Ask a Franciscan

Can Drums Be Used at Mass?

According to one of my friends, the rules for celebrating Mass state that drums cannot be used with other musical instruments or with singers. Is that true?

It is not true. No musical instrument is prohibited by the 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) or in Music in the Liturgy, issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2007. GIRM establishes universal requirements and notes where episcopal conferences can propose variations requiring the Holy See’s approval. Drums have been used at some Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica and in Masses during the pope’s apostolic visits throughout the world.

Unfortunately, people sometimes confuse their own preferences with what the Catholic Church requires or forbids.

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6 thoughts on “Can Drums Be Used at Mass?”

  1. But what is stated very clearly is that no instrument is to be played in a secular manner during liturgy. Rock and pop, polka and folk music, etc. aren’t sacred. The organ is preferred. Gregorian chant is to be given pride of place. Rock and pop are fine at paraliturgical and non-liturgical events. Not at Mass or other liturgies.

  2. The answer here is incorrect. Drums, bells, cymbals etc were all explicitly banned from use in the Liturgy by Pope Pius X: “the employment of the piano is forbidden in church, as is also that of noisy or frivolous instruments such as drums, cymbals, bells, and the like” (TLS 19). This ban was never rescinded. Sacrosanctum Concilium also differentiates between sacred and non sacred instruments.

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