Welcome to the NPM Cantors' Section

The NPM Cantor Steering Committee works to serve the needs of approximately 2400 cantors in NPM. As a community of peers, we hope to empower cantors to embrace our role as leaders of prayer.   We also strive to be animators of the community's worship and work collaboratively with music directors. We encourage cantors to take responsibility for our development and serve as mentors to others entering this ministry.

Mission Statement

The purpose of the Cantor Interest Section is to assist cantors to grow in the spiritual qualities, the liturgical knowledge, and the musical skills needed to fulfill their specific role as ministers of music serving the liturgical prayer of the assembly.

To assist in this development, our section includes the following features:

    • Institutes and Events: Check here for information on Cantor Institutes.
    • Newsletter: Cantors receive an electronic seasonal newsletter as a benefit of membership.
    • Certificates: We are pleased to offer cantors the opportunity to be a part of three different Cantor Certificates.  The first is the Basic Cantor Certificate (BCC) process.  This assessment seeks to encourage cantors to develop the skills necessary for more effective ministry and to strengthen our identity as leaders of prayer. In addition, we are pleased to offer the NPM Intermediate Cantor Certificate (ICC)0 and the Cantor Colleague Certificate (CCC).  The Intermediate and Cantor Colleague Certificates are a means to recognize the achievement of advanced skills expected of psalmists and cantors. See our “Certificates” page for details.
    • Resource – we have an extensive resource list for cantors with literature for cantors of all skills and abilities.
    • Cantor Trainer - the NPM Cantor Steering Committee has written a plan for a person who is discerning becoming more fully involved in NPM Cantor Training activities.  See the “Cantor Trainer” link for more information.
    • Cantor Steering Committee: Email Addresses: Please feel free to contact us at tammyschnitt@yahoo.comwith questions or comments. A member of the Standing Committee will respond as soon as possible.
    • The Cantor Interest Section has a Facebook page!  Search for "National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM) Cantors and join us!

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"

The Cantor

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.