WDTPRS solidarity with NLM and MusicaSacra

In solidarity with NLM, I repost their entry:

Just a reminder that there are vast numbers of chant settings of the new ICEL texts sitting right here for free download but ICEL [!] will not permit you to download them. So you can’t practice them, comment on them so as to improve them, use them to build support for the new texts, or otherwise see what is coming.


How stupid is that?

First, let’s restrict sacred texts.

Then let’s hobble those who must ready themselves for a new translation.

You would think ICEL was a pharmaceutical company protecting their newest ED formula.

What are they afraid of?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Mike E says:

    Now that is weird

  2. Irenaeus says:

    “You would think ICEL was a pharmaceutical company protecting their newest ED formula.”


  3. RichR says:

    do other religions do this? Is this not tantamount to simony? What about the official Latin versions – are they copyrighted? If not, maybe this is a good reason to start returning to Gregorian chant.

  4. TNCath says:

    Fr. Z wrote: “What are they afraid of?

    They are afraid somebody might actually like and use them, AND they are hoping against hope and praying fervently that somehow these new texts won’t ever see the light of day at Mass.

    As regards your pharmaceutical company/ED comparison, this is the same strategy that was employed on at least two occasions I can remember off the top of my head:

    1. Back in the 1970’s when Pope Paul VI published Jubilate Deo, which encouraged the use of basic Gregorian chants for the celebration of the Novus Ordo. This was almost completely ignored by the U.S. Bishops, who were obviously scared to death that someone might start reviving the use of Latin at Mass.

    2. When the new Catechism of the Catholic Church was published back in the early 1990’s. Remember how priests and bishops were qualifying that the Catechism was only a reference guide and not intended for use by the average layman even though Pope John Paul II said that the Catechism “is offered to all the faithful who want to understand better the inexhaustible riches of salvation.”

    Shameful, isn’t it?

  5. Aaron Traas says:

    For the same reason that the New American Bible is policed by the USCCB: profit. It’s stupid and petty.

    If only more priests and choir directors took it upon themselves to do the Novus Ordo in Latin, or at least the ordinary in Latin.

  6. John Enright says:

    They’re probably afraid of groups like “womenpriests” and similar loonies.

  7. Origen Adamantius says:

    Revenue seems to triumph over accessibility and liturgy. I assume this is how they pay their salaries and that the USCCB gets a cut and is probably pushing for a bigger cut so they can continue operating all of their offices

  8. Bob K. says:

    They should stop using the New American Bible and NRSV for allot of reasons.

  9. Durant says:

    I think it’s simony [Simony … hmmmm… ] and they are cutting deals with publishers like the GIA to bankroll their operations. We use the GIA published Worship ed. III at my parish and I am always annoyed to find the GIA (as an example) takes familiar hymns and changes words slightly so they can copyright a hymn. People familiar with the traditional versions hate singing old favorites because they don’t like the new versions.

    The CMAA published a Parish Book of Chant. I am pondering singing Attende Domine at one of the Masses during Lent to see what kind of reception I get. We did a low Extraordinary low Mass last Sunday. I am hoping we will be a refuge for the faithful in mid-MD. This gets around the simony tax on parishioners by eliminating the ICEL entirely.

  10. CDN Canonist says:

    This isn’t entirely unusual or sinister. The Holy See also has strict guidelines concerning the printing of liturgical books, the use of copyrighted material, etc.

  11. Bob K. says:

    Maybe we should start a protest of boycotting the ICEL until they free things up. For the good of all!.

  12. Durant says:

    Extraordinary form…

    The money is going to the ICEL, International Comission for English in the Liturgy. I had some hot words with one of the USCCB liturgist concerning the plan to make Holy Days of Obligation optional. I thought Holy Days should be Holy and he insisted I was an ignorant uneducated peasant and how dare I question his authority and wisdom.

    Q: What is the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist?

    A: You can always negotiate with a terrorist

    God sent the Church liturgists so that a Church that does not know persecution, would know torment.

  13. Bryan says:

    However, out of all the major denominations, we’re the only one that does not place our liturgical books in the public domain. One would think they’re trying to protect someone using them not in the approved manner.

    Huh? All you have to do is order one from Amazon if you have nefarious intent.

    It comes down (doesn’t it all?) to money.

    For ICEL, for the USCCB, for GIA, for OCP, for Marty Haugen, for ?????.

    Follow the $$$. There’s your answer, pure and simple, in my opinion.

    If you control the rights, then you control who can use it or adapt it. And, considering what we’ve had to deal with since ’69, I would hazard a guess that the usual suspects are busy at work, in between pulls from their hookahs, with churning out the latest in musical accompaniments to the texts.

  14. David Andrew says:

    Jeffrey Tucker of the CMAA has been bringing this ugly situation to light for a while now, and it’s an absolute scandal.

    What’s worse is that GIA has been granted sole agency in the US for the control of copyright issues on behalf of ICEL. We all know what kind of hack music scrawled out by hack composers the Church will continue to be subjected to given this monopoly.

    It was asked in an article over at NLM if this action doesn’t constitute simony, and I think it’s a valid question.

    Someone above asked if this situation was true of other denominations, and thusfar research has produced a resounding, “NO.” All the other denominations consider their texts public domain specifically for this reason.

  15. Charivari Rob says:

    Father Z. – “You would think ICEL was a pharmaceutical company protecting their newest ED formula.”

    In this context, I’ll assume “ED” stands for “Effability Dysfunction”.

    Might one assume that if there was such a patent nostrum, the little pilll would be available in purple, green, white, black, red, and ‘rose’, but not in blue?

    I can just see the disclaimer now – “If you experience a reverent Mass longer than 45 minutes in duration, discontinue use and consult your parish litury committee immediately!”

  16. Bos Mutissimus says:


    Ecumenical Dysfunction?

    Episcopal Dysfunction?

    English, Disrespect (of)?

    (in)-Effability Disorder? [Effability Disorder… good one.]

    ICEL = “I Can’t Enterpret [sic] Latin”

  17. scholastic says:


    Catholicism is not a denomination.

  18. Cathguy says:

    They are afraid of the same things most every priest and bishop, regardless of ideological bias, seems to be afraid of these days….

    a laity that is educated and thinks and reads what they write.

  19. Jimbo says:

    Once again I call your attention to the fact that any parish anywhere is allowed to use the Anglican Use books. The texts are available for free online and there are musical settings for every Mass.


  20. Bryan says:



    Denomination: A religious denomination is a group that operates under a common name, tradition and identity.

    In functional reality. It wasn’t meant as denigrating, unless you take it that way. In which case, there isn’t anything to say.

    Quoting Mr. Jeffrey Tucker in “Inside Catholic”:

    “The Catholic Church is alone among major denominations in using this pay-to-pray method of financing. The texts of Episcopal, Lutheran, and Orthodox Churches are in the public domain, and free for anyone to print under any conditions. This encourages publishers to disseminate the texts, composers to use them for setting music, and Web site builders and bloggers to quote them freely in any form.”

    Good enough for a well-known and respected liturgy scholar, good enough for me.

  21. In this Pauline year, it is interesting to contrast this issue with last Sunday’s second reading from Corinthians:

    For if I preach the gospel, it is no glory to me: for a necessity lieth upon me. For woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel.

    For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation is committed to me.

    What is my reward then? That preaching the gospel, I may deliver the gospel without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.

    For whereas I was free as to all, I made myself the servant of all, that I might gain the more.

    1 Cor. 9:16-19

    Above is the Rheims/Challoner translation, which is in the public domain. For those with modern sensibilities, here’s a link to the NAB version. I’d post the NAB excerpt here, but people have gotten in trouble elsewhere for posting it before.

  22. CDN Canonist says:


    On what do you base your statement that any parish may use the “Anglican Use” books?

  23. Richard says:

    “What are they afraid of?”

    Decent music?

  24. @ the simony-talkers, I suppose we should all not give tithes or respond to the Bishops’ appeal, too, right?

    Where do we draw the line? Things cost money, even providing stuff via Web sites, as surely Fr. Z must know.

    I continue to be amazed at the lack of charity so many commenters here have..

  25. Thomas Athanasius says:

    CDN Canonist,
    I don’t think Jimbo was speaking of the Book of Divine Worship, but the Anglican Use Gradual, which would indeed be covered by the GIRM permission to use “Other settings of psalms” for the the antiphons

  26. Laura Lowder says:

    What are they afraid of?

    Intelligent opposition? The wymyn-priest advocates et al are already getting their hands in the pie and being placated with the dumbing-down of the liturgical texts.

    Anyone here a convert? Remember how excited everyone was in the \’70s when the \”Good News For Modern Man\” made print in both Old and New Testaments? The \”Good News\” – Today\’s English Version – had deliberately been \”translated\” so that people of minimal reading ability could be accomodated – even at the cost of accuracy. The NAB reminds me too much of that.

  27. I have followed this at NLM for a while and I’ve just written to ICEL.

    Here y’all:

    Contact us

    The ICEL Secretariat is located in Washington, D.C. and serves as a coordinating group implementing the directives of the Episcopal Board and its Executive Committee under the direction of an Executive Director, Monsignor Bruce E. Harbert

    ICEL Secretariat
    1522 K Street, NW, Suite 1000
    Washington, DC 20005-1202

    telephone: (202) 347-0800
    facsimile: (202) 347-1839

  28. Laura Lowder says:

    Mr. Ambrose Little,
    One must ask who is buying what from whom when one sees the connections of the major publishing houses – for-profit businesses, not ministerial arms of the Church – getting special protections from these administrative decisions in the USCCB.

    This does not become a conflict of my support of the Bishop’s Annual Appeal, which serves the local good of my diocese.

  29. Mr. Ambrose Little, O.P.,

    It is one thing to charge a price for goods, such as liturgical books, but it is another thing entirely to charge for the use of the texts themselves. Should publishing companies have the right to charge a price for the purchase of a Lectionary? Absolutely. But for ICEL to charge royalties for a poor composer somewhere simply to employ the texts of the liturgy–say, in a musical setting of the Mass–that is another thing entirely.

  30. Dan Soderlund says:

    Stupid is….as stupid does…

  31. Why hasn’t the ICEL been disbanded yet? How many more years do we have to endure this scandalous behavior?

    Is the ICEL afraid of those who quote their texts to demonstrate their ineptitude at translation and faithlessness to liturgical norms? [well then stop DOING it!]

    This group proves itself over and over again to be obstructionist in many things including accurate translations, immediate response to Vatican requests, promoting proper liturgical practices, and in this control of liturgical texts.

    Can the Vatican take control of this once more? Back in the day, wasn’t there a group called The Society of St Gregory that protected faithful texts, promoted proper liturgical usage, and followed Church teaching precisely? I think they were an extension of the CMAA…! Comprised of educated musicians steeped in Catholic culture, they also published the blacklists [forbidden] and whitelists [recommended] of music.

    Again, we see a breakdown of authority and span of control. Can this be restored?

  32. ICEL needs to stop their evil actions: NOW.

  33. Coletta says:

    “Q:What is the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist?

    A: You can always negotiate with a terrorist.

    God sent the Church liturgists so that a Church that does not know persecution, would know torment. by Durant”

    Actually, you cannot negotiate with a terrorist ( i have some friends on SWAT) but it makes a funny statement. Anyone remember the term ‘liturgists from hell’ ? (From some cartoon like the Far Side)
    I say boycott NAB and ICEL :)

  34. Gedsmk says:

    What are they afraid of? they don’t want anyone to see the translations before they’re all out. the preview in South Africa has been an unmitigated disaster.

  35. Chironomo says:

    Fr. Z wrote: “What are they afraid of?

    They are afraid of competition. They are afraid of the coming end of their “monopoly of bad taste” as it has been so aptly named. They are afraid, as has been pointed out above, that somebody other than their rag-tag collection of strummers-n-drummers might come out ahead in what is sure to be the next great fight for the liturgy. You think that the Extraordinary Form caused some riffs… wait until chant comes to a parish near you.

    Jeffrey has been banging this drum (ICEL copyrights) for some time now. It needs to be brought to the attention of the Holy See and stopped NOW before it becomes yet another permanent fixture of U.S Catholic Liturgy. It is “Pay for Pray” in the truest sense.

  36. You know the only real solution to the problem:

    1) Start catechizing the people on proper music books (the chant books) for Mass.

    2) Buy said books for the parish and put ’em in the pews.

    3) Use them at Mass.

    Simple….but in our society, perhaps not the most easily done.

  37. Jerry says:

    With the USCCB charging $10 for an electronic copy of their liturgical calendar, sadly this doesn’t surprise me at all.


  38. jj says:

    it’s all part of the sanhedrin’s master plan…but they’ve suffered some set backs…so they’ll restrict it as much as they can


    Matt 23:13
    “But woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men, for you yourselves do not enter in; and those that are going in, you suffer not to enter.”

  39. Charivari Rob says:

    Jerry – “With the USCCB charging $10 for an electronic copy of their liturgical calendar, sadly this doesn’t surprise me at all.”

    Ah, so you’ve had that great experience, too. It’s a pity that the USCCB doesn’t make a concise, convenient reference available. I’ll sit down and work it out week by week with the Missal and my planner diary before I’ll give them the $10.

    If the priest celebrating Mass ad orientem is analogous to the bus driver facing the same direction as his passengers, then the USCCB charging for calendars is analogous to Greyhound charging you for a bus schedule!

  40. jj says:

    Charivari Rob,

    \”If the priest celebrating Mass ad orientem is analogous to the bus driver facing the same direction as his passengers, then the USCCB charging for calendars is analogous to Greyhound charging you for a bus schedule!\”

    Nice! :)

  41. Folks,

    What about asking for $$ for saying masses for people? For baptizing? Stipends for retreats/seminars? Donations for religious blogging? Are these also simony? No…

    The world doesn\’t run on love, unfortunately. Real people had to spend real time to translate these texts and (if I understand correctly) set them to music. And unless I\’m not reading something right, they actually say that you can\’t charge for their texts, which sounds like preventing simony.

    I\’m not even saying I agree with the ICEL\’s policies necessarily, but simony? No..

    On the flip side, I grew up in a Protestant church that felt it didn\’t need to compensate its workers competitively and also expected (required) them to volunteer a lot of their free time for school/church functions. This is the dark side of the perspective that thinks people shouldn\’t have to offer money for \”sacred things\”–a small group of people being taken advantage of for a larger group.

    In any case, I don\’t have the full story (and I don\’t think any of us here does), so I think the right thing to do is to offer the benefit of the doubt in charity rather than jumping to conclusions about people\’s motives and throwing around charges of simony.

  42. Daniel Muller says:

    From the USCCB page referenced above:


    All orders must be accompanied by a check made out to “Committee on the Liturgy” in the amount of $10.00 per copy, covering printing, postage and handling. An electronic file (email attachment or diskette) of the calendar is available in Microsoft Word format for $10.00.

    In other words, printing and postage are free, or is it that the electronic version is subsidizing the print version? Either way it stinks.

  43. jj says:

    The USCCB can make a bit of money if they like – to help certain apostolic work (especially their own). No problem. Any religious order sells prayer cards, calendars, et al

    But as for ICEL

    Who are they? Except some admin body, that does wonky translations?

    The only valid reason they have for saying “hold off” on giving out free composed Mass parts, would be that it hasn’t been officially ‘promulgated’ by the authentic authorities. That would be kind of valid I suppose.

    But that isn’t the real reason is it?

    It’s because there are some other agendas in place, business deals for other (liberal) composers, and certain people stand to make a bit of money, or at least some people (USCCB?) would like to set up deals so that they can profit from it?

    I don’t know – but as Fr Z says, it’s all very bizarre; and NLM, MusicSacra, and Fr Z are rightly baffled by this stupid behaviour.

    It suggests other agendas at work as certain “tyrants” try to control (a bit like the pharisees) who comes in to compose for the liturgy, and who doesn’t…

  44. Matthias says:

    “What are they afraid of?”

    They are afraid of not making any money. This is what happens when Capitalism enters the sanctuary.

  45. jj says:

    Matthias, yep!

  46. Bos Mutissimus says:

    In response to the liturgist/terrorist jokes, don’t forget the following anagrams:






    *Gastro-Intestinal Sickness. Yes, I know it’s cheating to embed an acronym or initialism in an anagram, but it fits well. May we enjoy liturgical sanity soon!

  47. Crusader says:

    Just sing, say and pray the Latin, and be done with the ICEL for good. Problem solved.

  48. Hey, there are those in the software industry who eschew making money off of the hard work that goes into making software. They band together to make free and open software.

    Maybe folks concerned about ICEL should do that. ?

    Just an idea.

  49. ICEL policy does make an allowance for e-mail dissemination of these compositions. So, I’m testing an email autoresponder for this now…it should be ready sometime soon.

    The idea was brought up before, but most off-the-shelf autoresponder programs (like for WordPress, etc.) don’t provide support for attachments. So if we used one of those, the message would have needed to point to a file on a Web server somewhere — and that would not have been in compliance with ICEL’s restrictions.

    However, the solution chosen has e-mail attachment capability, so we need not post files to a Web server to have them distributed. We’ll remain in compliance with current ICEL policy concerning “prerelease” texts (e-mail transmission only), but the impact on the web embargo will be minimized drastically — if not eliminated altogether.

    Moreover, when this is ready, I hope to also provide an HTML template, so that those with blogs or websites can paste a subscription form into their own code; their interested visitors will then be able to subscribe to the autoresponder directly from their own site instead of having to go to MusicaSacra.com. Stay tuned.

  50. Gregor says:

    ICEL and ilk are the new money changers in the temple. We need a petition against their abuses.

  51. Charivari Rob says:

    jj – “The USCCB can make a bit of money if they like – to help certain apostolic work (especially their own). No problem. Any religious order sells prayer cards, calendars, et al”

    Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t object to paying for something that presents the information in an appropriately beautiful format, especially to cover production costs. In our house, we usually get calendars from Knock and the Josephites each year, and I have no issue with paying something for the ‘package’ the information comes in. I just object to the USCCB not having a simple reference document on their website – date and observance.

    They have the information elsewhere, piecemeal. Under readings, you can click on each calendar date in turn and find out what it is on the liturgical canlendar.

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