When to begin Agnus?
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,283
    I'm betraying my limited experience, but when should the Agnus Begin in the OF?

    Our local tradition is to wait for a nod immediately before the fraction. (GIRM says it may be repeated for as long as the action requires, but we have one priest who likes to wait and finish up in sacred silence, or rather (snap) near-silence (snap). Mills (Psaliter sapientae) Says to begin immediately after et cum Spiritu tuo, so in the NO is there any reason not to begin before the priest returns to the altar or indeed before the handshaking ends?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,287
    For us, and your building may be laid out differently, the priest or deacon indicates it is time for sharing Christ's peace. The priest shakes hands with those nearby without leaving the sanctuary. He then turns to the tabernacle. When he turns back around we begin.
    Thanked by 1francis
  • ajplafond
    Posts: 7
    At our parish we have three priests. Two don't shake hands at all, and the other expects it. We usually begin the Agnus directly after the et cum spiritu tuo. Father gives a little bow, turns to the tabernacle, and begin. However, for the handshake priest, we give them the length of a quick Ave Maria to exchange signs of peace and then begin.
  • smvanroodesmvanroode
    Posts: 624
    The Order of Mass, nos. 129 and 130 make clear what to do:

    129. Then he takes the host, breaks it over the paten, and places a small piece in the chalice, …
    130. Meanwhile the following is sung or said: Lamb of God, …

    So, the Agnus is a supplication that accompanies the Fraction of the Bread. As soon as the priest takes the host to break it over the paten, the Agnus can be started.

    The action of the priest dictates when to start the Agnus. I think it would be wrong to have the priest follow the cue of the choir to start the Fraction.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 470
    the Agnus is a supplication that accompanies the Fraction of the Bread.

    Yes as GIRM 83 says

    The gesture of breaking bread done by Christ at the Last Supper, which in apostolic times gave the entire Eucharistic Action its name, signifies that the many faithful are made one body (1 Cor 10: 17) by receiving Communion from the one Bread of Life, which is Christ, who for the salvation of the world died and rose again.
    But #83 continues
    The fraction or breaking of bread is begun after the sign of peace and is carried out with proper reverence, and should not be unnecessarily prolonged or accorded exaggerated importance. my emphasis
    This seems to me a complete muddle and confusion. The actual breaking typically takes less than one second, add in the dropping of a particle into the chalice and the silent prayer of the priest, and it still does not permit one saying of the supplication, let alone three sung supplications. Is the fraction important (it gave its name to the whole rite) or not (unnecessarily/exagerated)? How can a chant of this length bring any focus on such a brief action? In practice we have the Rite of Peace, (or not since it is optional), and then the invitation "Behold ... ". Should we use the Agnus chant to cover all the other things that may occur at this point and are not mentioned: a journey to the tabernacle to fetch pre-consecrated hosts, people moving out of the congregation to position themselves as ministers of communion? Or do we treat it as an opportunity to compose/dispose ourselves for Communion after the Rite of Peace?
  • smvanroodesmvanroode
    Posts: 624
    First, it should be clear to the faithful that the Agnus accompanies the Fraction, that the two belong to each other. So, don't start the Agnus while the priest is still exchanging the sign of peace, or is going up the tabernacle. Wait until he is taking the host, and then start the Agnus.

    The rubric in GIRM #83 prevents the priest from performing the rite in a theatrical way (breaking the bread highly elevated, breaking all the hosts, ...). While the Agnus may well be much longer than the actual action of the priest, it doesn't (imo) unnecessarily prolong or exaggerate the rite; it enables the faithful to appreciate the mystagogical meaning of the rite.

    This might also be of interest (old vs. new English translation): http://www.ewtn.com/library/liturgy/zlitur417.htm
    Thanked by 2a_f_hawkins CHGiffen
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,805
    My understanding is that you wait for the priest to bring the bread to the altar, and when he begins the action of breaking it, you begin the Agnus Dei. The reasoning for this is included in the statement that the Agnus Dei accompanies the fraction rite. Now, it doesn't say you have to wait for the priest, and I've had priests that specifically wait for the music to start before they begin the fraction rite. However, that seems like a backwards practice, considering that I'm there to serve the altar, not the other way around. So, as with many items in the NO, it's really all about what the priest wants to do. Technically, I think that according to the GIRM, you should wait until the priest is breaking the bread, then start the Agnus Dei, but your priest may not want you to do that, so you would just start whenever he indicates you should (this should be worked out before the Mass).
  • donr
    Posts: 916
    I always start the Agnus Dei so that the text is being sung during the actual fracture of the Sacred Host. So if there is an intro, it can start as early as when the priest is walking to the altar after the retrieving the already consecrated Host from the tabernacle. If however we are chanting the Agnus Dei, then I start as he is fracturing the Body.

  • Our OP highlights the problem of the handshake of peace. I know it's not the topic of this thread, but there isn't supposed to be a long, exaggerated pause between Et Cum Spiritu Tuo. Any time we put in what can be permitted by the rubrics -- the long, drawn-out diversion of attention from Our Lord present on the altar -- at the expense of the action underway, we create little or large headaches like this one.

  • Steve CollinsSteve Collins
    Posts: 998
    No, the passing or hand-shake of peace is not to be prolonged, but it is not appropriate to even have an extended introduction to the Agnus Dei until, by the rubrics, the priest has returned to the altar for the fraction. They are two different parts of the Mass.

    IMO, too much is made of the sharing of the peace (again, not the topic of this thread, but related) in that many people seem to feel like they haven't fully attended Mass if they don't get the chance to shake as many people's hands as possible. The celebrant, in Persona Christi, has said "the peace of the Lord be with you", to which we have responded "and with your spirit". Christ's peace has been passed. It's a done deal. Making more of our sharing than of the actual passing only serves to downplay the sacredness of Holy Orders and the action of Christ through his priest. But people have gotten so used to it being a "high point" of their participation in Mass that they don't realize that it's actually way out of proportion.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,210
    The real problem is moving the fraction & Agnus Deifrom their place before the Pax to its position in the post–conciliar rite following.
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 493
    Since we no longer do a congregational "sign of peace" during Mass, we start the Agnus Dei immediately after the Pax Domini...et cum spiritu tuo (in English).

    So, it exactly matches where it begins in the EF, after the same, sung dialogue.
    Thanked by 1Steve Collins
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 493
    Incidentally, we used to just wait a couple seconds into the hand-shaking and pew-crossing, just as long as it took for Father to (re)turn to the altar, and we would start the Agnus Dei at that point; musically encouraging parishoners to reel it back in, so to speak, to focus on the liturgy.
    Thanked by 1bonniebede
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 470
    The 'sign of peace' is liturgy, just as it was before VII when it was confined to those in choir. And just as it was/is in the CofE when, continuing a medieval Tradition, it took the form of a board (Pax Brede) passed down from celebrant to congregation to be kissed. See here for recent use among Dominicans. I would like it moved to before the Offertory/Procession of gifts, where some Eastern churches place it, but Paul VI and Benedict XVI have both ruled against that.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,210
    With good reason. Having done the traditional Pax as straw SD, I can say it makes perfect sense there, and the meaning is significantly altered if it is prior to the Offertory. Also, why should chaos force liturgical change? This seems to often be the case nowadays.

    I also am not opposed to the Pax board, but one can see today that it caused chaos and disrupted the unity for which it was meant to serve as a sign; the modern sign of peace doesn’t create much unity, for the most part. It is interesting that European bishops whom I have observed give the peace in the traditional manner.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 470
    Yes but the meaning is already significantly changed because we do not seem to be passing Christ's peace along but generating it (?) within the congregation, or at least that's what it looks like.
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,210
    I also agree about that.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,287
    I am no fan of the peace greeting. One of my friends once put together an arrangement of the country song and sang, "take your peace and shove it, I ain't comin' here no more." I confess, I use the "agnus" to cut off excesses and end the peace greeting. I tell folks the timing is dependent on the priest's actions, not on the congregation's. It does amaze me how people who were talking with each other a few minutes earlier, can act like they haven't seen each other in 10 years at the peace greeting.
  • Jani
    Posts: 386
    In the past, our priests would wait - and wait and wait - for the "circus" of peace to end before cueing the Agnus. Our current priest gives a very limited but appropriate amount of time to offer peace, then begins the Agnus himself. The result is that some just keep peacing away right up until the third repeat when they finally quiet down, almost resentfully. I would see it gone if it were up to me. It's disruptive and made trivial.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW eft94530
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,351
    Our local tradition is to wait for a nod immediately before the fraction.

    Not quite.

    At the Gospel, I wait for the nod as the chair requires effort to escape.

    At the Fraction, I wait for the priest to begin the fraction.

    Some priests look toward the organ console;
    that helps when the EMHC crowd creates a wall.

    Some priests seem to have forgotten the rubrics and randomly want music to begin.

    Some lapse into weekday Mass mode and start talking the text,
    and to prevent them derailing the singing I attempt to provide the organ cue earlier.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,283
    Thank you all for the input!
    This invocation accompanies the fraction of the bread and, for this reason, may be repeated as many times as necessary until the rite has been completed.
    doesn't exactly clarify whether beginning the Agnus early is a greater sin than the priest beginning before the music :-/ but, to my mind at least, leaving the tabernacle would make a good cue in keeping with
    ...may be repeated as many times as necessary until the rite has been completed.