar Societies. I could go on and on… Should EMHCs be paid for ‘home visits’?
I just don’t think financial remuneration should be the motive for involvement in a Church ministry.
Just out of curiosity, what does a musical director do outside of Mass? Is it a regular 9-5, 5 days a week? How much music is going on during the working week in a parish?

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