CDW: New section for sacred music and art

The Swiss Catholic press agency kipa reports on an interview in last Tuesday’s edition of Osservatore Romano with Cardinal Antonio Cañizares de Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. The cardinal announced a restructuring of the CDW: a new section for sacred music and art will be established. Contrary to some reports, the CDW will retain competency for all aspects of the discipline of the sacraments.


    1. Charles, that’s a very good question. I only know that the Swiss Catholic news service reported this, and I’m assuming they’re accurately reporting last Tuesday’s Italian Osservatore Romano, to which I don’t have access. I assume this report supersedes the early Magistro report. My googling didn’t result in any confirmations, so I only have the kipa report to go on. Let me know if you learn anything.

  1. I wonder what “weight” this new section will hold? Will it mandate or require certain types of music? Architecture or sacred art to be used in renovation or construction of parishes? Will it overrule the USCCB documents “Sing to the Lord” and “Built on Living Stones?”

    I am working on the diocesan quinquennial report for the Ordinary, and there is a question pertaining to Sacred music in the diocese. The question reads:

    “Liturgical singing: what provision is made for congregational singing? The use of Gregorian chant, classic polyphony, or other music suited for the liturgy.”

    I wonder if that question will change for the next quinquennial report after this new section has been formed?

    More questions than answers, but (insert sarcasm) I am sure the Holy See will provide all the answers we need to all our questions!

    1. Balthazar…

      It would not need to “overturn” any of these documents, simply “enforce” them (although Sing to the Lord is not really particular law, so that might be tricky).

      I’m not up to speed on “Built of Living Stones”, but SttL I know pretty well… I can’t imagine a CDW Committe on Music going very much beyond the assembly singing the Ordinary in Latin and expressing a preference for the chanted Propers over “alius cantus aptus” hymns (both of which are prominent parts of SttL).

      There is, of course a lot of wiggle room in the document so that it can mean just about anything, but perhaps a good raison d’etre for a special committee would be to clarify interpretation of such documents (i.e “what does all things being equal actually mean, what is an alius cantus aptus as described in SC and the GIRM. ) .

  2. Sing to the Lord does not bear the recognitio from Rome. It is only bindnig, I believe, when it cites the authoritative documents of the Holy See.

    1. Perhaps “Sing to the Lord” did not have enough grammatical errors in it to merit the recognitio . . . .

  3. Was wondering what happened to meetings held in 2009 by various english speaking conferences as directed by the CDW – here is pasted an article from the Australian National Liturgical Committee:

    Songs not approved by the National Liturgical Commission

    A few favourites will go missing from the normal parish repertoire

    Songs in Word of Life’s “Top 100” Not approved by NLCMB review of “As One Voice”

    Thirteen of the WOL “Top 100” did not get the NLCMB’s “tick”.

    They are as follows (the number indicates the song’s ranking on the list of the Top 100):

    3 Come to the water (Andersen, F)
    6 Come as you are (Brown, D)
    15 Companions on the Journey (Landry, C)
    18 We remember (Haugen, M)
    19 Our supper invitation (Bates, K)
    20 Galilee song (Andersen, F)
    22 All the ends of the earth (Dufford, B)
    28 Song of the body of Christ (Haas, D)
    32 Blest be the Lord (Schutte, D)
    61 Celebrate (Brown, M)
    64 Yahweh is the God (Norbet, G)
    86 To be your bread (Haas, D)
    90 We are many parts (Haugen, M)

    Thought that Bishop Trautmann had also hosted an American meeting of composers and musicians to discuss this same directive? Mr. Haas, Mr. Haugen, or Mr. Schutte may have more comprehensive insights on this subject?

    1. Some of these make a lot of sense for exclusion, some I can understand why they might be excluded, though I disagree with the move. Schutte’s “Blest be the Lord” and Dufford’s “All the Ends of the Earth” I don’t understand, unless it’s only on musical grounds: textually they are psalm paraphrases — maybe not the best, but not theologically questionable.

      Hmmmm. . . .

  4. Bill, I suspect that No. 64 ‘Yahweh is the God of my salvation’ did not make it because the Divine Name, following Jewish custom, is never pronounced. That’s a valid judgement and a sensitivity which I believe a majority of scripture scholars would support. However it could easily be changed to ‘The LORD is the God of my salvation’ and that particular problem solved.

  5. Although the Sing Lustily blog gives some information, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference website gives much more – including the list, some information about how the process of evaluation was conducted, and the criteria against hymn was measured against. As for a song like “All the Ends of the Earth”, I’d say a likely possibility is that Verse 3 is completely different musically to the other two – the result being that (at least here in Australia) very few parishes ever sing it. Sing to the Mountains is similar – many musicians here skip Verse 2 and only do 1 and 3. As for songs like the now renamed “God of My Salvation”, they were approved if they met the criteria on the proviso that the name of God was substituted.

  6. Thanks for that, Bill! The Jerusalem Bible is a wonderful accomplishment and the decision to print Yahweh makes perfect sense. The issue however, is not with the printed but with the spoken medium. The Jewish tradition of ‘It is written this way but/and it is spoken that way.’ (Kethib and Qere) signifies a respect for the written form which explains the reluctance to change even a letter of the text. There is more flexibility around the spoken version, where YHWH in Hebrew may be vocalised as Adonai or Ha Shem. The latter has the advantage of having the same number of syllables as the divine name does. To substitute it for Yahweh would be to introduce another Jewish practice into Christian tradition and to accentuate the transcendence of God. I imagine that Dan Schutte has finished the work of adaptation by now.

    We may need to introduce a version of Qethib and Qere into Roman Catholicism when the Pell missals arrive. An advertisement at the top this page says that it is set in clear, easy-to-read type. Ought we to be thankful for one small mercy?

  7. Songs such as “All The Ends Of The Earth” are responsorial in nature, in that the congregation sings the refrain, and a cantor/song leader, sings the verses. Then the song works. Please note, I did not use the term “hymn”.

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