Singing the readings if the priest doesn't?
  • I was wondering whether it would be appropriate to sing the OT
    and Epistle readings, if the deacon or priest cannot / does not sing
    the Gospel. On one hand, there's not many deacons or priests I've
    met in the Roman Rite who trust themselves to sing at all, let alone
    consider themselves capable of reproducing chant tones at the ambo
    -- so we shouldn't let their reluctance and/or inability deter us from
    further beautifying the Mass. On the other hand, the Gospel should
    have a heightened liturgical drama over the readings before it; it
    doesn't seem fitting to ornament the words of the prophets but not
    those of Christ.

    I think it's better to sing them, on the principle that the normal way
    to announce the Gospel is to sing it, and if it's not sung, then the
    deacon or priest is disabled in some way (which shouldn't "count" in
    terms of liturgical formality). What do you think?
  • no insight to add here except to say that this is an excellent question. Many laypeople are capable of doing this, even if the priest is unable or unwilling. I honestly don't see why not. If nothing else, it means that people will listen to these readings for a change.
  • G
    Posts: 1,386
    A bit off-topic, but I want to offer a word of encouragement to such a priest or deacon, one who believes himself unable to chant the Gospel.
    A dear, dear priest I know is virtually tone deaf, to the point that not only are intervals incorrectly rendered, direction sometimes is as well.
    But he almost invariably chants the Eucharistic Prayer.
    It is rendered so solemn by his effort, the sheer importance of what he is doing is made so manifest by his doing this, that every Mass, that even a weekday Mass with no other music, no other pomp, becomes profoundly reverent in a way that many other celebrations of the sacred Liturgy performed with greater and more obvious resources never approach.
    When he pronounces the words of institution one is transfixed.
    Chanting the Gospels is not about making them "pretty," it is about solemnizing their proclamation.
    So no one need "trust [himself] to sing" he need only trust himself to proclaim --solemnly, slowly, reverently... self-consciousness (and thus, either pride or shame in his own singing ability,) is completely beside the point.
    And since I've hi-jacked this thread, please say a prayer for Father Eduardo.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    This decision must be made only with the complete agreement of the celebrant and his willingness to catechise the congregation. Otherwise it might come across as showboating and have the exact opposite effect on the listeners. But with his cooperation it will indeed offer a wonderful addition to the spirituality of the Mass.
    Perhaps something for Father along the line of "some of you have heard me try to sing, and know that it's not pleasant. Yet the Mass readings cry out to be sung as they were in the days of Christ. I have asked our lectors to help in restoring that sound to our church, so next week we shall hear the old testament reading proclaimed in the intonations for which it is so well suited."
  • G -- that's a beautiful story and one that warms my heart! Only a holy man
    could overcome his own self-consciousness like this, I think. It's telling that
    the Liber Usualis gives somewhat simpler tones for the Gospel than for the
    OT and Epistle -- perhaps those French monks wanted to give less musically
    talented deacons and priests a chance too!

    priorstf -- I agree. My main reason for not bringing up the project is that
    (a.) I would probably be the one saddled with the task of chanting the
    readings, and (b.) I already cantor a lot, so it could be perceived as
    showboating. I'm also not eager to recruit volunteers from the tiny pool of
    singers, and spend extra time (that I don't have) training them.

    One of the deacons has done a nice job with parts of the Exsultet so it
    could be fun to work with him on the Gospel chant. Unfortunately he isn't
    around much when our schola sings.