At the present time, general guidelines for composers of liturgical music are contained in the Church’s official documents on liturgy and music, namely, the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (1963) (see, especially, Chapter VI), the post-Conciliar Instruction from the Sacred Congregation of Rites entitled Musicam sacram (1967), and the latest revision of General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2012).
In addition, some Episcopal Conferences have prepared more detailed guidelines for composers of liturgical music. See the weblinks that follow:
- composer-guide.pdf (catholicyyc.ca) (Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2014)
- OM-Composers-Guide.pdf (liturgyoffice.org.uk) (Bishops Conference of England and Wales, 2011)
These national guidelines can be useful references for composers in other countries, such as Australia, until such time as the local conference approves its own guidelines.
In recent times, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement, via its Committee on Doctrine, on liturgical hymn and song texts. This statement is entitled Catholic Hymnody at the Service of the Church: An Aid for Evaluating Hymn Lyrics (September 2020).
This statement should be useful in drawing attention to various issues associated with existing texts and those that will be written in the future.