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God bless you as you continue your journey as a cantor! Know that we are here for YOU!
Tammy Schnittgrund, Chair
NPM Standing Committee for Cantors
What is a Cantor?
From USCCB - "Sing to the Lord"
37. The cantor is both a singer and a leader of congregational song. Especially when no
choir is present, the cantor may sing in alternation or dialogue with the assembly. For example,
the cantor may sing the invocations of the Kyrie, intone the Gloria, lead the short acclamations at
the end of the Scripture readings, intone and sing the verse of the Gospel Acclamation, sing the
invocations of the Prayer of the Faithful, and lead the singing of the Agnus Dei. The cantor may
also sing the verses of the psalm or song that accompany the Entrance, Preparation of the Gifts,
and Communion. Finally, the cantor may serve as psalmist, leading and proclaiming the verses
of the Responsorial Psalm.
38. As a leader of congregational song, the cantor should take part in singing with the
entire gathered assembly. In order to promote the singing of the liturgical assembly, the cantor's voice should not be heard above the congregation. As a transitional practice, the voice of the
cantor might need to be amplified to stimulate and lead congregational singing when this is still
weak. However, as the congregation finds its voice and sings with increasing confidence, the
cantor's voice should correspondingly recede. At times, it may be appropriate to use a modest
gesture that invites participation and clearly indicates when the congregation is to begin, but
gestures should be used sparingly and only when genuinely needed.
39. Cantors should lead the assembly from a place where they can be seen by all without
drawing attention from the liturgical action. When, however, a congregation is singing very
familiar responses, acclamations, or songs that do not include verses for the cantor alone, the
cantor need not be visible.
40. The cantor exercises his or her ministry from a conveniently located stand, but not
from the ambo.46 The cantor may dress in an alb or choir robe, but always in clean, presentable,
and modest clothing. Cassock and surplice, being clerical attire, are not recommended as vesture
for the cantor.
46 See Lectionary for Mass, no. 33.