Chant and the Mass

The Roman Rite has two forms: Ordinary, and Extraordinary.

The Ordinary Form (OF) is often called “Novus Ordo”, or “Vatican II” Mass. The Extraordinary Form (EF)* is often called “Tridentine Mass” or “Traditional Latin Mass” (TLM).

The sacred music recommended by the Catholic Church for both forms of the Roman Rite, Ordinary and Extraordinary, have a lot in common:

  • Gregorian Chant is the preferred music of the Church,
  • When the Catholic liturgy calls for “necessary” music, it is always vocal and monophonic music (chant), not instrumental and/or polyphonic (several voices).
  • Musical instruments, especially the organ, are welcome in both forms of the rite as a complement, a support and an enhancement of the vocal music. The human voice is however the primary “instrument” of the Liturgy.
  • In practice, however, most music directors in Catholic Churches are instrumentalists, not vocalists. Their training is often stronger in the sacred repertoire for their instrument than in the documents of the Catholic liturgy. Consequently, in most parishes, the three points above this fourth one are often ignored.

To know more about

  • The Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, click here.
  • The Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, a good place to start is reading :
Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, issued by USCCB, on November 14, 2007 (a quick 70-page read, download here: SingToTheLord )
To go deeper, read:
Musica Sacram : 1967, post-Vatican II, instructions on Music in the Liturgy.
Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy : the “original” text from the Vatican II Council on the Liturgy.

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