Ask a Question - or - Return to the Liturgy Forum Index

Question Title Posted By Question Date
Secular Music Chas Sunday, January 4, 2015


This past Sunday during the Offeratory a Christmas Carol was sung first then the choir (which was a youth choir with guitars) started singing a secular song I heard in the movie Shrek; Hallelujah, which was composed by Leonard Cohen. I know there is a rule regarding secular music but I was not able to find it. Can you enlighten me as to where this is prohibited?

Thank you

Question Answered by Mr. Jacob Slavek

Dear Chas,

I haven't heard the "Hallelujah" from Shrek so I can't comment on the particular piece, but assuming it is completely secular then it would be inappropriate for Mass.  You may be thinking of the directive from 1967's Musicam Sacram, which is widely available online.

"Nevertheless, the introduction into the celebration of anything which is merely secular, or which is hardly compatible with divine worship, under the guise of solemnity should be carefully avoided: this applies particularly to the celebration of marriages." (n.43)

Since it could be difficult to tell what exactly is secular in different parts of the world  and in different times, it may also be entirely possible that your own diocese has more specific regulations on what is not allowed.

Mr. Slavek

Footer Notes: (a) A Eucharistic Minister is clergy (Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion). Laity are Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and should never be called Eucharistic Ministers.

(b) There is no such Mass called the Novus Ordo. The Current Mass is the Roman Missal of 2000, or the Oridinary Form of the Mass. The Tridentine Mass is the Roman Missal of 1962, or the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. Please refrain from using the term, Novus Ordo. Thanks.

(c) The titles of Acolyte and Lector belong exclusively to the Installed Offices of Acolyte and Lector, who are men (only) appointed by the Bishop. These roles performed by others are Altar Servers and Readers, respectively.