Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: Psalms
Psalms QUESTION from Louis Melahn March 25, 2001 Hello,
A question came up today at Sunday Mass. When we sing the Responsorial Psalm, does the Church require us to sing it _verbatim_--using the exact words found in the Lectionary--or is it possible to use a hymn that is a paraphrase of the psalm? If a paraphrase is OK, does it need to be approved by some Church body, such as the NCCB?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on April 17, 2001 Dear Mr. Melahn: The GIRM (n. 36) states:
The psalm when sung may be either the psalm assigned in the Lectionary or the gradual from the Graduale Romanum or the responsorial psalm or the psalm with Alleluia as the response from The Simple Gradual in the form they have in those books. As to making changes or alterations to the approved alternatives, Canon 846 of the Code of Canon Law states:
The liturgical books approved by the competent authority are to be faithfully observed in the celebration of the sacraments; therefore no one on personal authority may add, remove or change anything in them. Number 22 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy states:
Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established.
Therefore, absolutely no other person, not even a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.
Bottom Line: No one may change even a dotted i from any approved liturgical text. This includes the Lectionary and the Sacramentary.
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