Should cantor sing response along with congregation?
  • lacrimosa
    Posts: 23
    I was told by our new music director that the cantor should only sing the response when it is first intoned. Then after the verses are sung, the congregation and the rest of the choir are to respond, but the cantor should not sing at all.

    This is new to me and I had never heard of that. I can understand not wanting the cantor to sing too loudly and overpower the congregation, but never heard that the cantor should not sing the response at all. Is this how it really is or is this the music director's personal rule?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,957
    Never heard of this so it sounds like personal opinion. Sometimes the congregation waits to hear the cantor begin to join in.
  • Bobby Bolin
    Posts: 368
    My pastor also has us abide by this restriction
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,818
    Of course, though by the responses I begin to see why there are some congregations that would let a cantor sing solo both times. Singing once only with a friendly expectant smile and eye contact will fix that, though if the priest doesn't sing it can take more than one week.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,957
    Nah, my cantors are in the loft. The congregation responds only to what it hears. However, they reduce volume after the first few notes and let the congregation carry responses.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,175
    I just wouldn't want the cantor to be 'over the top of the congregation' in volume... especially with the mic... the cantor should be a 'part of the congregation' for the response after the first time it is introduced solo. Hope that makes sense.

    This happens all the time where I attend and NOBODY sings... because they think they are being entertained.
  • I have not heard of a 'rule' regarding the procedure that you mention. While there is no harm in the cantor singing the responsory with the people (providing he or she is not singing into a microphone), it does make a certain sense for him or her to sing only the verses, since they are his and the responsory is theirs. That is the entire point of responsorial singing. While I don't think that there is a 'rule' by which all are bound, it does seem more fitting to observe this 'rule'. Responsorial singing is, by definition, cantor vs. people.

    (This presupposes a congregation who are astute, prompt, and eager in singing their parts of the mass.)
  • MarkB
    Posts: 205
    I agree with MJO's comment and explanation.

    Having said that, when I am the psalmist (singing at the ambo) I use my judgment. In some cases the congregation is confident about the response and sings robustly; in those cases I don't sing the response after its initial intonation because that belongs to them, not me and they don't need my support. At other times the congregation doesn't sing as well or isn't confident about the response so I will start it with/for them after the first verse but fade out, and sometimes by the second or third verse they've got it so I don't have to sing it with them nor start it for them anymore. Also helps to have a choir to sing the response, and when there is a sufficiently large choir at Mass (which isn't always) I don't repeat the psalm's response because the choir can support the congregation in singing it.

    So I agree with the practice, but It's up to psalmists to use their judgment. It's also up to music directors and psalmists to train their congregations well. Also helps to have a skilled, confident psalmist with a pleasant voice who knows how to give cues to a congregation without waving his arms like he's directing a jet airplane to the gate.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,722
    I can see why some music directors and pastors would want cantors to refrain from singing the psalm response when it's repeated.

    After all, the priest shouldn't be singing both parts of the dialogues he initiates. It seems only natural to treat the cantor's interaction with the congregation analogously. And if a choir is present, then the congregation has their support in singing the response.
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,397
    I prefer that the cantor sings the refrain because, honest to goodness, when I carefully listen and I don't know the refrain because I'm not looking at it, I can't remember it! I have to follow the cantor and try to remember what I am to sing!

    Now most of us (musicians) don't have this problem because we have the music/text, but many in the congregation do not. If you listen to the verses intently, then (imo) the refrain is easy to forget.

    I'm always grateful for that cantor (but maybe just a little softer the second + times around). Just my two cents.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CCooze
  • mburrier
    Posts: 25
    It is an interesting exercise to listen to how well the congregation is picking up what you're throwing down.
    One of the best skills a congregation can learn is how to listen, how to listen to each other, rather than strictly depend on the cantor.
  • ...'antiphonal' responsorial 'is call and response'.
    'Antiphonal' is something else.
    Thanked by 2MarkB CHGiffen