A hymn followed by an Introit as Mass begins? USCCB Office of Divine Worship Responds.
  • Dubium: A Major Catholic Basilica in America has the following practice: as the priest processes to the altar, they sing an opening hymn. Then, as the Bishop incenses the altar, they sing the Proper Introit in Gregorian chant. Is this practice licit?

    Responsum (Feb 14, 2012 at 7:29 AM): Thank you for your question. Why would you think it illicit to sing both a hymn and the antiphon during the entrance, especially at a more solemn liturgy involving the bishop when the procession and the incensation of the altar might require more music to accompany the action? This is, in fact, the practice in many cathedrals, especially at stational masses of the bishop which include the whole presbyterate of a diocese (such as the Chrism Mass or ordinations).

    Executive Director, Secretariat of Divine Worship, USCCB, 3211 4th St. NE, Washington, DC 20017

    Dubium: What is the proper response to people who point out that the current GIRM does not allow this practice?

    Responsum (Feb 14, 2012 at 9:58 AM): To say “the GIRM does not allow for this practice” is a bit of a stretch, because it simply gives several options for what could be sung at the entrance. It does not speak in one way or another about whether one could do both, because it speaks only to the normative practice of an entrance procession that includes priest, deacon, and other assisting ministers, and not a more elaborate entrance procession at a stational mass with the bishop and the presbyterate. The GIRM never speaks to every possible scenario that could take place.

    Executive Director, Secretariat of Divine Worship, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 3211 4th St. NE, Washington, DC 20017
  • Shorter version: "Don't sweat the small stuff."
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    "The GIRM never speaks to every possible scenario which may take place."

    Perhaps some of the liturgy warriors here and elsewhere could frame that for display in their lofts?
    Thanked by 2IanW Ryan Murphy
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,176
    The style of the responses is refreshing to see also: as if to say, "what on earth gave you that idea?" One doesn't see that often.
  • It is sad that so many have lost sight of the Roman Rite, and simply look at the GIRM and have no idea about the context it is written for. They ignore the past and are truly view the Pauline Missal as a break with the past. These questions betray the kind of ignorance which is surely just the tip of the iceberg.
    The rampant ignorance about the Rite is something we all need to be prepared for. It is not their fault so much as ours when we start doing the Rite as is was intended. More and better catechesis. Now the machine (Adam Bartlett, Aristotle Esguerra, Jeff Ostrowski and many others) are producing excellent sacred liturgical music, we must back it up. That is what SC called for all along. That is what Tra le Sollecitudini called for.

    Thanks to the USSCB. If only the CCCB had any idea how to even answer that question.

  • Peter,
    Adam and I exchanged a number of concerns over this recently at the Cafe (thread about Lumen Christe Missal) as well as a few conversations in the past. There is no doubt that the restoration of the three processional propers is the endgame ideal at stake. I, like Richard, was pleasantly surprised at the secretary's open-ended response; to me it indicates progress where stagnation used to reside. And you are spot on about rampant ignorance and preparation (more like reparation, I'd say.) But the crux of the issue, from my vantage, remains "just who is 'we?'" when it comes to "doing the Rite as intended." We used the music of those and more you cite, but I still have to tread very carefully, even if for only one of 15 weekend Masses, with the sensibilities of six possible celebrants, only one of whom is inclined to offer authentic liturgical catechesis within the context of Mass or outside in lectures. What we should pray and wish for might be some sort of national teachable moment such as has been witnessed by the closing of ranks of the bishops over the HHS mandate fiasco that has galvanized formerly disparate idealogues among their ranks towards unity, and thus energized a drowsy laity. We have some prominent voices, Burke, Olmstead, Vigneron, Cordileone, Slattery and others who have gone very public with their concerns and "remedies" for musical malaise. But I'd breathe easier if we had some sort of national moment displaying both brilliance and humility that would forever unravel the patchwork fabric of "make it up as we go along" and consumerist "supply and demand" chokeholds that have displaced the true Roman ritual culture in my lifetime. I think we're seeing much more "brick by brick" activity. We just need the laity to join in the building process.
  • Yay for Vigneron (he's my bishop). :) It's not just him in this diocese, either - Sacred Heart Major Seminary seems to be doing a good job of forming the sensibilities of the seminarians with regards to sacred music.
  • mahrt
    Posts: 517
    The USCCB committee is surely right that the practice is not forbidden, but a further question remains, what is the most appropriate usage?

    I contend that the style of the Gregorian introit is for the accompaniment of a procession, and therefore, it is best suited to be sung during the procession, not after it. The style of hymns have no such differentiation--the same hymn is sung for introit, offertory, or communion, while the Gregorian propers for these parts are beautifully differentiated. The introit can be sung for the duration of a long procession by alternating the antiphon with psalm verses.

    This is not to say hymns are not legitimate, just to say that introit chants are better, even for long processions.
    Thanked by 1Respire118
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,219
    Thanks Prof. Mahrt, for voicing exactly what I was thinking. The somewhat breezy response from USCCB demonstrates that much education must still be done--in the offices of the USCCB.
  • Ah, the lay magisterium approach, Dad, it sounds almost.....well, "spirit of VII," except now it's OUR "spirit of VII" that has the upper hand.
    No one should be gloating. If the real Spirit has finally cleansed out the smoke damage, then there's a ton of cleanup to do in our parishes for a few decades, and we won't have any ecclesial FEMA to help.
    I'd advise against trampling upon the faithful's sensibilities just because we have the documents in hand. I'd be happy they're still around being "the faithful" after all the crap they've endured from all quarters for half a century or more.
  • mhjell
    Posts: 32
    As a graft, I am hoping we can let the congregation sing a suitable hymn with the procession timed to reach the sanctuary at the end. Pause. Then, the SEP Introit is sung as the priest enters the sanctuary. Very close to the gist of the Dubium.

    The congregation is unhappy enough with the switch back to more traditional hymnody. Their ONLY experience of not singing comes from choirs doing Communion meditations. The graft approach is simply the most feasible, least arguable, way to introduce all the propers. Usage of the SEP Communion antiphon is already done at one of our Masses. We got there easily by switching to instrumental music during distribution and a hymn during the cleansing of the vessels.

  • Okay here is a question with background. On Ash Wednesday at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit we will be Celebrating Morning Prayer in combination with Morning Mass. I have been rehearsing the schola to sing the Introit for the procession but what usually happens is the men sing the morning hymn from the psalter during the procession. I checked the General Instructions for the Liturgy of the Hours and here is what it says, Chapter II - VII 94"...the whole celebration may begin either with the introductory verse and hymn of morning prayer, especially on weekdays, or with the entrance song, procession, and celebrants greeting...." Or song isn't very specific but I sure hope it means the schola can chant the Introit for Ash Wednesday during the procession. Does anyone know if this is alright? --Ruth Lapeyre
  • Yes, the schola may chant the Introit during the procession.

    94. Cum Laudes matutinæ in choro vel in communi celebratæ Missam immediate præcedunt, actio incipere potest aut a versu introductorio et hymno Laudum, præsertim diebus ferialibus, aut a cantu Introitus cum processione ingressus et salutatione celebrantis, diebus præsertim festivis, in casu alterutro omisso ritu initiali.
  • "aut a cantu Introitus" Ah there it is! Thanks
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,473
    Dear Ruth:
    for the combined form of Morning Prayer and Mass, there is only one opening hymn, not two as it would be if Mass followed morning prayer. The introit is great for this.
  • What about the opposite? In other words, the Introit first (ala prelude) and then the processional hymn?

    I don't think that is ideal, but better than no Introit at all.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,164
    Doesn't an Introit first followed by a processional hymn sound a bit like what is called in some protestant churches a "Call to Worship" followed by a processional hymn? In fact, I think some protestant churches use the term "Introit" and "Call to Worship" interchangeably.
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    It is, of course, better than no introit text at all.
    How ideal is it? Tough question.

    I've been to a few OF masses on both coasts of the U.S. where musicians were randomly unavailable and the priest(s) celebrating would read the propers throughout the mass.

    In these situations, the introit has been consistently read once the priest is at the altar.

    The only reason I mention this is to answer the question of using the introit as prelude. Perhaps it is licit... I can't really say. I don't know. I just thought it worth noting those experiences where I have actually heard the propers while visiting other parishes, it seems to be timed with the priest's arrival at the altar.
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    This is also a question that could be beautifully aligned with mutual enrichment of OF and EF.

    How/when does the introit text occur in EF, and was that adressed or adjusted when the OF was promulgated?

    Should we look to mutual enrichment as the normative practice?
    Just a question... of course, to include the propers in OF in any way, even as a prelude, is a major step forward for the OF in most U.S. parishes.
  • The Introit is usually sung at our parish for the E.F. Mass on Sunday mornings not at the processional but when the priest prays at the foot of the altar. In the O. F. Mass the Introit chant or antiphon and verse are chanted during the procession.
    Thanked by 1GregoryWeber
  • To complete Ruth's last sentence:
    ...are chanted during the procession because the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar have been eliminated in the OF.

    In our parish, at a Missa Cantata we start the Introit at the priest's Confiteor and go directly into the Kyrie. This timing works for us in that our priest is just ready for the Gloria (when it is included) by the time we finish the Kyrie.
    Thanked by 1GregoryWeber
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    The timing you mention is part of the rubrics in EF. Patricia mentioned the prayers at the foot of the altar, which is why the introit happens a little bit later. There's a lot to be said by the priest/servers before he would even get to the introit.

    This is also why I like the idea of the introit in OF being timed to when the priest reaches the altar. If he incenses it then there is plenty of time for the full chant, and it's a little more in line with the EF. Some sense of mutual enrichment, maybe...
  • I was interested to see this discussion. The Cathedral of St. Matthew, one of three cathedrals that I have found where the OF in Latin is an essential part of the Sunday liturgy, has always had the Introit as a prelude, before the bell is rung. While I am grateful to have all the Gregorian propers, it seems to me that this becomes what Protestants call a "call to worship," and is not an integral part of the Mass. Indeed, it is technically outside the Mass. I am not sure that I have ever seen the introit as processioanl...unless it was the one time I sang with Prof. Mahrt, now a good while ago.

    It seems to me that this is the practice at the Basilica here in DC for the choral Mass, which I have only been to perhaps four times.

    On a side note, not even the National Shrine has picked up that the GIRM says chant/choir FIRST during Communion, and the congregation AFTER. This makes sense, as everybody drops out of the singing when they approach the altar.

  • Concerning the Communion antiphon, I chant this while the celebrant is communicating. Then, I will lead the faithful in the communion hymn.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,951
    We have been singing the Rice communion antiphons while the priest receives communion. This last Sunday, we had a cantor sing the verses also, while the choir received. We all kind of looked at each other and decided that was really nice. We will do the same for Sunday Lent II.
    Thanked by 1benedictgal
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640

    Are you familiar with EF and do you find that the placement of the Introit in OF, as you described, is related to the EF rubrics in a "mutually enriching" way?
  • CharlesW, my parochial vicar got the same feedback about what we did for Ash Wednesday. I followed the communion antiphon with O Sun of Justice.
  • Dear Ryand,

    I have very limited experience with the Tridentine Mass, but I should clarify that when Bill Culverhouse, who now teaches at Earlham, was schola director at St. Matthew, the use of the Introit as a Call to Worship was very well done. It integrated beautifully with the service as a whole, such that this summer when there was all this "implementation" chatter I was going to bring that up as a solution. But that was Bill, also: talent DOES play its part, and he has it in boatloads.

    I am about to return to my studies of the EF and the theology of it all and will think about it. As a musical choice, I think this works very well. As we move to a more organic musical experience of the Mass--toward what SHOULD be done-- then that is something that requires some thought and I am not qualified to talk about that at this point in my development.

    Anyone else?

  • Steve CollinsSteve Collins
    Posts: 1,021
    The only point I disagree on, in this case with Dr. Mahrt, is that there definitely are different "styles" of hymns. Some are more appropriate as processions hymns, and they aren't necessarily in 4/4, but can be in 3/4 or 6/8. There are many hymns that I would always avoid during Communion, and others that simply don't work as Entrance or Closing hymns.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • mahrt
    Posts: 517
    Steve, I concede that there are different styles of hymns, but there is no formal co-ordination of these with the place in the liturgy; If you do so, it is by option, and is likely to be partial.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,164
    ... but there is no formal co-ordination of these with the place in the liturgy
    This is, then, the usual situation of bad and/or ignorant planning and choice by the DM (or, in some cases, the Pastor who hands the DM a list of hymns to be sung). At any rate, it is not at all in keeping with ones responsibilities, and hence it should be pointed out and corrective action taken.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • Tournemire
    Posts: 74
    We use a processional hymn at the entrance, followed by the Introit as the priest/bishop approaches the altar and incenses.

    At offertory the choir sings the offertory proper and a motet/anthem.

    Communion the schola chants the communion antiphon, followed by a motet. After communion the congregation sings a hymn of praise. (So no singing "with their mouth full.") :-)

    This is quite different than the four hymn sandwich that was in place at my arrival 3 years ago.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Gavin
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    "This is quite different than the four hymn sandwich that was in place at my arrival 3 years ago."

    And yet, the people still sing three hymns! I think this is a great way to do things.

    Hymns need not be antithetical to good Roman liturgy.
    Thanked by 1tomboysuze
  • francis
    Posts: 10,703
    Antithetical is not the term I would use. That would mean that both "a hymn" and the "assigned proper" have equal status in that particular place in the liturgy and one is just as appropriate as the other. This just isn't so. It is more accurate to say that a hymn displaces the actual text and chant of the Mass. Yes?
    Thanked by 1tomboysuze
  • tomboysuzetomboysuze
    Posts: 289
    Yes. Agreed, francis....but wouldn't the hymn displace the proper only if you omit the proper? And, another question I wonder about quite a bit.
    1. There seems to be a "window" in certain points in the liturgy where the text for the specific proper may be inserted, rather than a point where the proper is "proper".
    But is there a preferred placement? I see the communio timed many different ways.

    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • I agree that the hymn/introit mix described above can be a good stopgap measure to 'get the chant heard' - but I don' t find it ideal. I am more concerned with the musical aesthetic of the different pieces used. Volume is always relative - to the space and to immediate musical context. Coming out of a hushed pre-mass volume, the Introit has the potential to fill the acoustical space with sound. When the entrance hymn is metrical, with full organ accompaniment and congregational singing, the chant necessarily becomes a quiet afterthought (although excellent acoustics can lessen this effect somewhat). In that sense I prefer the Introit chant as a prelude, when it can at least be appreciated in comparison to silence rather than to a roaring metrical hymn.

    It is interesting that we always consider programming when putting together a concert, but not when planning liturgical music. One reason concert programs very often go chronologically is because the emotional side of music has tended to ramp up over time (especially through the 19th and 20th centuries). That fiery Buxtehude toccata can sound downright quaint if you are foolish enough to place it after a French symphonic finale. The subtle dissonances that give a Frescobaldi toccata so much color may have the audience enraptured if programmed right - or looking at their watches if other, more colorful 20th century music has preceded it. Everything - volume, harmonic language, texture, emotional range - has a different effect based on its musical context.

    Gregorian chant is the earliest, softest, most subtle music the assembly will ever hear. When people complain that chant is boring, I think that in many cases it is our fault for juxtaposing chant with more immediately accessible music (such as a rousing metrical, tonal hymn). No matter how vibrantly we perform the chant, we do not give the modern ear any time to adjust to its aesthetic. In fact, the more I think about it the more I would prefer to avoid chant entirely rather than inserting it piecemeal into a context where it can't be appreciated on its own terms. Do we trust that chant can have 'pride of place' and carry a liturgy all by itself? It is a leap of faith, to be sure.

    Thanked by 1francis
  • francis
    Posts: 10,703

    imho doing both the proper AND a hymn is really a compromise done for the sake of those who want to sing and have it the good ole way. I did that for a year, and while people had the chance to hear and experience the propers, it really was disjointed and jarring. it is interesting (even if it makes me wince sometimes) to see all of the variations of attempts to bring back chant, however.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,951
    I think the issue in American churches is that the hymns are entrenched and are now part of mass. It is the propers that most would consider the anomaly. I know several DMs personally who no longer have jobs because they replaced the hymns with propers. We can talk about ideals until we turn blue, but they are not the reality.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    In the E.F., some priests want the Introit as they process, and others when the priest REACHES the altar. Obviously, the Asperges also comes into play here on Sundays.

    I had thought Pius XII "restored" the earlier practice of the Introit being sung as a processional, but I cannot find my notes on that. I think the 1908 Vaticana had favored the rubric "when the priest reaches the altar." Perhaps someone can cite the official sources?

    Does the ASPERGES block this?

    Several older priests told me the NORM was for the priest to come from the Sacristy in cope, perform the Asperges sprinkling, then go back into the Sacristy. THEN, come from the back of Church, processing to the Introit.
  • We're Anglo-Catholic, so we're likely not GIRM-compliant, but our standard practice at the main Sunday solemn Mass is for the sacred ministers and servers to enter during the opening hymn, and then right away the Asperges is done but without the Asperges texts: the hymn continues as the celebrant sprinkles himself, the altar, the servers, and then the sacred ministers head down the center aisle as the celebrant sprinkles the people. They wait at the back until the schola starts the introit. During the introit, they return to the sanctuary and cense the altar, then go to the sedilia. The celebrant stays in cope, except while preaching, until the deacon has set the altar for the offertory. Then the celebrant's cope is changed to chasuble before he ascends to offer the gifts. On rare occasions, the opening hymn is stretched by our wonderful organist by means of amazing improvisations before the final stanza and possibly after it if need be. Even more rarely, if the introit runs out before the ministers get to the sedilia, there might be a quiet improvisation at that point or a little silence.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen