Canned Music?

Q. I was wondering if a church can use canned music for some celebrations when live music is not available or is costly?

T.D., via e-mail

A.Here is a reply from Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:

We should always try to give God the best, especially in the liturgy. If you can do better than “canned music” for Mass, you should do so. Nonetheless, I am not aware of any current universal prohibition against using prerecorded digital, mechanical or automatic music at Mass, although there was a time (around 1958) that it was prohibited.

Technology has evolved in such a way that musical instruments (acoustic pianos, electric organs and even pipe organs) can play a hymn by remote control. However, if the congregation sings the hymn, the congregation must keep pace with the prerecorded music. And that can be difficult to do.

Based on my 20 years of liturgical experience, I suggest that you find an organist. If you are unable to do so, or cannot afford an organist, then just sing the songs without musical accompaniment.