Singing and Chants during the Last Gospel
  • Is it permissible according to the Rubrics to sing a Marian antiphon as soon as the Last Gospel starts?
  • *grabs a box of popcorn* Here we go.

    I'm guessing you mean the TLM yes? Some people find it anathema. I don't. As Professor Kwasniewski has pointed out, the epistles and gospels read at Mass are directed towards God, not the people. So it's not necessary that it be 'comprehended', i.e., audibly heard. And although others may think contrary, I don't see how it's disrespectful for the congregation to be singing at the same time.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw StevenRabanal
  • I'm in favor of the practice, which seems to be particularly widespread in France (often with versicle, response, and prayer added), but you should be aware that some priests are strongly opposed to singing or instrumental music during the Last Gospel and find it distracting. Be that as it may, the Last Gospel has its origins as a devotion of the celebrant, not a proclamation of the Word of God to be heard by the people, which is why it's simply read by the celebrant, not chanted by the deacon. But yes, it's certainly permissible according to the rubrics.
  • Some interesting facts and opinions.
    Be it noted that in the Ordinariate Use the last gospel is read after all masses for the duration of the Christmas cycle, i.e., until the 2nd February. I would never have thought of it as a purely priestly devotional. Nonetheless, in the Ordinariate it is read aloud by the celebrant (while facing 'east') for all to hear.
    Even if it is only said quietly by the celebrant in the EF, I should think it a gross rudeness for there to be singing during this most profound of scriptures. The people, knowing well what is being read, should with deep reverence meditate on the same.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw cesarfranck
  • In fairness, some music can be very distracting.
  • See the last section of the article by Fortescue:
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06659a.htm
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,292
    But what happens if you follow the older Rubrics and you have a Proper Last Gospel when there are certain types of Commemoration?

    Under the last set(s) of EF Rubrics the last Gospel has been downgraded back to the original priestly devotion. But the last Gospel had organically developed to become more than just a devotion, before the unfortunate 'Mutationes', in such cases there should not be singing.

    We do not sing during the last Gospel but it is done in certain places over here but it is not common. I do know quite a few people that do not like the singing during the Last Gospel.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • If the LG is read in silence, on a major feast day, I will softly intimate the recessional hymn (if there is one), on the organ, like an Elevation. Then, I will count to five after the genuflexion, and build up to a full hymn introduction.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • But what happens if you follow the older Rubrics and you have a Proper Last Gospel when there are certain types of Commemoration?

    Observance of the pre-Pius XII rubrics seems to be tolerated but not encouraged. The proper Last Gospel in the the fully traditional rite is still essentially a private devotion of the celebrant. If it were truly a proclamation of the words of Christ, it would be chanted. I believe that when the older rubrics are followed to the letter, the reading of the Last Gospel (and also the final blessing!) is not even audible to the congregation, no?
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,618
    If the Last Gospel is truly "a private devotion of the priest," how does one explain the greeting/response and terminal "Deo gratias"?

    There was NEVER any music played or sung during the Last Gospel in the 1950's/early '60's in this Archdiocese.
  • If the Last Gospel is truly "a private devotion of the priest," how does one explain the greeting/response and terminal "Deo gratias"?
    I suppose the same way one explains the numerous responses during the preparatory prayers at the foot of the altar, yet nobody claims that it is unfitting to sing the introit or Kyrie during those, even though the Confiteor is obviously recited on behalf of the whole congregation, not simply for the ministers or servers themselves. According to Fortescue and others, the Mass, historically speaking, begins with the introit and ends with the dismissal. Everything before or after is a later addition.
    There was NEVER any music played or sung during the Last Gospel in the 1950's/early '60's in this Archdiocese.
    Then you should probably not sing or play anything today if that's truly the local custom from the "old days." It was not the case everywhere. See the famous video from Chicago in 1940 narrated by Fulton Sheen with organ playing during the blessing and Last Gospel.
  • In fairness, some music can be very distracting.


    In other fairness, some music can be very helpful in focusing your prayer. Case in point: the hymn which is celebrating its two-hundred year 'birthday' today, Silent Night. In my experience, most cases where music has been sung/played at the Last Gospel it has been along the lines of what Nihil the Magnificent does.

    how does one explain the greeting/response and terminal "Deo gratias"?


    Well, then ask yourself - when the priest before beginning the offertory says "Oremus", then prays silently during the chanting of the Offertory antiphon - is that a liturgical abuse?

    There was NEVER any music played or sung during the Last Gospel in the 1950's/early '60's in this Archdiocese.


    In the Archdiocese of Detroit, it was local custom never to sing any vernacular hymns as a prelude to Mass. There was even an archdiocesan synod on music where they expressly forbade this practice. Now, by this logic, should such a ruling apply to the church universal?

    The people, knowing well what is being read, should with deep reverence meditate on the same.


    Why on earth do people think that singing and meditating always have to be mutually exclusive? Is it distracting to meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary while you repeat the Angelic Salutation over and over?

    I know a lot of this is just going to boil down in the end to "Fortescue/pre-55 rubrics/Milwaukee/The Ordinarite locutus, causa finite est." But again, please, can we refrain from calling those who do practice this custom as gross and rude?
    Thanked by 1madorganist
  • But what happens if you follow the older Rubrics and you have a Proper Last Gospel when there are certain types of Commemoration?


    This is not really an issue. Priests are not allowed to follow "older rubrics"—whether that be 1941, 1841, or 1641. The only exception I know of is certain parishes in 2018, which were granted permission by Rome to use the pre-1950s holy week.

    I've heard of independent chapels that do pick and choose which rubrics they wish to follow—and I've often wondered: “Once you start down this road, where does it logically end?”
  • Stimson,

    I didn't mean to disparage the practice, and I'm sorry if I came over that way. Some music (not just that which is played badly) has the unfortunate tendency to draw all attention to itself.

    To guard against this tendency, for example, when I play Low Mass with Organ, I use the Propers' melodies wherever time allows, and Ordinary melodies in most other places. Since we sing the correct Marian Antiphon after the Last Gospel* I sometimes improvise on that melody.



    * There are times when we sing the Marian Antiphon during the Last Gospel, but this is usually the result of sharing a parish building with an Ordinary Form host.

    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • Incidentally, according to the rubrics, the Last Gospel is to be said aloud at Low Masses and quietly at Solemn or Sung Masses, cf. 513c-e:
    http://divinumofficium.com/www/horas/Help/Rubrics/Missal1960%20rubrics.html#9
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,618
    priest before beginning the offertory says "Oremus"


    Some authorities posit that this was the beginning of "bidding prayers" which fell out of use.

    Frankly, I don't really care what anyone chooses to do, Stimson. I only relayed the practice in this Archdiocese and thank you for your advice.
  • The only exception I know of is certain parishes in 2018, which were granted permission by Rome to use the pre-1950s holy week.


    Funny you mention that, DD - the Institute oratory I used to attend in Detroit was one of these communities with the Holy Week Indult, and they celebrated the practice of which tomjaw speaks - reciting proper 'Last Gospels' for certain feasts.

    But as dad29 has observed elsewhere, the Institute marches to their own rubrical drummer quite often!
  • Josh
    Posts: 70
    At our monthly Missa cantata, we have sung a Marian anthem during the Last Gospel for some time - I had discovered it was done in France, and our priest had no objection to it. It seems to me that, at a Missa cantata, since the Last Gospel is not said aloud (as it would be at Low Mass), it would be appropriate to sing in honour of the Incarnation a Marian anthem, so the devotion of the choir and people would mirror the private devotion of the priest. In practice, only the very shortest Marian anthem fits the time it takes to read the Last Gospel, so the choir generally finishes after the priest does.

    I also asked if he would have no objection to an elevation motet (e.g. O salutaris Hostia, Ave verum, Pie Jesu) after the consecration, but he didn't think that was allowable.
    Thanked by 1madorganist
  • I also asked if he would have no objection to an elevation motet (e.g. O salutaris Hostia, Ave verum, Pie Jesu) after the consecration, but he didn't think that was allowable.
    It's allowable but not recommended, cf. De musica sacra 27f, Tra le sollecitudini 8.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,618
    but not recommended


    Yes. See also the 1958 Instruction, Chapter 3(b)(f): "After the Consecration.........devout silence is advised until the time of the Pater Noster."

    "Is advised" is not quite the same as "is required." You figure it out.

    There is some ironic humor in the fact that the local ICK priest ordered organ-playing in that time period while another priest, 90 miles west, ordered NO organ-playing in that same slot (both EF.)
  • There is some ironic humor in the fact that the local ICK priest ordered organ-playing in that time period while another priest, 90 miles west, ordered NO organ-playing in that same slot (both EF.)


    This may partly be a matter of training. It may also be a question of what is being played. For example, since my ICK pastor wishes that the organ be played in this disputed time slot, yesterday I played through the (well-known) Ave Verum chant, alternating by phrase 5th below and 4th above organum. I didn't ask him what I should play, but since the purpose of that playing is to increase the devotion and focus of the faithful (and, to some extent, the clerics) playing variations of Danny Boy would be wholly inappropriate (even in Boston).
  • Silence can be golden.
    It takes very little time to recite the last gospel.
    If you are practised in reciting Latin, it takes a minute, including time to kneel to honor the Word becoming Flesh.
    If you are restless you can recite it quietly yourself. Probably to your benefit.

    You can break into song afterwards.
  • Josh
    Posts: 70
    My reason for introducing a Marian anthem during the Last Gospel was precisely to aid devotion - since both for the priest (who, at sung Mass, recites the text of John 1:1-14 in an voice so low that it is not meant to be heard), and for the choir and people (who sing meanwhile an anthem in honour of the Mother of God), the object is the same: to focus on the Incarnation. It is indeed a second Creed, as was said above. In addition, I had worried that otherwise there was nothing sung that addressed Our Lady. I may make a bold parallel and compare this to the singing, in the Byzantine Rite, directly after the Consecration and Epiclesis, of the Megalynarion in veneration of the Theotokos. If there were sustained objection, I would simply have the Marian anthem delayed until after the Last Gospel.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,618
    CG-Z: It is a matter of training. The 'forbidding' was done by a fellow who was extremely well-schooled in the rules. The ICK, as I've mentioned, have their own set of rules, usually the ones followed (or invented) in France.

    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Dad,

    If a Jesuit and a Fraternity priest sit down for coffee to discuss liturgy...… the Fraternity priest talks about liturgy, and the Jesuit wonders if the coffee contributed to unfair land distribution in Central America.
  • Be it noted that in the Ordinariate Use the last gospel is read after all masses for the duration of the Christmas cycle, i.e., until the 2nd February. I would never have thought of it as a purely priestly devotional. Nonetheless, in the Ordinariate it is read aloud by the celebrant (while facing 'east') for all to hear.


    It is not exclusive to the Christmas cycle. I believe that that is only the practice of the Cathedral and maybe other parishes, but it may be read at every Mass except Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Easter Vigil, and Masses followed by a procession (not to be confused with a simple procession from sanctuary to narthex). The Missal says it to be especially appropriate during Christmastide.
  • Psallite Sapientier, by B. Andrew Mills, published by CMAA (2008), comments on the use of the organ after the consecration and during the Last Gospel:
    67. If it [the Benedictus] has already been sung, there are three options:
    a. The organ may be played (quietly and reverently), if its use be not prohibited (see ¶21 et seq. [which discuss the use of the organ in Advent, Lent, etc.]).
    b. A suitable chant, motet, or hymn in Latin, and in honour of the Blessed Sacrament, may be sung.
    c. Reverent silence may be kept (this is preferred by the rubrics).
    Any music added at this point should be brought to a conclusion as soon as possible after the celebrant has said aloud Nobis quoque peccatoribus.
    Mills is obviously not convinced that paragraph 27f. of De Sacra Musica et Sacra Liturgia prohibits music at this time.
    80. 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. [...]

  • If the Last Gospel be read aloud
    As this is in the section titled "The Music of Missa Solemnis or Missa Cantata," it is describing a practice contrary to the general rubrics of the Missal. The Last Gospel is read aloud at Low Mass, but it is followed immediately by the Leonine Prayers. A Nuptial Low Mass or some other Low Mass with solemnity (First Communion, for example) is about the only occasion I can think of when there might be music immediately after the Last Gospel read aloud IF the rubrics are followed.
  • Josh
    Posts: 70
    I was told by a priest that it was always the custom in Australia, before the Council, to read the Last Gospel aloud, even at a sung Mass. But these days one is more likely to see the rubrics very carefully adhered to, to the extent of using the Sanctus candle...
  • Josh
    Posts: 70
    And one thing, BTW, that I find really detestable is the way the Last Gospel is gabbled by priests who really should know better, mispronouncing, running words together or even omitting them, when slowing down even slightly would improve their diction and devotion - and ours - without unduly delaying Mass. I don't mean to criticise those whose Latin is sufficient but not perfect, but just slowing down a little would help priests improve in this area.
  • without unduly delaying Mass.


    Josh,

    "Not unduly prolonging Mass" gave rise to Extraordinary (Unnecessary Ministers of Holy Communion. For this reason, while I agree with your conclusion, I find the line of argument misses the mark.

    If any of us are in a hurry for Mass to end.... that's because we don't properly understand what Mass is.

    Charles,

    I understand what you mean about Western Catholics, but they can be taught otherwise.

    I now have a small group of friends who will come together to sing Vespers and Compline ---and with any luck, since our parish continues to expand, we'll be able someday to chant the Hours around the day.
  • Josh
    Posts: 70
    Chris, I quite agree - after all, time spent at Mass doesn't count towards the years of our life, I seem to recall: it was a mediæval belief that one doesn't grow older during Mass; and this is but an expression of the truth that, the Eucharistic Sacrifice is a foretaste of heaven, and the eternal worship of God through and with the Lamb once slain who lives for ever.

    I was at sung Mass with the monks of Notre Dame Priory today, and after the Last Gospel they processed as always to the Lady Altar where they sang the Sub tuum.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,292
    it was a mediæval belief that one doesn't grow older during Mass;


    Oh splendid, having sung Mass every day since Ember Saturday, my lifespan has been increased no end!
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,066
    I noticed the same lifespan comment recently about riding a bicycle.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen tomjaw
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,618
    one doesn't grow older during Mass;


    So we had daily Mass in grade- and high-school. Means I must be about 20 years younger than I am.

    OK, then. What happened to my yout'ful capabilities??
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen tomjaw
  • Josh
    Posts: 70
    Well, at the start of each (EF) Mass is said "Introibo ad altare Dei. – Ad Deum qui lætificat juventutem meam" (Ps. 42, 4), and by the Rabbinical rule that one word in a Scriptural text may be interpreted with reference to the same word elsewhere, I immediately think of another psalm verse, used in the preces at Prime: "Qui replet in bonis desiderium tuum. – Renovabitur ut aquilæ juventus tua." (Ps. 102, 5) Hence it is unsurprising that by going to God's altar, coming nigh unto God who gives joy to our youth, we should find that he fills our desire with goods, and that our youth should be renewed "like the eagle's" (presumably a reference to St John the Evangelist).

    But whatever of pious speculation, to return to the question at hand:

    Imagine if you will that the rule were imposed (by a diocesan bishop or provincial Synod) that at the end of Mass the Marian anthem of the season be said or sung, presumably with the customary versicle and collect appended: (1) at Low Mass, whereas once by law, and even today by custom, the priest often leads the Leonine Prayers, such a new rule would take precedence and even take the place of these, so immediately after the final Deo gratias, the priest would recite the Marian anthem of the season followed by its versicle and collect; (2) at sung Mass, just as the priest still by custom (whatever the 1962 rubrics may specify) reads quietly at the altar the Communion verse, for instance, which the choir has meanwhile already sung, so it would seem quite likely that the choir would begin singing the Marian anthem, simple, solemn or in a polyphonic setting, as soon as the priest has blessed the people and moved toward the Gospel side to read the Last Gospel, and while he would read that to himself, the choir would be singing, and after the server had replied Deo gratias, he would read the Marian anthem to himself, before - the choir meanwhile having finished singing - he would chant the versicle, to which the choir would respond, and then sing "Oremus" and the appropriate collect.

    Now, at the present if the priest is happy for the choir to sing a Marian anthem during the Last Gospel at a sung Mass, it appears that no rubric is violated; and if he prefers not, the choir can simply wait until after the Last Gospel to sing such an anthem, particularly if, as in some places, the priest and ministers go to the Lady Altar after Mass - as they do at Maternal Heart, Lewisham, in Sydney - where all sing the "Sub tuum".