When should the Communion antiphons be sung in TLM?
  • Ted
    Posts: 204
    There seems to be disagreement on when the Communion antiphon is to be sung in the Traditional Latin Mass. Before Vatican II it was sung after the communion of all, a long tradition, it seems, that goes back to at least the time of St Thomas Aquinas who notes that it is sung after communion in thanksgiving for that great Gift (S. Theol.) Indeed, even the priest prays the Communion antiphon after communion of everyone in thanksgiving.

    Various reasons have been given including the implausible "ultra long Agnus Dei compositions". More plausible would be that there were so few communicants over the centuries so it was started when the priest receives his communion but even that is problematic.

    By the time of the Novus Ordo, the "experts" claimed that because it was originally sung together with its psalm verses during communion of the faithful so that is how it should be done today. That may have been the case in Rome (The First Roman Ordo) before Romano-Frankish chant entered the Frankish empire, but that seems to have changed in Francia. But, unfortunateley, evidence also suggests that the Communion antiphon with psalms in Rome was sung only to accompany the clerics processing in those huge basilicas to distribute communion to the faithful, but even that is unclear.

    Does anyone have insights into this?
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 2,081
    Well. The change dates to 1957’s instruction on sacred music, which I don’t feel especially obliged to follow. So if you do strictly follow 1962, the chant ought to follow the Ecce Agnus Dei/Domine, non sum dignus, which is not always especially practical. Even as I hold that we need not commune at every single Mass by right, I feel that allowing everyone a real opportunity to commune is good. For the Precious Blood, we have our worst attendance of the period from Easter to July 1, and we barely got through it before needing to go; a psalm verse and repetition would have taken too long even with a few dozen communicants (versus four dozen to one hundred as we get sometimes).

    I do believe that it is because almost no one received at conventual Mass (or even where Mass was sung outside of choir) except infrequently. In fact, Clear Creek only does communion for the non-priest monks at conventual Mass on major days… ordinarily they commune in the early morning at low Mass.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • FSSPmusic
    Posts: 253
    The proper time for the chanting of the Communion antiphon is while the priest is receiving the holy Eucharist. But if the faithful are also to go to Communion the antiphon should be sung while they receive. If this antiphon, too, is taken from a psalm, additional verses of this psalm may be sung. In this case, too, the antiphon is repeated after each, or every second verse of the psalm; when distribution of Communion is finished, the psalm is closed with the Gloria Patri, and the antiphon is once again repeated. If the antiphon is not taken from a psalm, any psalm may be used which is suited to the feast, and to this part of the mass.

    After the Communion antiphon is sung, and the distribution of Communion to the faithful still continues, it is also permitted to sing another Latin song [cantiunculam] in keeping with this part of the Mass. (DMS 27c)

    I would venture to say that most of us nowadays never sing for Masses at which only the celebrant makes his Communion. Most Sung Masses include some combination of organ music (depending on the season), motets, hymns, and psalm verses along with the Communion antiphon itself, and not necessarily in the recommended order. A few thoughts on the matter:
    --If you have a men's schola in cassock and surplice, it is fitting that they should go to Communion immediately after the servers
    --If you conclude the repetition of the antiphon when the distribution of Communion is finished, it will not coincide with the celebrant's reading of the antiphon
    --It is much easier to time psalm verses and a (typically) two- to four-line chant to end at the right time than to do the same with a polyphonic motet
    The document says what it says. Is it an abuse to sing a motet before the Communion proper? I doubt it, but I would defer to those with competence to adjudicate the matter, and if a pastor tells me that the choir must sing the motet after the chant and never before, then that's what we'll do.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 2,081
    I would venture to say that most of us nowadays never sing for Masses at which only the celebrant makes his Communion


    On the one hand, I admire some places where the daily Mass in single-priest parishes is replaced by funerals — or where people are firmly told to go.

    On the other, particularly in the traditional Mass, even offering the communion for the departed seems wrong; you, the layman, has no need to commune at such a Mass, even for the dead.

    As far as marriages go, offer confession and communion in the morning to your practicing friends (even as the modern ritual book tries to restrain communion outside of Mass, the canons on the reception of the sacraments do not) and then only the couple commune at Mass. It solves a lot of problems.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 2,068
    When should it be sung? When the boss tells you to. ICK seems to like it after everyone has received. De Musica Sacra likes it to start when the priest starts distributing, and that's what all our diocesan TLMs have done, and what I've seen in NOs using a communion Proper.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Liam
    Posts: 5,004
    for the NO, it's to begin *during* the celebrant's reception of Holy Communion, not to wait until the distribution of the Holy Communion to the rest of the faithful.

    GIRM No 86: *While the Priest is receiving the Sacrament,* the Communion Chant is begun, its purpose being to express the spiritual union of the communicants by means of the unity of their voices, to show gladness of heart, and to bring out more clearly the “communitarian” character of the procession to receive the Eucharist. The singing is prolonged for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful. However, if there is to be a hymn after Communion, the Communion Chant should be ended in a timely manner.

    (emphasis added)
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 2,081
    The ICRSP does it at the ablutions because that’s the pre-DMS rubric which makes no distinction between Masses with or without general communions.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw Jeffrey Quick
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,734
    When something was compulsory but is now forbidden, this tells us a lot about the law and the legislator.

    Fortunately our priests do not dictate what we do so we can sing the Communion when it is most convenient to us.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    The ICRSP does it at the ablutions because that’s the pre-DMS rubric which makes no distinction between Masses with or without general communions.


    They are more holier than the Pope.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 2,081
    It’s one thing to not like the practice. It’s another to add commentary on the people in specifics.
  • CantorCole
    Posts: 47
    "When something was compulsory but is now forbidden, this tells us a lot about the law and the legislator."

    I imagine there are many instances throughout history where this is the case.

    In one specific case, it was at one time forbidden in the East to commune via liturgical spoon (Council of Trullo), but now people are *required* to receive via liturgical spoon in the Byzantine Liturgy.

    We must be careful when we criticize certain people, for the criteria used in such situations may actually apply to those held in the highest regard as well!
  • Palestrina
    Posts: 400
    If we apply the principle that custom is the best interpreter of law, we can all live with a healthy pluralism in the matter of the communio.

    Personally, I think an antiphon without a psalm is absurd; as a musical genre, an antiphon presupposes a psalm to be paired with it. I also think that the texts of the liturgy should take precedence of all other texts otherwise we start down the path of ‘alius cantus aptus ’ yet again, even if unwittingly. Whether it comes first or last, I think even some token recognition of its form and function is in order - ala the communio of the Requiem Mass.
    Thanked by 2Nisi Paul F. Ford