Pre-recorded music in liturgy

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Southern Comfort
Posts: 1920
Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2008 12:31 pm

Pre-recorded music in liturgy

Post by Southern Comfort »

In a Facebook forum, someone commented that he had been given to understand that the use of recorded music in Catholic liturgy was forbidden by Canon Law. I'm reposting my reply here, in case it is of interest.
Canon Law says nothing about recorded music at all. People often say that things are forbidden in Canon Law when in fact they aren't.

There is in fact very little in legislation or guidelines about the use of pre-recorded music in the liturgy. Musicam Sacram (1967) does not mention it. The Directory on Masses with Children (1973, para 32) says it may be used at Masses with children with caution and subject to any norms estabished by the conference of bishops, but this is in the context of the possibiity of accompaniment with the children playing live instruments being too overpowering for the singers.

The US Bishops' document Sing to the Lord (2007) has this:

"93. Recorded music lacks the authenticity provided by a living liturgical assembly gathered for the Sacred Liturgy. While recorded music might be used advantageously outside the Liturgy as an aid in the teaching of new music, it should not, as a general norm, be used within the Liturgy.

94. Some exceptions to this principle should be noted. Recorded music may be used to accompany the community’s song during a procession outside and, when used carefully, in Masses with children. Occasionally, it might be used as an aid to prayer, for example, during long periods of silence in a communal elebration of reconciliation. However, recorded music should never become a substitute for the community’s singing."

To find anything which might be construed as concretely forbiddding pre-recorded music, you have to go back to the 1958 Instruction De Musica Sacra et Sacra Liturgia, where Para 60c says "Only instruments which are personally played by a performer are to be used in the sacred liturgy, not those which are played mechanically or automatically."

That, incidentally, also means that Synthia and her like, which provide pre-packaged hymn accompaniments, are banned.

I've noticed celebrations where virtual choirs have made audio recordings (much easier to do than video) which have then been played during the course of a streamed Mass (and now continue to be played at live Masses). It would seem that the legislation also forbids this practice.

The excuse that was often used to forbid pre-recorded music, especially at weddings and funerals, was that the church would need a licence from PRS/MCPS. Those licences are now, of course, easily available, but obviously this does not cover the question of church legislation. In any case, these restrictions seem to have pretty much gone by the board. I have played for a number of weddings and funerals in the past few years when, in addition to providing accompaniment for hymns and other items, I was also required to operate the CD/DVD player that was hooked into the church sound system in order to provide one or more offerings from the world of secular music.

Hare
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Re: Pre-recorded music in liturgy

Post by Hare »

Yes - I have become a CD operator at almost every funeral at my place in the last few years. Previous PP would not allow recorded music under any circumstances, and upset a lot of people. Present PP is well aware of this, and bends over backwards to keep people happy!

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keitha
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Re: Pre-recorded music in liturgy

Post by keitha »

The problem with your current PP's approach is that it makes it much harder for those priests who will not allow recorded music. I recall a liturgist friend of mine who, with great care, would attempt to persuade people not to have recorded music only to get the response "it was allowed for the funeral at St Blogs last week, why are you being difficult?".

My previous PP, after years of resistance, would allow it at the cremation service, but not in church. Most mourners who were having burials rarely raised it as an issue, but on those occasions where it would clearly cause upset, he would sometimes allow it as the coffin was leaving the church provided that the piece was 'suitable'.
Keith Ainsworth

Hare
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Re: Pre-recorded music in liturgy

Post by Hare »

keitha wrote:
Sat Jul 11, 2020 9:57 am
The problem with your current PP's approach is that it makes it much harder for those priests who will not allow recorded music. I recall a liturgist friend of mine who, with great care, would attempt to persuade people not to have recorded music only to get the response "it was allowed for the funeral at St Blogs last week, why are you being difficult?".

My previous PP, after years of resistance, would allow it at the cremation service, but not in church. Most mourners who were having burials rarely raised it as an issue, but on those occasions where it would clearly cause upset, he would sometimes allow it as the coffin was leaving the church provided that the piece was 'suitable'.
Agree absolutely. In my case, there were other "agendas" that had (still are) caused divisions and departures, so I think he has pursued an "Anything for a quiet life" (And "Anything to get £££ in the plate") approach

alan29
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Location: Wirral

Re: Pre-recorded music in liturgy

Post by alan29 »

Im playing for a wedding in August. They have requested a song by one Olly Murs as they process out. Since the religious bit of the service is finished the PP has agreed. However, like much pop music, all its musical deficiencies are highlighted when played on a solo piano or organ. So they have agreed to play the CD instead - hooray!

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