NZ Directory of Liturgical Music | He Puna Himene mo Aotearoa

The Bishops of every country are mandated by the Holy See to provide a Directory of Liturgical Music for use in their country.

Therefore the Bishops of New Zealand have asked the National Liturgy Office to establish a set of principles, processes and procedures for establishing a repertoire of liturgical music that is beautiful, noble and simple, to enable the Body of Christ, in this sacred land, to “sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God (Col 3:16). This Directory is the first step on this journey. The second step is the gradual publication of repertoires of psalm, songs and hymns that follow the Liturgical Year.

Purpose of the Directory

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In 2001, the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, published the Instruction Liturgiam Authenticam. This document detailed the new principles of translation to be used when translating the prayers of the Roman Missal from Latin to the vernacular languages. This same Instruction makes reference to the music to be used in the Church's liturgy and the role of the Conferences of Bishops in ensuring its quality, dignity and appropriateness.

“Within five years of the publication of this Instruction, the Conferences of Bishops,…shall provide for the publication of a directory or repertory of texts intended for liturgical singing.”
Liturgiam Authenticam, 108

Although we have missed the five year timeline required by Liturgiam Authenticam, our Bishops are nonetheless committed to the goal of actively promoting music that is worthy for use in the liturgy. It is their intention that every effort be made to ensure that we have a repertoire of liturgical music that is beautiful, noble and simple, so that together as the Body of Christ here in this sacred land, we can "with gratitude in [our] hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God" (Col 3: 16).

To assist them in this most important of tasks, the Bishops are working closely with the National Liturgy Advisory Group (NLAG) and the National Network of Liturgical Musicians (NNLM) who will make recommendations on the music to be included in the New Zealand Directory of Liturgical Music. The Bishops' Conference will consider these recommendations before giving its approval.


In order for the New Zealand Directory of Liturgical Music to be a useful and effective resource, it is essential that the National Liturgy Office begin a conversation with parishes, schools and communities so as to know what music is included in your present repertoire.

Once all the music is collated it will be reviewed by the National Network of Liturgical Musicians according to well-defined criteria. This music will then be either:



The National Network of Liturgical Musicians will use the following criteria (prepared by the National Liturgy Office of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops) in its review of all music submitted for inclusion in the New Zealand Directory of Liturgical Music:

  • Musical Judgment
  • Liturgical Judgment
  • Pastoral Judgment

Musical Judgment

Is the music technically, aesthetically and expressively good?

  • Is there an identifiable musical structure and form?
  • Do the melodies and harmony complement each other?
  • Do the text and musical rhythm go together, or have they been forced?
  • Are the phrases, intervals and harmonies sing able?
  • Is the music pleasing and engaging?
  • Does the music have the capacity to transcend the simply aural, indeed, to be symbolic, moving the listeners and singers beyond the concrete to the abstract?
  • Is the music able to express the text or the occasion for which it was composed?

It is also important to consider the style of music. Not all liturgical music is of one style; some music may be described as classical, some as folk, some as contemporary. Musicians need to consider the style of music which is best suited to the liturgical celebration, the particular assembly, and the instruments available.

Catholic Book of Worship III, 29.

Liturgical Judgment

The liturgical judgment is a decision based on the suitability of a piece of music for a particular moment in the liturgical celebration. It presumes an awareness of the musical priorities mentioned above. The following questions will assist the musician in making a liturgical judgment regarding music for celebrations:

  • Will this piece of music enable the assembly to participate fully in singing its praise of God?
  • Is the text theologically sound?
  • Is this setting in accord with the text provided in the Roman Missal?
  • Is this piece of music in keeping with the norms for liturgical music found in the GIRM?
  • Is the text consistent with the language of our contemporary liturgical books? For example, does the text use inclusive language in a manner consistent with our liturgical books?
  • Is this music suited to the assembly or to the choir only?

Catholic Book of Worship III, 30.

Pastoral Judgment

The pastoral judgment is often best made in consultation with other music ministers and members of pastoral staff. This judgment is about the appropriateness of the music for a particular community on a particular occasion. The following questions will assist the musician in making a pastoral judgment regarding music for celebrations.

  • Will this piece of music help this assembly to express its prayer?
  • Are the music and text in accord with the mentality, tastes and cultural expression of this assembly?
  • Does the community know this piece of music?
  • Will this piece be a valuable addition to the community’s repertoire?
  • Can this piece of music be used on more than one occasion during the liturgical year?
  • Are the musicians and members of the community capable of performing this piece of music?

Catholic Book of Worship III, 31.

Repertoire for Liturgical Seasons

Hymn Suggestion for Lent: From Ashes to the Living Font by Alan Hommerding. Verses specific to each sunday of Lent. Available at Gather III 474, CBW II 289 and as a OneLicence downloadable file.

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National Repertoire Hymns and Songs for Advent

Advent is a season of hope, expectancy, and particularly in the last nine days, preparation for the celebration of the nativity of the Lord. It is a time for looking back and listening to the message of the prophets, especially Isaiah and John the Baptist, then looking forward, with Mary and Joseph to the time when God’s plan for a new age of justice, peace and harmony will come to be. It is a time of pilgrimage that may also focus on our own journey to God.

Specific Mass settings and music are reserved for the Advent season, such as “Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus” or “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”. A small number of carols which announce the advent of Jesus, and show us what God’s promises and hopes are to mean are also useful at this time. The Holly and the Ivy is one traditional Advent carol. Shirley Murray and Colin Gibson, New Zealand composers, offer a small selection of contemporary carols: “Come Now Lord Jesus”, “Lord Jesus Christ, bring Christmas to our home” and “Who is the child to be born?”

Music at the time of Advent is simple, restrained, sometimes unaccompanied. The Gloria is not used. As we reflect on God’s saving story throughout the ages, consider drawing on our Latin Mass heritage by using chant. A fuller range of suggestions is listed in He Puna Hīmene mō Aotearoa, The Directory of Liturgical Music under the Advent repertoire, published on the National Liturgy Office website.


Christmas is more than a single day in the calendar of the Church. It is a season of joy, stretched over several weeks, as the Church celebrates the incarnation, the birth of Jesus Christ; the communion of God and humanity.

After the restraint of Advent music, it is time to bring forth a fullness of instruments and voice to create rich and beautiful music reflecting the joy of the season and the wonder of our new dignity. This is the time to sing familiar Christmas Carols, but also to look for contemporary New Zealand hymns that reflect the southern seasons, symbols and history of this land.

Choose a joyful Mass setting that offers a specially loved Gloria as we join with the angels of the first Christmas story to sing these words in our liturgies once again. For a list of Christmas Time music, please visit the Christmas repertoire of He Puna Hīmene mō Aotearoa, the Directory of Liturgical Music for Aoteaoroa New Zealand.



National Repertoire Hymns and Songs for Lent

Lenten Music is marked by the characteristics of the season, a time of repentance and conversion. The Alleluia and Gloria are omitted. As the organ may be silent or used only to accompany singing, so other musical accompaniment should also be restrained to the provision of support for the singing of the Assembly. People may be asked to leave from some Masses in silence. In all these ways such choices will enable the contrast between the time of Lent and the effect of the Church’s exuberance at Masses on Easter Sunday to be experienced in all its fullness.

Music specific to the rituals for catechumens and candidates preparing to enter the Church at Easter Time needs consideration, as does the ritual music for the Triduum.

Palm Sunday, the last Sunday of Lent, requires ‘Hosannas’! A song using ‘Hosanna’ and the phrase, ‘Son of David’ is to be used as ministers approach the place where people have gathered for the Procession to the Church.

For a list of liturgical music suitable for Lent, please visit the National Liturgy Office website, He Puna Hīmene mō Aotearoa, The Directory of Liturgical Music, Lenten Repertoire.

Easter Time

National repertoire of Hymns and Songs for Easter

Sing Alleluia! The 50 days from the Sunday of the Resurrection to Pentecost Sunday are celebrated in unbounded joy and exultation as one ‘great Sunday’(St Athanasius). The Church’s exuberance at Masses of Easter is reflected in the return of the ‘Alleluia’ and the ‘Gloria’ at the Easter Vigil, and in joy filled words and music throughout the Mass. These are the days above all others in which the ‘Alleluia’ is sung – to welcome the Gospel and to send us out to share the Good News.

Sequences for Easter and Pentecost

In liturgy, the word “sequence” refers to a hymn that follows the gospel acclamation on particular feast days. Two Sequences are currently retained for Easter Time; Victimae Pashchali Laudes, ‘Christians to the Paschal Feast’, to be sung on Easter Sunday and Veni Sancte Spiritus, ‘Holy Spirit, Lord of Light’, to be sung on Pentecost Sunday. Examples of these hymns are to be found in the national repertoire of Hymns and Songs for Easter.

Repertoire for Sacraments & Rites

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National Repertoire Hymns and Songs for Funerals
National Repertoire Hymns and Songs for Funerals shortened

The funeral liturgy is a celebration of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, into whom the one who has died was baptised, and a powerful prayer that this person be welcomed into the communion of Saints in heaven. Those who participate in the funeral liturgy thank God for the gift of a life that is now returned to the Creator to enjoy the everlasting life of heaven.

The Order of Christian Funerals makes provision and offers guidelines for the family of the deceased and the minister to choose those rites, texts and music that are most suitable for each situation (#30-33).

Music is an important and integral part of Catholic funeral rites. Music allows the community to express convictions and feelings that spoken words alone may fail to convey; it consoles and uplifts those who mourn and strengthens the unity of those who have gathered in faith, love and hope of eternal life.

Ideally the hymns, acclamations and responses will be able to be sung by all the people; or with assistance from a cantor or choir. The texts of these hymns, responses and acclamations give thanks to God; or speak about the new life that Jesus Christ offers or express the faith, hope and love of those gathered. They may also be related to the scriptures that are chosen (#30).

The Introduction to the Order of Christian Funerals encourages the use of music for the Vigil, the Funeral Liturgy and whenever possible for funeral processions and the Rite of Committal (#32). Within the funeral liturgy, in addition to the parts of the rite that are normally sung, every effort is to be made to sing the Song of Farewell during the final commendation (#174).

An outline of suitable hymnody is provided in the resource that follows, as well as a repertoire of suitable music that has been collated from the parishes of each diocese in New Zealand.

Hymns for Special Occasions

The Voice of Your Mercy

Composed by Maria Guzzo, originally for the Year of Mercy. Can be useful in a wide range for prayer services and liturgies when God's mercy is being celebrated. Also suitable for Reconciliation.

Words and Music.

We Are United in Christ

Composed by Maria Guzzo at the request of the NZCBC Committee for Ecumenism on the occasion of the Commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.

Words and Music.