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October 12, 2020

How to create a printed worship aid

Dear music directors, choir directors and directors of liturgy,

If you are like me, you have been learning many, many new skills since the outbreak of COVID-19. As we began to make decisions after the shutdown of all churches, it looked like one of the common viable ways of celebrating Mass was to do it virtually, which meant that we all had to learn how to livestream. I shudder still at the memory of all the new concepts coming at me in April and May. I spent countless, sleepless nights watching tutorials on the internet, so I could learn how to record video and audio, how to light a scene and use new equipment for livestreaming. The list seemed endless.

But here we are another four months later, and many of you have gained some amazing skills on how to keep your parishioners connected and included in the life of the Church by ensuring that they are still able to celebrate Mass (albeit at home).

This blog will discuss what to take into consideration when you have created that beautiful and complete worship aid, so that your parishioners have a tool to participate in those livestreamed Masses you have prepared so diligently. Be sure to watch the video blog on how to create a worship aid for Mass using OCP’s Breaking Bread Digital Music Library, a fantastic tool created for those who want to work electronically when preparing the music for the parish.

Here are some very important things to consider once you have created the perfect worship aid and are ready to share it with your community.

You need to have licensing in order to distribute copyrighted material

Keep in mind that Breaking Bread Digital Music Library is designed to be used along with a reprint license. Even if we are in a Church spreading the Word of God, the copyright laws still apply. We must be responsible and purchase a copyright license. Please visit ONE LICENSE to learn more about why it is important to purchase a license to reprint and distribute copyrighted songs. You can purchase licenses there as well.

A reprint license does not give you permission to put lyrics in your livestream

If you are planning on projecting published music, like music from OCP, or incorporating it into your livestream, you must purchase a podcast/livestream license. ONE LICENSE has these too, but you must understand that they are different than the reprint licenses. Many parishes are purchasing a combination of the two licenses. This way you can distribute worship aids and show lyrics in your livestreamed Masses.

Use secure servers when sharing digital worship aids

It’s important to understand that the agreements to use Breaking Bread Digital Music Library exist so that you can support your music ministry with downloadable copyrighted material, which you could also use to place in a worship aid and then distribute to your parishioners. The intention would be that the members of your parish receive the material that matches the arrangements your music ministry is using and that you have distributed in order to participate in the livestreamed Mass. However, the library does not include a license for this use. Your parish also does not have permission to send the copyrighted material all over the internet, where it can be discovered and used by anyone in the world. If you are purchasing a license from ONE LICENSE, you are purchasing a reprint and/or a podcast/livestream license to use the music in this way, but this digital material should only be accessible by your parishioners.

Options on how to distribute worship aids

There are a couple of common ways that music leaders are distributing music for their parishioners. Some use the Breaking Bread Digital Music Library to create a worship aid in a booklet form. They then print copies and place them in the church office for parishioners to pick up and later use on Sundays. I hear that many of the parishes around my area use a service called Flocknote in order to send messages to their parishioners. Others create a document containing the music for the Mass. Then, they email that document to members of their parish. Many create the document in Microsoft Publisher or Word, or Apple Pages. Once finished, they save a PDF version of this document for easy sharing and access. Those PDF files can also be shared through services like DropBox or OneDrive which allow for password protection to ensure that your worship aids are being shared in a copyright compliant manner.

Remember that Scripture requires a license from a different organization

If you are creating a worship aid or projecting songs for Mass, keep in mind that all the readings of the day are under a completely different copyright agreement. They do not belong to OCP or other music publishers. Because of this, you do not have permission to reprint any Scripture readings or Mass parts unless properly licensed.

Report, report, report

When you purchase licenses through ONE LICENSE, part of the agreement is for the music director to report to song usage for the week. This is how composers get paid their royalties, allowing them to continue making beautiful music. Please remember this part of the process when downloading songs from the digital libraries, creating worship aids and/or projecting music during Mass.


If you follow all of these steps, you will be compliance with your copyright agreements, and you will be doing the just thing. I congratulate you on all you have achieved this year, and I want to encourage you to continue learning and evangelizing in this digital age. Let us all sing a new song to the Lord — safe at home until further notice.

Jaime Cortez


Jaime Cortez is a talented and popular composer, arranger and performer. In addition to workshops for pastoral musicians and Catholic teachers, he offers concerts with both English and Spanish repertoire, alone or with volunteer groups. Jaime is currently Director of Liturgy & Music at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Scottsdale, AZ.