GIRM 38: The Manner of Pronouncing the Different Texts

A reminder that if you want to check out the GIRM yourself, at least the US version, go to the USCCB site. We get a self-contained section today, starting off with a reminder about volume and clarity:

38. In texts that are to be pronounced in a loud and clear voice, whether by the Priest or the Deacon, or by a reader, or by everyone, the voice should correspond to the genre of the text itself, that is, depending upon whether it is a reading, a prayer, an explanatory comment, an acclamation, or a sung text; it should also be suited to the form of celebration and to the solemnity of the gathering. Consideration should also be given to the characteristics of different languages and of the culture of different peoples.

Therefore, in the rubrics and in the norms that follow, words such as “say” and “proclaim” are to be understood either of singing or of reciting, with due regard for the principles stated here above.


Everyone proclaiming a text, even a child at a school or religious ed Mass, should be aware of the genre of the text: history, wisdom literature, poetry, prophetic utterance, parable or story, etc.. That’s a basic tool to be used to adjust one’s style of speaking.

Interesting that the GIRM suggests tailoring one’s proclamation method to “form” and “solemnity” of the liturgy. I wouldn’t interpret this as giving license to the entire range of the possible. Even in a home Mass with just a few people, there should be a dignity framing the proclamation of Scripture.

A big omission in this section is the need for a cleric or layperson to be aware of the architectural and acoustic demands of proclamation. Big churches have less problems with making a person heard and more with intelligibility.

And that second paragraph contains an important reminder: when you see “say,” it might mean “sing.” And often does.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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