• GerardH
    Posts: 308
    I am interested to hear how forum members implement GIRM 313 in their music programmes during Lent.
    ...In Lent the playing of the organ and musical instruments is allowed only in order to support the singing. Exceptions, however, are Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Solemnities, and Feasts.

    Of course, different rubrics apply in the Extraordinary Form. I'm also happy to hear how this is implemented.

    In my own programme I usually eliminate not only solo organ music, but also organ accompaniment of the choir, using the organ only to accompany congregational hymns. This restricts choral repertoire to a capella pieces, but I'm tempted to break my self-imposed restriction to programme Herbert Howells' Like as the hart for Lent 3.
  • CatholicZ09
    Posts: 182
    My former music director would accompany only when singing occurred, so that meant no prelude, postlude, or “background music” (especially after the Communion hymn had concluded and congregants were still receiving/priest was purifying vessels). Everything that was sung, whether it be a congregational hymn or a choral piece, was accompanied.

    It was nice, and I wish it were a more common practice around these parts.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,146
    I don't do organ preludes or postludes, and do the Ordinary & Proper Unaccompanied; hymns are with the organ, as are some anthems/motets (though I try to reserve anthems with an independent organ part to Lent IV (Laetare)).

    Addendum:

    There are some who maintain (erroneously) that All Sundays of Lent are exceptions because of the confusion about Sundays ranking in the first class of liturgical days along with solemnities in the Table of Precedence of Liturgical Days; but if this were true, then why would the rubric single-out Laetare Sunday (which is a Sunday) as an exception? Last year, I wrote to the USSCB Secretariat for Divine Worship for a clarification, and the response was: Solo organ music is prohibited on all Sundays of Lent, except Laetare Sunday (Lent IV).
  • I don't do organ preludes or postludes, and do the Ordinary & Proper Unaccompanied; hymns are with the organ...


    This has been my practice as well, with the additional elimination of any improvisation during "down time".
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,154
    No preludes or postludes, and no improvisations to fill the little windows of time that crop up between other music. Hymns are restrained; "plain vanilla" if you will. Latin ordinary is still accompanied, but again, restrained. As much chanting and a cappella polyphony as we can muster. Lots of silence. (It's nice.)

    Lætare has full exuberance to serve as contrast and anticipation of what's to come.
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 497
    Ditto what Serviam said; I play Laetare rather as if it were Advent 3 (Gaudete). That is to say, use of the organ at all the usual times, but the heavy reeds and really large registrations wait for Easter.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,612
    We already sing a cappella anthems and Orbis factor, but I've just undertaken the exercise of thinking about what hymns (from The Catholic Community Hymnal) we could do sans instrumental support:

    Hymns for Lent 2023, Year A

    Ash Wednesday
    229 Attende Domine/Hear us Almighty Lord
    234 Parce Domine
    12 O radiant light

    Lent I (Desert)
    241: Again we keep this solemn fast OLD 100th
    242 Tree of Life THOMAS
    243: Forty days and forty nights HEINLEIN

    Lent II (Anniversary/Transfiguration)
    23 The glory of these forty days OLD 100th
    413 Tis good Lord to be here SWABIA
    238 Lord Who throughout these forty days ST FLAVIAN

    Lent III (Samaritan woman)
    237 From ashes to the Living Font ST FLAVIAN
    447 Shepherd of souls
    356: I Heard the Voice of Jesus say

    Lent IV (Laetare/sight to blind)
    849 The King of Love
    358 There is a balm in Gilead
    316 Thanks be to You forever

    Lent V (Lazarus)
    234 Parce Domine
    463 Precious Lord
    353 What wondrous Love is this

    A bit of shame to waste a lovely harmonization on Laetare and substitute a cobbled 3rd voice for Tree of Life for the organ, but the unswapped order fits the pericopes better.
  • In the Ordinariate we have no rule about organ during Lent. There are so many chant or chorale (especially Bach et al.) settings that are appropriate to the season. But of course the organ doesn't play any festive pieces.

    Speaking of Lent, the Ordinariate observes the 'gesimas' - does anyone else here observe them?
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,154
    My one lament about lent is that some of the most lovely ornamented chorales are on Lenten tunes, and it pains me to not be able to play them.
  • Septuagesimatide begins February 5th this year. It's on the traditional calendar and (essentially) unknown or unacknowledged in the modern calendar.
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,931
    different rubrics apply in the Extraordinary Form

    The EF rubrics are essentially the same, except that only the organ is allowed to support the voices. So if you were accompanying your chant on guitar, you might have a problem.

    "Support the voices" is a concession, not the rule, and a huge loophole. I have a tiny Schola, and make full use of that loophole. But if I don't take the rubrics into account,I'm not playing fair.

    Here's what we use organ for:
    1. Anything we expect the congregation to sing. (Pro/Re hymn, Asperges, Gregorian Ordinary). But I try to do the Ordinary without organ for Passiontide.
    2. Anything intended for a voice to sing. We don't sing any music which has an independent organ part. The organ doubles or replaces voice parts.

    We'll do a composed Mass for Laetare, otherwise Mass XVII. We're working on Michael Haydn HM551 Missa pro Quadragesima, which is proving more difficult than anticipated (top is high for my ladies,and the other parts quite angular) but we'll do it with continuo. We more often than not do the Communion chant with verses, and not need any organ at all. If I had a group capable of doing a cappella polyphony, we'd do that, but I don't yet.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,154
    But I try to do the Ordinary without organ for Passiontide.
    same. GF, in particular, is totally a cappella.
  • So if you were accompanying your chant on guitar, you might have a problem.


    You might have more than one, surely?
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 879
    The OF ordo, which quotes the ceremonial of bishops, seems to prefer a spirit of the law rather than a strict letter of the law observance of prohibiting instrumental music during Lent.

    One could also argue that preludes/postludes aren't technically part of the Mass, but then again they are extensions thereof.

    More silence is always a good thing.

    I think a seasonally suitable prelude could be justified. But I would avoid any filler music during the Mass allowing for more silence. I give up postludes except on Laetare. I'd be fine with no prelude, but sometimes they are required by the employer.

    I like to program more a cappella music during Lent, but some choirs/congregations simply can't handle all a cappella.

    What about a Lenten recital that meditates on the Passion, etc.? Or what about a seasonal instrumental piece as part of Stations or another devotional service?
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,154
    I like to program more a cappella music during Lent, but some choirs/congregations simply can't handle all a cappella.
    This is no doubt common to many parishes. It reminds me of BXVI’s observation that it is better to do simpler music well, than harder music poorly. One could perhaps read that in this context as “it’s better to sing well with a little organ than poorly without one.”
    Thanked by 3Carol Bri Earl_Grey
  • LauraKaz
    Posts: 35
    In my parish, I have been told that I cannot use the organ during Lent. In this situation, would it be better to shift to piano to support the singing, or aim for a cappella as much as possible? What about only doubling the melody on the piano?
  • Aim for a capella! Piano is a "noisy" instrument, more suited to saloons and concert halls than the temple of the most high God.
    Thanked by 3Lars LauraKaz Bri
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,154
    If they tell you you can’t use the organ, there is certainly no way to justify using the piano.
  • LauraKaz
    Posts: 35
    Chris and Serviam, I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, this parish doesn't seem to care about whether something can be logically justified or not. They will still be using the piano and guitars at weekend Masses.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,153
    It appears Then they are just using the rubrics to keep the organ off as much as possible?
    Thanked by 1LauraKaz
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,764
    I used the organ only to accompany singing, except for "pink Sunday." Then it was music as usual. A number of us used to wear pink shirts that day just to irk the assistant pastor. I have no objection to unaccompanied singing but it always bugged me that there is so much high-quality music that has been written for Lent, it is a shame to not be able to use it.

    It seems to me more ink gets spilled over this issue than it is really worth.
  • GerardH
    Posts: 308
    @LauraKaz, I don't know your skill level, but this sounds like an opportunity to prepare some absolutely stunning organ pieces to play once you're allowed back. Show them what they've missed and how poor a substitute the other instruments have been!
  • LarsLars
    Posts: 86
    lol, this is what happened to me, only instead of piano and guitars it was violin and guitars.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,764
    An organist friend at a Protestant church has a choir member who plays one of those nasal early reed instruments. While fine in small quantities, said player wants to accompany every piece of music. The organist is quite beside herself not wanting to lose a choir member but wanting to squelch the annoying reed instrument. Maybe a bonfire one Sunday afternoon to get rid of all the noxious pianos, guitars and woodwinds?
  • Charles,

    A simple, firm, "No, thank you", would, surely , do.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,153
    Or, a bit more subtle, “dropping a hint approach” would be “if we include this on every piece it’s not going to have the right effect as when using it sparsly”
    Thanked by 1Bri
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,185
    Piano is a "noisy" instrument


    Technically, it is a percussion instrument. Think snare drum with pitches.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,764
    Bonfire of the banalities, Chris.