Use of powerpoint/lyrics on the wall!

Hey, ya’ll, I’ve been officially assimilated into the South, where everybody says “ya’ll” :slight_smile: This is my first post, and I found this site because I had a liturgical question and was not sure where to find the answer!

I am a Catholic school music teacher, and I was asked today to start using powerpoint projections to put song lyrics on a screen during Mass, instead of using songsheets as we have been doing.

I recall talking about this in a previous position, and our pastoral staff decided against it – We did not want to look like all the other mega-churches that are going all-out contemporary, doing their best to erase any semblance of traditional worship from their services.

I don’t recall any particular text that would necessarily forbid it, though, in the liturgical documents, so I’m hoping ya’ll can lead me to what I should read, or where I can find a good source to give me some guidance, as this just doesn’t “feel” right to me. Thanks for any help!

I personally do not think that doing this will add to the sacredness of the Mass, but just the opposite. It will make the Mass seem more like entertainment, and less like prayful worship.

I personally do not like the use of powerpoint, etc for lyrics. I see this in protestant “mega-churches” or other larger protestant churches and I have actually attended a church that my DH’s parents are members of that uses this, plus the minister got up and gave his sermon wearing shorts and a t-shirt. To me, it all took away from the service and I couldn’t concentrate. I guess for many protestant churches it may be ok but I don’t think it has a place during Mass.

It is forbidden at my parish, but I don’t know whether there is any official Church documentation that forbids it everywhere.

We used to have a projection screen in the Church, but it has been removed, so as to avoid the occasion of temptation.

In my personal opinion, it’s distracting and in poor taste to use projectors at Mass.

One angle you might look at that could help you get rid of this could be copyright law. I suspect that it may be illegal to post words up on a screen in a public presentation, if there are not the same number of purchased copies as the number of people present. I remember reading about that somewhere, probably in the CanSing documentation, which helps Protestant churches get discounts on church music. (My husband is Protestant.)

Thanks for the replies. I don’t like the idea either, but I’ve found in working with the many faceted personalities that the church embraces, it is always most effective to use more than the “I don’t like it” argument. The copyright angle may work, although we have a license, and the parish music director is a bit territorial, and when I’ve asked before about the legality of copying this or that, I get vague answers to the gist of “don’t worry your pretty little head about it, I’ve got it under control.” I’d like to be able to refer to something more specific in the liturgy documents. I’ll keep scouring them and if anybody has any specific quotes I can refer to, that would be fabulous!

I was ambivalent about words-on-a-wall when I was a Protestant. There are advantages. For one, it gets people’s focus out of the hymnal and turns their faces (and hopefully their minds) upward. For another, it allows songs to be used that aren’t in the hymnal.

The copyright problem is solved by having the local congregation join CCLI, an organization that enables the congregation to use thousands of songs for a yearly fee based on the size of the congregation.


Welcome to the South! Just an “FYI” so you’ll fit in a little better, be sure to spell “y’all” with the apostrophe after the “y”. It’s a contraction of “you all,” with the “ou” missing.

Just some friendly advice from “Deep in the :heart: of Texas!”

My Church uses an overhead projector and a Largish projection screen (but only big enough so that the people in the back can see)

However, you say that as the school music teacher, you have been asked to stop using song sheets. Could this be for monetary reasons? I know that a lot of my profs here at school can’t make copies because of the cost of paper, even with recycling. If this is the case, think of it as a way of preserving God’s earth. And is this screen to be used for school masses only, or all masses?

UGHHH!!! sounds like a parish I went to Mass at in Florida, near Clearwater where they had a huge movie screen and you would follow the bouncing ball to sing the lyrics:eek: .


Dave and Patience, thanks so much for your input - that helps me put the matter in perspective, and as I read through some of our liturgical documents last night, “Environment and Art” does actually leave the door open for the use of media such as powerpoint lyrics, when used in good taste. And indeed, it was likely not a matter of wanting to go “megachurch,” but more a response to 1) my large copy count (over 18,000 copies this year alone!) and 2) a desire to eliminate the messiness of passing out songsheets, picking them up after Mass, AND watching children shuffle/fold/bend and even try to eat them during Mass.

I think I’ll be able to turn this over to the priest’s discretion without losing any sleep whichever way he goes. Thanks to all, and Larry, thanks for setting me straight on the proper spelling! Have a great day, y’all!

perhaps you could eliminate the song sheets by (with permission) using spiral (well techincally comb binders) to bind them into a small book with numbers. My uni did this, calling it the “supplamental songbook” and it had clear instuctions on the back that it is forbidden to remove it. These suplimentals can be easly stacked or placed in bookracks and don’t tear and make such a mess as two stapled shets of paper with desparingly tiny writing to begin with. It would be a high upfront cost, but they could last years, and its easy to add songs (pages) to the back with the spreader tool.

I don’t like power point projections simply for the fact that you need to bring a computer to mass, and that means the projecer person cannot really attend mass, beucase, unlike the musicians they are not really focused on the Mass, but on the computer.

I’d have no problem if my parish projected the lyrics to the hymns onto a screen. Heck, when I was in charge of the folk group, it would’ve made it great to use songs that were not in the hymnals, without getting into copyright issues.


Well, the copyright issue is that you have to have enough licenses for each song to cover the number of people present at the gathering (one license per person).

Another great reason not to have them is that it makes it way too easy for the song leader to put up songs that are not approved for Mass, because for a lot of song leaders, that’s not even a consideration - they’re looking for a clappy beat and a joyful sound; they’re not looking at the theology of the lyrics.

(For example, a lot of people had “Mother Mary did you know?” during Advent last year, which portrays Mary as being totally naive and clueless, but a lot of Catholic song leaders thought it was “a wonderful song for Advent” because they liked the sound of it, and probably didn’t look at the lyrics very closely.)

This is my parish: It is a National Shrine, and as you can see by the photos in the virtual tour, the Church is massive inside. It seats 3,000 when the balconies are full. We have two extremely large rear projection screens that are used to show the words for the hymns, as well as parish announcements prior to mass. They are up over the balconies that are behind the altar, and I don’t find them disruptive at all. I mostly don’t look at them actually, I’ve forgotten that they are even there most of the time. They are brought to the “up” position during the Eucharistic Prayer and Communion, and are only down for the Liturgy of the Word and the final hymn.

At first I sort of had a “Hmmmm” :hmmm: moment when I saw them for the first time, but then after I realized how much paper and printing costs we are probably saving by that, I really didn’t have a problem.

Now I can see that in a smaller setting this could be VERY annoying, and especially if you have someone with a projector out in the open messing with equipment and things - that’s just plain tacky. But our set up is very professionally done and has not proved to be a distraction. As a matter of fact, I think there are many who prefer it because it can be easier to see for some folks who can’t read the small print in the books.


I think it’s great when Power-points are used–especially in a larger-size parish. It keeps everyone looking up, saves paper, and saves money.

A couple churches that I have attended also do NOT have missallettes (misspelled but you get the point) because the priest wants people to be focused on the passages being proclaimed from the Bible, and not simply ‘reading’ it.

Take Care,


IMO, it’s a bad idea for many reasons.

  1. No musical notation, just words. Why is it assumed that everybody knows and remembers the melody?

  2. Tough luck for short people. And that includes most of the youngsters. So much for getting them to participate! With the music and text in paper form I can point my children to the current location in the song (they tend to get lost, so that can happen many times during a hymn). Can’t do that on the screen, unless maybe I bring a laser pointer to church :eek:

  3. The screen(s) becomes the center of attention, not just during the songs but during the whole Mass. People will constantly be taking a glance at the screens to see if there’s anything up there. They don’t constantly check their songsheets to see if they’ve changed. It is the nature of screens that we look at them. The focus goes off the altar and onto the screens.

You still have copyright “issues”.

And that’s another thing I dislike about the screens. All the non-essential stuff (author, publisher, copyright info) is usually much more emphasized on the screens, presenting a further distraction (“gee, I didn’t know he wrote this one.”, or “wow, was this really written in 1973!”) I just don’t have that problem with music-on-paper.

But is this screen to be used for school masses only, or for all the masses?

if it’s for school masses only:

  • the smaller ones are usually in the front, so they can see better
  • songs are usually learned in music class or are the songs used at regular masses
  • kids really don’t care about who wrote the song or the copyright date

if they are for all the masses

  • someone pointed out that the screens can be retracted during the liturgy of the Eucharist
  • if they are placed in an appropriate manner, all members of the congregation can see them

We have a screen at my parish and it is in no way distracting. It’s off to the side and is obvious when it comes on, so there is no need to be constantly looking at it. And we have the copyright info on the song, it is just very small so as not to be distracting.

I never see this done at Papal Masses where it seems more reasonable to use since you have thousands. I don’t see it done during the Pope’s travels. However, in the Vatican, they print programs with the music in it for the people.
Basically, my point is that if the Pope doesn’t do it then maybe its best not to have a powerpoint or slide show or wall projector in the church with music lyrics. Yes, copyright laws are an issue and breaking them is a mortal sin. I think its best to remain with the good old fashioned hymnal.

We have a projector (Lutheran), and huge pulldown screen (in front of the communion rails, pulpit, etc.), but fortunately, it’s used rarely. (mostly when the church school has something they’re doing during the church service)

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