Reading of the Passion
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,486
    Does anyone have a sense of the legislation for and against the "parish normal" reading of the Passion, in which the congregation says "crucify Him" every year?

    Personally I think this is a spiritually problematic practice. But is it recommended/ required? And what does the Pope do?
  • Kathy, sore subject locally here. I'll be in touch elsewhere with you about this.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,486
    Thanks, Charles.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,530
    We are not having the congregation read any of the parts at all. We have three readers and the chorus is being handled by the choir.
  • On the EWTN broadcast from the Vatican today, the Passion was "chanted" by three deacons with the choir singing the words of the people.
  • From USCCB:

    Proclamation of the Passion in Parts

    Following the Second Vatican Council, popular participation aids were developed in magazine formats to promote the effective participation of all the faithful in the liturgy. These aids were particularly helpful in facilitating participation in the rites of the Sacred Triduum, which due to their unique structure and complexity, required careful guidance.

    Part of this laudable pastoral initiative involved the division of the proclamation of the Passion in parts. A precedent for this practice was found in the Passio which was solemnly sung by three sacred ministers. Unlike the traditional sung Passio, however, the newly developed Passion was divided into four parts, the new part being assigned to the entire assembly of the faithful. To the congregation present was given the collective parts of observers, witnesses to the trial and death of Jesus, and "the crowd" which surrounded him during his Passion.

    With the publication of the revised Lectionary for Mass, the Secretariat for the Liturgy has received many inquiries concerning the appropriateness of the use of the Passion divided into parts. Certainly, the sung Passio, in its official typical edition is often appropriate in the proper pastoral circumstances. Indeed, a translation of the praenotanda from the Latin typical edition of the Passio is presently in the final stages of preparation.

    The Secretariat has, in the course of the publication of the revised Lectionary for Mass, provided a standard edition of the Passion in four parts. While the proclamation of the Passion in four parts is permitted the following factors should be carefully considered:

    While it has a dramatic quality, the Passion is not so much a drama enacted as a narrative proclaimed solemnly and simply, without candles, incense, greeting, or signs of the cross. The 1988 Circular Letter Concerning the Preparation and Celebration of the Easter Feasts (Paschali Solemnitis) from the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments states:

    33. The Passion narrative occupies a special place. It should be sung or read in the traditional way, that is by three persons who take the part of Christ, the narrator and the people. The Passion is proclaimed by deacons or priests, or by lay readers; in the latter case, the part of the Christ should be reserved to the priest.
    The teachings of John Paul II and recent positive developments in the dialogue between Jews and Christians generally have helped to create an awareness of the ways in which the misuse or misinterpretation of the Scriptures may have contributed to the promotion of anti-Judaism.1 In light of this, particular sensitivity to a potential misunderstanding of the crowd's assigned cry of "Crucify him!" in the Passion story, as an assertion of the collective guilt of the Jews, should be kept in mind by pastors and liturgists planning for the use of a four-part Passion reading.

    Careful consideration should be given to the effect which this practice may have on the popular participation of the faithful. Does a participant waiting for his or her "part" remain unduly dependent on a printed "script"? Does this allow each individual to meditate effectively on the word proclaimed?
    Overly simplistic solutions to this complex question should be avoided, while careful reflections on the subject are encouraged. The Secretariat for the Liturgy welcomes the continued reflections of pastors, liturgy directors and others on this important pastoral question.

    After three hearings this weekend under the presiding of our pastor.....well, missalette liturgy lives on. Pretty discouraged out here, of all days. Singing the Allegri "Miserere mei" Friday will cheer me up. Irony alert.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    So far as I can tell, the common practice is wholly the result of the bolded portions that OCP assigns to the people. Change the typography and everything else will change.
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    I don't think it's a good thing for us to shout "crucify him" on Good Friday. It gives the wrong message I think. Theologically unsound? I dunno. Something about it bothers me.
  • Chrism
    Posts: 866
    Kathy, why do you think it's more spiritually problematic for the people to do it instead of the choir?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,486
    Because the choir SHOULD feel guilty!

    Immoral, impossible God only knows
    How tenors and basses, sopranos, altos
    At service on Sunday are rarely the same
    As those who on Thursday to choir practice came.

    Unready, unable to sight-read the notes,
    Nor counting nor blending, they tighten their throats.
    The descant so piercing is soaring above
    The melody only a mother could love.

    They have a director, but on one knows why.
    No one in the choir deigns to turn him an eye.
    It's clear by his waving, he wants them to look,
    But each of them stands with his nose in the book.

    Despite the offenses, the music rings out
    The folks in the pews are enraptured, no doubt
    Their faces are blissful, their thoughts are so deep,
    But it is no wonder, for they are asleep!


    It's actually a good question, Chrism. The choir usually "stands for" the congregation.


    Was this a recent USCCB statement? That is, are they currently looking for input?
  • It is the practice at my parish (St. Paul / Cambridge) to chant the Passion on Palm Sunday and Good Friday. You need capable singers of course and I wouldn't recommend chanting it unless you do. The role of Jesus requires being comfortable with a low B-flat, the narrator must have endurance and the third as well as choir parts hover around the second E-flat above middle C. Yesterday after the Mass one the choir boys with a sprained ankle offered his crutches to the tenor who had sung the Narrator role. It provided a light moment after such a somber liturgy.

    A bit off topic: the Mass concluded with the hymn "Praise to the Holiest" (text: JH Newman; tune: McGrath) and the choir sang the final verse alone a cappella. It was most effective. Another reason to look forward to the anticipated availability of Marier's marvelous hymnal.
  • Kathy, it was Charles in CenCA with the USCCB... not recent, not really looking for input, IMO.
    In any case, no, not a recent statement. In fact, there is at least one other webpage, much shorter, where they simply re-iterate that the authoritative document is the 1988 CDW "circular letter" and simply quote it, like "That's it, folks. Just do it!"
    If you need the URL, I'll find it and post it for you.
    Jeffrey's point typifies the frustration I suppose others feel as I do- that as long as missalette (how I LOATHE everything associated with that word) publishers foist this "version" of the narrative with the turbae "assigned" to the congregation, celebrants will demur to it. My opinion, FWIW, maintains that version not only prohibits the proclamation of the Passion, but rather diminishes it to an exercize not at all dissimilar to a first grade "My Litte Red Book" recitation. Add to that factors of lector competence (with all of its problematic factors) and the spectrum of congregational attitudes that present themselves each year at the proclamations, and solemnity is likely to not be evident in the building. Solemnity is, obviously, present de facto in the rite, but is only made present and palpable by purposeful practice (say that five times in 10 seconds!)
    Like Randolph, our parish has heard (em-PHA-sis on "HEARD") the proclamation sung by three singers, using the approved settings, not only well, but in a more time-efficient manner in the past than the group-read. We have also done the Victoria St. John many, many times in the past. That has gone the way of the dodo, not by my choice.