PS 50: Holy Thursday Gloria and Triduum Music Thereafter

Jesus arms outstretchedPaschale Solemnitatis, the full document, is on this site, among many others on the internet. Today, a brief note about liturgical music. Many Catholic music directors know the prescription against instrumental music for its own sake:

50. During the singing of the hymn “Gloria in excelsis” In accordance with local custom, the bells may be rung, and should thereafter remain silent until the “Gloria in excelsis” of the Easter Vigil, unless the conference of bishops or the local ordinary, for a suitable reason, has decided otherwise. (Cf. Roman Missal, Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper) During this same period the organ and other musical instruments may be used only for the purpose of supporting the singing. (Cf. Ceremonial of Bishops, 300)

I don’t find this to be a problem, frankly. The nature of Holy Thursday and Good Friday do not suggest instrumental music is really needed. Perhaps a more clouded issue is how to handle choral music during moments such as footwashing, the Communion processions, or veneration of the Cross. Some might say choral voices should only support the singing of the assembly. Others cite the magnificent repertoire appropriate to the Triduum. And a counter-argument to that involves the question: do Holy Thursday and Good Friday invite “magnificence” or similar qualities, or do these days invite a certain prayerful restraint?

My sense with both instruments and voices is that we have a variety of parishes and traditions. The time has not yet arrived where one solution fits all.

About catholicsensibility

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