OF Mass without a choir
  • daniel
    Posts: 75
    Many of us participated in the beautiful Masses during the Colloquium. These Masses, however, all had choirs. What would you do with a vernacular OF Sunday Mass with organ and "cantor" and priests who do not sing? The four hymn syndrome?
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Daniel: At my last parish, we had a cantor chant the propers according to a psalm tone. Even a simple melody can be grasped by most cantors.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    It cannot be pointed out often enough that a "choir" is two or more people. At my parish, the cantor and I sing either the Offertory chant (in English translation) or the Communion (with verses from Communio) at every Mass, regardless of what the music in the rest of the Mass is like. When we are not singing, I prefer to have organ music or silence rather a hymn. In your situation, I'd concentrate on having the congregation sing the Ordinary well before anything else.
  • daniel
    Posts: 75
    I do try to choose hymns that reflect the content of the Entrance and Communion Antiphons. I view this as a "next best thing". Anyone have any thoughts or recommendations about that?
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    daniel, I used to think the same thing. Now I realize that, according to the GIRM, it is the "fourth" best thing. I'm actually giving a presentation later this month on the Communion, and I suggest the following resources for each of the four choices in the GIRM:

    1) antiphon and psalm from the Graduale Romanum
    I include the Gregorian Missal, Graduale Triplex, Communio, and (when it is the same) the Liber Usualis in this group, along with the English version in the American Gradual and the melismatic chants in Fr. Weber's Proper of the Mass.

    2) antiphon and psalm from the Graduale Simplex
    Or, in English, By Flowing Waters.

    After these two choices, I believe most places won't find it necessary to go on to the third or fourth options, but...

    3) another antiphon or psalm
    For example, one of the seven "ad libitum" Communions listed in the Graduale Romanum, even if not proper to the day. One could even "borrow" an Office antiphon, if it is more simple.

    4) another appropriate song

    The same system can be applied to the antiphons for the Entrance and Offertory (which you don't mention) as well. No matter how much it reflects the readings of the day, a hymn is always going to be the last choice according to this system. I do admit, though, that at some of our Masses we still use a hymn for the Entrance. But we're working on improving that situation slowly.
  • We do this every weekend at my church. I'm the DM and I'd like to see that stopped but we don't have enough people to make a choir for each Mass so some of them are doomed to having a cantor and accompanist, complete with four hymn sandwich. Best decision I ever made was eliminating the student song leaders where I teach, as we have recently instituted a children's choir.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,373
    I have an early Sunday morning mass with no cantor. I don't sing, but the congregation and priest do. They sing the Ordinary and an entrance and recessional hymn. I play during communion and offertory. At the other two masses with only organ and cantor, I add a communion hymn and the communion proper. At the choir mass, we do nearly the same but add a choir number at Offertory. It somehow works, but surely the Holy Spirit is pulling us through it each week.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,115
    You can do plenty of music with cantor and choir. All the required music, in fact. Ordinary and propers. I sing the propers solo frequently, you don't need a choir for it.
    Thanked by 1Richard Mix
  • I often solo cantor the introit, commonly using the SEP or Psalm-Tone with one or two psalms verses, a glory be or gloria patri and repeat the antiphon. If you want the congregation to sing the ordinary it is helpful ro have a pew card with the words and notes/neumes on. Most will have a go at singing along.

    Most of us will have to accept that at masses other than the main Sunday mass, we're going to have to be satisfied with a good ordinary, maybe a communion chant and a couple of good hymns. The focus should be to get the best happening at rhe main Sunday morning Mass and hopefully from there you can recruit cantors.

    The best way to choose hymns is to select those with similar texts to the propers, or to take them from the hymns of the divine office.