Should I Disobey the Priest?


Hi All,

Any music directors or others who could give me an opinion, please?

I’m the music director for a large hispanic community. The current hispanic priest likes to bend the rubrics of the Mass quite a bit and in some cases it is very disturbing.

For Christmas Eve Mass, he has requested that I substitute the Spanish version of “Angels We Have Heard On High” for the Gloria. I told him politely that the song is a hymn and not a proper Gloria, and suggested that I do have a Gloria which contains the words “In Excelsis Deo” if he wanted those specific words, but he just walked away (this was 5 minutes before Mass lastnight).

I’m thinking of disobeying him and just having the choir sing the Gloria I had previously scheduled for Christmas Eve. I have put “Angels We Have Heard” elsewhere in the Mass, so if he likes that song and wants to hear it, he will.

Any thoughts on whether or not I should disobey him? I don’t want to disrespect the priest but I cannot see blatantly disrespecting the sanctity of the Mass by refusing to follow the GIRM which says of the Gloria, “The text of this hymn may not be replaced by any other text.” (GIRM 53) And I’m not sure he has the right to force me to change the rubrics of the Mass, either.


Thanks! :slight_smile:


Can you get in touch with your (arch)diocese’s director of divine worship and ask?

I hear the bad position you are in. When seeking advise dont make your priest out to be the bad guy ( and you arent doing that I can tell) but talk to the dirctor of divine worship in your diocese and see what they say…


I’d call him again, and/or talk to the pastor, and let him know that I will not be replacing the Gloria with a hymn and that GIRM 53 specifically prohibits it.

I wouldn’t do it, period. I would decline to participate in that Mass if needed.


Maybe it’s because for years there was a version of Angels We Have Heard on High that was written with the correct “Gloria” verses that many Directors have used. Since the New Translation however, that is out, and to my knowledge, has not be re-worked to accommodate the proper words. Maybe he just doesn’t realize that. But yeah, talk to him. Best to not have any animosity on such a holy occasion. At any rate, going with the rubrics is the side to err on. I pray he respects your decision. I try to never disobey my priests…you’re in a tricky spot alright. God Bless your efforts to do a great job for the parish.


Oh dear! This is tough, but hey sometimes when we meet the push and shove of life as Catholics it gets that way. This is where the rubber meets the road.


I think the fact that you are answering for the other folks in the choir and the folks at Mass who on one of the Holiest days of the year will be asked by a person who happens to be a priest to blow off obedience to have a fun time singing a hymn isn’t exactly an easy thing. You are acting on behalf of more than just yourself here. And the pressure of it being a short time till Christmas creates an undue amount of stress.

You can very easily write down exactly what you need to say to him and say it, but be sure to do so in front of a witness. The person who intends to ask everyone else there who is at that Mass to join him in his acts of disobedience seems to have little regard for the people at that place. It is one thing to carry around in your heart the sin of disobedience but to force your sin upon others is very wrong. He needs some help.

I know of a priest who does the same kinds of things - blows off rubrics like they are water on his rain coat. It isn’t a comfortable situation for many there.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.



If you are going to decline attending the mass, make sure you attend another Christmas mass. Under no circumstances does one decide not to attend mass to make a point of your disagreement with a member of the clergy. Altering the mass by replacing the Gloria May bring into question as to whether the act is licit or not, but it does not nullify the validity of the mass.

Any ultimate decision rests with the authority of the pastor or bishop…bring it to their attention, but refusing to participate in mass shows a lack of humility.

Let go, and let God!


We have a similar situation in my area. Our Director of Worship at the Diocese is aware of it, and has told the Music Director to follow the Canon on the matter. (GIRM). She has so informed our Priest.

Interestingly, apparently there have been a number of complaints to the Diocese over this Priest making his own rules, and ignoring the Church regulations for worship. The Diocesan Director of Worship did say that they were aware of the situation already and are “monitoring” this Priest at this time. They are properly taking the time to ascertain the exact situation, and just what is happening, rather than acting on complaints of members of the Parish. I’m sure the Bishop will have someone from the Diocese visiting here “incognito” to monitor exactly what is happening, and then report back to the Bishop, since he needs to know it is an actual abuse occurring, and not just dissatisfied gossip of members of a Parish.

The Priest gave in to the direction from the Diocese, but only for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. He continues with an improper procedure on all other days, including Sundays. We are leaving that to the Diocese and the Bishop to handle, and still attend the Mass, but will not follow his illicit practices. In this way, we remain in our Parish, helping our fellow parishioners, but without being disobedient to our Bishop.


Except for the Pope, as he is the Supreme Legislator.

The only thing the Pope can’t change is the Consecration of the Gifts and the priest receiving. :thumbsup:


That’s a good approach. Give him the benefit of the doubt that he doesn’t know how the change in translation affected that song. You can always say something like, “sorry, Father, but I looked it up and that version no longer meets the liturgical requirements for the Gloria. I found one that does, however and that is what the choir will be singing.”


I read this in brief and was thinking in context of rules alone, would it be fair to say the OP is not disobeying the priest in this context but merely following the rules that are established across the board.


If it’s being sung in Spanish, I don’t think there would be a problem even if the lyrics correspond to the old English translation because there isn’t a new translation in Spanish. The Spanish version is still in effect, and nothing is really being changed or bent in the GIRM rules.


There exists a Mass of the Nativity by Patrick Wedd, I believe, whereby the Gloria can be sung in Latin to the tune of Angels We Have Heard on High. Find it on YouTube.


As a music minister, I agree with 1ke (I usually do, she’s really smart :)). I would not do what he asked, substitute a hymn for a proper part of the mass. I would let the pastor know that the Gloria you have planned will meet the requirements of the GIRM and that you don’t have a Gloria available that meets both his desire and the GIRM.

Aside from the violation of the rules, asking you to change a major piece in your Christmas program just three days before Christmas doesn’t show very much respect for you or your efforts to prepare for this Solemnity. He should have thought of this a long time ago. It would have given you a proper amount of time to discuss it, find something or adapt something that would work within the rubrics.

If it comes down to doing it his way or not at all - I’d walk rather than lead the assembly in something that so blatantly violates the GIRM.


Sounds like good, sound advice and a plan. :thumbsup:



Over-react much?

No one suggested that she not attend mass to “make a point”. I suggested she decline to participate in the alterations of the rubrics.

No one suggested she “refuse to participate in mass”. I suggested she decline to participate in that mass. She could attend that mass, or another. But, in the role of leading the music, I would not go against the rubrics in that or any other Mass.

That is not a lack of humility.


I have been to a few Spanish Masses where their versions of the Gloria were indeed questionable. Maybe the bishop allows their priests some leeway on this, I don’t know. Don’t forget the IGMR/GIRM are GENERALIS/GENERAL instructions, not specific. I’d work with the bishop on this; it’s his call IMO.


Well, I’m not sure not attending this particular Mass will be to make a point, rather, it will be so that one will not be responsible for participating in something which clearly is not and has never been permitted. I don’t think this shows a lack of humility, as if this were some sort of contractual duty.


This question may sound mercenary, but that’s not at all the intent. The question is, are you a paid music director or a volunteer?

If the former, I’d say do what he wants, as wrong as it may be. A job is a job and he’s the boss. That’s not to say you have to like what he wants, or even participate in that particular Mass beyond being there to do your job. If what he wants is contrary to the IGMR, you could still contact the Chancery, but if it were me, I wouldn’t argue with him and jeopardize my paycheck. Let the Chancery argue with him. They sign **his **paycheck. :wink:

Now, if it’s the latter (i.e, you’re an unpaid volunteer), however, I’d say argue the point. If he’s fixated on what he wants, and it’s contrary to the IGMR, by all means call the Chancery, and by all means argue with him. The worst that can happen is he finds another music director who is more pliable and agreeable to going along with his shenanigans.

Either way, keep in mind that any sin that may attach to this liturgical abuse is his and his alone.



A couple of other thoughts.

  1. Was the priest directing you to use Angels We Have Heard on High, or was it more like “I always liked that version of the Gloria and would love to hear it again.” People can mention things in passing without necessarily expecting them to happen.

  2. It seems a bit late for the choir to suddenly use a different setting than what they had practiced. When will you have time in the next couple of days to prepare them?


Thanks, everyone. Excellent replies.

Just to clarify, I am a paid music director/pianist and I cannot avoid playing the hispanic Christmas Eve Mass unfortunately, although I really would like to – I also have to sing Midnight Mass in English at another parish, so not having to put up with “shenanigans” that night would be great! :wink:

I found the Latin version of the Wedd Gloria on YouTube, thank you! I would love to do this – maybe next year. I have so little time left now that it would be impossible to teach the Wedd to the cantor and choir at this point. Let alone in Latin! (Believe it or not, Latin is not easy for native Spanish speakers! It would seem to be, but from what I’ve encountered, it’s confusing to them.)

I think what I’ll do is write my own Gloria, using the “Angels We Have Heard” refrain, and I’ll set the correct verses of the Gloria to a very easy psalm tone which only the cantor will sing. Nothing like a little last minute composing and cantor coaching to get the nerves straightened out, right? :whacky:

I really appreciated reading about what some of you have encountered with certain priests who refuse to follow the rubrics of the Mass. Many times I have wanted to complain about this particular priest, but I have not because he really is a sweet man and I was trying as hard as I could to see the good in the situation. But there have just been too many abuses to ignore, and too many weird, un-Catholic things said in his homilies. I guess after Christmas I’ll write to the pastor. :frowning:

Thanks, forum. Merry Christmas to everyone!

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