Question: USCCB list of approved/forbidden music?

I got a question by e-mail (edited).  I hope you can help out.

Dear Fr. Z,

My family has started attending the extraordinary form of the mass, and it has been such a blessing to us! I enjoy reading and learning at your blog. I do still cantor at my old parish and area parishes for vigil masses and funerals that don’t conflict with my husband, young children, and I attending the EF together on Sunday.

I was recently a cantor at a NO mass where the "Mass of Remembrance" was used. The music director was lamenting that they had received a list of music no longer allowed at mass. This list included "We Remember," the memorial acclamation from that mass. The piece (as you are most likely aware) is also often used as a communion hymn, etc… She said it was a shame because the people liked it so much, and I tried to be diplomatic (its a paying job, and I don’t want to burn bridges) in saying its a shame the bishops were so slow to address its theological problems and that in the meantime it had become so popular. I managed to resist expressing fully my elation.

However, I have searched and, aside from various commentaries like your own on the USCCB document from December, I haven’t been able to find references to such a list. Perhaps this list was just from my own diocese (though, it would surprise me that my diocese would initiate such a list on its own)? I could ask, but before I do (I am a bit afraid of coming across at critical) I was hoping you might have, or be able to obtain access to, this list. I know this director would not have cut this "favorite" song from the liturgy unless required to do so. It seems, though, that such a list would have urged a post from you considering its liturgical implications and your own love for sacred music.

 

Do any of you know of such a list? 

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12 Responses to Question: USCCB list of approved/forbidden music?

  1. Liam says:

    There is no such list from the USCCB. If there is a blacklist, it is either from the pastor, vicar or diocese.

    The USCCB is in the process of coming up with what could be called a “white list” of approved music that is to be included in all hymnals used in US Catholic parishes in the future. Don’t hold your breath for it, though. However, it is not coming up with a black list of forbidden music as such*; rather, it has announced principles it is proposing to Rome to provide a basis for approving music.

    * Theoretically, at some indefinite point in the future, Catholic churches would be required to use only approved music – an exclusive white list, as it were, that would by implication perhaps create a black list by default (that is, everything not approved). But I expect there will be many mountains moved to avoid that approach. Again, don’t hold your breath.

  2. Chironomo says:

    The “Directory for Music and the Liturgy”, submitted by the USCCB to the Holy See for rcognitio in November of 2006 has not been approved nor even heard about since that time. Liturgiam Authenticam, you may recall, mandated the creation of such a list of TEXTS for liturgical singing, which woyuld if created make a default “white list” of songs which do not use those approved texts. The “We Remember” from Mass of Remembrance is not allowed for a different reason, namely that it is not an acclamation, but a substituted “song” for a liturgical text. It is possible that their Bishop, aware of the contents of the Directory, has issued a preliminary list of “no-no” songs to begin preparaing for the eventual appearance of a canon of approved texts, but that seems unlikely. The more likely explanation is a misunderstanding by the Music Director of either the Directory, or of the USCCB document “Sing To The Lord” which would also preclude using the “We Remeber” acclamation.

  3. David says:

    Real or not, please have your music director send this list to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Thanks!

  4. PNP, OP says:

    I say Mass for a smallish group of folks at a local hospital chapel every Sunday. We almost never have any music. This morning we had a young woman with a guitar who volunteered to play and sing with us. She wanted to open with “Ashes.” At first, I sort of barked out, “No, that song is heretical!” She was a little surprised at my vehemence and I realized that i had been a little too forceful. We reviewed the lyrics and I was able to persuade her that the song is pelagian…or, at least some of the lyrics are pelagian. Normally, because I am not musician or a singer, I don’t comment much on the music; however, I felt it necessary to say no to this obvious fraud. I’m reporting this to say that pastors and celebrants can (and should) be more diligent about the music used in the liturgy. This incident reminded me of my duty to make sure that we are not only praying with the church but singing with Her as well!

    Fr. Philip, OP

  5. G says:

    I suspect either a pastor or, (is this too much to
    hope for?) a chancery, rather than creating an actual
    LIST, simply put into practice some requirements for
    liturgical music that should have been observed without
    saying, but alas, were not: to whit, \”Mass Parts\” that
    don\’t even respect the integrity of the text of the Roman
    Missal or an authorized translation thereof may not be
    used in place of genuine settings of the Ordinary.

    Period.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

  6. G says:

    I suspect either a pastor or, (is this too much to
    hope for?) a chancery, rather than creating an actual
    LIST, simply put into practice some requirements for
    liturgical music that should have been observed without
    saying, but alas, were not: to whit, “Mass Parts” that
    don’t even respect the integrity of the text of the Roman
    Missal or an authorized translation thereof may not be
    used in place of genuine settings of the Ordinary.

    Period.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

  7. Tim Ferguson says:

    There was a directive that went out a couple years back from the USCCB office of Liturgy (I’ll try to dig it up later at the office) that stated that certain Memorial Acclamations that were then in vogue are no longer to be permitted – the two big ones being “Keep in Mind” and “We Remember” from the Mass of Remembrance. I suspect this is what the music director had in mind.

    These two acclamations were banned because they’re not real acclamations, and the Memorial Acclamation does not permit alterations (no dreaded, “In these or other words…”) “Keep in Mind” had been permitted under the 1975 Missal, but that permission was not included when the new Missal was promulgated. “We Remember” was never permitted, but became widespread in the Haugen-Haas-Joncas circles.

    As far as I know, there’s been no further clarificatory document from the USCCB (though with the new Committe for Divine Worship, we might have some hope) providing some sort of an Index Hymnorum Prohibitorum.

  8. RC says:

    Fr. Philip, OP wrote:
    At first, I sort of barked out, “No, that song is heretical!” She was a little surprised at my vehemence and I realized that i had been a little too forceful.

    Well, maybe not: with all the word-play about Dominicans and dogs (canes), I suppose it’s just your charism at work!

    Now, all together: “We burn this copy of Ashes…”

  9. Ashes is certainly not on my top ten, or top 100, but pelagian?
    First sentence of verse one attest we have failed to remain sinless. Certainly a true statement in light of original sin, which Pelagianism denies. Second sentence could be argued to be pelagianic, if you squint hard enough, but I’d call it a stretch.
    Second verse illustrates the fruits of original sin, our failure to live up to obedience to the commandments.
    last verse attests to our creation in the image of the Father and the salvation attained through the death of Jesus, another statement which is anti-pelegianic.
    I find the concept strange that the someone would accuse the composer of taking a pelagianic stance in part of the song and state salvation through Christ in another verse.
    Badly written song? I believe so. Bad musically, I also think so. Heritical? I think that’s stretching.

  10. Richard says:

    Father Philip, isn’t ALL guitar music heretical?

  11. Whatever that list is, if there really is such a list… can we send it to the Providence diocese as well?
    BMP

  12. PNP, OP says:

    Terry,

    When it comes to praying heresy in song, I take the “Fly in the Milk” approach: any word, phrase, or line that asks me to pray heresy taints the whole song. Otherwise, we are left with the question: how many heretical words, phrases, lines can a song have before the whole thing is heretical? And the “we create ourselves anew” line is most definitely pelagian.

    Fr. Philip, OP