No rigid uniformity? : music in the American Roman Catholic liturgy since the Second Vatican Council.

Date of Award


Document Type



Caspersen School of Graduate Studies

Degree Name

Doctor of Letters


This dissertation takes a look at music in the Roman Catholic liturgy in the approximately 50 years since the Second Vatican Council. Beginning with The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, I look at documents of the Catholic Church that address the role of music in the liturgy and the literature that demonstrates how the different guidelines published from local terrestrial church authorities. I explain how the initial goals of the Second Vatican Council have, in the United States, transformed from an emphasis on inculturation and inclusivity of varied cultures to an emphasis on a uniform expression of Catholicism. In the approximately 50 years since the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church in the United States saw popular music styles of American culture and music from Spanish-speaking countries and African-American culture help many Catholics fully participate in their faith. This dissertation shows how some common practices employed in music of the liturgy in the wake of the Second Vatican Council has been replaced with new rules with more restrictions. Data has been compiled from official church documents both in the Vatican and from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, along with articles publications designed to aid music ministers in employing church teaching, scholarly analysis of development in church practice, and hymnals used by the faithful of the church. This dissertation asserts that the mandates of the Second Vatican Council have been ignored or treated as irrelevant in the short period since. The Catholic Church in the United States represent many different cultures and an American culture alike. A Church that asserts just one perspective that is of one particular time and place will not serve the needs of the Church. As the Second Vatican Council asserts, "no rigid uniformity" is needed for the full participation of all.