Expert Answer Forum

Music at Mass QUESTION from Fern L. Deschenes March 19, 1999
Is it allowed to use taped music in the absence of a choir at Mass on Sundays and/or during weekday Masses? Thank you, and a Hail Mary for your recovery. ANSWER by Mr. John Miskell on March 21, 1999
Dear Fern, No it isn't. When addressing music, all of the official documents restrict their discussion to live music and musical instruments. Recorded music is never even considered. A document generated by the U.S. Bishops' Conference says specifically:

60.The liturgy is a complexus of signs expressed by living human beings. Music, being preeminent among those signs, ought to be live. While recorded music, therefore, might be used to advantage outside the liturgy as an aid in the teaching of new music, it should, as a general norm, never be used within the liturgy to replace the congregation, the choir, the organist or other instrumentalists. 61.Some exceptions to this principle should be noted, however. Recorded music may be used to accompany the community's song during a procession out-of-doors 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 celebration of reconciliation. It may never become a substitute for the community's song, however, as in the case of the responsorial psalm after a reading from Scripture or during the optional hymn of praise after communion. 62.A prerecorded sound track is sometimes used as a feature of contemporary electronic music composition. When combined with live voices and/or instruments, it is an integral part of the performance and, therefore, is a legitimate use of rerecorded music. The Mass is never a performance. The music is to help us to worship, not to entertain us. I hope this helps. Sincerely in Christ, John Miskell Back to Index Page

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