Omitting the Gospel Acclamation
  • The Gospel Acclamation may be omitted when it is not sung.

    I would like some clarification on this topic.

    The GIRM #63 implies that this only applies when there is one reading before the Gospel. STTL #164 corresponds to that but #163 seems to broaden the application.

    Does the omission refer to the whole rite; if both the Alleluia and its verse are not sung, they are both omitted? Or, may the Alleluia be sung and its verse recited?

    Here is the background. The parish was celebrating Mass on a weekday but the liturgy was a Solemnity so there were two readings before the Gospel. There was only one lay minister who served as both the reader and an extraordinary minister of Communion. This individual also sang the Alleluia, reciting its verse. The Alleluia was not familiar to the assembly; it was made up by the minister, basically just two notes. I praise this individual for stepping up - to my knowledge they have never served in a music ministry role (cantor, psalmist, song leader or even choir member) and they faithfully attend Mass - weekday (no singing) and on Sunday the “silent” Mass.

    In this instance, since both the Alleluia and the verse could not be sung by a capable cantor/psalmist would it be prudent to have the reader just recite both? Would it have been acceptable for the Gospel Acclamation to be omitted completely?

    As a note, except for weddings and funerals, the parish only uses Respond & Acclaim from OCP for Responsorial Psalms and Gospel Acclamations.
  • Church Musician,

    The Alleluia and its verse are part of the same action. It doesn't make sense to sing one and speak the other, even if someone uncovers a reading of a rubric which permits the practice.

    Come to think of it, I can't imagine a rational, liturgical cause for omitting the Alleluia except in Septuagesimatide, Lent and the Triduum.

    Imagine if someone proposed singing the first part of the Sanctus, and then omitting the Hosanna in Excelsis. This wouldn't make sense, on the face of it. Since omitting the Sanctus, whole and entire or in some small part, is illogical, it would be spoken if it couldn't be sung.

    To be sung doesn't mean to be chanted according to the practice of 19th century Russia, nor does it mean that a Gregorian chant melody must be used. If all else failed, recto tono would be considered singing for the purpose of this instruction.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,053
    I don't know whether this rubric has been changed. My emphasis.
    General Introduction to the Lectionary (Second Edition)
    Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship
    21 January, 1981

     23. The Alleluia or, as the liturgical season requires, the verse before the Gospel is also a "rite or act standing by itself."41 It serves as the greeting of welcome of the assembled faithful to the Lord who is about to speak to them and as an expression of their faith through song. The Alleluia or the verse before the Gospel must be sung, and during it all stand. It is not to be sung only by the cantor who intones it or by the choir, but by the whole of the people together.42

    41. Cf. Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani , n. 39.
    42. Cf. ibid., no. 37-39; Missale Romanum ex Decreto Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II instauratum auctoritate Pauli VI promulgatum, Ordo cantus Missae, Praenotanda, no. 7-9; Graduale Romanum, 1974, Praenotanda , n. 7; Graduale simplex, editio typica altera 1975, Praenotanda , n. 16.
    The rule given in Praenotanda #9 of the OCM is that either the Gradual/RP or the Alleluia/GA is used, as laid out in the Gregorian Missal.
    Gradual proper to each day. The first part is sung by the choir and the verse is given by the cantors. The choir then repeats the first part. During Eastertide, a first Alleluia is sung in place of the Gradual. When there is only one Mass reading, it is followed by either the Gradual or the Alleluia except in Lent, when the Alleluia is
    always omitted, and during the Easter season, when there is a choice between two Alleluias
    .
    The intention of the rubrics seems to be that there should be one chant between each of the readings. Very few places seem to pay heed.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,756
    And at least within the novus ordo missæ, when the alleluia is ‘omitted’ it is actually supplanted by another acclamatory phrase like, “Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory.” Etc. (There are 7(?) official options in this regard.) So even when the alleluia isn’t said, there is still an acclamation before the gospel, albeit with other words.
  • Serviam,

    You illustrate why Dr. K calls the Ordo of Paul VI the "Vel Mass"
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,689
    well, aren't those for Lent?
    Thanked by 1drforjc
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,053
    The norm envisaged by Bugnini is seen most clearly, I think, in the Graduale Simplex. The three processional chants are all: Antiphon and several (or no) Psalm verses ,with optional Doxology for Introit & Communion.
    For the chants between the readings, GS gives two responsorial psalms (RP), a gospel acclamation (GA), and in Lent a tract (TR). The rubric is that the first RP is sung after the first reading, and IF there is a second pre-Gospel reading then one of the remaining items follows it.
    It looks more complicated than that only because the character of each of the items varies by season. The first RP is a Psalmus Responsorius (PR), except during Eastertide when it is a Psalmus Alleluiaticus (PA, ie a PR with alleluia* as the respond). The second RP is a PA, except during Lent when it is a PR. The GA is antiphonal, with alleluia* as the antiphon (AL) except during Lent when it is another antiphon (Antiphona acclamationis AA). *usually multiple alleluias
    The Graduale Romanum of course uses traditional material, which is more limited so it does not provide as many choices. The lectionary also generally provides less choice for the spoken form, but in Eastertide the RP can be said either as PR or PA. And the option of saying the RP in directum as a tract is always lurking about.
    To what extent Bugnini’s vision should inform current practice is a different question. I note that Bugnini expected/¿intended? the whole reform would be overhauled after about 20 years experience.
    Thanked by 2Paul F. Ford Elmar
  • GerardH
    Posts: 285
    @a_f_hawkins For the benefit of someone unfamiliar with the minutiae of EF rubrics, does the practice of only one chant between the readings at ferias have any precedence from before the OF?
  • henry
    Posts: 224
    It seems that in Degree 1 of Musicam Sacram there is no Gospel acclamation at all, sung or recited.
  • GerardH,

    In broad-brush strokes:

    A "normal" EF Mass has an Epistle and a Gospel. An exceptional one has more than this.
    Between these two(Epistle and Gospel) there are several possibilities, depending on the time of year.

    In Eastertide (called Paschaltide) there are two Alleluias.
    From this morning until Advent there is a Gradual and an Alleluia.
    From Septuagesima (three Sundays before Lent begins) there is no Alleluia, which is replaced by a Tract, and a Gradual.

    Some Masses have more than one Tract, in part because they have more than one lection before the Gospel. These lections can be Old Testament prophesies, but I don't think all of them are -- I don't have my Missal in front of me.

    In none of the above is there an optional elimination of any prescribed, "proper" text. (In this case, "prescribed" means "required", and "Proper" means "appointed for the particular day or the particular Mass on a particular day." )

    There are (Holy Week comes to mind) times when there is only a Tract, and no Gradual, but that's because (as my choirmaster puts it) "the Liturgy is beginning to fall apart" - a symbolic demolition is taking place. Even in this case, there's no option to eliminate a text. The very idea is contrary to the Spirit of the Liturgy.


    This isn't a complete answer to your question about the minutiae, but does it at least set the lay of the land?
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,689
    As to the music: In Advent, the Alleluia is omitted when the Mass of Sunday is repeated during the week.

    The weekdays of Lent originally did not have a Mass and were filled in over time. However, the only tract used on weekdays of Lent is the one first said on Ash Wednesday, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays alone. On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, only the gradual is said.

    The Paschal vigil and thus that of Pentecost are unique. See below.

    As to the readings: Some of the extra readings, all of which are indeed from the OT, are followed by graduals, not tracts. They are usually referred to as prophecies or otherwise lessons: they're sung in the prophecy tone, and they called "prophecies" even if they are from the Pentateuch especially on Holy Saturday.

    No one really knows why this arrangement is the case, but the great vigils are unlike the Ember days, because the prophecy service precedes Mass, and there are four tracts after four of the twelve prophecies. Those are repeated at the vigil of Pentecost. In contrast, graduals are sung on Ember Days and during Lent, all during the Mass itself. The ministers are in Mass vestments, and the readings are simply inserted into the usual ceremonies of the Mass.

    In the case of Ember Saturday, the chant from Daniel is a hymn, the only one used this way in the Roman liturgy. The only use of 2 Maccabees in the temporal cycle is on Ember Saturday of Lent; that reading is followed by a reading from Wisdom, the only such reading in the year.

    There are epistles taken from the OT that are from I and II Kings (Ember Wednesday of Lent; Monday and Tuesday after the III Sunday of Lent; Thursday and Friday after the IV Sunday of Lent) or Sirach (St John the Apostle; I'm excluding sanctoral readings, for St John is listed in the temporal cycle, and the readings from Wisdom literature would be too numerous if I did so), and one from Ezra-Nehemiah (Latin 2 Esdras), on Ember Saturday in September. But that's it. All of the other readings of Kings, of which significant portions are selected, are read in June or July in the Divine Office. After that, the breviary switches to weeks of the months (before 1962, relative to the first of the month): the Wisdom literature is read in August, then in September, Job, Tobias, Judith and Esther; in October the books of the Macchabees; in November, Ezechiel, Daniel, and the twelve minor Prophets finish the year. None of the middle books are read before the place of the epistle except for the readings noted above. Chronicles isn't even read in the temporal cycle, and it's barely touched in the sanctoral cycle, probably because it's seen as a repetition of the books of Kings.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw Elmar
  • Matthew,

    In your very detailed accounting (for which, thank you) there isn't space for the OP's original question: are there options to drop acclamations and such?
  • GerardH
    Posts: 285
    Thanks Chris and Matthew for your very thorough posts. No need for further expansion Chris, I wasn't asking about optional omissions.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,689
    I thought I answered it at the beginning: the chants are omitted on very specific occasions. (Besides, you already answered it: there's no optional elimination, but the rubrics prescribe it.)
  • I'll be taking a reading/parsing course soon, with Sibyll (sp?) Faulty as its instructor!
    Thanked by 2MatthewRoth tomjaw
  • SponsaChristi
    Posts: 338
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the Alleluia sung alone the first time and then sung by the congregation? The congregation should be able to sing back a two note alleluia. If not, that’s a reflection of the sad state of affairs of where we’re at with music education.

  • Sponsa,

    The situation isn't as simple as you propose. If you're using Gregorian melodies, a semi-chorus or a single individual intones the Alleluia, and then the choir joins. If you're using exclusively modern melodies (from GIA, OCP, etc) there is the assumption of "Call and Response". Some of those modern melodies are simple, but others are not. On this point, the TLM treats musicians and lay faithful who are not musicians as more mature than the OPvi.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,689
    People even mess up the mode VI antiphon known to basically everyone, the one lifted from the traditional Paschal vigil, and I know people who insist on practicing it before the vigil because of that.

    Also, there's nothing that says you have to sing the Alleluia in the form of a response, with the cantor singing the entire "antiphon" once, followed by the congregation repeating it. You could just sing it once, like one does for the Vespers of the traditional vigil or indeed any divine office. That said, the state of musical education is indeed very poor.
  • Matt, I apologize for my lack of knowledge on this, but how do people typically mess it up? I sing it at mass sometimes, and would like to do it correctly.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,532
    how do people typically mess it up?

    I once walked in a weekday Mass in time to hear the Lector begin it on the bottom note of her range. But more typical, I would guess, is to re-syllablify the middle Alleluia rm rd l s.
  • Interesting Richard. I don't think I've ever heard the syllables shuffled like that.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,689
    Yeah, or adding notes, basically. It had never occurred to me that this was a problem until a priest pointed out that it's the one chant-like thing in the repertoire even in normie places, learned by ear, so people need to practice it if, like the trads, you use it once a year, on the most important night, and you're not sure if everyone learned it correctly. He didn't elaborate, but my guess was that it got flubbed the one year where they didn't practice it in the seminary.