Pastoral Letter on Sacred Music in Divine Worship

“Sing to the LORD a New Song”
of the Archbishop of Portland in Oregon
the Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample
to the Priests, Deacons, Religious,
Musicians and Faithful of the Archdiocese

25 January 2019

Any discussion of the different forms of sacred music must start with Gregorian chant. The Second Vatican Council, taking a lead from Pope St. Pius X, articulated that Gregorian chant should enjoy a pride of place in the Roman liturgy. Every official liturgical document and every teaching of the popes since then has reiterated this important principle.

Given all of this strong teaching from the Popes, the Second Vatican Council, and the U.S. Bishops, how is it that this ideal concerning Gregorian chant has not been realized in the Church? Far from enjoying a pride of place in the Church’s Sacred Liturgy, one rarely if ever hears Gregorian chant.

This is a situation which must be rectified. It will require great effort and serious catechesis for the clergy and faithful, but Gregorian chant must be introduced more widely as a normal part of the Mass. Some practical steps toward this are outlined in the Guidelines section of this pastoral letter.

Read the full Pastoral Letter here.