The Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy
Pope Paul VI
Dec. 4, 1963.
36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.
2. But since the use of the mother tongue (vernacular), whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the Liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.54. In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. This is to apply in the first place to the readings and "the common prayer," but also, as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people, according to the norm laid down in Art. 36 (see above) of this Constitution.
Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.
Sacred Congregation of Rites
September 26, 1964
59. Pastors shall carefully see to it that the Christian faithful, especially members of lay religious institutes, also know how to recite or sing together in Latin, mainly with simple melodies, the parts of the Ordinary of the Mass proper to them.
Sacred Congregation of Rites
March 5, 1967
47. According to the Constitution on the Liturgy, "the use of the Latin language, with due respect to particular law, is to be preserved in the Latin rites."
Pastors of souls should take care that besides the vernacular "the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them."
Sacred Congregation of Rites
May 25, 1967
19. When any of the faithful take part in a Eucharistic celebration outside their own parish, they will follow the form of celebration used by the local community.
Pastors should do what they can to help faithful from other areas join with the local community. This is above all necessary in city churches and places where many of the faithful come on vacation. Where there are large numbers of emigrants or people of another language, pastors should provide them at least from time to time with the opportunity of participating in the Mass in the way to which they are accustomed. "Steps should be taken however to enable the faithful to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Mass which pertain to them."
Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship
April 14, 1974
Our congregation has prepared a booklet entitled, "Jubilate Deo", which contains a minimum selection of sacred chants. This was done in response to a desire which the Holy Father had frequently expressed, that all the faithful should know at least some Latin Gregorian chants, such as, for example, the "Gloria", the "Credo", the "Sanctus", and the "Agnus Dei".
It gives me great pleasure to send you a copy of it, as a personal gift from His Holiness, Pope Paul VI. May I take this opportunity of recommending to your pastoral solicitude this new initiative, whose purpose is to facilitate the observance of the recommendation of the Second Vatican Council "...steps must be taken to ensure that the faithful are able to chant together in Latin those parts of the ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.
In effect, when the faithful gather together for prayer they manifest at once the diversity of a people drawn "from every tribe, language and nation (Ap. 5:9) and its unity in faith and charity. Their diversity is manifested in the present multiplicity of liturgical languages and in the vernacular chants which, in the context of one shared faith, give expression to each people's religious sentiment in music drawn from its culture and traditions. On the other hand, their unity finds particularly apt and even sensible expression through the use of Latin Gregorian chant.
General Instruction of the Roman Missal
(The book with all of the prayers for Mass and the explanation of how to say Mass.)
12. Therefore, when the Second Vatican Council convened in order to accommodate the Church to the requirements of her proper apostolic office precisely in these times, it examined thoroughly, as had Trent, the instructive and pastoral character of the Sacred Liturgy (15). Since no Catholic would now deny the lawfulness and efficacy of a sacred rite celebrated in Latin, the Council was also able to grant that "the use of the vernacular language may frequently be of great advantage to the people" and gave the faculty for its use (16). The enthusiasm in response to this measure has been so great everywhere that it has led, under the leadership of the Bishops and the Apostolic See itself, to permission for all liturgical celebrations in which the people participate to be in the vernacular, for the sake of a better comprehension of the mystery being celebrated.
41. All other things being equal, Gregorian chant holds pride of place because it is proper to the Roman Liturgy. Other types of sacred music, in particular polyphony, are in no way excluded, provided that they correspond to the spirit of the liturgical action and that they foster the participation of all the faithful.
Since faithful from different countries come together ever more frequently, it is fitting that they know how to sing together at least some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, especially the Creed and the Lord's Prayer, set to the simpler melodies.
Some Highlights of the Liturgical Renewal Initiated by Sacrosanctum Concilium by Francis Cardinal Arinze, the former Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, at a Keynote address to the national convention of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, at the Omni San Antonio Hotel, October 7, 2003.
While retaining Latin as the language in the Latin rite, the Council appreciated the usefulness of the use of the mother tongue among the various peoples of the world (cf. SC, no. 36). Since the Council, the use of the mother tongue has become so widened and general that many priests now find it not easy to celebrate Mass in Latin. Vatican II did not abolish Latin. It would be good that occasionally a parish sings the more popular parts of the Mass in Latin: think of what this means in terms of preserving and respecting our patrimony, showing the Church as a community that has a memory, and facilitating international Eucharistic celebrations.