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Michigan bishop inaugurates program to have chant at all parishes

January 29, 2016

Bishop John Doerfler of Marquette, Michigan, has issued directions for all parishes in the diocese to institute programs that will lead to the congregation chanting the Ordinary parts of the Mass.

Following up on the work of his predecessor in Marquette, then-Bishop Alexander Sample (who is now Archbishop of Portland, Oregon), Bishop Doerfler has called for the action to carry out the vision of Vatican II, which encouraged the use of Gregorian chant and congregational involvement in the singing. 

In a pastoral letter released in 2013, Bishop Sample had also called attention to the Council's directives on liturgical music, as well as similar directives from post-conciliar Pontiffs and from the US episcopal conference. "Given all of this strong teaching from the Popes, the Second Vatican Council, and the US bishops, how is it that this ideal concerning Gregorian chant has not been realized?" he asked. Bishop Doerfler said that he was taking action to realize his predecessor's ideal.

Therefore, the bishop said, all parishes in the Marquette diocese will be expected to teach chant to the faithful, and introduce the regular chanting of the Ordinary parts of the Mass. These steps, Bishop Doerfler said, "can be taken by the smallest parishes in the diocese." He ordered that all parishes have chant programs in place by the end of the year 2020.

Bishop Doerfler also announced that the diocese would prepare its own hymnal, and only music from that hymnal will be approved for use at Mass in the diocese. He said that a diocesan director of sacred music will be appointed, to help parishes instruct the faithful and prepare for the new programs. 


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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Feb. 02, 2016 7:23 PM ET USA

    I just read Bishop Doerfler's instruction that was posted on 30 January. It's about time that a bishop has forcefully decided to *properly* implement the directives of Vatican II regarding the sacred liturgy.

  • Posted by: dowd9585 - Jan. 31, 2016 11:14 AM ET USA

    Great idea!! Finally, a Bishop bringing back appropriate uplifting music. Getting rid of all Protestant and folk music derivatives is simply a marvelous happening. Mass is, after all, serious business and should be treated with all the reverence we can muster.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Jan. 30, 2016 2:58 PM ET USA

    Dear Bryan H. Time to learn some Latin. When you do, you will find shades of meaning in scripture and the liturgy that you never knew existed. You will think you have died and gone to heaven.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Jan. 30, 2016 2:56 PM ET USA

    Maybe I need to Marquette.

  • Posted by: garedawg - Jan. 30, 2016 10:48 AM ET USA

    Would the plainchant necessarily have to be in Latin?

  • Posted by: feedback - Jan. 30, 2016 9:16 AM ET USA

    I cringe every time I hear in church "give us the courage to enter the song" and some other such nonsensical lines. I like the idea that the diocese would prepare its own hymnal, and only music from that hymnal would be approved for use at Mass in the diocese. That's a clever radical step to eliminate stupid "songs" from the liturgy.

  • Posted by: BryanH - Jan. 29, 2016 8:03 PM ET USA

    I hope and pray that this doesn't become the norm. I know I'll draw the wrath of many for this comment, but don't write me off. I'm a very conservative / orthodox Catholic and I would be obedient... But for me personally this would have a dramatic impact on how I participate and enjoy the Mass. It makes no sense to me at all, how chanting in a language that I don't understand is going to bring me or others closer to Christ. I have no issue with offering it as an option but a parish wide edict?

  • Posted by: RoseMore - Jan. 29, 2016 7:30 PM ET USA

    I wish this was taking place in my diocese. It sounds wonderful! (pun intended).

  • Posted by: bruno - Jan. 29, 2016 7:20 PM ET USA

    OK. That's one more mark in the column titled, "Reasons to move back to Michigan."

  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Jan. 29, 2016 7:10 PM ET USA

    So that's why our southeastern parish church has the choir learning Gregorian chant! It's coming down the pike.