Inversion of roles.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 470
    As we can generally assume a literate congregation, and as the psalm verses have simpler tunes than the antiphons, why don't we have the congregation sing the verses and the cantor/choir tackle the antiphon? Has anybody tried it? Or is this just my fantasy from the pew? This thought is prompted in part by the current thread 'How much should the congregation sing', and Aristotle Esguerra’s Choral Graduale Simplex.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,351
    Does the GIRM list this option?
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 470
    GIRM is pretty flexible I think, nothing that I have noticed would prohibit it.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 5,017
    This is a matter of the historic methods of psalm singing.
    What you are suggesting fits none of the historical paradigms for psalmody.
    1. Responsorial, 2. Antiphonal, 3. In directum.
    That's not to say you couldn't do it, but that it would be... eccentric.

    In responsorial psalmody such as we normally sing at mass (and of which the gradual responsory in the GR is a vestige) the cantor sings the verses (preferably NOT to a mere psalm tone) and the people sing the responsory, sometimes called a respond (NOT the 'antiphon', which doesn't exist in responsorial psalmody).

    Actually, while it is common nowadays for the verses to be sung to a psalm tone, they should actually be sung to a chant-like melody more elaborate than the responsory itself.
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  • Andrew Malton
    Posts: 615
    I think there is a need for psalmody which can be sung in the usual responsorial way, but in which the verses contain the musical elaboration, for the cantor, and the response is simple and learnable for the congregation. This is what I set out to do in a set of responsorial psalms written for the Canadian Lectionary in 2009. (Use the username and password "guest" if you want a look.)

    With a few exceptions, such as on Trinity Sunday (A), the lectionary responses are a bit too long textually to make a good "brief response". However, it's usually possible to follow this plan. Where my psalms are used and the cantor is able, they have been well received.

    (It's often said that the GR Gradual psalm chants are a "vestige" of a lost responsorial psalmody, but I think the story must be more complicated. Which of the Graduals sounds like it's the remains of a responsory? They seem to be intended for a solo and small group of experienced singers, to me. And historical data are almost completely lacking to link the graduales to any early psalmus responsorius.)
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 470
    Yes I understand that it has not been a standard way of using the psalms. That might be because of medieval constraints of illiteracy, and the cost of books. (I may try to expand this thought into something more coherent.) And I don't think we know how psalms were used in the time of Ambrose and Augustine.
    Furthermore using psalms at Mass as GS does, and GR now, is not based on any medieval or more recent practice, as far as I know. Cranmer did not adopt it for the Communion, and Matins and Evensong are office antiphonal uses without responsory.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 5,017
    ...don't think we know...

    It is, in fact, Ambrose who is credited with introducing responsorial psalmody, which he had encountered in the east, to the west.

    And, it would be a step up for all if, when speaking of responsorial psalmody the word 'antiphon' was not used at all. Antiphons are what is sung by all in antiphonal psalmody, responsories are what are sung by all in responsorial psalmody. These two manners of singing psalms are quite distinct.

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  • NihilNominis
    Posts: 216
    This suggestion was really quite a bit more common than you would think back during the revolution.

    It never did catch on much.

    My question: does singing a token and formulaic bit of a Gregorian Introit increase the prayerfulness or meaningfulness of the rite to the PiPs?
  • Longer, more complex antiphons seem to be the place for a choir.

    Perhaps someone can invent a new form of psalm singing that combines the full Gregorian antiphons with a shorter antiphon for congregation, though I don't know quite how that would work, maybe vaguely like a responsory with psalm verses squeezed in.

    The people expect to be given a part to sing, so that they can have something to not do in the liturgy.
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,144
    I don't know of any post-conciliar liturgical legislation of the Roman Catholic Church which refers to the people's part in a responsorial psalm as a "respond." So I wish we would see an end to some persons insisting that we have to call it that. It's a "response." And, actually, in GIRM 61, final paragraph [USA adaptation], there is even a reference to "or an antiphon and Psalm from another collection of Psalms and antiphons..." [emphasis added].

    I'm willing to refrain from using "antiphon," in reference to the responsorial psalm, but I will not use the strange "respond."

    In regards to "nothing that I have noticed would prohibit" [the OP's suggestion], well, GIRM 61 does permit singing the psalm in directum without a response. It does not specifically state whether the assembly or choir/cantor sings the psalm straight through, but the whole thrust of GIRM 61 is that the people/congregation/assembly be able to take part in the responsorial psalm in some way, so it makes sense that the in directum option ordinarily refers to everyone.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,283
    In directum is indeed the norm in many Lutheran churches, with antiphony between 'ordinary people' and a cantor or choir. When it is sung from a 'worship aid' instead of the psalter one can get more inventive than strict alternation of verses:

    Let the house of Isreal say, His mercy endures forever."

    Let the house of Aaron say...

    It could easily make sense to add a rentiphonce an elaborate choral bookend in this scenario.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 5,017
    I'm willing to refrain... but I will not...

    There was the merest mention that the responsory was 'sometimes called a "respond"' - absent any suggestion that anyone or everyone should call it that. 'Responsory' is quite acceptable. However, the term 'respond', being quite common in academic literature about chant and responsorial psalmody, is hardly 'strange'. I'll be happy if people (especially church musicians!!!) stop calling responsories antiphons.
    It's so simple: responsorial psalmody = responsory, antiphonal psalmody = antiphon. The two are not interchangeable. They are quite distinct methods.

    Still and all, I quite agree with the tenor of your commentary about in directum performance as a viable option. For that matter, there is no legislation forbidding antiphonal performance of the psalm at mass - in which case there would be an actual antiphon. I have witnessed true antiphonal psalmody by the gospel and epistle sides of the congregation at vespers here in Houston. This was during the tenure of our member Felipe Gasper at Annunciation. Congregations can do quite amazing things under talented leadership and absent those mindless naysayers who love to go about quacking their tiresome refrain - 'Catholics can't do that'.
  • GerardH
    Posts: 26
    @StephenMatthew What you've described sounds very similar to what Fr Columba Kelly has done in his English St Meinrad Entrance Antiphons and Communion Antiphons. There is a melismatic antiphon, but also a short, simple congregational antiphon provided. How exactly this would be used or facilitated I can't find an explanation for.

    Given Fr Columba used the Graduale Romanum propers as his starting point, perhaps his congregational antiphons are compatible with the Latin originals... Of course the same thing could potentially be done with the Graduale Simplex, and would seem to avoid any "inversion of roles".
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  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 5,017
    Fr Columba's Entrance and Communion chants are an innovative type of psalmody in that they have no formal precedent in historic methods of singing either the psalms or the mass propers. This is not intended as a negative criticism, just as a matter of objective fact. I have studied these with him and taught them in workshops which I gave with him. The melodies are his new compositions and are not necessarily based on Gregorian originals. The form unfolds thusly -

    Antiphon - a moderately elaborate version for schola
    People's 'refrain' - a simple melody and abbreviated text for the congregation
    Verses - schola, to a St Meinrad tone
    People's 'refrain' -
    Verses -
    People's 'refrain' -
    Verses -
    People's 'refrain' -
    Antiphon - Schola

    This form is followed in father's entrance and communion chants.
    The object is to involve the people in the Introit and Communion chants.
    As such, this represents a new approach to 'propers', for which there is no precedent in the historical chant repertory. Actually, while there is no antiphonal singing, this represents a sort of hybrid marriage of antiphonal and responsorial psalmody. As always, father's chant compositions are exquisite.
  • I'm willing to refrain from using "antiphon,"



    Surely, Fr. Krisman, you mean you're willing to antiphon from using "refrain"?
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  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,144
    CGZ, you caught my pun. Bravo.
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  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,210
    The typical method is responsorial in the musical sense. I wish people would stop saying that it is a response to the first reading. It isn’t, and that makes it more focused on us than on God.

    As far as the GR goes, the repetition of the opening of the Gradual until the asterisk is a legitimate option. Apparently, this was even longer before the Carolingian period.
  • mahrt
    Posts: 484
    The historical precedent for psalmody in directum in the Mass is the tract.