EF Mass - Postlude or hymn starting during the Last Gospel?
  • CharlesSA
    Posts: 67
    Greetings, everyone! I seem to remember seeing somewhere, in some sort of official document of sorts, that in the EF Mass, the postlude or hymn (whichever is to be done) is not allowed to be begun until after the Last Gospel is completed - although some sort of quiet, improv-type stuff is allowed during it. Has anyone else here heard the same thing - and if so, in what document is this to be found?
  • I would like to know this as well. I often attend an EF Mass in New Hampshire and am confused when the organ postlude begins during the Last Gospel. It is an affirmation, intentional or not, of an old argument that John’s prologue is just a tack-on with no structural justification.

    For those of us who find the opening psalm prayers at the foot of the altar and the Last Gospel fitting bookends to the Mass this musical intrusion is an annoyance. But am I alone in this?
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,475
    Fortescue says you can play during the Last Gospel.


    I've seen churches where the recessional is softly played during this time. I've seen churches where the Marian antiphon is sung during the silent recitation. I've seen churches where there is absolute silence. Your results may vary.
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • I think this confirms Charles original question, which I took to mean that the organ might start setting the stage for the postlude / hymn, but shouldn't really initiate it full-blown until the conclusion of the Last Gospel. As Stim indicates, different practices abound. In one of our local EF churches, nothing is played during the LG - we start immediately following some prayers that we do after the Missa Cantata. In another, there is some improv on the final hymn that then leads into the final hymn once the LG is completed.

    It is interesting - I can't find the reference from watershed in my copy of Ceremonies - I'm guessing that it is from another book or source by Fortescue. Regardless, I think that the point raised by Randolph, is also valid - that care must be taken if playing that it does not convey that the Mass is already finished as if the Last Gospel is simply an "extra" that was tacked on.
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,862
    We don't have a last gospel. We have a last announcement.

  • I improvise on the final hymn during the last Gospel, slowly building to a recognizable introduction after the "et Verbum caro factum est" so that singing may begin as the sacred ministers genuflect to start the procession out.

    To your point, Randolph Nichols, I don't think music during the last Gospel has to be an intrusion. We often have music during important liturgical action, and it can help raise the heart and mind to what is taking place. Then again, if the organist jumps head-first into the finale from Guilmant's first sonata during the Last Gospel, then yeah... that would be intrusive. I've always felt any music during the Last Gospel ought to be conducive to prayer, while setting up the recessional. Of course, music doesn't have to be slow and quiet to be conducive to prayer. But it probably shouldn't be boisterous and obnoxious!
  • While music indeed runs parallel to liturgical action at other points within the Mass (I’ll cite again the symmetry with the prayers at the foot the altar), the Last Gospel demands a special concentration of mind and heart that for me music rarely complements. Not only is the Last Gospel perhaps the most beautifully written passage in the New Testament it serves as a second creed.

    That I’ve spent my life as a musician probably makes me more susceptible to distraction than other parishioners and will acknowledge that there are some organists who indeed can render a sensitive accompaniment, nonetheless I fail to see the logic as to why music should be the norm at this moment.

    Of course the speed at which some priests dash through the Last Gospel is a much greater concern. But that’s another matter.
    Thanked by 1CharlesSA
  • All,
    The Last Gospel is said sotto voce, so playing quietly isn't interrupting the action, but accompanying it.

    The Last Announcement, on the other hand, is clearly intended to be heard (whether it is worthy or not) and is most definitely not part of theocentric worship. It might be argued, I guess, that it's part of an anthropocentric worship.

    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 129
    I'm used to the Last Gospel being read outloud for all to hear, so was astonished when I went to another parish once and the organist played right over it. It's a beautiful text!! I think most EFs I've been to one listens to the Last Gospel. I can only remember that one instance of someone playing over it (it was in Italy, if I recall).
  • Catherine,

    I've attended Mass in multiple parishes here in California, and only rarely do I hear the Last Gospel proclaimed audibly.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,862
    I understand the last gospel was originally a private devotion that eventually was added to the mass. Does anyone know who added it officially and when? I haven't found any information on that.

    Last announcement: I have stopped listening to it along with the sermons and have suffered no loss because of it.
  • Carol
    Posts: 440
    Charles, I thought you were making a joke about the number of announcements re parish events that are made after Communion and before dismissal in OF. Our current pastor has cut way back on these unless they are his pet projects.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,664
    How often are celebrants using a proper Last Gospel rather than from John 1?

  • rich_enough
    Posts: 743
    Psallite Sapienter:makes the reasonable suggestion: "If the Last Gospel be read aloud, the music should not be commenced until after the Gospel and its response Deo gratias have been said; if the Last Gospel be read silently, the music may begin after the genuflection."

    Just FYI - the 1962 rubrics abolished the last gospel on some days and with one exception stipulate John 1 on all the days the last gospel is said.
  • >> Not only is the Last Gospel perhaps the most beautifully written passage in the New Testament it serves as a second creed.

    Years ago I attended a wedding ("EF" in modern parlance) at a large Victorian-era church.
    As the priest began to read the Last Gospel aloud, the pipe organ began to play, so very softly

    As he read on, the bells in the tower began to ring, also softly
    then both picked up a little volume

    the beautiful Latin words rolled on... "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not..." and the organ and bells continued to increase
    and as his final words rang out, the organ burst out in recessional, followed by the choir, with all the bells pealing... if you don't get goose bumps reading this, I didn't explain it well. On that day I knew in my bones that I was part of the Church Militant and Triumphant; it was a beautiful, beautiful thing.
  • Madame,

    Thank you. You've given me food for thought in what I play during the Last Gospel. Ours is always followed by the Marian Antiphon, so I have to finish in the key I expect that to begin, but I could vary intensity levels. I try to time my improvisation so that Et Homo Factus Est is punctuated, so that we begin the Marian Antiphon as father reaches the bottom of the steps.

  • Liam
    Posts: 3,664
    rich_enough: you're right about the change in 1962 (I don't attend the EF) - the Mass for Christmas Day being the exception (with the proper Gospel for Epiphany substituted, if memory serves).
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,404
    We always have the Proper Last Gospel, when the commemoration demands... but we follow a calendar c. 1950.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,862
    Charles, I thought you were making a joke about the number of announcements re parish events that are made after Communion and before dismissal in OF. Our current pastor has cut way back on these unless they are his pet projects.

    Our bulletin is not useful for anything current, since it is prepared a couple of weeks in advance. The pastor uses announcements to cover current happenings or events, or to mention that food is available downstairs after mass. Now that is important! ;-) There are matters of life and death, then there are donuts, coffee, and brownies.
  • davido
    Posts: 158
    I am always saddened by silent recitation of the Last Gospel.

    Also, with the blessing coming after the Ite, it allows Deo gracias to be the last words we utter. What could be more appropriate?
  • How unutterably tacky and tasteless.

    Since this often happens, the proper question is not 'is it alright, accepted practice', but 'is it proper, is it seemly'. The answer to the latter is a resounding 'no'. It ought to be unthinkable to play or sing something during the reading of this gospel. What a poor attitude to the proclamation of the word of God - 'tacked on' or not! We have the last gospel at Walsingham throughout the Christmas-Epiphany cycle. It is attended (as is its due) with rapt ears and grateful minds. Let others do as they will - but I, if I were in your place, would do what is fitting, what is respectful of what is going on at the altar.
    Thanked by 2CharlesSA dad29
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,475
    Thanks for reminding us that we're not all part of the (practically perfect in every way) Ordinariate, MJO. As well as not lowering yourself to the level of taking into consideration the diversity and variety of practice that is universal in the Church's liturgy, but taking the high road by calling out us knuckle-dragging Neapolitans for what we are - tacky. and. tasteless. What was it Johnson said? "Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed"? Well, thanks for reminding us that, according to English standards, we're awful.
  • what, Stimson, you mean Ben Jonson actually said one thing that somehow could be taken as charitable? Wow, if you live long enough you hear everything. :-)
    Thanked by 2Liam StimsonInRehab
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,862
    You mean those Ordinariate folks are insufferable snobs?
    Who would have known?

    No purple. English standards have lowered significantly in more recent times.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,404
    Thanks for reminding us that we're not all part of the (practically perfect in every way) Ordinariate

    The Ordinariate is great, many of their priests over here have been happy to learn the EF, and some of them say the EF more than their own rite. The Ordinary has told us he is delighted that his church and priests say the EF, (although he does not wish to say it).

    Thanks to the Ordinariate we may soon have regular celebrations of the Sarum usage...

    We even volunteered to sing an Ordinariate rite Mass, but just as we were sorting out music the Ordinariate use priest said that it will be EF instead.
  • CharlesSA
    Posts: 67
    Well, based on responses thus far, it seems that there is not, in fact, any official mention of this in a document that we are aware of. I was asking because I was asked to help out a parish choir for an EF Mass, with the celebrant being a diocesan priest who hasn't celebrated the EF Mass very much, and the director, in his notes for the choir telling how the EF Mass goes, mentioned that a recessional hymn would be begun as soon as the Last Gospel has begun. As in my own EF choir which I directed for a couple years I had only gone by what I thought I had heard, and in my otherwise limited experience with Sung EF Masses I had never heard a hymn or postlude begun *during* the Last Gospel, I was wondering if there was any official legislation.

    I am in the camp that says it seems funny to begin some recessional hymn, effectively ignoring the Last Gospel, and so I agree with the advice given in Psallite Sapienter. Though as someone who is easily distracted by music, I would prefer silence, I could see how a grand postlude during the Last Gospel could reinforce the greatness of John 1, still, something seems odd to me. I suppose there is the argument that it is technically a thanksgiving prayer for the priest...but that is not officially its role right now, given its placement in the Missal before the priest leaves the altar.

    Anyway, I'll welcome any other responses, but I guess my question regarding whether there is any official legislation regarding the matter is probably answered if no one as of yet has heard of any.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,670
    Playing the organ over the Last Gospel was NEVER done in this Archdiocese in the Olden Days. Not done at the Newer Days EF Masses, either, at least until 2005 or so.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • In a sung mass, the last gospel is effectively silent. So as a general rule the organ can (and should) fill in at this point, but not so as to draw attention to the organ inasmuch as the gospel is being said. Then, if it is the custom of the place, the Marian antiphon or another chant may be sung in concert with the ministers, and a hymn may be sung as the ministers process out.

    But if there is liturgical action that takes place immediately after the last gospel, such as vesting for a procession, or another ceremony, a chant normally sung after the last gospel may be sung instead during the last gospel itself to avoid having the singing take place during the preparations for the following ceremony. The organ can play lightly to accompany solemn liturgical actions as well as simple actions, such as rearranging the furniture in preparation for benediction. But singing, the human voice in prayer, should always be done with a certain solemnity and so should not coincide with mundane activity in the sanctuary. But be alert! Vesting, for example, is a solemn liturgical action.

    At low Mass, the tradition of singing by the people is admitted as a laudable expression of their piety. So at the last gospel, singing would be permissible as a matter of custom with the approval of the local Ordinary. But it is also laudable for all to remain silent and hear the last gospel said in a low voice.
  • thanks to..... regular celebrations of the Sarum Usage
    This would be wonderful indeed. How though could it be? Sarum has not been a licit use for five-hundred years. How can it now be celebrated licitly. Was there some dispensation for priests of the English Ordinariate?

    In the US and Canada (and, I think, Australia) only the Ordinariate use is celebrated in our churches. Which makes sense. We are people of this usage, That is what the ordinariate is all about, preserving what is sound in the Anglican patrimony in the Catholic Church. I do not understand why our British cousins seem to favour the EF. This is not what we are supposed to be about.

    I am aware that in England the BCP heritage is less treasured than it is in the US, for historical reasons which we needn't enter into here. Briefly, the English consider it 'Protty' and the Americans don't. Over here we have a long tradition of Anglo-Catholic BCP usage.

    Perhaps you could elaborate on this?
  • PLTT
    Posts: 77
    Liam, the Proper Last Gospel was abolished in the Pius XII reforms with the exception you noted for the Third Mass of Christmas - however, in the 1962 missal, even that is removed and the Last Gospel it is simply omitted for that Christmas Mass.

    The only relic of a Proper Last Gospel in the 1962 missal is on Palm Sunday, when the Gospel of the Blessing of the Palms is read if there is no blessing and procession preceding the Mass.
  • Arthur,

    Though you make your case with authoritative tone, and I don't doubt that you accurately describe an accepted custom, you haven't led us to a definitive source for having either organ accompaniment or singing during the Last Gospel. And if there is an official guideline, does it carry any kind of obligatory weight?

    Having John's prologue as a priest's private recitation without even mental participation of the congregation just doesn't fly with me and is not something I would describe as laudable.

  • In one place I’ve attended the EF, the priest asks the organist to start playing right after the blessing, because he has a habit of mistakenly saying the Last Gospel out loud at sung Mass otherwise.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • ...a definitive source for having either organ accompaniment or singing during the Last Gospel.
    Randolph, there is no definitive legislation regarding this from the Holy See which may be what you are getting at with the term "definitive source".
  • PLTT
    Posts: 77
    The rubrics of the 1962 missal (RGMR 513) would call for the Last Gospel to be said in the lower tone of voice at a sung Mass. De Musica Sacra (cf. 29d) permits the playing of the organ during the Last Gospel EVEN during a low Mass, where the Last Gospel is said aloud. Thus, the playing of the organ during a high Mass would also seem to be permissible (cf. the implication of 27g of DMS which disallows organ playing during the final blessing).
  • Cantus67Cantus67
    Posts: 181
    Why not just do a real surprise and SING the last Gospel?
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,475
    Ben Jonson

    mademoiselle, it was actually Samuel Johnson. But hey, I like both. I don't feel the need to belittle either because of my aesthetic background.

    some of them say the EF more than their own rite.

    I'm happy to hear that, tom. But I've had experience with an Ordinariate priest who has - well, had quite the opposite effect on our traditional community if truth be told.

    And yes, I'd recommend a return of the Sarum Use. (Paging Dr. Renwick of McMaster University.) But not simply because it's British.
  • Stimson - ah, Samuel Johnson, the Dorothy Parker of his age.
    "Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good." :-)
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,252
    Sarum has not been a licit use for five-hundred years
    Maybe, but it would be licit under the rules of Trent if an application had been made then. And although the argument for it was lost at the restoration of the hierachy, Dr Wiseman celebrated it on at least one recorded occasion (to the delight of Pugin).