Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: Soloists in Church

Soloists in Church QUESTION from Adrienne on January 29, 2003 Dear Mr. Slavek,
I know it has been an accepted practice for soloists and additional musicians to be hired to sing at Wedding and Funeral Masses in place of the parish organists, cantor and or choir.
Is this something we MUST allow? Most people who are family members or hired are mostly interested in performing rather than leading the congregation. Some are genuinely interested in the liturgy; most are not. (That has been my personal experience as music director for 30 years.) They are allowed to sing secular songs as well as perform either in an inept way or inappropriate style, like soft-rock, lounge style and kiddie tunes.
I know it seems like an easy answer, but, it isn't always. Different Pastors allow different things.
I want to know what the Catholic Church's position is on the matter, rather than individual parish policy.
Also: am I being disobedient (sinfully) to refuse to obey my Pastor if he tells me I must play something secular or Too Protestant? I try to obey, but, find myself being called upon to provide more entertainment and less sacred music.
Thank you.
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on February 3, 2003 Dear Adrienne,
I think that one of the best ways to answer this is from 1958 document, Instruction on Music and Liturgy. Actually what is being addressed here though is the role of the commentator, but I think that what is being said can be applied also to a cantor.
the task may be entrusted to a layman of outstanding Christian life who is well instructed in his role
Soloists or cantors who entertain rather than lead prayer clearly are not properly instructed in their role, and therefore are not suited for the ministry.
Unfortunately though I believe that at most catholic weddings the problem is greater than soloists, rather it seems that the entire ceremony becomes a performance, like secular weddings which are performances. Most people simply do not realize how sacred Holy Matrimony is. Yes, and pastors must see that this does not happen, whether or not you yourself are guilty of sin I really do not know, but my suspicion is that it is better to not obey since he is making an unreasonable request. You are not a provider of entertainment and you should not be asked to become one.
I pray that everything works out,
Mr. Slavek
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