Misconceptions - Hymns for Offertory and Communion
  • The offertory is the place for communion hymns, moving from the Word to the Eucharist. That's probably why historically there are so few, if any, Catholic offertory hymns.

    STTL indicates that the hymn of the people at communion should happen after all have received to bring the people together as a community, having received, not as music for them to sing while waiting in line.

    That makes it appropriate for a schola to sing the communion verse while the priest receives, as directed, then do some verses, finishing so that the schola has time then to receive. [having communion brought to the choir by the first one of those serving the people is finished solves the "waiting for Jesus" problem that has been described]
    Thanked by 1ryand
  • Try telling that to most any priest- I don't have access to one just now, but surely the GIRM gives other instructions?
  • G
    Posts: 1,366
    In the GIRM, the choir singing the communion proper is the first, (and presumably preferred,) option.

    But yeah, try telling that to a priest who came of age singing "Here We Are..."
    (Am I remembering the name of the song correctly?
    Fr K and Fr P bouncing happily and swaying side to side while they sang a song that sounded fit for Teletubbies one night in the lobby of Regis one night after Vespers at Colloquium 2009 is a memory that will live forever.)

    Save the Liturgy, Save the World
  • I will never understand in a million years why the congregation(and doesn't that term date me?) should be bullied and preached into singing some saccharine response as they approach the altar. I've had it explained to me, but I still don't get it. Surely the Communion proper is better?
    But I do what I'm told. In my Episcopal church, the # of communion hymns is printed in bulletin, but to my knowledge no one but the choir sings them after they themselves have received. Needless to say, none of them have 'refrains'

  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,404
    "But yeah, try telling that to a priest who came of age singing "Here We Are..."

    Here I am Lord,
    She's over there Lord...
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 6,789
    "Here We Are" is a real folk-mass song, by the way. You can hear it in one of the podcasts on kencanedo.com; I think it's by Paul Quinlan.
  • donr
    Posts: 920
    Please help me with this. I am responsible for choosing the songs/hymns that we sing at Sat. eve Mass once a month.
    I am stuck using Breaking Bread - OCP 2010.
    I have always chosen songs that are in the OCP guide but since reading many posts on this site and catholic.com I have found that I have no idea what I am doing.

    I would like to get it right. I have read the GIRM, Sing to the Lord, and various other links on the forums but I'm not really sure as to when to use a Communion antiphon, song or hymn, or all of the aforementioned. I would like to do a communion chant for my one Lenten Mass and I would like to use it correctly. I will be using an English version of the chant found on musicforthelitugy.org. because Latin is not encouraged in my parish at this time.

    Any help someone can give as far as proper placement would be helpful.

    The communion lines are generally very long so I need to do very long or several songs. Does the communion antiphon go prior or after the songs. While the priest is taking communion or after all the congregation is sitting in prayer after communion.
  • "Here we are....as we sing our song so joyfully"
    I don't think it was Quinlan, more like Repp or Wise. But I'm old, infirm and ecstatic as the Saints went marching in.
    What Noel outlines works for us in CenCA, either with Bruce's AG or Richard's SCG. Schola sings immediately upon celebrant's reception and through the ministerial reception at the altar, then a very smooth transition to a congregational piece.
    We have once done the same transition for Offertory. I was full of hubris that day, among other things.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 6,789
    That's it: Ray Repp; it's listed on Ken Canedo's podcast page.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,717

    The first thing to sing is the Communion chant. In the best case scenario it lasts from the priest's Communion (I usually begin when he is preparing to drink from the chalice). I don't see any reason why this shouldn't be a Psalm, sung exactly like a responsorial Psalm. There are a million ways to do this. To just get the ball rolling, I would choose maybe 4 Psalms from your usual Responsorial Psalm repertoire and sing them in rotation, including Psalm 34--definitely, because of its Eucharistic references, and maybe 116 for the same reason--and Psalm 23, because everyone will respond to that. For Lent, Psalm 130 would be good. Psalms 27 and 121 would be good anytime.

    The Psalm could be lengthened by adding verses.

    We don't have a very long Communion. After the Psalm I usually add a congregational "hymn of praise" and then a choir piece, or at cantored Masses, when I can, the seasonal Marian antiphon.
  • "Here We Are".....then Bishop John Wright of Pittsburgh referred to it as the "...hymn to the obvious". Memories....anyone remember the Medical Mission Sisters....actually, we have come a long way!
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,023
    Don't forget Psalm 78
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,717
    Psalm 78: "Men ate the bread of angels"--nice one.

    Donr, the Psalm I mentioned could, optimally, be the proper Communion antiphon with its Psalm. It depends on the local situation. Some congregations might find that really startling. That's why I would suggest Responsorial Psalms, in versions they've already heard, to begin with, unless you're confident that something new would be well-received.

    Best wishes, btw.
  • Regarding Offertory hymns: in my current parish the offertory is often so quick that 2 verses of any given hymn would be almost too much. It is my goal to move from a hymn to either a psalm with antiphon for the whole congregation, or better still, the Proper for the day, chanted by a schola. That's several years off, I think.

    Regarding singing during communion: I agree with those who suggest singing a psalm with a "refrain" (antiphon, response). This of course is in lieu of singing the Proper chant, which while is ideal and certainly the first choice, in many parishes trying to make the transition from "spirit of the Council" 1980's-style practice to one more in conformity with the Mind of the Church, singing a psalm is a good option.

    And, as luck would have it, the Graduale simplex actually offers options for hymns and songs to be sung during communion. They are: Psalm 34 (with it's proper antiphon, "Taste and see how good the Lord is," or a threefold alleluia), Psalm 23 with the proper antiphon, "I am the living bread"; the Magnificat with antiphon, "My soul glorifies his holy name"; or the hymn, Ubi caritas. That gives you four common texts that can be used once a month in rotation. So much for worrying about the communion procession!

    If you're in one of those parishes that insists on multiple "songs" for the procession, why not do one that they've been using (just swallow hard and offer it up), and follow it with one of these four, one each in rotation over the course of 4 weeks? You could even put something in the bulletin explaining what you're doing and why. A perfect teachable moment to help bring the people into a better understanding of what the Church requires for the proper celebration of the Mass.
  • Erik P
    Posts: 152
    Don R,

    If you get Rice's Communio published by the CMAA, it contains all of the verses for every Communion antiphon so you can repeat the antiphon as needed until everyone has received communion.
  • Erik P
    Posts: 152
    It is also available for free download. And if you're congregation/pastor is not ready for that much Latin it is also available with English verses too.
  • Don R
    I'm so glad for your question. I have a choir of very little children and I too am stuck with Breaking Bread. So far we have been able to stick with the traditional hymns in BB, which the kids love, but there is a great deal of pressure from parents to "branch out" and use the more contemporary songs in the book. I actually don't mind the settings for the responsorial psalms in Respond and Acclaim, so I will take the the advice given above and being using psalms during communion (although the kids sure do love "O Sacrament Most Holy" , "Adoro Te Devote/Humbly Lord" .)
  • Don't forget to consider the seven ad libitum Communion Antiphon/psalm pairings recommended in the Graduale Romanum. (The Graduale specifies psalm verses explicitly; I will update the link accordingly in the near future.)
  • 11schw...go with By Flowing Waters....abandon the poorly composed R&A stuff, improve your child singers by giving them better music that is easier to sing.

    I don't know if this is possible, but I would not hesitate to ask Paul Ford for temporary permission to duplicate pages for a burgeoning choir program if copies of BFW cannot be afforded at this time.

    Only one warning, some partially trained adult singers...or barely-trained...may try to SING BYF instead of chanting it. Nip it in the bud.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,717
    Thanks, Aristotle!!
  • Frogman (and others):

    Dr. Ford doesn't control copyright permissions on BFW, it is held by Liturgical Press out of Collegeville.

    I used the communion antiphons/psalms with the mixed choir for a short period as a test run to see if the church I was serving at the time should invest in copies adequate for the choir and ultimately for the parish. I asked the people at Lit Press if I could make copies for the choir for a fixed period of time, and they graciously agreed, free of charge.

    The policy may have changed, but it never hurts to ask!
  • Thanks, David!
  • donr
    Posts: 920
    These are all great suggestions. I will read more and use a lot of these suggestions.
    I have asked permission from our Director of Music to do a simple traditional Kyrie and Agnus Dei for lent but he has not gotten back to me yet. I would assume knowing the history, I will be denied. I guess it doesn't hurt to ask.
  • donr:

    The communion lines are well-served, according to STTL, by music and silence. It's helpful to abandon the concept that the entire time people are receiving there must be music. It's nice to sing the Communion Verse while the priest receives, then let the choir go and receive, then come back to sing. And then stop. When the priest returns to the chair, that's the time for a congregational hymn.

    Then have the choir sing the Marian song for the season while the people leave. The people will be refreshed having not been expected to sing one or more songs at communion and another while they are leaving. Better to sing one meaningful song than three that really cannot all be approriate.

    The organist may need to be restrained from filling the gaps with mindless noodling.

    To start, have the choir sing the Agnus Dei while the priest receives. That's a place you have control over. It's appropriate.
  • Frogman:
    The offertory is the place for communion hymns

    Anthony Ruff, OSB:
    Communion and Eucharist hymns aren’t appropriate, obviously.

    Discussion: What texts at Preparation of Gifts?

    Was that a typo, Frogman?
  • You must take into consideration where many people are coming from.

    I have not gone to that link, so those of you who, enjoy yourselves.

    New-Ager Catholics want things to be all about them. They are preparing their gifts which then are given back to themselves. I know this isn't the theology of the thing and that's the point.

    Music during the readings is a sung form of the readings for that day, unless you are a new ager and then you can sing a hymn for the psalm.

    So, now we come to prepare to receive the Lord's Body and Blood. At this time we give what we can afford to give to God. For some it's a couple of bucks, for others it is their soul.

    If someone is giving their soul I am not about to sing some mindless drivel, instead I'm going to chant the offertory chant.

    But if the new ager's are running the show, and that's what it is, they will want to sing a Special, a term stolen from the Baptists for anything that shows off the choir, handbells, screaming children or a musical saw. Or a hymn.

    Now think. We are preparing to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. We are not singing drivel so you will not heard the footsteps of the ushers bringing forth the gifts, nor the voice of the ATM machine in the lobby saying, "Mr. Smith. Your account is overdrawn and your request to transfer funds for the offering is denied. On the other side of the lobby, Fr. Ginty's Retirement Fund Cash For Checks is open to take your car title and give you cash for the offering. Leave your car keys in the basket."

    Christ in heaven must be saying, "No,no, no....the preparation is of the bread and wine that become My Body and Blood. What part about my throwing the moneychangers out of the temple did they not understand? Don't they understand how badly those who do not have a penny to give feel when they have nothing to give? WILL THIS AGONY NEVER CEASE?"

    Sorry, got a bit carried away there. The sight of toddlers carrying the gifts up the aisle smacks of bloopers of kids at wedding.

    Did it again.

    At the Offertory, music can prepare peoples minds to receive Communion. Especially if the pastor has just spent 30 minutes talking about his last outdoors adventure. or even worse, he preaches using the text of a popular rock song as his inspiration, AND HE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE TEXT OF THE SONG. Sitting through that and keeping a straight, rather than horrified, face was a nightmare, 4 times that weekend.

    If the Offertory Song suffers the axe of the New Ager Priest, then sing a eucharistic hymn.

    If, however, the priest is wearing a purple Barney costume or a Clown outfit and/or there are huge looming puppets, all bets are off.

    I really have no interest in what the NewAger Priests are writing and doing. I am sure that they have no interest in what I am writing and doing. having gone trough the 1970's and seen 4 young priests walk into church in view of the entire congregation and red plaid workshirts, the Red Green Liturgical Garb, and jeans on the way to throw on a cassock and surplice to assist at Communion, three of whom along with their motorcycles, vans with velour interiors and such, have all left the church, leaving one who chooses Masses to sing in which he has a solo role....

    Is it a sin to miss Mass when the priest is dressed as Barney?

    Is it a sin to say Mass wearing a Barney suit? Used to be, but that was BNA....Before New Age.

    Leave Barney in the trash can behind the rectory.

    Sing music at the Mass of the Catechumens that does not extol how great we are giving gifts. That's just wrong. We should not be extolled.

    In the black and white movies such as The Bells of St. Mary's we saw priests that were bigger than life. When we saw our priests, that connection made them larger than life in our minds.

    One of the biggest shocks of my life was going into church with my dad when he was going to fix a microphone cable and Fr. Gaffney walked out of the sacristy onto the altar and said, "Hi, Russ! How are you doing?"

    Up until then I had never heard anyone talk in church. Aside from terse instructions from the nuns, and they, of course were exempt. Whispering was not tolerated by nuns nor parents.

    Have I mentioned that I am not a NewAger?

    I bow now to Charles, stand up and have a word.
    Thanked by 1Jeffrey Coggins
  • No thanks, FNJ, I'll take a pass here.
    I would take this moment to give my regards to Jeffrey Coggins for his great tolerance of some of my more extreme utterances. Peace, my friend.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,404
    CA Charles and I (the other Charles) are more "old age" than "new age" these days. Pass the liquor, please.
  • Priestboi
    Posts: 139
    I have found some lovely offertory hymmns. Please email me if you are interested at gsharp88@gmail.com.

    St Bruno 66.11.D
    Come down, O Spirit Blest!
    Here on this Altar rest!
    Bless these our gifts, and with them all creation!
    Change thou this bread and wine;
    Make them the gift divine,
    Of Christ, our sacrifice of adoration!

    Some really nice tunes too, though you may want to change a word or tune here and there. These come from older hymnals I picked up at one of our churches here in ZA
  • smvanroodesmvanroode
    Posts: 629
    Fr. Ruff has an interesting question about the offertory chant: "I don’t see a clear pattern in their themes – do you?"

    It took me some time to understand this pattern in the offertory chants: during the offertory, the communion of will is central, which defines our friendship with Christ: "You are my friends if you do what I command you" (Jn 15: 14). Our union with Christ is further achieved in the transformation of our rebellious human will in a will that is uniform and one with the will of God, so that his divine handiwork can be brought to completion within us. (Chiefly drawn from Sacramentum caritatis 47 and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's homily during Mass "Pro eligendo Romano Pontifice", April 18, 2005). Thus, in an allegorical way, it also has a strong sacrificial connotation: the Eucharist being the representation of Christ's redemptive sacrifice on the Cross, the offertory is set in the Garden of Gethsemane – "Not as I will, but as you will" (Mt 26: 39).

    In my experience, this general theme is (or should be) most clear in the "versus ad repetendum", usually the last part of today's offertory antiphon that used to be repeated between the verses that were once part of the offertory chant (it can still be performed that way using the 1935 Offertoriale).

    I still have to make a more extensive analysis of the texts of the offertory chants from the Graduale Romanum, but as I see it right now, the ritual function of the offertory chant seems to fit well in between the introit and communion: by singing the introit, we turn our hearts to God; by the time of the offertory we are advanced to expresses our communion of will; and the communion chant awakens in us the desire to be recognizable witnesses of Christ in our daily lives.

    I have no idea if the above will hold or if it is sound sacramental theology. What are your thoughts?
  • hartleymartin
    Posts: 1,447
    There are great communion hymns going back through the ages.

    Even if you can't use the propers from each week, there are 7 ad libitum chants, which are still correct to use, and the SEP versions are dead easy.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,404
    Let's face it. The offertory has become the time when the congregation is separated from its money. I don't even do offertory hymns any more. Either the choir sings, or I play something to cover the collecting of the offering.