Choices for a first Mass?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,935
    Yesterday, a friend asked me to recommend some music for a new priest's first Mass. She wanted to help him find suitable entrance and recessional hymns for the occasion. I wrote back, not really answering her question:

    I'd choose music according to the Church's calendar: that is, according to which Sunday is being observed.

    After all, the Mass for the ordination rite had readings and chants and music that referred to the priesthood. This Mass is different: it's a regular Sunday (or weekday) Mass. It doesn't have special readings assigned.

    This is an opportunity for Father to say: I'm here to serve God and His Church. I identify with the Church, so I'm going to do what the Church's liturgy prescribes for the day.

    and also:

    Does Father feel comfortable in singing his basic parts ("The Lord be with you", etc.)? If I were choosing music for a priest's first Mass, I'd put all the emphasis on singing the Mass ordinary parts. That's the Church's goal. The Church wants us to sing the Mass texts, not hymns that are tacked on. It's the difference between "singing the Mass" and "singing at the Mass".

    But perhaps there are members who would take a different approach: any suggestions?

    For the sake of simplicity, I'm assuming that the new priest is going to offer Mass in the ordinary form.
  • Paul F. Ford
    Posts: 832
    Your advice is immensely sound. Here at Saint John Seminary we urge students to respect the liturgical calendar and the parish community where they are celebrating their Mass of Thanksgiving.

    If that Mass falls on a Sunday, they must say the Mass of the Sunday and use that Sunday's lectionary. If on another day of the week, they are free to implement the rules about votive Masses found in Appendix Three of the Ceremonial of Bishops (the rules that the Ordo follows). These rules may leave them free to choose, for example, one of the Prefaces of the Holy Eucharist, or the Preface of the Priesthood (see Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper). A Song of Praise after Communion might also be sung, like the Te Deum.

    For us, "respecting the parish community where they are celebrating their Mass of Thanksgiving" means using the parish's musical resources, both personnel and printed. We suggest a possible combination of choirs, cantors, and instrumentalists. This gives the local groups a chance to sing together and to shine together.

    We advise strongly against importing choirs, cantors, and instrumentalists from other parishes.

    We would want them to exercise the same sensitivity to the Church's expectations and to the local parish's practice that they in turn would expect from brides and grooms at weddings and to the bereaved at funerals.
  • Last year, my schola sang at a solemn Mass of a newly ordained priest. Along the lines of Paul Ford's suggestion, we used most of the parish musical resources, which really gave it a joyful, festive atmosphere. The parish organist(s) played, the schola sang the propers, the mixed choir sang the Ordinary and motets. After Mass, the choir sang a half hour or more of votive pieces while the priest gave his neosacerdotal blessing (if that's the right English term for the indulgence) to a large number of the congregation at the altar rail. Truly a joyful occasion, and it was great to have all the parish musical (and other) groups pulling together for this. Followed by a social reception outdoors.