Choice of propers for optional memorials and votive masses with daily readings
  • I lead a small schola which sings for First Friday Masses. In our parish, the priests have sometimes scheduled to observe an optional memorial or to have a votive mass, but have mostly opted for "daily readings" at those masses. For example, for the coming Sept. 2, we will have a votive mass to the Sacred Heart, but the readings will be Lectionary #435 for Friday of Week XXII of Ordinary Time.

    My question is about selection of the proper chants: the introit, responsorial psalm, and communion (we are not using chants but hymns during the offertory). Are there rules that say they should be for the day (e.g., Friday of XXII O. T.), or for the votive mass or optional memorial? If not, what would you recommend, and why?

    Our Director of Liturgy informs me that

    Selecting an optional memorial or a votive mass will change the "Presidential Prayers." In other words, it will change the prayers prayed by the priest alone i.e. the Collect, prayer after communion, etc.

    I have gained some insight from the discussion Question on the Choice of Readings/Antiphons for Daily Masses.

    In particular, from Paul F. Ford's comment, I conclude that the responsorial psalm should be from the same lectionary number as the first reading, so "of the day" and not of the optional memorial or votive mass.

    However, that discussion focuses mainly on the choice of readings, and leaves my questions about the introit and communion chants. I do not see any clear answers to this in GIRM (#48, #87) or in the Praenotanda of the GR (#1, #17)---they both simply refer to "the antiphon" as though you already knew which it is (and of course, in most cases you do, though not in this situation)--- although I might not be looking in the right places.
  • (deleted, wrong thread)
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,397
    For the Introit I would suggest stick with the votive or memorial. The Communion is more complicated because where a choice of two antiphons is given, the second is usually a text related to the Gospel, which in this case will have been read from the temporal, so either the first choice for votive/memorial (my preference), or perhaps the second choice from the temporal.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    This might cause some to wince, but in these instances I tend to ignore the Lectionary and sing the Propers that match the Mass formulary used by the Priest (memorial or Votive). If the Communion is very closely connected to a Gospel that hasn't been read (which is sometimes the case even when the readings of the memorial or Votive have been used, since the most recent OCM was 1972, but the Lectionary revised several times since), I use one of the ad libitum Eucharistic antiphons.
  • Salieri,

    What you describe (if I've understood correctly) isn't stupid at all, when you match the priest.

    On the other hand, what are those who don't know the proper meaning of the word "liturgy" supposed to conclude from all those options?
    Thanked by 2tomjaw GregoryWeber
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    They ignore the feast entirely, and chose four hymns based on the Lectionary.
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 542
    Wonderful that you are doing this! It helps me to think of a sandwich in this scenario.

    A sandwich (almost always) has 2 matching pieces of bread, and some things in the middle.

    The pieces of bread are the Missal and the Graduale, the two books that run on a yearly cycle, and have very specific formulas for each day’s Mass. You want the Mass formularies of those two to match, just like it is preferable to use slices of bread of the same type, shape, and flavor.

    The stuff in the middle is the Lectionary, which runs on a multi-year cycle and in ferial situations like this has many different options.

    Generally the types of bread and the fillings come in specific and expected configurations (rye bread is used for Reubens, bagels for schmear and lox), but sometimes things are put together differently (a patty melt on wonderbread….) But the bread components always match, and the fillings of different kinds of sandwiches are always assembled according to their proper recipes, not mixed together from various sources.
    Thanked by 1GregoryWeber
  • Gamba,

    And you (and others) wonder why people prefer the stable format of the venerable rite?

    When there is a Low Mass, a Missa Cantata or a Solemn High Mass, the Propers of the Mass don't change. Gregorian chant, Tozier, Rossini, recto tono or Isaac all present the same texts. In like manner, the settings of the Ordinary can be Gregorian chant, polyphony, orchestral or (I guess) recto tono, presenting the same text.

    The Mass for St. Clare of Assisi doesn't have variations or optional elements, for example, today. Here, it's a 1st class feast (I'm in the Santa Clara Valley) but that doesn't stop it from being St. Clare's feast.
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 1,038
    Yes, the proper chants (like the presidential prayers) are from saints' day or votive Mass, even if the readings (including the resp. psalm, which is almost always closely related to the first reading) are from the weekday.

    To clarify / correct what a_f_hawkins says above, the weekday communion chant is rarely proper to that weekday but is the same as the Sunday chant, so it is seldom related to the weekday gospel (if it is related to any gospel at all). So there is no problem singing the proper communion chant instead of the one given for the weekday.

    In addition, for votive Masses there can be more than one option for the gospel, so the communion chant is often tied simply to the subject of the votive Mass (Sacred Heart, angels, etc.) instead of the gospel itself. Plus there can be more than a single option for the gospel for a votive or other special Mass. For example, the text of (one of) the communion chant(s) for the votive Mass of the Sacred Heart is from Jn. 19:34, which is included in only one of the 8 gospel readings that may be chosen for that Mass.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,726
    @Gamba So the N.O. Mass is like a McDonalds burger, the bun is made of the same substance but is slightly different (the top has seeds on it). The filling can be anything on the menu... Some people may find both the bun and the filling totally unpalatable. end purple text.

    Interestingly the last time I went to McDonalds (almost 30 years ago) was around the time I stopped attending the N.O. Mass.
  • I've been told that you would do the antiphons and prayers from the memorial, optional memorial, etc but then do the readings (including responsorial psalm) from whatever weekday it is. If it is a feast however (such as an apostle, Holy Cross, Nativity of Mary) you use the readings proper to the feast. I've seen votive masses done either way. If it was a votive celebrated during normal daily mass, it would be the readings of the day like a memorial. I have seen special votive masses done for a specific group (such as our local Catholic Medical Association) that used readings from that votive.
    Thanked by 1GregoryWeber
  • Thank you all for many thoughtful answers. From the lack of any mention of "legislation" deciding this question, I conclude that there is none.

    The consensus among your responses seems to favor the chants for the votive or memorial at least for the Introit---and I presume the reason for that is that it sets the tone for the whole mass; although the Communion is more complicated you might choose the one which more closely matches the Gospel.

    After reflecting on your comments, I am now more inclined than before to use the Introit and Communion for the memorial or votive mass, though not the Responsorial Psalm and Alleluia.

    My only remaining concern is that, since the votive mass is always for the Sacred Heart, and many of the saints' days use the common of saints, martyrs, etc., we might be getting too repetitive with the chants, so to balance that I might sometimes choose chants of the day.
  • Terminology:


    By "the temporal" I guess you mean the readings "of the day."

    Chris Garton-Zavesky:

    what are those who don't know the proper meaning of the word "liturgy" supposed to conclude from all those options?

    could you elaborate on that? What misconception of the word "liturgy" do those people have, and what is the correct conception?


    when you mention "the Missal" as one of the two pieces of bread, I think you are referring to the "presidential prayers" which come from the Missal; and the other piece of bread, which is the Gradual, should match those?

  • Liturgy is a public ceremony, highly ritualized, predictable in form, a work done in the name of the people, in this case for the Glory of God.

    "Improvised liturgy" is oxymoronic.
    "Modular liturgy" is oxymoronic, because it implies that the pieces can be assembled in any order.

    Thanked by 2GregoryWeber tomjaw
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 542
    when you mention "the Missal" as one of the two pieces of bread, I think you are referring to the "presidential prayers" which come from the Missal; and the other piece of bread, which is the Gradual, should match those?

    Yes, that is my point. The Missal (with its all its contents – the antiphons, collect, preface, prayer over the gifts, postcommunion, solemn blessing) is built the same way as the Gradual, containing what is needed for the full annual cycle of the Proper of Time and the Proper of Saints, plus however many votive Masses/various needs and occasions masses we are up to now. But of course the Missal provides nothing from the Collect through the offertory, so you’ve got to get that out of the lectionary. So in that space one must put the corresponding readings out of the lectionary, etc. So, leaving aside which readings are chosen, it’s much neater to choose the same day’s material from the two books (Missal/Gradual) that are on the same schedule, rather than to Frankenstein stuff from two different occasions together.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw GregoryWeber
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    What is also common for Memorials (Optional and Obligatory---terminology which I hate) is for the First Reading and Psalm to be chosen from the ferial lectionary, and the Gospel from the Proper of Saints, in which case the Gospel Acclamation should also be from the Proper of Saints. So be sure to ascertain what readings the priest has chosen, and be prepared to give an explanation because most priests I've encountered are completely astounded to learn: 1) that the different parts of the Mass actually have something to do with each other; 2) that the options he has chosen actually determine what the musicians do; 3) that musicians actually need know things beforehand and can't read the priest's mind; 4) that the musicians actually plan and prepare, and tend not to like it when the priest decides to do something different on a whim.
  • What is also common for Memorials ... is for the First Reading and Psalm to be chosen from the ferial lectionary, and the Gospel from the Proper of Saints

    Wow, is that really an option? But if it is, it's not happening in my situation ... all of the readings are from one lectionary number, which is typically the ferial readings, if the memorial is optional.

  • PLTT
    Posts: 149
    I would argue that for the antiphons - whether spoken or sung - they should ALWAYS come from the Common or the Votive Mass. This follows from:

    (a) the rubric before the Proper of Saints in the Missal. It allows the Prayer over the Offering and the Prayer after Communion to be taken from the weekday instead of the Common but no such option is offered for the antiphons. The equivalent rubric in the Graduale before the Proprium de Sanctis also allows choices from the Proper or the Common (even from the 1908 Graduale) but says nothing about the weekday.

    (b) the logic of the entrance antiphon, part of which is to "introduce the mystery of the liturgical time or festivity". This is possibly why the rubrics cited above do not envisage replacing the antiphons.

    (c) while the Communion antiphon *often* reflects the Gospel, this is not always the case, especially for weekdays.

    For the Graduale and/or the Alleluia (replacing the Responsorial Psalm and the Alleluia):

    I can see the logic of taking it from the weekday when weekday readings are chosen. However, though the lectionary matches the Responsorial Psalm with the First Reading (cf. GRIM 61), it also envisions a broader role for the psalm. The Lectionary itself provides seasonal psalms and refrains that can be used whenever the Psalm is sung (cf. GIRM 61 -admittedly the goal of that adaption is for the people to be able to join in the singing). Similarly, if one uses the Graduale Simplex, one is ONLY using seasonal texts. So clearly, it is not an absolute that a sung Psalm or Alleluia be wedded to the text of the readings. It would seem to have a more general purpose of meditation on God's Word.

    Therefore, in light of the Graduale rubric before the Proper of Saints (cf. point [a] above), I would argue that the Graduale and/or Alleluia could also come from the Proper of Saints.

    Of course, if you are simply singing the text of the Responsorial Psalm as printed in the lectionary, then that is governed by the rubrics of the Lectionary and the GIRM. In that case, it would be more suitable to sing the Psalm assigned for the day, although you could also take one of the seasonal psalms or a psalm from the Common (cf. Introduction to the Lectionary 89).

    To save time looking up the relevant rubrics:

    [GIRM 61]After the first reading comes the responsorial Psalm, which is an integral part of the Liturgy of the Word and holds great liturgical and pastoral importance, because it fosters meditation on the word of God.

    The responsorial Psalm should correspond to each reading and should, as a rule, be taken from the Lectionary.

    It is preferable that the responsorial Psalm be sung, at least as far as the people’s response is concerned. Hence, the psalmist, or the cantor of the Psalm, sings the verses of the Psalm from the ambo or another suitable place. The entire congregation remains seated and listens but, as a rule, takes part by singing the response, except when the Psalm is sung straight through without a response. In order, however, that the people may be able to sing the Psalm response more readily, texts of some responses and Psalms have been chosen for the various seasons of the year or for the various categories of Saints. These may be used in place of the text corresponding to the reading whenever the Psalm is sung. If the Psalm cannot be sung, then it should be recited in such a way that it is particularly suited to fostering meditation on the word of God.

    [Missal before Proper of Saints]
    2. For each Solemnity and Feast a complete proper Mass is provided. This is therefore said as printed.

    3. As regards Memorials, the following are to be observed: e) The Prayers over the Offerings and after Communion, unless they are proper, are taken either from the Common or from the current time of the liturgical year

    [Graduale Romanum before the Proprium de Sanctis]
    Pro omnibus celebrationibus Sanctorum, eligi possunt : vel cantus infra positi, vel alii e Communibus eligendis, secundum rubricam qua: in Missali Romano pro quocumque Sancto ponitur, vel cantus, sive proprii sive e Communibus, in Graduali Romano (Edit. 1908, eiusque additionibus) exstantibus. In sollemnitatibus et festis, introitus Gaudedmus semper cantari potest, si propria verba mysterii vel sancti celebrati facile in melodiam insereri possunt.

    [Lectionary 89-90: ]Among the chants between the readings, the psalm after the first reading is very important. As a rule the psalm to be used is the one assigned to the reading. But in the case of readings for the Common of Saints, ritual Masses, Masses for various needs and occasions, votive Masses, and Masses for the dead the choice is left up to the priest celebrating. He will base his choice on the principle of the pastoral benefit of those participating. But to make it easier for the people to join in the response to the psalm, the Order of Readings lists certain other texts of psalms and responses that have been chosen according to the various seasons or classes of saints. Whenever the psalm is sung, these texts may replace the text corresponding to the reading. The chant between the second reading and the gospel is either specified in each Mass and correlated with the gospel or else it is left as a choice to be made from those in the series belonging to a liturgical season or to one of the Commons.
    Thanked by 1GregoryWeber
  • So, to be unambiguous:

    I cantor and play for a school Mass on September 9th, which is the memorial of St. Peter Claver. Our priest habitually takes the readings from the day in these situations. I plan to use the propers of the day (which in this case are those of OT23) since the option is given to use the propers from the current time or those of the Commons. This plan is licit, yes?
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    Of course it's licit: GIRM option 4: "alius cantus aptus".
  • Trentonjconn,

    Salieri's frustratingly accurate comment aside, what would be the point of marking the memorial of St. Peter Claver with OT23, or the current time? If you mean the Common of Confessors, that would make sense.

    Thanked by 2tomjaw trentonjconn
  • smvanroodesmvanroode
    Posts: 970
    Of course it's licit: GIRM option 4: "alius cantus aptus".

    This is, of course, not the do-whatever-you-want rubric people want it to be (either to do whatever they want or to ridicule the liturgical reform).

    Moreover, for twenty years it reads "alius cantus congruus". Congruus limits the alternative choices to be concordant to the text and purpose of the prescribed chant.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    The questioner asked if it would be licit to use the ferial chants, not whether it would be preferred or ideal, just if it was licit: and it is.

    Peter Claver is not listed in the Proper of Saints in the Graduale Romanum. The Missal only gives a proper collect, then says the rest should come from the Common of Pastors or from the Common of Holy Men and Women: for those who practiced works of mercy. There are over a dozen chants to choose from between those two commons when one considers the Graduale Romanum, the Simplex, and the Missal, so using the ferial chants might be the easiest option; and, if the idea of singing the chants instead of hymns is new, it might be the most pastoral.
    Thanked by 1trentonjconn
  • There are over a dozen chants to choose from between those two commons when one considers the Graduale Romanum, the Simplex, and the Missal, so using the ferial chants might be the easiest option; and, if the idea of singing the chants instead of hymns is new, it might be the most pastoral.

    The ease of having fewer options to choose from is what led me to my initial impulse to simply use the ferial chants. However...

    what would be the point of marking the memorial of St. Peter Claver with OT23, or the current time?

    ...this comment has led me to reflect more on what would be ideal/appropriate, so I have chosen the chants from the Common of Holy Men and Women: for those who practiced works of mercy instead of the ferial propers

    The multiplicity of options makes it difficult to plan music. I wish I could just use the Bloom propers tool to give me the one permitted set, but alas the O.F. doesn't tend to work that way.
  • The multiplicity of options makes it difficult to plan music.

    I would imagine that it makes it not only hard to plan, but hard to defend one's plan when challenged, since the "pastoral" cudgel is always at the ready.


    It has also been the case that girl altar boys may not be forced on a priest, and that extraordinary ministers (of anything) may not be required and should, in fact, be extremely rare, and that no one, even if he be a priest, may modify the liturgy in any way on his own initiative.... and so on.

    If those who promote the "Ordo of Paul VI no different, but better, and freer and more pastoral" fiction want me to take the claim seriously, perhaps some of these could be observed. The existence of the stronger, more limiting language, clearly hasn't been "received".