OCF 68: Music at the Vigil

At last we get to music ministry at the funeral vigil.

68. Music is integral to any vigil, especially the vigil for the deceased. In the difficult circumstances following death, well-chosen music can touch the mourners and others present at levels of human need that words alone often fail to reach. Such music can enliven the faith of the community gathered to support the family and to affirm hope in the resurrection.

Whenever possible, an instrumentalist and a cantor or leader of song should assist the assembly’s full participation in the singing.

In the choice of music for the vigil, preference should be given to the singing of the opening song and the responsorial psalm. The litany, the Lord’s Prayer, and a closing song may also be sung.


The OCF offers a good affirmation of an ideal music ministry that works not only on the spiritual level, but in the human sphere as well. That’s not to say that secular music has a place here–I don’t think it does. But that good sacred music will also heal hearts and inspire hope. And that’s a good thing.

The OCF also affirms the need for musical leadership. I will mention that vigils are excellent training opportunities for psalmists and songleaders. The musical and liturgical demands are not high. And the mourners are generally quite appreciative and affirming of musicians.

Notice the priorities for singing: two pieces “should” be sung and three others “may” be sung.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Order of Christian Funerals, post-conciliar liturgy documents, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

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