Friday, May 29, 2015


GIRM p 47 - 48


My sister bought a garden hose.  It came with instructions.  “Why on earth do you need instructions?” she asked.  “Because somebody out there will stick one end in their nose and then sue the company because there were not instructions on how to properly use it,” I replied.


So it is with the instructions on how the priest in the ministers are to get into the sanctuary.  There are instructions.  “When the people are gathered,” so the priests shouldn’t start if all of you are out having a smoke, “the priest, deacon, and ministers enter and the entrance chant begins.”


Now, notice it says, “Entrance chant.”  Chant is the preferred POST VATICAN II music.  One thing to keep in mind also when reading rubrics in general is that things are listed in an order for a reason.  What is listed first is preferred followed by options.  So we have instructions on WHO should sing the opening chant in the preferred order:


1.      Sung alternately by the choir (so a choir is preferred) and the people.

2.      By cantor and the people

3.      By the choir alone.  (Interesting, no?  I think many would be shocked by this.)


Then there is a listing of WHAT STYLE of music may be sung:


1.      The antiphon from the Missal (perhaps with psalm response) as set to music there (read: chant) OR in another setting.

2.      The same as above but one for the liturgical season rather than that particular day.

3.      A chant from another collection of psalms that have been approved by the bishops.

4.      Another liturgical chant suited to the day, month, season, that has been approved by the bishop. 


Not listed is “Or just pick a song you like out of the missalette.”  Although we may certainly pick an appropriate song out of the missalette (it has been approved by our bishops) it certainly is not what Vatican II expressed as being the pinnacle of liturgical expression although it is probably what most Americans experience.  But we like what we like. 


Chris P. said...

So.. a question... I go to church a fair amount of the time, but I've never been to the Latin Mass. I attend either weekends at St. S or weekdays at some church of relative convenience to my day's activities - is it fair to say that despite being there often I've never heard chant at mass? Do I hear it very infrequently?

Do "Salve Regina" and "Tantum Ergo Sacramentum" that we sing on Tuesdays count?

I feel extraordinarily ignorant on this topic.

MaryofSharon said...

Fr. V. you touched on something that is important to me.

Pastors, please do not assume that the majority of parishioners actually like the standard fare at most American Catholic parishes. With a little explanation and exposure, Chris, above, may love chanted antiphons instead of hymns, but he (or she?) has not been exposed enough to even know what they are. Why don't American pastors begin to lead their parishes gently and with lots of explanation to the solemnity and beauty of the music and texts proper to the Mass that the Church actually proposes for us? I really believe that the evangelistic power of the Mass would be unleashed by such a revival, particularly for young people, who in surprising numbers are actually drawn by the timeless and transcendent.

I, for one, would love to go to a Ordinary Form Mass that uses no music except the chanted proper antiphons and prayers for that particular Mass, plus the regular parts of the Mass. I find hymns that are someone "just pick[s] out of the missalette] to be a distraction and interruption in my ability to pray with the Mass, with the exception of, perhaps worshipful, reverent processional and recessional hymns. Even the best of hymns are distracting from the actual praying of the Mass, never mind how challenging it is when the music itself, the instrumentation, or the lyrics are not in keeping with the solemnity of the Mass nor reflective of the proper perspective of humble, sinful creature before his omnipotent, yet merciful Father.

Chris, perhaps you've heard a chant version of the Easter Sequence or the Pentecost Sequence between the second reading and the Gospel on those feasts. It's hauntingly beautiful in Latin (Latin Easter Sequence ), but it also beautiful in English ( English Easter Sequence) if immediate understanding is desired.

Here's an example of exactly what the rubrics are proposing in option #1 (first choice under "WHAT STYLE") listed by Fr. V. for the Entrance Antiphon (from Tobit) for this coming Sunday (Trinity Sunday Year B) in combination with the beautiful "Canticle of the Three Young Men" from Daniel. I can readily imagine how beautiful it would be to have St. Sebastian's terrific cantor, Bill N., singing this.

Musica Sacra and Corpus Christi Watershed have tons of free music ready for any pastor or music minister to use at will, along with all kinds of tools and even workshops to help music ministers learn this kind of music.

Pat said...

After so many years of the newer music, people are not as familiar with chant anymore. I suspect they would welcome it, at least as a variation to what is usually done.

Fr. V said...

Always the challenge is introducing it. 1) It is far more difficult to do than people realize (and do it correctly.) 2) As Pat said, people are unfamiliar with it and that is always a cause for consternation. So when it is introduced, it is often done so with some amount of trepidation.

That being said, yes, we do some chant in both Latin and English here. We do the Mass chant parts in Lent and Advent (although I hate equating Latin and chant with a penetential season only) and what you cited above is correct Chris.