FEBRUARY 19, 1749

43. This is what We recommend with all our strength and above all: that churches should be very well kept decorated, should be clean, and furnished with all the necessary sacred objects. It is easy to understand: if strangers crossing the Papal States see there, either in the towns or in the diocesan territories, buildings dedicated to worship falling into ruin, or desecrated by dirt and filth, without their sacred ornaments or with only torn, unattractive ones, it is certain that they will return home taking with them nothing but a memory of scandalous negligence and that they will, full of indignation, hold us guilty.

44. We do not intend, with these words, to insist on sumptuous or magnificent accouterments for holy buildings, nor on rich or expensive furnishings; we are aware these are not everywhere possible; what we wish is decency and cleanliness. These can coexist with poverty, and can be adapted to it; no one can object to our requiring these. . . .

49. The second point upon which we would rouse your zeal and your solicitude is that you take care that the canonical hours be sung or recited as is customary or is the rule in each church, with the care and the respect due by those who are obligated to them. There is indeed nothing which is more contrary to, or bad for, church discipline, than negligently or disrespectfully to carry out liturgical worship. You are certainly aware of the obligation that canons and other metropolitan clergy have in cathedrals and college choirs, to chant the canonical hours daily in choir; and it is not sufficient, in order to meet this obligation, to execute the psalter without interior attention and simply in order to get it over with. . . .

51. Great care must be exercised lest the chant be hurried or sung faster than it should; that the pauses be made in the appropriate place; and that one part of the choir does not begin the following verse of a psalm before the other has finished the preceding verse. It is this chant which excites the souls of the faithful to devotion and to piety; and it is this chant which, if it is executed according to the rules and with the decorum which is required inside the churches of God, the faithful prefer. . . .

53. The third thing of which we wish to warn you is that "musical" chant which modern usage has commonly introduced into churches, and is accompanied by organs and other instruments should be executed in such a way that it does not convey a profane, worldly or theatrical impression. The use of organs and of other instruments is not yet admitted throughout the Christian world.


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