What do cantors announce?
  • My parish is going to start distributing a weekly listing of the ordinary & hymns, aiming for a single announcement at the beginning of Mass along the lines of "Welcome to St. xxx for our celebration of the xxx Sunday in Ordinary Time; please follow along in your Order of Worship and join in singing blah blah blah." The idea is to reduce intrusion during the Mass by announcing hymns, etc. How have other parishes handled this, and what should be announced before Mass begins?
  • At my parish we don't announce anything. That is what the "Order of Worship" is there for, and it seems to work well. It works the same for Masses at which the Cantor sings, as well as at the Solemn Mass when the choir leads the congregational singing (no cantor). Everyone knows when they have to sing, and those not singing are in any case the ones that won't sing no matter what music is chosen. One of my pet peeves are these multiple announcements by cantors, and cantors singing over microphones.

    Wonderful that you guys are reducing the intrusions during Mass. I think a simple welcome at the beginning like you've suggested should suffice.
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    My parish doesn't have an "order of worship" board at the front of the church, nor anything similar, and they're not looking to ever install one AFAIK.

    As a cantor, I take some small amount of pride that I don't announce anything during the Mass, strictly speaking — immediately before Mass (i.e., before the priest begins his procession), I will announce where the music for the Ordinary of the Mass can be found, and what our "opening song" (ugh) will be (unless I sing the Introit as the Introit, which I've only done once so far). After the priest or deacon has announced "this Mass is ended," I will announce our closing song. But for Offertory and Communion, it's the propers (thank you very much!), from the Gregorian Missal and/or as adapted in an English setting. And they're not announced.

    It's essentially the "sandwich," but stripped of its innards. My next challenge is to always sing the Introit as the Introit, rather than as a prelude. (The one time I tried it, the silence from the congregation seemed really awkward, and one person who otherwise is very supportive and appreciative of my sacred music efforts told me that he felt it was awkward, too.)

    Keep at it, Joan!
  • Announce nothing: say only the words explicitly required in the Missal/Sacramentary.
    All else is an intrusion on the Mass.
  • I second DBP's assessment. Not only during mass is anything other than the ritual words an unforgivable (and disgusting... and tasteless... and mindless) intrusion, so are any introductory remarks before the liturgy. A prelude, if there is one, should be viewed and appreciated as setting the tone for the day's liturgy and, as such, is an in-'formal' part of it - to defeat its valid purpose is to intrude on a prayerful and liturgical process that has already begun. Congratulations on your use of a service folder and, hopefully, ridding your liturgy of the irreverence of announcements.

    The 'four hymn sandwich' was alluded to above. I believe that this is an unfortunate usage. It would be better if one did not denigrate hymns in this fashion. If they are good hymns and well chosen ones, it is wholly inappropriate, and not at all clever, to refer to them in such a bad light any more than one would think of refering to a 'five propers sandwich'. If one does not appreciate hymnody in the mass (and there are, of course, valid reasons for eschewing their use in the Roman Rite) then one does not have to use them. But, if one does use them, then one should see to it that they are good hymns and worthy of respect. They are not an inherent embarrasment.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,450
    Nothing is announced at our masses, either. There is a board in front with 4-inch-high numbers that all can see. I grumble about the thing every time I have to change numbers, but it serves its purpose. I would rather list music in the bulletin, but seem to be the only one who wants to do that. The previous DM used to like to make last minute changes - impossible to do in the bulletin - so the board became a fixture that's now been there for years.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    We are required to announce but we try to keep it minimal.

    "This is the sixth Sunday of Easter. The Introit (name) will be sung by the schola. Please stand."
  • Steve CollinsSteve Collins
    Posts: 1,003
    Mr. Osborn has put it so well! Hymns may not be the "music of the Mass", but they can work quite well. But one needs to 1) like hymnody, and 2) have a good grasp of its depth, breadth, and especially history. Not all hymns are of strictly "Catholic" origin, nor are all the translations of those that are ancient Catholic. But many great hymns ARE of Catholic origin. The problem is that they are NOT included in our contemporary Catholic hymnal, either hardbound or newsprint! It takes time and study to find both the Catholic hymns, and those of "protestant" origin that are still suitable for our use. Understanding the Psalter, the Propers which use them so heavily, AND hymnody is the key - and will enrich anyone who decides to pursue such understanding.

    N.B. During my 16 years at Our Lady of Walsingham, I kept a very informal tally of hymns used. With "The Hymnal 1940" as our base, we used 300+ of the 600+ hymns therein over the course of the three-year cycle. We also had "Hymns III" (a supplemental hymnal to the 1940), The Collegeville hymnal, and many other hymns from my collection of hymnals. We had both a hymn-board at the front of church and worship aids. We also sang the Psalm and Alleluya verses, the entire congregation, to Anglican chant at every Mass. Often the Schola Cantorum would chant an English Proper as well, and the Ordinary was in either Latin or English, changing seasonally and with the Feast Day being celebrated. Nothing was ever announced!
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    At my church, the Pastor has requested that we announce the entrance hymn, Prep hymn and closing hymn. So I have no choice. We also use a Hymn Board. The Entrance Hymn is announced as the Entrance Hymn, not opening song or whatever, and closing is announced as the Recessional Hymn. The Pastor believes this encourages the congregation to open their hymnals and sing. I have never seen this practice in an Anglican church. It may occur, just not the ones I've worked in or belonged to. I love good Hymnody. And I never heard 'the hymn sandwich' or whatever until I went to work in a Catholic church. I think it's demeaning to all the truly great hymns of the church, of which I have a long list which will be sung at my funeral. We also have a contemporary Mass, so when anyone complains about my choice of hymns, I direct them to that mass. Doesn't happen very often, tho'.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    When I had to announce, I would keep it simple as well: "The Entrance hymn: Number 123, Title, number one-two-three" At my last church, when there was a Latin text sung and no bulletin was available, my boss would have me recite the text before it was sung. I always hated having to do that, but it served its purpose. If anything, the issue of announcing was incentive for me to use more of the propers!
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    Messrs. Osborn and Collins… point taken.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I've been reading the article, 'History, Reform, and Continuity in the Hymns of the Roman Breviary,' in Sacred Music, Spring 2009. It's a long article but found very informative. I recommand it for the people who cherish Catholic hymns. It seems to be that if the local parishes restore 'Liturgy of the Hours," at least one or two on daily, or even weekly bases, we could sing more hymns in proper places in the liturgy, which are intended to be used according to the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church.
    That way we don't need to debate whether hymns should be sung at the liturgy, but it will encourage musicians to search for better hymns and don't need to feel guilty of doing '4 sandwich hymns.' I think hymns should be sung in the right place following our tradition, so hymns can preserve the true beauty and regain the dignity.
    When the VII talks about the congregation's active singing (i guess it means including vocal singing) of the parts pertaining to them in Mass, do they intend to promote singng hymns in Mass? I think 'Reponses' and "Ordinary parts' seemed to be sufficiant for the congregation to sing and focus during mass. According to the article, Pope Paul VI announced the formation of the commision to reform the Breviarium Romanum. "Since Sacrosantum Concilium seemed to presume that hymns would remain as structural elements in the reformed OFFICE, group seven, whose responsibility it was to restore and enlarge the repertoire of hymns for the OFFICE." It seems clear that VII never intended to replace Propers with hymns, but wanted to keep the hymns in the office and use them more widely that way.
    It seems that some started to mix two different liturgies (probably with a good intention), and led Catholics into confusions, which counsil Fathers never intended. Maybe those so called 'Catholic intellectuals;' including scholars, local priests, catechists, who don't value and understand the traditions of Catholic Church (including reforms in the Church history), should not interpret the Church documents such as Vatican II the way they want and do their own things. It is truly damaging the souls of the faithful.
  • I had a very interesting conversation about the Catholic Church with a very erudite, devout Protestant woman (high-church Anglican) at an after-dinner drinks party last night. She questioned me carefully and thoughfully about my own conversion to the faith (from Anglicanism). When I mentioned the mandatory nature of the Episcopalian 'ordination' of women [all must accept it or endure severe penalties], she commented that, while the Catholic Church obviously didn't ordain women, many/most Catholic Sunday Masses had a women directing and narrating the liturgy. At first I didn't understand this statement, but then realized that she was referring to the cantor! And indeed, one finds the cantor placed 'near the assembly' [sounds of gagging] and mediating worshippers' approach to all aspects of the Mass. This from an extremely intelligent woman whose usual Sunday worship could most aptly be described as the Tridentine Mass in Elizabethan English. When asked where she could go to Catholic Mass and avoid this hideous expedient, I was forced to say that in Baltimore the EF/TLM at Saint Alphonsus' Church [now Shrine, actually] was the only option. The only one. In the 'Premier See' of Catholicism in the US. This conversation broke my heart.
  • I'm a newbie to the CMAA forum and am having my eyes opened in so many ways, thanks to the many thought-provoking discussions here!

    When my family moved and joined our current small rural parish about 5 years ago, the parish was undergoing staff turnaround; the new priest & new music director brought traditional hymnody and organ to a congregation that was used to guitar and piano synthesizer (a la Glory & Praise etc). The music director perceived that the congregation didn't sing; his hope was if the choir was in the choir loft and the cantor was up front doing traditional hymns, the congregation would be surrounded with sound and would find it easier to sing the hymns (since in our rural area people apparently don't like to sing if they think they'll be heard!). But in my mind there's always been the tension of what Mr. Page articulated: that a cantor's actions could be interpreted as "directing and narrating the liturgy" or "mediating worshippers' approach" to the Mass. What's the right balance? Our congregation has given much positive feedback about the cantoring, and it's clear that when the hymn is new to them, they appreciate the cantor giving them confidence.

    In the last year, our pastor has encouraged the choir to do more polyphony and to bring back the Latin propers and a Latin ordinary. We're meeting this week to discussing cantoring specifically and how to place the role of the cantor in obedience to the Church. I'm scouring this Forum and assembling notes from the GIRM and Sing to the Lord and other sources to guide us. If anyone has put together any sort of cantor training documentation that articulates an obedient, unobtrusive, humble, and appropriate role for the cantor, I'd be very eager to see it.

    Joan Carey
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    I think it is entirely unnecessary to have cantor for hymns, but since I MUST have one (the Boss says so) I try to keep them as unobtrusive as possible, by not bringing congregation in on every verse of hymn or Psalm Response,esp when it is a familiar setting, and having cantor step back from mic after bringing them in. (WE have a very large church with a choir loft). It is enough to lift your head and give a definitive nod! All this arm-waving makes me think of Sunday evening at the Baptist church of my youth! It is imperative that the organist play the hymns sensitively and breathes with the words. If not, you can wave your arms forever and you will never see an improvement in the congregational singing. Amen.
  • There is, of course, no rubrical nor ritual foundation for a cantor to 'announce' anything. A cantor is one who practices the cantillation of Holy Writ and his scholarship and duties begin and end there. He, or she, is not a congregational music director, a congregational guide through the liturgy, nor an informer of what liturgical day it is and what parish one is at, etc., as if one were so daft that he, or she, did not know. Most cantors I have heard are not worthy to be called cantors - they do not at all even begin to stand in the scholarly and sacred tradition of historical cantorship.
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    'Cantor' is one of those words,I am sorry to say,that has lost it's classical meaning, and morphed into something that would not be recognized by any traditional Jewish cantor of not so many years ago.

  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Joan said "In the last year, our pastor has encouraged the choir to do more polyphony and to bring back the Latin propers and a Latin ordinary"

    This is wonderful. You can emphasize choir singing Propers (at least Introits and Communio to start) and teach the congregation their 'Responses" (starting with the first degree.) When there is no choir, the cantor can sing the Propers and help the congregation singing the "Reponses'

    This is the definition of 'Cantor' from Modern Catholic Dictionary by John A. Hardon, S.J.

    The chief singer of an ecclesiastical choir, who leads the singing and often selects the music. In the Divine Office the cantor intones the antiphones and starts the psalms. he is also called the precentor.

    I wonder who changed the role of the cantor in our Mass? Are we trying to imitate Protestant services in which Hymn singing is a basic element? (it's so part of their services, they don't even need a songleader) We are trying so hard to have the congregation sing the hymns which are not part of the Mass, and even by introducing song leaders, who are not psalmist or cantors. Maybe people who don't want to sing hymns they do so, because they feel awkward and don't feel right doing it during Mass? We have Mass, Sacrament of Eucharist, which we receive though the Church not by individuals. Maybe we should stop trying to change Mass look like a protestant service.
  • Yes, I understand that the role of cantor has been adulterated, but I'm not a liturgical scholar and could use some help in figuring out how to restore the role of cantor in our parish to its proper function, so that we are in obedience to the Church in our use of the correct gestures (or no gestures), the proper announcements (or no announcements), placing ourselves in the right places at the right times, using or eschewing microphones, being heard or blending in, etc.

    Just by lurking through past posts here, I see there's a lot of disagreement on these basics. Is there a training guide this group has developed, or some similar resource, that can teach us and help us act in accordance with M. Jackson Osborn's "scholarly and sacred tradition of historical cantorship" or Donna's "classical meaning?"

    We want to do it right; we're eager; we just need to know how!
  • Announcements: not part of the ritual, and thus should be completely suppressed
    Gestures: vulgar; assume that the congregation is stupid; not specified in the ritual; should be completely suppressed
    Microphones: antithetical to sung prayer; a singer who cannot be reasonably heard without one is not qualified to lead vocally; should be completely suppressed
    Position: should not in any way take attention away from celebrant, ambo, and altar

    One may not be able to effect all this changes immediately, but to argue that they are impossible or not entirely necessary would be to compromise the dignity and authority of the Mass.
  • Joan -
    What to do? How to do it?
    DBP's advice is outstanding!
    Here are a few suggestions on the positive level -
    1) Learn the 8 historical psalm tones and how, if necessary, to point the psalms yourself
    2) Sing the psalm to these tones in preference to any other settings.
    3) There are a number of historical plainsong alleluyas, some of which are not too lengthy or difficult.
    Look them up in the Graduale Romanum and use them in preference to any other settings.
    The alleluya verse itself should be sung to a matching psalm tone.
    4) If there is other plainsong at your liturgy that is not led by the choir
    it may be your responsibility to introduce it, to 'intone' it.
    5) Learn chant notation (it's not that difficult) so that you can
    teach yourself to sing the propers if your priest is open to their use.
    6) For propers in English invest in (or get your parish to invest in) Bruce Ford's American Gradual or The Anglican Use Gradual
    Also, there is much other chant in English available from St Meinrad's archabbey and elsewhere.
    7) Attend chant intensive & workshops to facillitate the above.
    8) Attend chant classes at a monastery, such as St Meinrad's or others.
    9) For immediate tutelage in the above, approach, if not your own choirmaster
    then your cathedral choirmaster.
    10) Do some research into the history & development of liturgy and especially its historical music.
    As a cantor you should have some appreciable expertise in these matters.
    11) Reinforcement of DBP's maxims - you are not an announcer: you are a cantor.
    The people aren't dumb - they know where they are, what is going on, and what to do.

    Perhaps others will want to add to these few words.
  • Mr. Z
    Posts: 159
    I know this is somewhat redundant to some of the previous rejoinders, ala, 'Cantors are to announce nothing or virtually nothing.'

    But -- that said -- this idea of "welcoming" people to what should be understood to be akin to one's own home is just silly. This is, silly as it is, almost ubiquitous, and almost never pointed towards or specific to visitors.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    "Is there a training guide this group has developed, or some similar resource, that can teach us and help us act in accordance with M. Jackson Osborn's "scholarly and sacred tradition of historical cantorship" or Donna's "classical meaning?"

    Mr. Page and Mr. Osborn's suggestions are really great. In order to start, I recommand CMAA Chant Intesive. You will learn so much.
    I really am not a bit scholar myself. I am just trying to learn and find out what our Church wants, so I can obey and be in the right track. While I was working as an organist, nobody told me or talk about what the Church wants, especially for musicinans. All the music ministry people were busy trying to make people happy and sing. I was working hard but doing wrong things. Last year, I started to find out what the Catholic church musicians supposed to do after I attend Chant Intensive, and while I'm keep searching, I am much happier now, because I know I'm on the right track.

    I really recommand you attend CMAA Chant Intensive in Chicago. There is still a space I think. (more info in the front page of this site.) Teach your parish people Gregorian chants, and help them sing. Propers for the choir and Ordinaries for the congregation to start. That's how you can be a cantor with " scholarly and sacred tradition of historical cantorship" or Donna's "classical meaning?"
    That's what the Church wants us to do. There will be some steps to be taken. And other details can be adjusted as your church progress forward in establishing sacred music in the Mass as the Church asks.
    One thing I want to add. In our parish a few times we didn't have a canor while I was working as an organist. When It happened, I actually heard the congregation sing hymns better without the cantor. I really don't think you need a cantor in the front for hymn singing.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 986
    My pet peeve on the topic of announcements from cantors is "Good morning/evening/whatever" followed by a pause for everyone to chorus the greeting back.

    Of course, this can made worse by the celebrant doing the same thing on his arrival. But even the first one is totally out of place. If we could teach cantors to STOP doing this, it would be one notch up the "dignified worship" ladder. (And that's not easy to do. In one church, I gave them a script and they all added "Good morning and welcome to St. ____, as though the worshippers might be in the wrong church.)
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    My pet peeve on the topic of announcements from cantors is "Good morning/evening/whatever" followed by a pause for everyone to chorus the greeting back.

    Or worse: "I said, Good mooooooorning! I can't heaaaar you!"
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    We have all been instructed by Pastor to say at beginning- :Welcome to ......." This is followed immediately by announcement of Entrance Hymn., but not time for Cong. to respond with their own 'Good morning' No matter what the ideal is, I am stuck with this. :(
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    I'm wondering if any of this discussion could be related to area of country? Smaller churches? Larger metro Cathedrals? Probably the most important difference is the word of the Pastor?
  • Carl DCarl D
    Posts: 987
    We had a session of cantor training in our parish yesterday, and it's apparent that most of what the cantors are doing is based on personal preference, habit, and random suggestions from various people over previous decades.

    A discussion regarding bowing as we approach the ambo highlighted this very well for me, including "I asked the lady who schedules Eucharistic Ministers...", "A past priest asked me what we should be doing!", and so on.

    Here's what we need: A very simple guide, including video, which shows what we should be doing and WHY. If there's some logic behind it, people will see it as more authoritative. The last training video I saw recommended that the cantor make a graceful motion (1 or 2 handed!) to invite the congregation to sing their part. Our DM is now treating that as the model, because it seemed authoritative.

    It will be very hard to create, because even in this small forum we see such a wide range of opinions. But if we had a training guide which was reasonably thought through and reviewed by some solid Liturgical Experts, that might be incredibly useful.
  • Thanks for all the feedback, folks! I really appreciate it, and I'll take these thoughts to our cantor training workshop tonight. Yes, Carl D, I'm with you: an authoritative guide would be wonderful. The GIRM and Vatican II documents on the liturgy (and STTL, which I gather was not all that popular here) all mention as possibilities things that are hotly debated here (such as processional hymns, cantor gestures, cantor at the ambo, cantor leading congregational singing, etc.), so it's hard to sort out!
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    One of the most beautiful RP singing I heard was the one in the Papal Mass at the Yankee Stadium. He sang so beautifully and clearly, but not overdone. His expression was full of joy and faith, but controlled. His gesture is, of course, big, because of the size of the congregation in the huge place. But it was very touching. (I only wish the Psalm was longer.) I believe he gives cantor/Psalmist workshop. Here is the link, if you are interested in watching him. I even sent a thank you email to him and to the composer. They were very happy to hear it.

  • Charles in CenCA
    Posts: 2,416
    I don't think this little caveat has been part of the discussion, but it seems that we're discussing a liturgical responsibility that was, I believe, rubrically assigned to someone designated as "the commentator." I'm unsure (and disinclined to research) whether this role is still licitly available. But there is no doubt that cantors, song leaders and choral directors have, by and large, subsumed that initial responsibility of the commentator with these "announcement" issues. Add to the mix all across the landscape, Directors of Liturgy like friend Todd F. or clerical MoC's, and one finds a very diverse spectral palette of local practices.
    Personally, I think a little common sense can go a long way. Trouble is, that commodity is in short supply in LiturgyLand, and often moreso in the Blogosphere.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Charles, I believe the commentator was more popular in France. I saw it mentioned in a biography of Langlais I read.
  • Charles in CenCA
    Posts: 2,416
    The only thing I can say with certainty, Gavin, is that there were commentators aplenty in Oakland during the early 70's, and shockingly, they were still in place when we relocated to the Fresno diocese in major parishes (such as my current one) in 1987. I would also suspect that the inter-related conception of the "animateur" that was in vogue during the 80's did likely have its origins in the Deiss/Gelineau Franco-Flemish axis, that then was popularized by NPM endorsed experts and spread its welcoming tentacles into the fabric of normative American worship, except that still the music ministers appropriated those roles by natural default.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,169
    The role of commentator, whether one thinks it a good idea or not, is defined in GIRM para. 105:

    105. The following also exercise a liturgical function:

    1. The sacristan, who carefully arranges the liturgical books, the vestments, and other things necessary in the celebration of Mass.
    2. The commentator, who provides the faithful, when appropriate, with brief explanations and commentaries with the purpose of introducing them to the celebration and preparing them to understand it better. The commentator's remarks must be meticulously prepared and clear though brief. In performing this function the commentator stands in an appropriate place facing the faithful, but not at the ambo.
    3. Those who take up the collection in the church.
    4. Those who, in some places, meet the faithful at the church entrance, lead them to appropriate places, and direct processions.

    That role isn't for announcements, but for liturgical explanations or directions. However, the GIRM does allow for announcements ("if they are necessary"), and specifies a place for them, after the post-communion prayer; that is, before the priest's final greeting and blessing. (para. 90).

    I was surprised to learn a few months ago that the role of the commentator was invented before the reforms of the 1960s. The 1958 De musica sacra describes the commentator at paragraph 96:

    The Commentator
    96. The active participation of the faithful can be more easily brought about with the help of a commentator, especially in holy Mass, and in some of the more complex liturgical ceremonies. At suitable times he should briefly explain the rites themselves, and the prayers of the priest and ministers; he should also direct the external participation of the congregation, that is, their responses, prayers, and singing. Such a commentator may be used if the following rules are observed:

    a) The role of commentator should properly be carried out by a priest or at least a cleric. If none is available, a layman of good Christian character, and well instructed in his duties may fill the role. Women, however, may never act as commentator; in case of necessity, a woman would be permitted only to lead the prayers, and singing of the congregation.
    b) If the commentator is a priest or a cleric, he should wear a surplice, and stand in the sanctuary or near the Communion rail, or at the lectern or pulpit. If he is a layman, he should stand in a convenient place in front of the congregation, but not in the sanctuary or in the pulpit.
    c) The explanations and directions to be given by the commentator should be prepared in writing; they should be brief, clear, and to the point; they should be spoken at a suitable time, and in a moderate tone of voice; they should never interfere with the prayers of the priest who is celebrating. In short, they should be a real help, and not a hindrance to the devotion of the congregation.
    d) In directing the prayers of the congregation, the commentator should recall the prescriptions given above in paragraph 14c.
    e) In those places where the Holy See has permitted the reading of the Epistle and Gospel in the vernacular after the Latin text has been chanted, the commentator may not substitute for the celebrant, deacon, or subdeacon in reading them.
    f) The commentator should follow the celebrant closely, and so accompany the sacred action that it is not delayed or interrupted, and the entire ceremony carried out with harmony, dignity, and devotion.
  • The first Catholic mass I ever attended (1981, I believe) included a Commentator.
    It was so shockingly tacky that it distracted me from the real claims of Catholicism.
    Regardless of what the GIRM states, it's a terrible practice.
    The liturgy is not a place for catechesis.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    What exactly did the commentators say? "And now Father is saying the canon"?
  • Charles in CenCA
    Posts: 2,416
    Do you now see how the waters are sometimes made murky as well as clarified by the attention to purity and propriety on the part of local practicioners; not necessarily by universal dictum or universal pollution?
    DBP's statement "The liturgy is not a place for catechesis" is a worthy sentiment (though I have trouble with liturgy described as a "place".) But that sentiment obscures the greater truth of "Lex orandi, lex credendi." Obviously, I agree with that sentiment in the context Daniel illlustrated: didactic explanation during a ritual. But, as I mentioned earlier, a little common sense applied to how a cantor would verbally announce needed common knowledge such as a hymn number- where there is otherwise no other manner the information is allowed to be provided- that does not injure or offend the integrity of the ritual. YMMV.
  • Again, DBP has 'hit the mark'.
    Whether it is from a 'commentator' or a misguided cantor, or anyone else, the insertion of non-ritual words into the liturgy is a loathsome intrusion on the very prayer, conscience, and understanding participation that it purportedly would enhance. The faithful are not idiots who don't know what is going on at mass. And, though there is, it now appears, some legal sanction for such 'commentary', such legality does nothing to alter its distraction and repugnance to the mind and spirit attentive to the realities that are unfolding with a wonderfully inviolable rhythm in the liturgy. (There are places where one even gets the impression that the liturgy itself is thought of as sort of an embarassment which has to be 'brought down to earth', or de-sacralised, to be made palatable to the audience.)
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,169
    It's a good thing we don't have chatty commentators any more. The fad came and went. The idea seems to have been designed under the assumption that the faithful aren't very faithful, only attend Mass rarely, and need catechesis during the liturgy. It's patronizing. Anyway, it's gone.

    Well, in most places. A few months ago at one nearby parish, the deacon acted like a TV host introducing every part of the Mass and every person involved; even the pastor, as if Father were a visitor in the parish where he's served for ten years.

    On the other hand, there is one good thing about these provisions. I am glad that there is a lawful way to announce a hymn number in an EF Mass, so that there will be an answer to give when I am scolded by a censorious would-be enforcer. (This happened to me during a Mass on Easter Sunday.)
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    All this began in the 1970s. One of the first issues of Pastoral Music has a big feature on the need for and glory of the worship facilitator or ringmaster or something like that.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    No wonder many daily mass goers say they can focus better on weekday Masses than on Sundays. And there is a good reason and enough people for our parish to keep one 'quiet Mass' on Sundays. Although this may not be what the Church asks the parish to do, there are many things music ministry people do wrong anyway, distracting people, to justify the 'quiet' mass.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 986
    The only time I feel like I'm listening to a commentator is during some papal Masses, where the English-language feed provides a play-by-play.

    This "and now we'll have...." also turns up at wedding ceremonies and Masses. While a brief announcement might be useful (especially in mixed marriages), it can deteriorate into emcee-ing by the celebrant, reminiscent of the Academy Awards.
  • Charles in CenCA
    Posts: 2,416
    M. Jackson Osborn states "The faithful are not idiots who don't know what is going on at mass."

    I would like to move my thoughts about this and other related issues to a new thread.
  • As an aside to this discusion, here is a snippet from this evening's reading. I offer it without agenda; only as interesting history of our topic at hand.

    In the IV. century an (unnamed) ecclesiastical council declared that 'No others are to sing in church, except the official cantors, who ascend the ambo and sing from a parchment'. This parchment had by the VIII. century evolved into a complete book, the cantatorium, from which the cantor sang the solo verses of the gradual, tract, and alleluya. By the X. century this book was received as a badge of office upon his ordination as cantor. The book typically had ivory covers and parchment pages coloured purple and inscribed with letters of gold and silver. Since the cantor sang from memory (and such cantatoria had, at any rate, no musical notation), his cantatorium, like his cantor's staff, was strictly a symbol of his office.

    Re-Envisioning Past Musical Cultures:
    Ethnomusicology in the Study of Gregorian Chant
    Peter Jeffery
    University of Chicago
    ISBN: 0-226-39580-4

    (An invaluable study which I commend to all on this Forum)
  • Excellent reference! It's quite interesting to see that the cantor at the ambo sang solo verses--no mention of leading others in singing. I might go on to say (not entirely about this example) that a particular practice is not necessarily more valuable or authentic because of its age. Many commentators (of the scholarly, not the grotesque liturgical traffic cop type) automatically assume that authenticity is in direct proportion to antiquity. This is a terrible fallacy and, I would assert, is the historiographical equivalent of a heresy. It implicitly (and strongly) implies that the development of liturgical practice is primarily one of corruption or that there was some idealized, subjectively-identified high point in liturgical development. This is particularly applied to the so-called Middle Ages, which are regularly slandered, libeled, and otherwise trashed by antiquarian-minded pseudo-scholars. This in turn implies that the Church has no ordinary Magisterium and that the Holy Spirit does not enter the hearts of those entrusted with the discipline of the liturgy. Taken to its logical conclusion, the 'antiquity = validity' argument leads to Protestant Restorationism, where any practice imagined to postdate the text of scripture is considered corrupt. Indeed, it might lead one to read only the 'red letter' sections of the Gospels. The antiquity of a source or practice is valuable in that it has survived *as an active part of the liturgy* the refining judgment of the Church Catholic.

    PS: Did you cut off the quotation before its mention of microphones and arm gestures?
  • DBP -
    I do agree with your assertions, even though I tend somewhat, but not slavishly, to an antiquarian bias. But not all things antiquarian: I believe strongly, for instance, that there are a number of historical Western rites that are superior to the Tridentine; not only ritually, but in vesture as well - I abhor seeing people vested in yards of tacky, effeminate lace, and think that, of all styles of chasubles, the fiddle back is the utter worst, a literal, piteous, vestige of a garment.

    As for cutting off the quote before mention of microphones and arm gestures: I started to add that of course these cantors had no microphones and made no arm gestures, nor did little pirouettes, but decided to leave my remarks off. Of course they would not have needed a $50.000 PA system because they had acoustics, and, knew how to sing.
  • Believe me, I like nothing more than to dig, discover, and decipher in all manner of historical/antiquarian material, both written and artistic. I've spent many a happy and engrossed month in the British Library, Bodleian, Westminster Abbey Muniment Room, etc. wearing my (notional) musicology hat. We know only a small fragment about any object/subject without exploring its historical context. How we use that historical knowledge is the real question.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    "I abhor people vested in yards of tacky, effeminate lace, and think that, of all styles of chasubles, the fiddle back is the utter worst, a literal vestige of a garment."

    I second that, and cannot speak my joy at seeing a traditional-minded Catholic express such a view!
  • noel jones, aagonoel jones, aago
    Posts: 6,547
    Lace war impending...and, in place of twittering, be known that I am going to face a parish council member who seems to have stated last evening that she is in charge of the music for the Dedication of the Church. There may be...lace...flying.