Friday, July 15, 2016


We are skipping a paragraph.  I would imagine that, unless you are experiencing difficulties in the area of when Communion music should start and stop, you will find it imminently uninteresting.

And now on to:
Vatican two
Options for you.

Paragraph 87

When someone is going to be married I have them help me plan their wedding Mass.  When it comes to the vows they have two sets from which to choose and four ways to exchange each of those two sets.  We have a similar thing with options of communion singing.  There are different kinds of music that can be sung and each of those may be sung by different groups of people.

Here are the options of WHAT may be sung in the United States:

  1. The antiphon from the Missal or from the Graduale Romanum as it is set to music there (meaning chant - and notice that this is the FIRST option meaning that it is preferred though very few people do this) or other musical setting.
  2. The antiphon with Psalm from the Graduale Simplex.  (As of yet, no Eagles Wings)
  3. Chant from another collection Psalms and antiphons or set for responsory or to metrical form.
  4. Some other liturgical chant.

That’s it.  But the bishops allow for other music - of which most of the time it seems we want to sing about bread and wine and aren’t we great.  But I digress.

But WHO is to sing the Communion song?

So, after you choose one from among the options above, then you have to decide how the choice will be done.  Notice the order of options once again:

  1. The choir alone.
  2. The choir or cantor along with the people.

Muy interesante.  Most professional liturgists with whom I am acquainted make the great argument that the song should include all of the people (I also get that from many of those people.)  And I get that.  It assists people in participating in something holy during the reception of Communion.  And if we go back to the paragraph that I skipped, it says that we should all be singing to show our joy and unity of heart with our voices.  But if it is a legitimate option not to have everybody singing, that means there is something else for you to do - besides carrying a hymnal up in the Communion line and clutching it tightly under your armpit as you try to receive the Blessed Sacrament.  You have something to offer from your anointing as priest at your baptism - something to pray for, something to pray about, and of great importance, prayer of thanksgiving and adoration.  Just because you are not singing DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE NOT PARTICIPATING UNLESS YOU CHOOSE NOT TO DO SO.  

But wait!  There’s more!

It could not be sung at all!  If there are no musicians, the antiphon should be recited.  

  1. By the faithful (should they have access to it.)
  2. by “some” of the faithful
  3. by the reader
  4. or by the priest himself.


Anonymous said...

Interestingly, the GIRM speaks of the requirement of communal singing, but not during Communion as you have noted. But there is an option for a "communion reflection" chant, which can be a canticle, psalm, or hymn; and it happens after distribution of communion but before the Prayer after communion. It is this chant that should not be choir alone. Often parishes get it backwards having a congregational song during comm. and a choir piece after. See GIRM #88. At my parish our practice is a comm hymn or the chanted antiphon is repeated during comm. procession. When it's the antiphon we will make sure to have a hymn after comm. for folks who really like hymns. I think it works pretty well. - Fr Pfr

MaryofSharon said...

Fr V, would it be too much to suggest for tthere to be an occasional Mass in which option #1 of every aspect of the Mass were to be used? Perhaps one Mass per Sunday or even one Mass per quarter, or even one sole Mass somewhere in the diocese? There really are those among us who prefer these options in spite of the fact that we are in the minority. You could prep people with a series of posts or catechetical presentations. I have a priest friend from a religious order who always uses those options and I find the Masses he celebrates to be prayerful, focused, and undistracted.

I'm on the last day of a whirlwind trip around Europe. I experienced a wonderfully reverent (but sparsely attended),weekday Mass at the glorious St Peter in Munich at which Novus Ordo Masses are offered exclusively ad orientam. Then there was the breathtakingly beautiful Sunday Mass at the Salzburg Dom which was a Mozart orchestral Mass including the moving Ave Verum Corpus ( sung by the choir alone) (which, by the way, I first heard sung at Mass at St Sebastian!) I found myself growing even more deeply in appreciation of Latin in the Mass as the only parts I could understand or pray in these German-speaking nations were the Latin. Finally there was a simple and again sparsely-attended Sunday Mass in a weathered old stone church overlooking a loch in the Highlands of Scotland, in which notably there was no hymn during the communion procession, but we sang a sweet old Scottish hymn after a sllent procession and ample silence after communion. I don't remember experiencing this before, but it makes a lot of sense to wait. (Loved the fact that the Extrordinary Minister of the Eucharist in this humble parish of scruffy fishermen and farmers wore full clan attire complete with kilt). Narry a 1970s-1980's hymn to be heard anywhere. I've been liturgically spoiled.

Pat said...

I wish I could remember the exact wording of a quotation by the late Fr. Benedict Groeschel--but he spoke of the reaction of a Buddhist to Church teaching on the Eucharist and what happens at Mass (singing) during communion. As I recall, the reaction of the Buddhist was, "You take God into your mouths and you can SING???" In context, what was being conveyed was -- is singing the best response AT THAT MOMENT?

Dr Purva Pius said...
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