Frequently Asked Questions about the GIRM
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,176
    (This page is a work in progress.)

    Over the years, we've hashed out answers to some common rubrical questions about the current Roman Missal (for Masses offered according to the Ordinary Form). For the convenience of readers, this post will be a place to keep some of those answers available.

    Introductory Rites:
    * Q: Why do the texts of proper antiphons in the Roman Missal (Entrance Antiphon, Communion Antiphon) often differ from the corresponding antiphons in the Graduale Romanum (Introit, Communion)?
    A: It was done by design. Jeffrey Ostrowski's article on the subject explains the difference and the confusions that can result from it. More information on the historical background of the decision is in an article by Christopher Tietze.

    * Q: Are the Kyrie and Gloria included in Wedding Masses?
    A. The Penitential Act (e.g., Confiteor) is omitted. The Gloria is included. Whether the Kyrie is included is somewhat unclear, as some rubrics indicate that the Kyrie is not part of the Penitential Act, whereas some rubrics suggest that it is. Until this is clarified, check with your diocesan office for worship for guidance. Also, the Creed is included on Sundays and solemnities.

    Liturgy of the Word:
    * Q: Is it permitted for a cantor to sing the Responsorial Psalm from the choir loft?
    A: GIRM 61 says "Psalmista proinde, seu cantor psalmi, in ambone vel alio loco apto profert versus psalmi..." ("Hence the psalmist, or cantor of the psalm, presents the verses of the psalm at the ambo or another suitable place...") If your choir loft is a suitable place, it qualifies.

    * Q: What psalm texts can be legitimately used for the Responsorial Psalm?
    A: In the USA, the following norms apply: When the psalm is read, it must be taken from the current Lectionary. It may be the text assigned to the day or a text suited for the occasion (e.g., the conferral of a sacrament), or one chosen according to the season.
    If the Psalm is to be sung, then the text may be from any approved Scripture translation (see the next question also). Also, a sung psalm may be taken from a collection of psalms and antiphons approved by the bishop. Such a collection may include metrical psalm paraphrases.

    * Q: Which Scripture translations have the approval needed for use in a sung psalm?
    In the US, in addition to the psalm texts in the approved Lectionary, the following translations have been approved for liturgical use, either at present or in the past, and therefore appear to qualify for use in a sung responsorial psalm: New American Bible, Grail (1963), Revised Grail (2010), RSV-Catholic Edition, Jerusalem Bible (1966). Beyond those is an open question: that is, whether approval of a translation for reading is sufficient, or whether the translation must also be approved specifically for liturgical use. Translations which use the holy name YHWH are excluded.

    * Q: Is the Sequence presented before the Alleluia or afterward?
    A. GIRM 64 prescribes that the Sequence be sung before the Alleluia. This positioning differs from the historic placement of the Sequence, which was after the Alleluia.

    * Q: In what Masses is the Sequence required?
    A. GIRM 64 indicates that the sequence is required for Easter and Pentecost. It is not required in other cases (Our Lady of Sorrows, Corpus Christi, etc.) The sequence is not used in vigil Masses.

    Liturgy of the Eucharist
    * Q: After Communion has ended, the GIRM allows for the singing of a psalm or canticle by the congregation. May a choral work be sung?
    A. GIRM 88 provides: "When the distribution of Communion is over, if appropriate, the Priest and faithful pray quietly for some time. If desired, a Psalm or other canticle of praise or a hymn may also be sung by the whole congregation." It does not expressly permit other forms of singing. (There is an unsettled question here about whether this passage intends to exclude choral works, or whether choral works might be permitted where they are customary.)

    National and Regional Adaptations of the GIRM
    * Q. It is easy to find the U.S. edition of the GIRM on the internet, but where can I find editions for other countries?

    Preludes and Postludes
    * Q. Is there any regulation of preludes and postludes?
    A. The document Musicam Sacram (1967) gives express permission for instrumental music on the organ and other approved instruments before the priest's entrance, and after the Mass: see paragraphs 65ff. However, during Advent and Lent, or at Masses for the Dead, instrumental music is limited to accompanying the singing.
  • BenBen
    Posts: 3,114
    I'm in quick-post mode right now, but a question or two about music during lent and advent might be a good idea as well.
    Thanked by 1ryand