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PATRIARCHAL INSTRUCTION ON RECORDED SACRED MUSIC

On Saturday within the Octave of Corpus Christi
9 June A.D. 2012


1) Sacred Music used in the Liturgy and Extra-liturgical devotions of the Church, including processions, must be for the purpose of enhancing the worship of God by the faithful. Music itself forms an offering of the people to God. It must never be entertainment. While it is ideal that all music in Sacred Worship be sung live during said worship, it is acknowledged and understood that the purpose of sacred music may be equally well-served through the use of pre-recorded Sacred Music in certain circumstances where a suitable live choir or cantor cannot reasonably be obtained. It is further acknowledged that the recorded music is itself a work of human beings which is capable of being used repeatedly for a worthy purpose, just as a sacred painting is the work of an artist and may be used repeatedly to draw people towards God.

2) Pre-recorded music must be equivalent to that which would be sung by the choir. This includes the appropriate endings, doxologies, antiphons, etc. appropriate to the liturgical season and day. It must further be dignified in nature and used for the purpose of enhancing the worship of those present.

3) Only for the music of the Holy Mass, Divine Office, or extra-liturgical services that would be sung by the choir or a cantor may pre-recorded music be sung. Those parts assigned to the Celebrant, Sacred Ministers, or others outside the choir during the Holy Mass, or to the Foremost at the Divine Offices must not be recorded, but must be sung by the appropriate living person present.

4) It is well-known that when the choir sings a given part of the liturgy of the Holy Mass, the Celebrant nevertheless is responsible for saying it as well. Likewise, if recorded music is used, the Celebrant must say the required parts of the liturgy.

5) The use of pre-recorded music must never allow worship to become distracted or to become passive. This equally applies to live music. Indeed, all music used in the liturgy must be used for the enhancement of the worship of God. While a device for playing recorded music cannot itself worship God, it may be used as a tool for the enhancement of the worship of God by living persons present.

6) The mere listening to pre-recorded music does not constitute participation in the liturgy, just as the mere listening to live music does not constitute participation in the liturgy.

7) The provisions of this instruction apply only to those cases in which dignified live music of a quality suitable for public worship cannot reasonably be obtained.

Given at the Court of Saint Mary of Walsingham.

+Rutherford Card. Johnson
Patriarch

 

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