When to sing Communio at an E.F. Mass
  • WGS
    Posts: 226
    De musica sacra et sacra liturgia - of September 3, 1958

    #27. c) "The proper time for the chanting of the Communion antiphon is while the priest is receiving the holy Eucharist. But if the faithful are also to go to Communion the antiphon should be sung while they receive."

    The instruction continues with variations on how to supplement the antiphon with psalm verses.

    At the beginning of this instruction even before the Introduction we are cautioned that "Anything contrary to what is herein contained is no longer in force."

    Is there another instruction subsequent to Musica sacra which postpones the singing of the Communio to coincide with when the celebrant is reading the text?

    I'm not looking for anecdotes or references to the earlier Liber Usualis. I'm interested in subsequent legislation or instruction.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    Dear WGS,

    different groups do different things, I've noticed
  • Chrism
    Posts: 663
    I think it's more important for the choir to have an opportunity to receive Holy Communion than for the antiphon to be chanted at exactly the right moment. So if your choir is too small, etc., to allow staggered reception and continuous singing throughout the reception of the faithful (which begins with the servers), then you might consider having the choir receive before the rest of the congregation and delay the start of the antiphon until the choir is capable of beginning.

    An alternative would be for the choir to receive Holy Communion after Mass, but there are conscientious objections to being forced to do so, e.g. Sacrosanctum Concilium #55: "That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest's communion, receive the Lord's body from the same sacrifice, is strongly commended." There is also a widespread belief on the part of clergy that Holy Communion outside of Mass is reserved to the sick, even though canon 918 of the 1983 code merely says "It is highly recommended that the faithful receive holy communion during the eucharistic celebration itself. It is to be administered outside the Mass, however, to those who request it for a just cause, with the liturgical rites being observed."
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,713
    We always used Chrism's suggestion. The choir (assisted by the ushers) was allowed to receive Communion first. THEN the schola sang the Communio versicle, after brief thanksgiving-after-communion.

    Then we usually sang a motet, or Chant hymn.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Is it possible to start the communion antiphone when the priest recieves the Holy Eucharist and continue to sing a couple of verses.,then the schola go to communion? You could have silence while the schola recieves the communion , then do a motet or hymn? ( I really like the moment when the priest recieves the communion, very special, and hightlight it with the proper music.)
  • Chrism
    Posts: 663
    Is it possible to start the communion antiphone when the priest recieves the Holy Eucharist



    Mia, it looks like the rubrics (see post #1) explicitly forbid that. Remember, at the EF, if the people are to receive, the priest receives first and then after the priest receives, the people's Preparation for Communion: the 3rd Confiteor and Absolution (pre-1960 rubric and common custom), the Ecce Agnus Dei and the people's Domine Non Sum Dignus (3x). All of that is omitted if the people are not to receive. Anecdotally, my experience is that the people usually do actively participate in the Preparation for Communion.



    Typically what I have seen, if schola is of sufficient strength, is that the Communio will begin when the first server receives and then continue using verses from the Psalmorum. This doesn't always continue until the last communicant has received (although the rubric in post #1 seems to suggest it should), and when it stops there is usually one or more motets or hymns or organ pieces to follow, through the end of the Ablutions.



    Another variant (as mentioned before) is that the choir receives first, then chants the verse, etc.



    A third variant I have seen--and do not recommend--has the choir start with a motet when the first server receives, then the choir queues up to receive behind the congregation (with organ playing in the meantime), then the choir returns to the choir area/loft and chants the verse once during the Ablutions. This may be an older custom which does not seem consistent with the rubric from De Musica Sacra in post #1. Depending on the speed of the Communion queue (which can vary greatly based on the number of priests administering Communion, a number that may be kept hidden from you until after you have started the motet), the planned motet may end up being too long, so it may end up being cut short abruptly with choir charging full-speed toward the altar rail, or worse the choir may end up not receiving at that Mass. I would not want to be the music director answerable to God for either situation, most especially if a children's choir were involved.
  • Chrism's suggestion of singing the communion antiphon at the ablutions is good, and has precedent in that this was its prescribed place in the Sarum Use, which placement continues in many Anglican Use (and plain Anglican) churches. I have always felt that it functions well as a sort of 'final meditation' or 'recollection' at this point. However, Roman rubrics stipulate its performance after the celebrant's commnunion, so it seems to me that, legalistically, there is no option here.
  • The Communion Antiphon became a postcommunion antiphon at Salisbury and elsewhere during the late Middle Ages because the people did not receive communion at high Mass and the (sung) Agnus Dei extended through the celebrant's communion, pushing the Communion antiphon forward. The 1549 Prayer Book, on the basis of existing custom, directed that the Agnus Dei be sung as a communion anthem and provided "postcommunion sentences" to be sung in place of the communion antiphons.

    At most pre-Conciliar high masses communion was not administered to the people. The choir began the communion antiphon as soon as it had finished singing the Agnus Dei. By the time the communion antiphon was finished, the ablutions were also.

    When communion of the people was first introduced, the musical routine in some places was not changed. The communion devotions were recited with the communicants (at the rail or approaching the rail) while the choir went on singing the Agnus Dei. The Communion antiphon still followed the Agnus Dei immediately.

    I suspect that the 1958 instruction represented an attempt to clean up this mess and that the intention of its framers was that when there were communions, the priest should wait until the conclusiong of the Agnus Dei to begin the communion devotions, and that the singing of the communion antiphon should begin when the devotions were over. The attempt was a stopgap. The mess was not truly cleaned up until the 1969 reform.

    It seems to me that in such case the (singing) choir would receive after the people.

    I thought that the only place a motet could be added to the post-Tridentine rite of high Mass was after the singing of the Offertory antiphon. I was not aware the communion motets were allowed. Were they?
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Thanks, Chrism for reminding me. I am a good example of someone who is confused from trying to learn EF while working for OF. Our shcola's goal is having EF in our parish. And there are still lots to learn. It's good that there are lots to learn so I don't get lazy. (for me it's a gift, all the rules I have to learn.) I have to learn and work more diligently.
  • The De musica sacra directive has always struck me as curious, the idea that the schola would sing the communion antiphon during the priest's communion, which would usually carry across the second Confiteor and absolution (still active in those days, and still encountered today) and the Ecce Agnus Dei. Then, too, I have occasionally experienced a polyphonic Agnus Dei long enough to cover all of this on its own, with the communion tagged on at its conclusion, with the people well on their way to the altar rail.

    The usual practice, both under the Indult and now under the Motu proprio, is either to sing the communion following the three-fold Domine non sum dignus, or at the ablutions following the people's communion, i.e., when the priest recites the text of the chant. Either works. The former allows for multiple verses and repetitions, with usually still plenty of time for the schola to receive. With the latter, it is a little trickier to gauge the timing, and makes the thing seem foreshortened. I practice the former, but In the many contexts in which I have sung the traditional Mass, I have encountered very little fundamentalist opposition to either practice. A curiosity, certainly, but not something I would describe as a "mess".
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    #27. c) "The proper time for the chanting of the Communion antiphon is while the priest is receiving the holy Eucharist."

    I wonder what was (is) the Church's intention for this as the first choice? Although it's not practical anymore in the masses we do with the congregation, I'd like to know the reason which will help me appreciate and understand the rubrics of the mass.
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    WGS - I'm not aware of a document that specifically changes the timing of the antiphon. Indeed your citation offers two specific times for it to be sung, either when the priest receives or when the congregation receives. It doesn't say that it should "continue" to be sung, so given the conjunction "but" it looks like an either/or situation.

    Actually the original seems a bit strange. The Communio being sung calls for a Missa Cantata or Solemnis where there will be a congregation. I don't believe I've ever attended a Mass in which the congregation doesn't receive.

    That aside, I might suggest a look at the response from the Ecclesia Dei Commission to questions about music in the Extraordinary Form. ( Ecclesia Dei response ) Msgr Perl says that "[C]ustom and usage in the course of more recent decades have modified some of the strict requirements in the documents which you have cited." The same might well be said of your case. It is not necessary to adhere to rules which in the hermeneutic of continuity have adjusted to contemporary styles.
  • Chrism
    Posts: 663
    It is not necessary to adhere to rules which in the hermeneutic of continuity have adjusted to contemporary styles.



    Most places don't have customs in use since the Council because they haven't had the EF Mass said since the Council. Where there has been no EF Mass in a church since the Council, you can either begin with strict adherence to the letter of the law, import the customs you are familiar with from other EF Masses, borrow customs from other local churches which regularly celebrate the EF Mass, or else research what was actually done in the parish before the Council and revive it. An example of a common custom is the Confiteor before Communion.



    Importing customs contra legem from the Novus Ordo is prohibited according to my reading of the law and Msgr. Perl's letter, as it would tend to destroy the right of the faithful to the Traditional Latin Mass. It is a very slippery slope down to Marty Haugen.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    God forbid Traditional Latin Mass slip down.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,764
    Chrism wrote:
    Most places don't have customs in use since the Council because they haven't had the EF Mass said since the Council.

    That is a point needing some clarification from Rome: on what basis can people justify various practices with arguments about "custom"? After all, the Church has had to deal with arguments and claims based on custom for a long time, and the Church doesn't accept all such arguments.

    Just one of the conditions for establishing a custom is that it be practiced continuously for thirty years. Since the old form of Mass hasn't been in use continually in most places, that might make it impossible for people to make claims of "custom".

    On the other hand, we have Msgr. Perl's advice cited above. It's possible that he might be speaking of musical customs as they developed in the Roman rite after Tra le sollecitudini. (A newspaper clipping someone posted a few days ago showed that mixed-sex choirs were common in the 1940s.)

    It's even possible that Msgr. might be speaking of customs after 1970; after all, they too can be arguably called customs in the Roman rite. Rome isn't nearly as legalistic as we Americans seem to be, and the Church tries to be as generous as possible about permissions, on principle (Canon 18).
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Is it possible to contiue the custom without last 40 years, until the Church makes changes or reforms it? Did the council change much in Traditional Latin Mass?
  • Chrism
    Posts: 663
    Chonak: one of the conditions for establishing a custom is that it be practiced continuously for thirty years

    A custom is anything that is practiced twice. After 30 years, certain customs can be considered binding.

    It's possible that he might be speaking of musical customs as they developed in the Roman rite after Tra le sollecitudini. (A newspaper clipping someone posted a few days ago showed that mixed-sex choirs were common in the 1940s.)

    There were two SCR decrees in 1908 which tolerated mixed choirs in case of necessity. These are referenced in Musicae Sacrae (1955) 74. Common practice I have seen today is still for a schola of men to sing the Propers if available. However, the complete separation of men from women in choirs is not something I have seen often at the Traditional Latin Mass, and I have not heard anywhere of an Ordinary acting as if he were bound in conscience to enforce this regulation.

    It's even possible that Msgr. might be speaking of customs after 1970; after all, they too can be arguably called customs in the Roman rite.

    If you mean applying usage of the OF to the EF, then no that's not a possible or sane interpretation of Msgr. Perl's letter. For example, he referred his correspondent to Psallite Sapienter, not Sing to the Lord. The distinction between Forms of the Mass is made clearly by the Pope. Nothing in the letter even hints to its abrogation, nor would the author have the authority to do so.