• I have been a Music Director for over 8 years at various OF parishes. I may have an opportunity to direct a choir for the EF for the first time. I don't know what to expect, and not quite sure how much creativity I can have with music for the EF. What is generally accepted? Does everything have to be sung in Latin? When and how often can hymns in English be sung? Are additional instruments usually accepted (like flute, oboe, or trumpet)? Before I pursue the opportunity further, I'd like a little more information about the types of music can generally be planned. I'm very happy where I am, but this choir I have a chance to direct is really outstanding and sing all Gregorian propers each week and have a growing repertoire of polyphony. I know the rubrics are much stricter with the EF, so I want to make sure I don't end up disappointed with what I may perceive as a rigid approach to liturgical music. Any advice or information will be greatly appreciated.
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  • Congratulations on taking on the music for the EF. I wish you all the best.

    sanctamissa.org, written by the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, Chicago, is an excellent place to start. These Q&As are good introductions to music for various forms of the EF mass.

    A more thorough treatment of these same topics can be found in the book Psallite Sapienter (link to free pdf download towards the bottom of the page).
  • Congratulations! I strongly recommend familiarizing yourself with De musica sacra et sacra liturgia, which is the last word, as it were, for those of us using the old rite. During High Mass, nothing may be sung in the vernacular. You can sing in English before or afterward, including processional and recessional, but not during the Mass itself. Vernacular hymns may be sung during Low Mass. Orchestral instruments are allowed from Christmas through the last Sunday after Epiphany, and from Easter through the last Sunday after Pentecost, except at Requiem Masses or other Masses with a penitential character. The organ alone may also be played on the third Sunday of Advent, the three Sundays before Lent, and the fourth Sunday of Lent. The organ may be played at any time to accompany singing, even during penitential seasons and at Requiem Masses, except between the Gloria of Holy Thursday and the Gloria of the Easter Vigil, when all singing must be unaccompanied.

    The rules are generally adhered to very strictly in English-speaking countries. You'll find such a wealth of wonderful choral and chant repertory that you probably won't mind giving up English anthems (at least for the most part). Of course, if your choir already knows a ton of English repertory, you can always program some of it as prelude music, or have them sing for a Low Mass occasionally.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,202
    The splitting of the Sanctus, technically not allowed if it is chant, is always done in more Francophone regions, fyi. So is singing the Communion after Communion, which is the pre–1958 rubric.
    Thanked by 1ClergetKubisz
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,783
    I didn't know that about the Communion chant. Is that for after the priest has consumed, or after the distribution to the faithful?
  • Liam
    Posts: 2,992
    The communion chant begins while priest communes (rather than after), if I recall reading correctly here, when I was corrected for my erroneous impression that that rubric was solely for the OF and learned it was also for the solemn Mass in the EF.
  • If one wishes to adhere to the rubrics that applied to the 1962 missal, then De Musica Sacra (1958) says
    29 c. The Communion antiphon must be chanted while the celebrant is receiving the Most Blessed Sacrament. If the faithful are to communicate, the singing of the antiphon is to begin when the priest distributes Holy Communion. If this Communion antiphon has been taken from some psalm, the other verses of the same
    psalm may be sung, in which case the antiphon may be repeated after every one or two verses and, the Communion over, the psalm should be concluded with the Gloria Patri and the repeated antiphon. But if the antiphon is not taken from a psalm, one may
    choose a psalm fitting to the solemnity of the liturgical action.
    When the Communion antiphon is completed, another short Latin hymn in keeping with the sacred act may also be sung, especially if the people's Communion is prolonged.
    Reasonably clear, if slightly self contradictory in a way AngloSaxon legislation would try to avoid (or is this inadequate translation?!) Also, do I notice a bit of alius cantus aptus creeping in?
    Thanked by 1Liam
  • A_F_Hawkins,

    I do not think you see alius cantus aptus, because it does not say that the antiphon may be replaced by something else, but supplemented by something else. Those are very different. Imagine the following conversation.

    May I have dessert?

    After you have finished your Brussels sprouts.

    May I have some cheese on my Brussels sprouts?

    As long as you eat your Brussels sprouts.

    After my Brussels sprouts are gone, may I have two helpings of dessert?

    That depends on how your Brussels sprouts are "gone". If you give them to the dog, the floor or the trash can, NO, you can not have any dessert. If you finish them by eating them, and there are many other people still eating, you may have more savory. When everyone else is finished his first course, you may have dessert.




    On another note, though, does the choir receive Holy Communion after singing, or before?


    Thanked by 1a_f_hawkins
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 938
    While it is reasonably simple to find out what you should do, is should be noted that different comunities follow rubrics other than 1962, and also local customs are important.

    While vernacular hymns are forbidden during EF Mass, they are common in German speaking countries, and in certain places they have been doing this for over 100 years. Certain communities in England also have English Hymns during Mass.

    Many places particularly in English speaking countries use pre 1955 rubrics.

    We are lucky to be able to sing Polyphonic Propers at our Mass, but in some places this is frowned upon as sometimes the text is not the same as the text in the Graduale Romanum.

    I would suggest that you talk to the priest / choir to find where the boundaries are.

    It is good to hear the communiy is used to polyphony, as it is good to have a balence between the two. We regulary sing the following,
    Propers from the Graduale but also Polyphonic settings (Isaac etc.) We sometimes sing the Offertory verses and communion verses.
    We sing both Chant ordinaries, and Polyphonic settings including the Credo.
    At Offertory and Communion we usually sing Chant Hymns from the Divine Office, but sometimes sing Polyphonic motets.

  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,099
    And more importantly, CGZ, does the alleluia need to not be sung if it is omitted?
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • the [forbidden Hebrew Word removed by administrative bots] need to not be sung if it is omitted?


    Could you untangle that one for me, Ben? If it is omitted.... ....... ...... surely....... it can not be sung, right?

    I was trying to get at the point that the antiphon is supposed to be sung when the priest receives Holy Communion, but this is rather difficult to do (but not impossible) if the choir is at the altar rail, preparing itself to receive Holy Communion.

  • In the Ordinary Form, the rubric (para 63) allows the Alleluia to be omitted entirely when the propers are not being sung (but only read).

    (This is a running joke around here, caused by the actual wording of the GIRM.)
    Thanked by 2Adam Wood Ben Yanke
  • Protasius
    Posts: 449
    I was trying to get at the point that the antiphon is supposed to be sung when the priest receives Holy Communion, but this is rather difficult to do (but not impossible) if the choir is at the altar rail, preparing itself to receive Holy Communion.

    The quoted part from De Musica Sacra shows, that the Communio is to be sung during the Communion of the Faithful. The rule for the Communio whilst the priest drinks the chalice only applies, when no one except the celebrant receives the sacrament (as was the norm for High Mass under the more strict eucharistic fasting rules, the communicants receiving at an earlier Low Mass; at least so I've been told).
  • While vernacular hymns are forbidden during EF Mass . . .

    I think you meant "during a sung EF mass." The 1958 instruction (nos. 14b, 33) explicitly permits this. Even in the case of a sung mass, it leaves it to the judgement of the ordinary where a immemorial custom of singing vernacular hymns is already in place.
  • Rich,

    The legal definition of "where a[n] immemorial custom of singing vernacular hymns is already in place" is?
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 938
    The legal definition of "where a[n] immemorial custom of singing vernacular hymns is already in place" is?


    For those involved ¨if you feel like it¨! From my research this custom is not very old, say around 200 years in some places. Sadly these customs mean many Catholics do no hear the Propers sung.

    @rich_enough Yes I did mean sung Mass, but I can`t imagine why anyone would want to sing hymns at a low Mass
  • Liam
    Posts: 2,992
    "Immemorial custom" means beyond the memory of a living person ("time immemorial" being "time whereof the memory of man runs not," in English formulation of yore). It's not a concept unique to canon law, but also obtains in old civil laws, too. It's not a fixed period of time like "centenary custom".
  • Liam
    Posts: 2,992
    And Pope Pius XIII [correction: XII] seemed to imagine that singing hymns at Low Mass was one of four modes of participation by the faithful (see No. 30 in De Musica Sacra).
  • Pope Pius XIII ??!! We are indeed entering the final days. . .
    Thanked by 1Liam
  • A degree of reflection on historical practice-precedent and the documentation referenced above and on similar forum threads would seem to suggest that the limitation of the laity to extra-liturgical hymnody and spiritual songs at mass, rather than 'singing the mass, not songs at the mass', has a very long pedigree in the Church - if one wishes to call such contemptibly demeaning estimations of lay participation something so august as 'pedigree'.

    Is it not small wonder that the singing of hymnody and songs which followed the recent council was just more of business as usual? Indeed, the recent council made history in its apparent wish for the laity actually to 'sing the mass', but, somehow, this didn't get translated into reality throughout most of the Church - not to mention that most priests think that they are exempt from singing the mass at all. This is a lamentable denigration both of the mass and the people which, it seems, the Church will be yet correcting for years to come. History dies hard. And, the infelicitous papal and documentary attitudes behind it (not to mention the lingering, and even revived!, EF heritage) are no help at all: nihil.

    And, this doesn't begin to address the calumny by which the Church, having decided that the laity could sing the mass after all, gave (and gives) them garbage to sing. (Certainly, no Willans, Oldroyds, or RVWs need apply.) Whether the people sing or not, it is clear that the Church, as evidenced by what it gives them to sing, really doesn't think much of them - or, for that matter, of the mass.
    Thanked by 2a_f_hawkins CCooze
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,193
    MJO: Interesting, no, that all that 'hymn-singing only' stuff started in Germany?
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,202
    The Liber Usualis says the communion is sung during the ablutions.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 6,762
    When was your LU printed?
  • I think it could be from German traditions in Germany, but it could also be from German traditions in the USA. I also think it had to do with the norm that there was always one High Mass every Sunday morning, but not the early first or second Mass, but closer to Noon. But since the German congregation liked so much to participate in the Mass, High or Low; and with the fasting rule being from Midnight the night before; and since musicians were hired to provide some music, including at the Low Masses; and since NONE of the actual Mass parts were allowed to be sung at a Low Mass; well, hymns are about the only things left.

    I speak partly from experience, having grown up pre-Vatican II, in a parish with a parochial school AND a German-heritage pastor. We kids were expected to participate at all Masses, Low or High, with both spoken and sung parts. We learned a number of the Gregorian Oridnaries, which were always accompanied by one of the nuns, and classes took their turns chanting the Rossini psalm-tone Propers.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • In a lighter vein -
    It will be noticed that I didn't even touch on the matter of The Irish Syndrome.
    (Of course, they don't even sing hymns!)
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,193
    It started in Germany--Pius Parsch, or thereabouts. It was brought here through immigration.

    But in my pre-VatII experience with an IRISH pastor, when there was no High Mass there was no singing, period. And that was in a heavily Germanic-influenced Archdiocese. That changed--in our parish--in 1963 or so; hymns became the currency, and the 4-hymn sandwich became a permanent fixture.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • It started in Germany--Pius Parsch, or thereabouts
    That means no more than 98 years ago, or less. Seems to have caught on rather quickly.
  • The singing of vernacular hymns during Mass predates Parsch by a long time, going back at least to the mid-18th century (c.f. M. Haydn's Deutsches Hochamt). When I attended the FSSP Mass in Vienna, all of the singing at High Mass was in German, with the exception of the priest's chants and the responses.
  • Liam
    Posts: 2,992
    We should distinguish singing vernacular hymns or paraphrases of liturgical texts at low Mass on the one hand from the dialogue Mass and the singing of vernacular translations of the Ordinary. The former practice is older than the 20th century.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,193
    Parsch by a long time, going back at least to the mid-18th century


    Stood Korrecshun!
  • The XVIIIth century - meaning the era of the Josephine reforms, if not earlier.
    There had been for a very long time considerable sentiment in Hapsburg and other German lands for German hymnody and liturgical paraphrase - if not for an outright German mass.
    This goes back even to reformation and pre-reformation times.
  • Protasius
    Posts: 449
    It goes back even farther. The oldest hymn still in use in Germany is the Easter hymn Christ ist erstanden, created at the beginning of the 13th century and sung alternating with the Easter sequence.
  • In fact, as you no doubt know, the melody of Christ ist estranden is based loosely on the Victimae... sequence.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,202
    @chonak, before 1958, when, yes, it changed, but that was ignored in places.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 6,762
    Thanks. If a priest observes the pre-'58 rules, it's not a big deal to me; I just wanted to make the point that the 1962 rubrics call for the communion antiphon when the priest receives. (e.g., 1961 LU, p. xvj.)
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,270
    It goes back even farther. The oldest hymn still in use in Germany is the Easter hymn Christ ist erstanden, created at the beginning of the 13th century and sung alternating with the Easter sequence.


    Germans were singing vernacular hymns prior to the Reformation.
    Luther was German.

    Lemma: Vernacular hymns caused the Protestant heresy.

    Proved: We should not sing vernacular hymns today.

    QED.
  • Liam
    Posts: 2,992
    Proved: We should not sing today.

    Fixed that further for you.
    Thanked by 1Richard Mix
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 420
    Have you been to a Catholic Mass lately? Only the choir (if available) sings, because nobody really knows the melodies, and the choirs tend to sound mumbly
    Thanked by 1madorganist
  • Have you been to a Catholic Mass lately? Only the choir (if available) sings, because nobody really knows the melodies, and the choirs tend to sound mumbly
    If this were only not so true...