What musical instruments are permitted at Mass?


#1

Sacrosanctum Concilium 120 says:

“But other instruments also may be admitted for use in divine worship, with the knowledge and consent of the competent territorial authority, as laid down in Art. 22, 52, 37, and 40. This may be done, however, only on condition that the instruments are suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful.”

Does this mean that something like an electric guitar or modern drum kit could be used? Could these instruments be considered suitable for ‘sacred use and in accord with the dignity of the temple’? Would a priest need permission from his bishop to allow such instruments at Mass? Could the local bishop allow any instrument to be used?

Are only hymns from the approved hymnal allowable at Mass?

I’m not asking for people’s opinions about what is and what is not appropriate, I’m asking if anyone knows the definitive rules on this.


#2

Basically there are no rules for this, except one, and that is Catch-22.

Sacrosanctum Concilium does explicitly mention “profane” instruments not being allowed “in the temple” or something like that, so it is clear that the Council Fathers did indeed think that some instruments are profane and should not be allowed in the temple. Now, my sense tells me things like guitars and pianos are profane, but others vehemently disagree with such a proposition.

The question must be, then, what are in fact these profane instruments that are not allowed at Mass? As soon as someone claims something, somebody else says something like, “Ooh, but I like that instrument, and my parish has used it for the past 27.3 years, therefore it is not profane!” Then me: -_-

So we are in a situation where there are, in fact, some profane instruments out there somewhere in the world, but nobody mentions them, because if you mention them, they are no longer profane, but SC says there are profane instruments, but nobody mentions them because if you mention them, they are no longer profane, but SC says…

It is the ULTIMATE liturgical Catch-22!

So I guess the easiest out to all this is to just pretend that there really are no rules.


#3

Why not just let your bishop do his job of being “the competent territorial authority” in charge of these decisions, and cheerfully and confidentally obey whatever he decides about instruments in his diocescan parishes?


#4

So you’d be happy if there was the prospect of electric guitars (not a plain acoustic folk guitar) and a drum kit at your Mass? The minute that were to happen in my church I’d be out the door and off, not just to another parish, but to another diocese.


#5

So it really does seem like ‘anything goes’ as far as musical instruments are concerned.

Personally I don’t have an objection to an acoustic guitar at a folk mass, but an electric guitar does cross the line in my book and I would consider it a ‘profane’ instrument not suitable for a place inside the liturgy. But in the end, as there are no real rules on this, that is just my opinion.

Incidentally one of the most beautiful instruments I ever heard played during the hymns at Mass was an Irish fiddle at a Mass in Belfast a few years ago. Some people might object to a fiddle in Mass, but it was played with such reverence and beauty.

Regarding the hymns chosen, do they have to come from the authorised hymnal?


#6

I attend a LifeTeen Masses occasionally that uses electric guitars and a drum kit. They use a lot of music by Matt Mahar, Chris Tomlin & Steve Angrisano (all people who have been involved with NCYC), and others like them. When we sing, it is amazing! :love: So many voices singing praises to God, with voice and instruments (most of the “band” is made up of teen-agers, who are using their talents to praise God & give back to their parish. :smiley: )

And before anyone rolls their eyes at Life Teen, let me also say that for the rest of Mass, these young people are more reverent in their outward appearance, and much more aware & knowledgeable in their faith than most of the “adults” I know. Confession is always available before this Mass, and the lines are often long.

This type of music may not be what you like, but in the end, is it really something that is going to drive you from a parish, or worse yet, the Church all together?

I do understand, as I myself have struggled with certain practices in many of the parishes in my area. Something I have come to realize is that, since nothing is really “abusive”, I must learn to “pick my battles”. I make not like the particlar music selections of the day, but since I am not the one making them, having to lead them or even part of the music ministry, I really have no right to complain. If Jesus can stand it, so can ! :stuck_out_tongue:


#7

=Brendan 64;11408963]Sacrosanctum Concilium 120 says:

“But other instruments also may be admitted for use in divine worship, with the knowledge and consent of the competent territorial authority, as laid down in Art. 22, 52, 37, and 40. This may be done, however, only on condition that the instruments are suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful.”

Does this mean that something like an electric guitar or modern drum kit could be used? Could these instruments be considered suitable for ‘sacred use and in accord with the dignity of the temple’? Would a priest need permission from his bishop to allow such instruments at Mass? Could the local bishop allow any instrument to be used?

Are only hymns from the approved hymnal allowable at Mass?

I’m not asking for people’s opinions about what is and what is not appropriate, I’m asking if anyone knows the definitive rules on this.

ANY THAT ADD TOO, AND NONE THAT TAKE AWAY FROM THE RIGHT FOCUS OF GOD CENTERED DEVINE WORSHIP. Mass is not a recital.


#8

At this point in time, the Church has decided that it cares less about these issues. She is more concerned about just removing anything that can become an obstacle for someone to remain or enter the Church.

Instruments and music used in Church is just one department that has adopted this policy.

Basically, anything that already was determined by Culture and tradition has been revoked. Anything is allowed (not a direct contradiction of moral precepts though). This is why there are no rules on how to dress to mass (or even in public for that matter). There are no rules on music. The Church has adopted, for better of for worse, the worlds philosophical position of unshackling themselves from past traditions and views.

Of course in doing so she just subscribes to the modern culture and traditions but since these things are post-Christian and almost anti-Christian way of life, almost nothing of the old can be kept. It can also be argued that it does not help the Church in the long term because most of the measures against sin were indirect measures that were ingrained in traditions and culture. You remove those fences, you unleash what it kept under control. True to that, we see wide spread adoption of things that in the past were few in occurrence. It wasn’t everyday that a woman had a child out wedlock in the past.

It is always the people that determine what is profane and what is not. What is acceptable and what is not. It can be based on experience or simply based on what the instruments were traditionally used for. But if one rejects traditions as being important, then it does follow that all of this is outdated.

This is actually the revolution that began with Vatican II. Although Vatican II does not explicitly say to reject traditions, it inevitably encourages to do just that by asking to open up to the world. The world hates traditions and sees them as outdated. The Church, decides perhaps reluctantly, that then we can just forget most of it and keep the bare minimum.


#9

What exactly is amazing? The sound of the kids singing? Is that what we come to Mass for?

I never said it would drive me out of the Church, nothing will ever do that, but it would make me consider leaving my parish, and diocese (I practically live on the apex of several diocesan boundaries).

Mass is sacred, it is not happy-clappy, praise-the-lord, hands-in-the-air, belt out some pop tunes on electric guitars and drums. If I wanted all that happy-clappy, loud music thing, I’d go to the Pentecostal Church. Mass is the sacrifice at Calvary repeated, solemn reverence should prevail throughout the entire Mass. I’m just a mainstream Catholic who attends attend OF Mass and would like it to remain fairly reverent.


#10

Well, he hasn’t decided anything. Everybody just does whatever they want. Although the cathedral liturgies should be copied the country over, I might add!


#11

But what about when atrocious liturgy is an obstacle? Hm… If it’s all “just your opinion,” then hey, why can’t bad liturgy be as much “my opinion” as [fill in the blank] is “your opinion?” This is a dark hole.


#12

There is a real anthropological crisis in the Western world today that says that there are no boundaries as soon as someone wants something, or as soon as something makes someone “uncomfortable.” There is something really rending at the fabric of human-ness, and this has consequences and very visible effects in things like the arts.

Essentially everything has or will come down to mob rule.


#13

And this is your opinion. The Catholic Charismatic Renewal, LifeTeen, and many others may disagree with you. To answer your question, what’s amazing, the answer is that I can feel the Holy Spirit moving through us. We are singing joyful praises to God, what could be wrong with that? :shrug:

As far as your “this is Calvary, solemn reverence should prevail”, all I have to say to that is, if you think that Calvary was a silent affair, you should probably brush up on your history. Crucifixion was a public execution, where there where many people heckling, mocking and cheering for the death of those being punished. The place was along a road, so that all entering the city could see what happened to those who broke the rules. If you have ever seen news footage of the outside of a prison when a notorious prisoner is executed, you will what I am talking about

You may not see reverence in forms of worship such as CCR or Life Teen, but I can assure you it’s there. :slight_smile:


#14

I’m as aware as you are what Calvary would have been like. The solemn reverence is our expression of respect and our contemplation on the extreme suffering of our Lord at His brutal execution. I’m not sure that John would have been clapping and singing joyfully as he knelt at the foot of the cross while our Lord gave up his life in agony for us. Solemnity and reverence should prevail. The Mass is a repeat of the sacrifice at Calvary, it is not a reenactment of Pentecost.


#15

I guess that’s a personal decision. :shrug:

My grandfather some years ago didn’t like the new “free spirit” priest at the parish in town so he took the family to a neighboring one.

My stance on these issues is to allow a certain flexibility at Mass to optimize attendance and reach out to fallen away Catholics and non-Catholics creatively.

One pet peeve of mine is when Catholics think the Church and the Mass should be a trip down memory lane for them when they received First Communion or were younger.

It’s interesting to see how some folks won’t go to Church except if they or a family get the “fun” Sacraments like First Communion, Marriage or Confirmation, don’t show up for years, and then show up angrily when a priest comes and says he has to close the Church for financial reasons.

Having said all of that, is there a place for an electric guitar at mass? :shrug:

Not that I know of, but I don’t know if that’s the best instrument to play the Kyrie on. :smiley:


#16

I have been blessed to experience gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. I have not yet felt Him move through me.

What does that feel like?


#17

I would like to know too :slight_smile:

In my opinion, I think someone who prays to God for a certain grace and receives it will identify God’s work in what they received. They did not “feel” it but they intellectually arrived at that conclusion. In arriving at this conclusion, then they will “feel” being loved by God.

But in Charismatic movements and others, I think people start attributing every single feeling of joy (sometimes entirely due to the music or community) or spasm of the body to be the Holy Spirit. Then they start “feeling” the Holy Spirit when all they are actually feeling is nothing different from what a person feels at a rock concert or, dare I say it, a cult gathering.

This is not to say that the Holy Spirit is completely absent from these events of course.

So to me, these movements seem like an excuse to throw out the intellect and simply delve in feelings which our culture in recent times finds mighty attractive. The Holy Spirit and God’s love and the Holy Spirit can be felt at this very moment if only we would contemplate all the Graces we have received so far and how this very moment he sustains our existence. How one does that with a constant bombardment of the senses by musical instruments and other things is beyond me.

But, some would have us believe that there needs to be a rock concert to feel the Holy Spirit.


#18

Are you kidding? I was a child in the 1970’s. I certainly don’t want a “trip down memory lane” to all that ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ nonsense. John Paul II did a lot to sort all that nonsense out and bring a bit of reverence back to the Liturgy. A return to that sort of “memory lane” is exactly what I don’t want.

However there are now a fair few people who view Pope Francis as a rupture from Pope Benedict (just as they viewed Vatican II as a rupture from what went before it) and are just itching to start ‘innovating’ the Liturgy again.


#19

Not having lived through the 70’s time period, I can only imagine what it was like by approximating based on the types of abuses I see today. My imagination doesn’t draw a pretty picture either.


#20

We’re not talking about the minor deviations from the rubrics that we sometimes see today, or the occasional ‘Folk Mass’ (which I actually quite like on occasion). Pope John Paul II really did put an end to it, and there is still some hankering resentment in some quarters that he did.


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