School of Theology and Seminary Faculty Publications

Do Priests Need to Sing?

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Arts and Humanities | Catholic Studies | Liturgy and Worship | Music | Religion


The documents are clear: Yes, priests need to sing. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states: “Preference should be given to those [parts] that are of greater importance and especially to those sung by the priest or the deacon or the lector, with the people responding…” (no. 40). This statement reinforces the teachings of the 1967 Roman instruction Musicam Sacram, which places sung presidential dialogues (“The Gospel of the Lord,” “The peace of the Lord be with you,” “The Mass is ended, go in peace”) in the first category of importance before the Sanctus or Gospel acclamation (nos. 29-31). Let us be honest, though: We have a problem. When it comes to singing priest celebrants, our pastoral practice and the official documents inhabit two different worlds.