GIRM 312-313: The Place for the Choir and the Musical Instruments

Where to place the choir and instruments?

312. The schola cantorum (choir) should be so positioned with respect to the arrangement of each church that its nature may be clearly evident, namely as part of the assembled community of the faithful undertaking a specific function. The positioning should also help the choir to exercise this function more easily and allow each choir member full sacramental participation in the Mass in a convenient manner.[Musicam Sacram 23]

Three important factors:

  • Be part of the assembled community
  • Able to function as ministers
  • Allow for sacramental participation, conveniently

My own sense is that choir lofts work against numbers one and three. Not impossibly so, but a challenge that can’t be easily dismissed.

313. The organ and other lawfully approved musical instruments should be placed in a suitable place so that they can sustain the singing of both the choir and the people and be heard with ease by everybody if they are played alone. It is appropriate that before being put into liturgical use, the organ be blessed according to the rite described in the Roman Ritual.[Book of Blessings 1052-1067]

Is your organ blessed?

In Advent the use of the organ and other musical instruments should be marked by a moderation suited to the character of this time of year, without expressing in anticipation the full joy of the Nativity of the Lord.

And are you ready for Lent:

In Lent the playing of the organ and musical instruments is allowed only in order to support the singing. Exceptions, however, are Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Solemnities, and Feasts.

About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in GIRM, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to GIRM 312-313: The Place for the Choir and the Musical Instruments

  1. Liam says:

    This is where the GIRM places visuals over acoustics, a common problem. Where I asked to offer changes to this, I would expressly address the issue of ensuring that that the issue of acoustics is also given important consideration: the choir should be placed where the acoustics best support the choir’s ministerial efforts.

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