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Reflections: Church Tlk.Sctn. (Sacred Music)

Gothic Style Catholic Church

Return to Church Talk Reflections | Church Talk (FRCC)

Reflections: 

'Church Talk' Section:

Sacred Music

Wisdom of the Popes, Saints, Theologians, Other...

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Bands Forbidden in Church

Forbidden / Allowed Instruments

Gregorian Chant

Instruments Should Not Oppress Singing

Music is at the Service of the Liturgy & Not Vice Versa

Polyphony

Sacred Music is Not For the Purpose of Pleasure or Showing Off

Suitable / Unsuitable Music

Those Admitted to the Choir

Women Not Admitted to the Choir

Misc.

 

Category
Quotation

Bands Forbidden in Church 

"It is strictly forbidden to have bands play in church, and only in special cases with the consent of the Ordinary will it be permissible to admit wind instruments, limited in number, judiciously used, and proportioned to the size of the place - provided the composition and accompaniment be written in grave and suitable style, and conform in all respects to that proper to the organ." (Pope St. Pius X, "Inter Sollicitudines", 1922)

Also See: Music is at the Service of the Liturgy & Not Vice Versa | Sacred Music is Not For the Purpose of Pleasure or Showing Off | Suitable / Unsuitable Music | Forbidden / Allowed Instruments | Instruments Should Not Oppress Singing | Those Admitted to the Choir | Misc. / Sacred Music | Against Applause / Noise in Church | Beauty & Decorum in the House of God | Proper / Improper Church Attire | Reverence | Silence in Church 

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Forbidden / Allowed Instruments

"The employment of the piano is forbidden in church, as is also that of noisy or frivolous instruments such as drums, cymbals, bells and the like." (Pope St. Pius X, "Inter Sollicitudines", 1920)

"It is strictly forbidden to have bands play in church, and only in special cases with the consent of the Ordinary will it be permissible to admit wind instruments, limited in number, judiciously used, and proportioned to the size of the place - provided the composition and accompaniment be written in grave and suitable style, and conform in all respects to that proper to the organ." (Pope St. Pius X, "Inter Sollicitudines", 1922)

"As the Philosopher says (Politica viii,6), 'Teaching should not be accompanied with a flute or any artificial instrument such as the harp or anything else of this kind: but only with such things as make good hearers.' For such like musical instruments move the soul to pleasure rather than create a good disposition within it. In the Old Testament instruments of this description were employed, both because the people were more coarse and carnal - so that they needed to be aroused by such instruments as also by earthly promises - and because these material instruments were figures of something else." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

 "The pipe organ is to be held in high esteem in the Latin Church, for it is the traditional musical instrument, the sound of which can add a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up men's minds to God and higher things. But other instruments also may be admitted for use in divine worship, in the judgment and with the consent of the competent territorial authority... This may be done, however, only on condition that the instruments are suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use; that they accord with the dignity of the temple, and that they truly contribute to the edification of the faithful." (Second Vatican Council) [Note: The pipe organ, "the premier instrument of the Catholic Church", has historically been considered "the only instrument sacred enough for the Mass"]

"These norms must be applied to the use of the organ or other musical instruments. Among the musical instruments that have a place in church the organ rightly holds the principal position, since it is especially fitted for the sacred chants and sacred rites. It adds a wonderful splendor and a special magnificence to the ceremonies of the Church. It moves the souls of the faithful by the grandeur and sweetness of its tones. It gives minds an almost heavenly joy and it lifts them up powerfully to God and to higher things. Besides the organ, other instruments can be called upon to give great help in attaining the lofty purpose of sacred music, so long as they play nothing profane nothing clamorous or strident and nothing at variance with the sacred services or the dignity of the place. Among these the violin and other musical instruments that use the bow are outstanding because, when they are played by themselves or with other stringed instruments or with the organ, they express the joyous and sad sentiments of the soul with an indescribable power." (Pope Pius XII, "Musicae Sacrae", 1955)

Also See: Instruments Should Not Oppress Singing | Music is at the Service of the Liturgy & Not Vice Versa | Sacred Music is Not For the Purpose of Pleasure or Showing Off | Bands Forbidden in Church | Suitable / Unsuitable Music | Gregorian Chant | Those Admitted to the Choir | Against Applause / Noise in Church | Misc. / Sacred Music | Beauty & Decorum in the House of God | Reverence | Silence in Church

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Gregorian Chant 

Also See: Music (Topic Page)

"And if in Catholic churches throughout the entire world Gregorian chant sounds forth without corruption or diminution, the chant itself, like the sacred Roman liturgy, will have a characteristic of universality, so that the faithful, wherever they may be, will hear music that is familiar to them and a part of their own home. In this way they may experience, with much spiritual consolation, the wonderful unity of the Church. This is one of the most important reasons why the Church so greatly desires that the Gregorian chant traditionally associated with the Latin words of the sacred liturgy be used." (Pope Pius XII, "Musicae Sacrae", 1955)

"The Church recognizes Gregorian chant as being specially suited to the Roman liturgy. Therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services." (Second Vatican Council)

"And the Gregorian Chant which is to be used in every church of whatever order, is the text which, revised according to the ancient manuscripts, has been authentically published by the Church from the Vatican Press." (Pope Pius XI, "Divini Cultus", 1928)

"Gregory the Great compiled the Antiphonarium and thus laid the ground for the organic development of that most original sacred music which takes its name from him. Gregorian chant, with its inspired modulations, was to become down the centuries the music of the Church's faith in the liturgical celebration of the sacred mysteries. The 'beautiful' was thus wedded to the 'true', so that through art too souls might be lifted up from the world of the senses to the eternal." (Pope John Paul II)

"[Sacred music] must be holy. It must not allow within itself anything that savors of the profane nor allow any such thing to slip into the melodies in which it is expressed. The Gregorian chant which has been used in the Church over the course of so many centuries, and which may be called, as it were, its patrimony, is gloriously outstanding for this holiness. This chant, because of the close adaptation of the melody to the sacred text, is not only most intimately conformed to the words, but also in a way interprets their force and efficacy and brings delight to the minds of the hearers. It does this by the use of musical modes that are simple and plain, but which are still composed with such sublime and holy art that they move everyone to sincere admiration and constitute an almost inexhaustible source from which musicians and composers draw new melodies." (Pope Pius XII, "Musicae Sacrae", 1955)

"As regards music, let the clear and guiding norms of the Apostolic See be scrupulously observed. Gregorian chant, which the Roman Church considers her own as handed down from antiquity and kept under her close tutelage, is proposed to the faithful as belonging to them also. In certain parts of the liturgy the Church definitely prescribes it; it makes the celebration of the sacred mysteries not only more dignified and solemn but helps very much to increase the faith and devotion of the congregation. For this reason, Our predecessors of immortal memory, Pius X and Pius XI, decree - and We are happy to confirm with Our authority the norms laid down by them - that in seminaries and religious institutes, Gregorian chant be diligently and zealously promoted, and moreover that the old Scholae Cantorum be restored, at least in the principal churches. This has already been done with happy results in not a few places." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947)

"It is the duty of all those to whom Christ the Lord has entrusted the task of guarding and dispensing the Church's riches to preserve this precious treasure of Gregorian chant diligently and to impart it generously to the Christian people. Hence what Our predecessors, St. Pius X, who is rightly called the renewer of Gregorian chant, and Pius XI have wisely ordained and taught, We also, in view of the outstanding qualities which genuine Gregorian chant possesses, will and prescribe that this be done. In the performance of the sacred liturgical rites this same Gregorian chant should be most widely used and great care should be taken that it should be performed properly, worthily and reverently. And if, because of recently instituted feast days, new Gregorian melodies must be composed, this should be done by true masters of the art. It should be done in such a way that these new compositions obey the laws proper to genuine Gregorian chant and are in worthy harmony with the older melodies in their virtue and purity." (Pope Pius XII, "Musicae Sacrae", 1955)

"Sacred music, being a complementary part of the solemn liturgy, participates in the general scope of the liturgy, which is the glory of God and the sanctification and edification of the faithful. It contributes to the decorum and the splendor of the ecclesiastical ceremonies, and since its principal office is to clothe with suitable melody the liturgical text proposed for the understanding of the faithful, its proper aim is to add greater efficacy to the text, in order that through it the faithful may be the more easily moved to devotion and better disposed for the reception of the fruits of grace belonging to the celebration of the most holy mysteries. Sacred music should consequently possess, in the highest degree, the qualities proper to the liturgy, and in particular sanctity and goodness of form, which will spontaneously produce the final quality of universality. It must be holy, and must, therefore, exclude all profanity not only in itself, but in the manner in which it is presented by those who execute it. It must be true art, for otherwise it will be impossible for it to exercise on the minds of those who listen to it that efficacy which the Church aims at obtaining in admitting into her liturgy the art of musical sounds... These qualities are to be found, in the highest degree, in Gregorian Chant, which is, consequently the Chant proper to the Roman Church, the only chant she has inherited from the ancient fathers, which she has jealously guarded for centuries in her liturgical codices, which she directly proposes to the faithful as her own, which she prescribes exclusively for some parts of the liturgy, and which the most recent studies have so happily restored to their integrity and purity. On these grounds Gregorian Chant has always been regarded as the supreme model for sacred music, so that it is fully legitimate to lay down the following rule: the more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savor the Gregorian form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple." (Pope St. Pius X, "Inter Sollicitudines", 1906)

"It is not permitted to have the chant preceded by long preludes or to interrupt it with intermezzo pieces." (Pope St. Pius X, "Inter Sollicitudines", 1919)

Also See: Gregorian Chant (Latin Mass & Catholic Tradition Section) | Polyphony | Those Admitted to the Choir | Music is at the Service of the Liturgy & Not Vice Versa | Suitable / Unsuitable Music | Sacred Music is Not For the Purpose of Pleasure or Showing Off | Bands Forbidden in Church | Forbidden / Allowed Instruments | Instruments Should Not Oppress Singing | Against Applause / Noise in Church | Misc. / Sacred Music | Beauty & Decorum in the House of God | Reverence | The Latin Language (Latin Mass & Catholic Tradition Section) 

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Instruments Should Not Oppress Singing 

"As the singing should always have the principal place, the organ or other instruments should merely sustain and never oppress it." (Pope St. Pius X, "Inter Sollicitudines", 1918)

 Also See: Bands Forbidden in Church | Forbidden / Allowed Instruments | Music is at the Service of the Liturgy & Not Vice Versa | Suitable / Unsuitable Music | Gregorian Chant | Polyphony | Sacred Music is Not For the Purpose of Pleasure or Showing Off | Those Admitted to the Choir | Against Applause / Noise in Church | Misc. / Sacred Music | Beauty & Decorum in the House of God | Reverence

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Music is at the Service of the Liturgy & Not Vice Versa

Also See: Music (Topic Page)

"In general it must be considered a very grave abuse when the liturgy in ecclesiastical functions is made to appear secondary to and in a manner at the service of the music, for the music is merely a part of the liturgy and its humble handmaid." (Pope St. Pius X, "Inter Sollicitudines", 1923) 

Also See: Sacred Music is Not For the Purpose of Pleasure or Showing Off | Suitable / Unsuitable Music | Gregorian Chant | Polyphony | Those Admitted to the Choir | Bands Forbidden in Church | Instruments Should Not Oppress Singing | Forbidden / Allowed Instruments | Against Applause / Noise in Church | Misc. / Sacred Music | Beauty & Decorum in the House of God | Reverence

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Polyphony

Also See: Music (Topic Page)

"Sacred polyphony, We may here remark, is rightly held second only to Gregorian Chant." (Pope Pius XI, "Divini Cultus", 1928)

"Classic Polyphony agrees admirably with Gregorian Chant, the supreme model of all sacred music, and hence it has been found worthy of a place side by side with Gregorian Chant, in the more solemn functions of the Church, such as those of the Pontifical Chapel." (Pope St. Pius X, "Inter Sollicitudines", 1910) 

"These [liturgical] laws warn that great prudence and care should be used in this serious matter in order to keep out of churches polyphonic music which, because of its heavy and bombastic style, might obscure the sacred words of the liturgy by a kind of exaggeration, interfere with the conduct of the liturgical service or, finally, lower the skill and competence of the singers to the disadvantage of sacred worship." (Pope Pius XII, "Musicae Sacrae", 1955)

"Choir-schools for boys should be established not only for the greater churches and cathedrals, but also for smaller parish churches. The boys should be taught by the choirmaster to sing properly, so that, in accordance with the ancient custom of the Church, they may sing in the choir with the men, especially as in polyphonic music the highest part, the cantus, ought to be sung by boys. Choir-boys, especially in the sixteenth century, have given us masters of polyphony: first and foremost among them, the great Palestrina." (Pope Pius XI, "Divini Cultus", 1928)

"But it is neither wise nor laudable to reduce everything to antiquity by every possible device. Thus, to cite some instances, one would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive table form; were he to want black excluded as a color for the liturgical vestments; were he to forbid the use of sacred images and statues in churches; were he to order the crucifix so designed that the divine Redeemer's body shows no trace of His cruel sufferings; and lastly were he to disdain and reject polyphonic music or singing in parts, even where it conforms to regulations issued by the Holy See." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947) [Note: 'Reducing to antiquity' does NOT refer to the Traditionalists attempts to restore the traditional Latin ('Tridentine') Mass and pre-Vatican II practices, but to the modernists quest to 'restore' the Church to a 'primitive form' that better corresponds with Protestant sensibilities. In fact, the 'reduction to antiquity' of the Modernists and the restoration sought by the Traditionalists are diametrically opposed. The 'reducing to antiquity' of the Modernists has been condemned by the popes - whereas true faithfulness to tradition has always been guarded in the Church, and is even praised in Holy Scripture. For more information, try the Latin Mass / Catholic Tradition Section.)

Also See: Suitable / Unsuitable Music | Gregorian Chant | Those Admitted to the Choir | Music is at the Service of the Liturgy & Not Vice Versa | Sacred Music is Not For the Purpose of Pleasure or Showing Off | Bands Forbidden in Church |Forbidden / Allowed Instruments | Instruments Should Not Oppress Singing | Against Applause / Noise in Church | Misc. / Sacred Music | Beauty & Decorum in the House of God | Reverence

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Sacred Music is Not For the Purpose of Pleasure or Showing Off

Also See: Music (Topic Page)

"[St.] Jerome does not absolutely condemn singing, but reproves those who sing theatrically in church not in order to arouse devotion, but in order to show off, or to provoke pleasure. Hence Augustine says (Confessiones x,33): 'When it befalls me to be more moved by the voice than by the words sung, I confess to have sinned penally, and then had rather not hear the singer.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The soul is distracted from that which is sung by a chant that is employed for the purpose of giving pleasure." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Also See: Music is at the Service of the Liturgy & Not Vice Versa | Suitable / Unsuitable Music | Gregorian Chant | Polyphony | Those Admitted to the Choir | Bands Forbidden in Church | Forbidden / Allowed Instruments | Instruments Should Not Oppress Singing | Against Applause / Noise in Church | Misc. / Sacred Music | Beauty & Decorum in the House of God | Reverence

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

Top | Reflections: A-Z | Catg. | Scripture: A-Z | Catg. | Help

Suitable / Unsuitable Music 

Also See: Music (Topic Page)

"Can. 1264 § 1 Music, whether of the organ or of other instruments or sung, in which there is mixed anything lascivious or impure is entirely forbidden from churches; and the liturgical laws concerning sacred music are to be observed." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

 "They shall also banish from churches all those kinds of music, in which, whether by the organ, or in the singing, there is mixed up any thing lascivious or impure; as also all secular actions; vain and therefore profane conversations, all walking about, noise, and clamour, that so the house of God may be seen to be, and may be called, truly a house of prayer." (Council of Trent, Twenty-second Session)

"It cannot be said that modem music and singing should be entirely excluded from Catholic worship. For, if they are not profane nor unbecoming to the sacredness of the place and function, and do not spring from a desire of achieving extraordinary and unusual effects, then our churches must admit them since they can contribute in no small way to the splendor of the sacred ceremonies, can lift the mind to higher things and foster true devotion of soul." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947)

"Among the different kinds of modern music, that which appears less suitable for accompanying the functions of public worship is the theatrical style, which was in the greatest vogue, especially in Italy, during the last century. This of its very nature is diametrically opposed to Gregorian Chant and classic polyphony, and therefore to the most important law of all good sacred music. Besides the intrinsic structure, the rhythm and what is known as the conventionalism of this style adapt themselves but badly to the requirements of true liturgical music." (Pope St. Pius X, "Inter Sollicitudines", 1911)

"[T]he Church must insist that this (musical) art remain within its proper limits and must prevent anything profane and foreign to divine worship from entering into sacred music along with genuine progress, and perverting it" (Pope Pius XII)

"[T]he chants and sacred music which are immediately joined with the Church's liturgical worship should be conducive to the lofty end for which they are intended. This music - as our predecessor (St.) Pius X has already wisely warned us - 'must possess proper liturgical qualities, primarily holiness and goodness of form; from which its other note, universality, is derived.' It must be holy. It must not allow within itself anything that savors of the profane nor allow any such thing to slip into the melodies in which it is expressed." (Pope Pius XII)

"It is, however, to be deplored that these most wise laws in some places have not been fully observed, and therefore their intended results not obtained. We know that some have declared these laws, though so solemnly promulgated, were not binding upon their obedience. Others obeyed them at first, but have since come gradually to give countenance to a type of music which should be altogether banned from our churches. In some cases, especially when the memory of some famous musician was being celebrated, the opportunity has been taken of performing in church certain works which, however excellent, should never have been performed there, since they were entirely out of keeping with the sacredness of the place and of the liturgy." (Pope Pius XI, "Divini Cultus", 1928)

"Moreover, in the encyclical Mediator Dei, We Ourselves gave detailed and clear regulations concerning the musical modes that are to be admitted into the worship of the Catholic religion. 'For, if they are not profane or unbecoming to the sacredness of the place and function and do not spring from a desire to achieve extraordinary and unusual effects, then our churches must admit them, since they can contribute in no small way to the splendor of the sacred ceremonies, can lift the mind to higher things, and can foster true devotion of the soul.' It should hardly be necessary to add the warning that, when the means and talent available are unequal to the task, it is better to forego such attempts than to do something which would be unworthy of divine worship and sacred gatherings." (Pope Pius XII, "Musicae Sacrae", 1955)

Also See: Gregorian Chant | Polyphony | Those Admitted to the Choir | Sacred Music is Not For the Purpose of Pleasure or Showing Off | Music is at the Service of the Liturgy & Not Vice Versa | Bands Forbidden in Church | Forbidden / Allowed Instruments | Instruments Should Not Oppress Singing | Against Applause / Noise in Church | Misc. / Sacred Music | Beauty & Decorum in the House of God | Reverence

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Those Admitted to the Choir 

Also See: Music (Topic Page)

"Finally, only men of known piety and probity of life are to be admitted to form part of the choir of a church, and these men should by their modest and devout bearing during the liturgical functions show that they are worthy of the holy office they exercise. It will also be fitting that singers while singing in church wear the ecclesiastical habit and surplice, and that they be hidden behind gratings when the choir is excessively open to the public gaze." (Pope St. Pius X, "Inter Sollicitudines", 1916) 

"Where it is impossible to have schools of singers or where there are not enough choir boys, it is allowed that 'a group of men and women or girls, located in a place outside the sanctuary set apart for the exclusive use of this group, can sing the liturgical texts at Solemn Mass, as long as the men are completely separated from the women and girls and everything unbecoming is avoided. The Ordinary is bound in conscience in this matter.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Musicae Sacrae", 1955)

"Can. 1264 § 2 Religious women, if it is permitted to them according to the norm of their constitutions or liturgical law, and having come to the local Ordinary, can sing in their own church or public oratory, provided that they are singing from a place where they cannot be seen by the people." (1917 Code of Canon Law) 

Also See: Women Not Admitted to the Choir | Sacred Music is Not For the Purpose of Pleasure or Showing Off | Music is at the Service of the Liturgy & Not Vice Versa | Suitable / Unsuitable Music | Gregorian Chant | Polyphony | Forbidden / Allowed Instruments | Instruments Should Not Oppress Singing | Bands Forbidden in Church | Misc. / Sacred Music | Beauty & Decorum in the House of God | Proper / Improper Church Attire | Reverence

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Women Not Admitted to the Choir 

Also See: Catholic Women (Topic Page)

Note: The liturgical practice of all male singers may date back to the Old Testament (see 1 Chron. 6:16-32).

"On the same principle it follows that singers in church have a real liturgical office, and that therefore women, being incapable of exercising such office, cannot be admitted to form part of the choir. Whenever, then, it is desired to employ the acute voices of sopranos and contraltos, these parts must be taken by boys, according to the most ancient usage of the Church." (Pope St. Pius X, "Inter Sollicitudines", 1914)

"Choir-schools for boys should be established not only for the greater churches and cathedrals, but also for smaller parish churches. The boys should be taught by the choirmaster to sing properly, so that, in accordance with the ancient custom of the Church, they may sing in the choir with the men, especially as in polyphonic music the highest part, the cantus, ought to be sung by boys. Choir-boys, especially in the sixteenth century, have given us masters of polyphony: first and foremost among them, the great Palestrina." (Pope Pius XI, "Divini Cultus", 1928)

Also See: Sacred Music is Not For the Purpose of Pleasure or Showing Off | Music is at the Service of the Liturgy & Not Vice Versa | Suitable / Unsuitable Music | Those Admitted to the Choir | Misc. / Sacred Music | Beauty & Decorum in the House of God | Proper / Improper Church Attire | Reverence | Women Not Admitted to the Choir? (flier)

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Misc.

"The dignity and lofty purpose of sacred music consist in the fact that its lovely melodies and splendor beautify and embellish the voices of the priest who offers Mass and of the Christian people who praise the Sovereign God. Its special power and excellence should lift up to God the minds of the faithful who are present. It should make the liturgical prayers of the Christian community more alive and fervent so that everyone can praise and beseech the Triune God more powerfully, more intently and more effectively. The power of sacred music increases the honor given to God by the Church in union with Christ, its Head. Sacred music likewise helps to increase the fruits which the faithful, moved by the sacred harmonies, derive from the holy liturgy. These fruits, as daily experience and many ancient and modern literary sources show, manifest themselves in a life and conduct worthy of a Christian." (Pope Pius XII, "Musicae Sacrae", 1955)

"To arouse men to devotion by teaching and preaching is a more excellent way than by singing. Wherefore deacons and prelates, whom it becomes to incite men's minds towards God by means of preaching and teaching, ought not to be instant in singing, lest thereby they be withdrawn from greater things. Hence Gregory says (Registrum iv, Ep. 44): 'It is a most discreditable custom for those who have been raised to the diaconate to serve as choristers, for it behooves them to give their whole time to the duty of preaching and to taking charge of the alms.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"These laws and standards for religious art apply in a stricter and holier way to sacred music because sacred music enters more intimately into divine worship than many other liberal arts, such as architecture, painting and sculpture. These last serve to prepare a worthy setting for the sacred ceremonies. Sacred music, however, has an important place in the actual performance of the sacred ceremonies and rites themselves. Hence the Church must take the greatest care to prevent whatever might be unbecoming to sacred worship or anything that might distract the faithful in attendance from lifting their minds up to God from entering into sacred music, which is the servant, as it were, of the sacred liturgy." (Pope Pius XII, "Musicae Sacrae", 1955)

"A congregation that is devoutly present at the [Eucharistic] Sacrifice, in which our Savior together with His children redeemed with His sacred blood sings the nuptial hymn of His immense love, cannot keep silent, for 'song befits the lover' and, as the ancient saying has it, 'he who sings well prays twice.' Thus the Church militant, faithful as well as clergy, joins in the hymns of the Church triumphant and with the choirs of angels, and, all together, sing a wondrous and eternal hymn of praise to the most Holy Trinity in keeping with words of the preface, 'with whom our voices, too, thou wouldst bid to be admitted.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947)

"The Church also needs musicians. How many sacred works have been composed through the centuries by people deeply imbued with the sense of the mystery! The faith of countless believers has been nourished by melodies flowing from the hearts of other believers, either introduced into the liturgy or used as an aid to dignified worship. In song, faith is experienced as vibrant joy, love, and confident expectation of the saving intervention of God." (Pope John Paul II, 1999)

"[T]he praise of the voice is necessary in order to arouse man's devotion towards God. Wherefore whatever is useful in conducing to this result is becomingly adopted in the divine praises. Now it is evident that the human soul is moved in various ways according to various melodies of sound, as the Philosopher state (Politica viii,5), and also Boethius (De Musica, prologue). Hence the use of music in the divine praises is a salutary institution, that the souls of the faint-hearted may be the more incited to devotion. Wherefore [St.] Augustine says (Confessiones x,33): 'I am inclined to approve of the usage of singing in the church, that so by the delight of the ears the faint-hearted may rise to the feeling of devotion': and he says of himself (Confessiones ix,6): 'I wept in Thy hymns and canticles, touched to the quick by the voices of Thy sweet-attuned Church.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[T]he Church must insist that this [musical] art remain within its proper limits and must prevent anything profane and foreign to divine worship from entering into sacred music along with genuine progress, and perverting it. The Sovereign Pontiffs have always diligently fulfilled their obligation to be vigilant in this matter. The Council of Trent also forbids 'those musical works in which something lascivious or impure is mixed with organ music or singing.' In addition, not to mention numerous other Sovereign Pontiffs, Our predecessor Benedict XIV of happy memory in an encyclical letter dated February 19, 1749, which prepared for a Holy Year and was outstanding for its great learning and abundance of proofs, particularly urged Bishops to firmly forbid the illicit and immoderate elements which had arrogantly been inserted into sacred music. Our predecessors Leo XII, Pius VII, Gregory XVI, Pius IX, and Leo XIII followed the same line. Nevertheless it can rightly be said that Our predecessor of immortal memory, St. Pius X, made as it were the highest contribution to the reform and renewal of sacred music when he restated the principles and standards handed down from the elders and wisely brought them together as the conditions of modern times demanded. Finally, like Our immediate predecessor of happy memory, Pius XI, in his Apostolic Constitution Divini cultus sanctitatem (The Holiness of Divine Worship), issued December 20, 1929, We ourself in the encyclical Mediator Dei (On the Sacred Liturgy), issued November 20, 1947, have enriched and confirmed the orders of the older Pontiffs. Certainly no one will be astonished that the Church is so vigilant and careful about sacred music. It is not a case of drawing up laws of aesthetics or technical rules that apply to the subject of music. It is the intention of the Church, however, to protect sacred music against anything that might lessen its dignity, since it is called upon to take part in something as important as divine worship." (Pope Pius XII, "Musicae Sacrae", 1955)

Also See: Music is at the Service of the Liturgy & Not Vice Versa | Sacred Music is Not For the Purpose of Pleasure or Showing Off | Suitable / Unsuitable Music | Gregorian Chant | Polyphony | Those Admitted to the Choir | Women Not Admitted to the Choir | Bands Forbidden in Church | Forbidden / Allowed Instruments | Instruments Should Not Oppress Singing | Against Applause / Noise in Church | Beauty & Decorum in the House of God | Reverence | Silence in Church | Proper / Improper Church Attire

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