Members and Advisors
Most Rev. Edward M. Grosz, Chairman (Auxiliary Bishop of Buffalo)
Most Reverend Patrick R. Cooney (Bishop of Gaylord)
Most Reverend John G. Vlazny (Archbishop of Portland)
Most Reverend Arthur J. Serratelli (Bishop of Paterson)
Mr. Robert Batastini
Reverend Anthony Ruff, O.S.B.
Dr. Leo Nestor
Reverend John Foley, S.J.
J. Michael McMahon
The Mandate of the Subcommittee from Liturgicam Authenticam, no. 108.
Sung texts and liturgical hymns have a particular importance and efficacy. Especially on Sunday, the “Day of the Lord”, the singing of the faithful gathered for the celebration of Holy Mass, no less than the prayers, the readings and the homily, express in an authentic way the message of the Liturgy while fostering a sense of common faith and communion in charity. If they are used widely by the faithful, they should remain relatively fixed so that confusion among the people may be avoided.
The Mandate of the Subcommittee from Liturgicam Authenticam, no. 108.
…Within five years from the publication of this Instruction, the Conferences of Bishops, necessarily in collaboration with the national and diocesan Commissions and with other experts, shall provide for the publication of a directory or repertory of texts intended for liturgical singing. This document shall be transmitted for the necessary recognitio to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
directorium seu repertorium textuum cantui liturgico destinatorum
directoire ou repertoire
Direktorium oder eine Sammlung
directorio o repertorio
Present view of the Subcommittee
The broader idea of a directorium seems to allow for a more global descriptions of principles and criteria in the manner of the recently published Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: Principle and Guidelines, published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in December, 2001.
Individual songs should be consonant with Catholic teaching and free from theological error
The repertoire of liturgical songs in any given setting should not manifest a collective bias against Catholic theological elements.
Is there a sufficient attention to the Trinity and to the Trinitarian structure of Catholic beliefs and teachings? Do our liturgical songs fail at times to present the Trinity as the central mystery of the Christian faith?
Does the language used in referring to the Persons of the Trinity contribute at times to a lack of clarity? Is there a reluctance to use “Father” for the first person of the Blessed Trinity?
Is the relationship between Jesus and the Father stressed sufficiently? Are there times when the word “God” is placed in a sentence where one would expect to find “Father” or “God the Father” since the reference is precisely to the relationship between the first and second persons of the Trinity?
Is there an obscured presentation of the centrality of Christ in salvation history and an insufficient emphasis on the divinity of Christ? Do our liturgical songs present Jesus as the culmination of the Old Testament and the fulfillment of God’s plan for our salvation? Is the indispensable place of the incarnation in the plan of salvation sufficiently presented? Is Jesus the Savior often overshadowed by Jesus the teacher, model, friend, and brother? Is there an appropriate balance? Is there an imbalance in our emphasis on the humanity or divinity of Jesus Christ? At times, can we detect a negative undertone in speaking of the divine nature of Christ, as if divinity is equated with being “distant and unreal.”
An indistinct treatment of the ecclesial context of Catholic beliefs and magisterial teachings?
Do the texts give insufficient emphasis to God’s initiative in the world with a corresponding overemphasis on human action?
Is there a sufficient recognition of the transforming effects of grace?
Sample Applications of Theological Criteria to Repertoire to twenty "most popular liturgical songs“
Names for God: The first question asked in examining the songs was what names they used to refer to God. Here a full range of biblical titles were used, though “Father” was used only 10% of the time.
Trinitarian structure? None of the songs referred to the three persons of the Blessed Trinity or utilized a “Trinitarian structure.”
Christological? Only 35% of the songs referred to Christ.
Emphasizes Individual or Larger Church? 55% of the songs emphasized the individual believer, 35% emphasized concerns of the larger Church, while 10% were centered exclusively on praise of God.
Sample Theological Critiques of Individual Songs
The Day of Pentecost Arrives
Verse 3: Our inhibitions make us die to you and to our friends.
Aren’t some inhibitions actually good, enabling us to live for God and our friends?
Let all Mortal Flesh
The first and third verses of this hymn have been altered to eliminate apparently archaic language and in inclusive the text. The original text said: Christ our God to earth decsendeth
As the Light of light descendeth—present tenses. These, however, have been changed to past tenses[descended] to eliminate the archaic language, causing the loss of the critically important notion of Christ’s continuous coming among us, especially in the Holy Eucharist.
Sing Praise to Our Creator
The original text spoke of being “baptized into his grace,” but was changed for the sake of vertical inclusively to: “baptized in living grace.” What does this mean?
Directory of Music and the Liturgy
The Gift of Liturgical Songs
Three Characteristics of Liturgical Songs
Must Be Doctrinally Correct
Chiefly Based in Liturgy and Scripture
Relatively Fixed in Number
Four Types of Liturgical Music (Musicam Sacram, no. 16)
Of first consideration are those parts of the Liturgy which “are by their nature of greater importance, and especially those which are to be sung by the priest or by the ministers, with the people replying, or those which are to be sung by the priest and people together.”
Secondly, the Liturgy provides acclamations and litanies, refrains, and other repeated responses.
Antiphons and Psalms form an essential part the Mass, not only in the Liturgy of the Word, but in the Entrance, Communion and other processional chants.
Finally, liturgical songs, in the forms of both traditional and popular hymns and canticles, are sung at various points during the Mass to facilitate the full, conscious and active participation of all present.
In consideration of the above, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops adopts the following norms for the use of liturgical songs in the dioceses of the United States of America.
1. The approval of liturgical songs is reserved to the Diocesan Bishop in whose diocese an individual song is published. He is supported in his work by this directory and by the USCCB Secretariat for the Liturgy.
2. The Diocesan Bishop is assisted in his review of individual texts through the formation of Committee for the Review of liturgical songs consisting of eminent theologians, liturgists, and musicians. This Committee shall assure that each text is doctrinally correct and scripturally or liturgically based.
3. Within two years, the Committee on the Liturgy shall formulate a Common Repertoire of Liturgical Songs for use in all places where the Roman Liturgy is celebrated in the Dioceses of the United States of America. This Common Repertoire will be included in all worship aides used in the dioceses of the United States of America.