"Communion Meditation"
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,365
    I have been asked to put choral music in the place of the "communion meditation" in the Mass. We know there is no communion meditation in the GIRM. And the GIRM says pretty clearly that after communion, " a psalm or hymn may be sung by the entire congregation" Does this mean that is there is any music after communion, it is only communally sung?
    Comments please...
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
  • That's what the GIRM means, and the posture for everyone is standing.
    Thanked by 1Liam
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,641
    It is a good opportunity if you have choral music to sing. I have no music after communion, just silence.
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,366
    GIRM 400 states: If the pastor decides that any of the previous 399 norms in this General Instruction do not apply in his parish, that's fine.
  • By the sound of it, your parish celebrates Mass in the vernacular, according to the Missal of Paul VI. Assuming that this is true, perhaps you want to rotate 4 or 5 pieces: Lambillotte's Panis Angelicus, Arcadelt's Ave Maria(because to stay close to Mary is to stay close to Our Lord, a Gregorian Ave Verum Corpus --- I think you get the idea. Make what you sing sinple enough to be easily remembered by the congregation, but absolutely focused on Whom they have just received. AT ALL COSTS avoid the trash which passes for "Eucharistic songs" available in most Missalettes. You could also include something like Oremus pro Pontifice, as I did, intentionally, for years. Use the Communion Antiphon. Oh, and have the choir learn to sing while kneeling. It's not hard, but most people are unaccustomed to it, and therefore think it's hard.
  • Why in the world would you WANT the choir kneeling and singing?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,641
    Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it. My choir stands when singing. The congregation never knows that, since the choir is not visible. Singing while kneeling isn't going to help anyone's breath control, that's for sure.
    Thanked by 1Liam
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Paul was talking rubrics for the vast assembly to stand. Here in CenCA that Spruce Goose will never get off the kneeler, er...ground;-)
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,641
    That bird will never fly in the east, either.
  • bkenney27bkenney27
    Posts: 444
    I have taken the opportunity to introduce chants to the congregation for a few weeks in a row. Typically, I'll assign something (currently, Adoro te devote - Easter was Regina Caeli) for the choir to chant alone for a few weeks in a row, and then ask the congregation to chant it with the choir for a few weeks. Typically, the cantor intones the chant in Latin and the congregation/choir chants it in English. This way they only focus on one thing at a time (the new melody rather than new texts in a different language that they don't know how to pronounce properly) and they will know what it means when we DO introduce it in Latin.

    Regarding posture, our Parish is really clear that you are supposed to stand.... so, naturally, we end up with an awkward hybrid of people that stand and kneel at the same time. I understand the reasoning behind standing, but it's definitely not one of my favorite directives.
  • Pray Tell started a thread yesterday discussing a related topic, Singing during Communion.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,154
    people that stand and kneel at the same time


    Is this physically possible?
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,241
    What English translation of Adoro te devote do you use, bkenney?
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,365
    I am quite surprised, only Dr. Fords reply made any sense here...
  • I am quite surprised, only Dr. Fords reply made any sense here...


    Your question was a little weird, though: "This is what the GIRM says. So, is that right, then?" Yes, it is right; no, if people on this forum were in charge of drafting the GIRM, myself included, they would not likely have written it that way. What more are you looking for people to tell you?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,897
    One way to include choral music at communion time is to prepare two pieces of music, and arrange for the first one to end while the distribution of communion is still in progress. If the first piece is a hymn, you can stop the hymn after 1-2 verses. Then start the choral piece, and continue it to completion. As far as I can tell, that is all in compliance with the GIRM.
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,366
    As far as I can tell, that is all in compliance with the GIRM.

    Except for the fact that the GIRM nowhere speaks of two communion songs. Why do so many churches think that it is OK to do a "medley" of sorts at communion time? If all the verses of psalm 34 do not cover the reception of holy communion, add some organ interludes, or even begin the psalm verses again.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,897
    Why would you propose to include organ interludes? The GIRM doesn't mention them either, or does it?

    Really, if you don't think that that there is standard choral repertoire acceptable within the rubric of "alius cantus ... aptus", well, you can always send someone a dubium to check. As far as I know, the interpretations and policies coming from the BCDW indicate an acceptance of heritage repertoire; they're not issuing formal reviews to tell us that Franck's "Panis Angelicus" is admissible.
    Thanked by 1noel jones, aago
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,366
    @Chonak: You did not address my question in my previous post. As to "interludes," I had in mind improvisation(s) on the antiphon and/or psalm tone, which has always been an acceptable practice to stretch out the communion song. Of course, if the organist is unable to improvise, then he or she should not.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,641
    In practice, I find I can't do things the same at each mass. At my earliest mass, there are few in attendance, the congregation barely tolerates music, and I never had nor will have a cantor. I play during communion. For the later masses where I do have cantors, the communion Proper is sung at the appropriate time, then an actual communion hymn is sung - most often a solo, since the congregation refuses to sing while going to communion. At the choir mass, the proper is sung, then I play until communion is brought to the choir. After the choir receives, the communion hymn is sung. After the communion hymn at the masses with a hymn, there is silence. Silence also at the early mass, since I stop playing after communion.

    "Stand and kneel at the same time?" Rather than seize every opportunity to be a smart aleck - an opportunity those wrongly obsessed with their own cleverness can never seem to resist - I know exactly what you mean. My congregation kneels until communion, goes to communion, then returns to the pews where most kneel again. Some sit, and no one stands. A small number of folks also kneel for communion at the rail, but most stand in line and receive while standing.

    A bishop once told me that the ways in which we differ from GIRM and practice in other local parishes, falls under the allowances of local custom. We have been doing things the same way for over 50 years, that I have witnessed. He said that qualifies as local custom.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Except for the fact that the GIRM nowhere speaks of two communion songs. Why do so many churches think that it is OK to do a "medley" of sorts at communion time?

    I'll get a short digression out of the way: I find it amusing there's a sort of sudden change in group think among those who eschewed rubricism they determined was spawned under the previous pontificate and practiced by the liturgical "right wing," and now quote the GIRM with unwavering specificity. After 20 years in NPM in the previous century, I can hardly remember the GIRM being thumped at any national or regional convention plenum. Must be global climate change.

    Churches don't think, DM's, choirmasters, D of Lits. or even pastors think. As Charles mentions, practical decisions occur in a parish with three Sunday Masses. And as in all things, a small parish in Flea Hill, NC might only have one Mass with just enough communicants to barely get through the antiphon in the SEP. We have eighteen weekend Masses. I know, Fr. Krisman, you must have read my modus for just one of those Masses over at the PTB thread, and all of that is out of necessity, nothing is truncated or lengthened. Across town at one of our other three parishes, they may only need the one cantus. I can count on one hand the number of "Communion" classified hymns/songs in Breaking Bread that have sufficient verses to meet your GIRM criterium.

    Now, because of the ecclesiogical reality that fewer priests and pastors are resulting in the demands from bishops that new church installations must have seating capacities nearing 2000 so that one Mass will service the populace regionally, so a celebrant can perhaps ride the circuit to other nearby smaller parishes and missions. Where is the repertoire base for a ten minute Communion processional?

    And BTW, when there's an event Mass at St. Peter's, the Copacabana, National's Stadium or even in St. Patrick's NYC, there's no evidence of the GIRM police handing out violation citations to the Master of Ceremonies.

    Can we ever just get real about using the documents as advisory tools without implying that personal bias is always part of the equation when making decisions?

    Peace, CharlesC
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Wendi
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,641
    To think that GIRM could cover every possible situation is wishful thinking. The document isn't written to that level of precision. I know that some get their medieval panties tied in knots over this or that trivial infraction. Seems to me a better approach is to start from the assumption that people who love the liturgy are trying to do the best they can under the prevailing circumstances where they live and work.
  • I'm going to assume that it's a serious question: "Why would you WANT the choir to kneel to sing?" Accordingly, my answer intends to be serious.

    Both in preparation for receiving Our Lord, and in thanksgiving for said reception, a posture of adoration is entirely appropriate. Please notice that I didn't advance the notion of what the GIRM says, because I'm not making a legal case here. I would assert that, logically, the Mysterium Fidei dialogue should be sung without a change in posture: priest already standing stays standing; choir, already kneeling for the consecration, stays kneeling. I lose the argument because people claim that this is idiotic or impractical (neither of which is true, but there it is.) One can sing equally well standing or kneeling, because the diaphragm and the lungs are in the same orientation. All the clatter of standing, having been kneeling, or the obvious disrespect for Our Lord if one hasn't been kneeling, is distracting and destructive of the nature of the action of the Mass.

    Besides -- and, yes, I intend this to be taken seriously -- how much help do choirs need in developing a sense of humility?
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,366
    Charles, I did not raise the question of multiple communion songs as a way to play the GIRM trump card. I've been puzzled by the widespread practice of the "medley approach" to music to accompany the communion procession for more than 40 years. What's the purpose of the communion song?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,641
    By not kneeling, one is not showing "obvious disrespect for our Lord," or "being destructive of the nature of the mass." Kneeling is a medieval practice that departs from the original practice of standing. Even as the Council of Nicea stated in Canon 20, "Forasmuch as there are certain persons who kneel on the Lord's Day and in the days of Pentecost, therefore, to the intent that all things may be uniformly observed everywhere (in every parish), it seems good to the holy Synod that prayer be made to God standing."

    The mistake, often promoted here, is that the Church began with the Council of Trent, and nothing before or after can be different. That is so wrongheaded, especially since it is no different than the same argument advanced by those who think the Church began with Vatican II. Perhaps it would be better to look at interior dispositions of the heart, rather than at externals. Now there is a radical concept!
    Thanked by 1jpal
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    What's the purpose of the communion song?

    I wondered if you wanted to go down that road....
    Answer: to accompany those proceeding to receive Holy Communion.
    Answer you may have wanted: to be a quasi-sacral symbol of the unity of the One Body of Christ to further manifest and edify the meaning of the sacrament. Nothing wrong with that. But as a concept it cannot succeed in all situations. I regularly lead music at Masses where you'd have to sing Bob Hurd's COME TO ME AND DRINK four times through, or his wonderful UBI CARITAS with both English and Spanish verses four times through to keep to the One Body, One Song edict.
    OTOH, I've also had "Gustate et videte" chanted/chorally sung during EMHC reception, Moore's setting following on its heels, and still time DURING the procession for a brief Eucharistic (devotional or otherwise) motet before the ciborium's in the tabernacle, and silence that follows before the collect. Where's the beef?
    Thanked by 1SBCpianoman
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,366
    My beef is that it is ritually incoherent. It also create a divide between the ministers, who have their special music - Latin, no less - for their communion, while everyone else gets their Bob Hurd music (which I do not consider at all to be wonderful). Then there are the folks at the end of the line that are further separated from everyone else; they are not even being invited to sing as they approach holy communion. The choir has already taken over.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,423
    In theory I agree with Fr. RK here.

    But, what are you suggesting should be done in the case of ultra-long communion reception? Organ improvisation sounds fine, but should that be twice as long as the hymn?
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,026
    In theory while I agree with the good Father & Mr Wood; I must object in practise, as in NO parishes I have been to/played for have the people actually WANTED TO SING WHILE THEY ARE RECEIVING COMMUNION; perhaps AFTER Communion when all have returned to their seats and have had SUFFICIENT time to make a private thanksgiving would they welcome a hymn.
    Thanked by 1Jenny
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,366
    Salieri, why do you mention "a hymn"? Absolutely the wrong type of music for the communion procession. No wonder people do not want to sing

    No, and in response to Adam's question, what I have in mind mainly are psalm settings with refrain sung by everyone and verses sung by choir and or psalmist (the latter standing at the ambo during the singing of this communion psalm). To extend the length of the song further, there's no reason why the verses cannot be repeated.

    Then there are Scripturally-based songs, again refrain and verses. The more verses, the better for those ultra-long processions. Musically, Michael Joncas' Take and Eat may not be everyone's cup of tea, but the James Quinn text which is composed of images and titles for Christ is very fine. Unfortunately, there are only four verses. I could see extending the length of this piece by having the organist repeat the refrain softly each time after the PIPs have just sung it. If other instrumentalists are present (flautist, oboist, etc.) they could play the melody during these interludes.

    Several Taizé ostinati (with or without verses) would also be able to serve as communion songs to accompany a lengthy procession.
    Thanked by 2Andrew_Malton Gavin
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Father, your beef is theoretically incoherent from your perspective. Taking my example, if the schola chants "Gustate et videte" OR a vernacular version upon the celebrant's communication, and then that of the deacon and any EMHC's (say you have 700 PiP attendance), upon completion of that ritual action in the sanctuary, the music segues smoothly to the James Moore "Taste..." with the invitation to ALL either presented via hymnboard, bulletin, ordo or announcement, how does that exclude the participation of the real catholics hanging out in the back pews. They're invited. Their proximity in the procession is not relevant. There's no natural disadvantage, or faux "back of the bus" dynamic at play during the singing of the paraphrased proper. So, if by the time they finally reach the point of reception if the song has run its course, with all the people in the front of the church who received earlier joining the song btw, should the choir take up an appropriate motet/anthem that resonates either with the specific communio or scriptural allusion, the voice is still the instrument of praise accompanying the ritual through to its conclusion, at which time silence is quite welcome.
    That's not to say, that a so-called hymn of praise cannot be utilized, but in large congregations that also may disturb the coherence by "waiting" for the deacon to return to his place by the president chair and the canting of the collect.
    One size fits all I think not.
    And have you mentioned to Bob directly your review of his material? Hmmmm.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,565
    FWIW, it should be noted that kneeling is not the universal norm for the entirety of the Eucharistic Prayer: that is a specifically US adaptation, perhaps also approved for some other jurisdictions, but the universal norm is to stand for the second half of the prayer, IIRC. It should also be noted that adoration *as such* is not what the communion rite is *about*.

    As for so-called newfound rubricism among non-traditionalists: nit-picky citations to and awareness of the GIRM among many liturgical progressives is not newfound at all. Far from it. (Todd Flowerday has, for example, for many years devoted large swaths of his blog to item-by-item consideration of reams of postconciliar liturgical documents.) There are plenty of folks on either side who don't engage in cherry picking, and have parried with fellow members of their own side who are inclined to cherry pick. I've been doing it since the days of the Usenet (remember?), and I was hardly alone.

  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,366
    Charles, thank you for your response, and particularly for calling my attention to the way I referred to Bob Hurd's Ubi Caritas. You had called it "his wonderful UBI CARITAS." I think it's OK, nothing objectionable, nothing that great either. My comment should have used quotation marks around the word "wonderful," that you yourself had used.

    As to your principal point: the folks in the back of the church may indeed join in when others are singing as they process to receive communion, but those folks don't get to sing when they themselves are processing to receive communion.
  • And who gets MORE Jesus, the person who consumes a fractured host or a full one?

    Worrying about whether people are getting to sing while THEY are processing? Really?

    I actually like the way NPM does it for those giant convention liturgies. There is some antiphon, usually chant like, intoned and repeated. Then some song in the same key/meter. Then the antiphon repeated. Then the next song. Then the antiphon. Then a motet. Then the antiphon. etc. etc. etc.

    It makes for a seamless procession with one antiphon where all in between are like giant "verses." And it seems to work well for a liturgy with 2,000 attendees and the need for lots of Communion music.
  • WendiWendi
    Posts: 638
    I would love to be at a parish in which people actually sing while processing to receive communion. I never have been, and I've lived in five different states as an adult.

    The reality I have experienced, is that the congregation does not sing while processing, nor do they sing just after receiving. As usual, YMMV.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,641
    I think the whole idea of singing during a procession is crazy, especially if it includes carrying a weighty hymnal. When I read GIRM, I thought what were those (@&*&% bishops thinking? However, I try to approximate what it asks as best I can, even though my congregation has no intention of trying to sing while processing to communion. Afterwards, getting them to sing is a bit more successful. I shut the whole thing down and have silence as soon as possible.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,026
    Reverend Father, I was referring to singing a hymn AFTER the distribution of Communion.

    And for the record, I am a singer. I like to sing; I like to sing during the liturgy (if the music is good quality music - I wouldn't sing "take the bread children" if you payed me a mint). When I am in the pews, I will sing all of the ordinary and all of the 'hymns', lustily, except I will not sing ANYTHING (Hymn, Antiphon, Psalm, whatever) while I am in line receiving Communion or in my pew afterwards when making my private thanksgiving. After the distribution of communion I will gladly stand and sing a "Hymn of praise" if there is one; but I will NOT sing while I am standing in the communion line or kneeling at the altar rail, nor do I expect others to do this, and I do not encourage it; I think it is gimmicky, uncouth and vulgar.
  • bkenney27bkenney27
    Posts: 444
    Hahaha! Just to be clear for the jerkface that called me out on my ambiguity - SOME people stand while OTHERS kneel... at the same time. There. :)

    @irishtenor - I use the Hopkins translation - "Godhead here in hiding...."

    FWIW, my congregation actually DOES sing. My first weekend at this Parish I did a non-congregational communion piece that incorporated Amazing Grace (this was before I discovered Sacred Music. Don't hate.) and I had folks actually search their hymnals for Amazing Grace and sing along carrying the book in the procession (even thought he time signature was stretched to 4/4. They adapted.) This was my clue that I should pick familiar pieces with an easy to memorize refrain so the congregation can sing (as much as they apparently want to) and not have to carry a book in procession (yikes!).
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Oh bk27, Dad's a great old curmudgeon, he meant no dis.
  • bkenney27bkenney27
    Posts: 444
    Hahaha I know. <font color="sarcastic"> added.
  • Kneeling is a medieval practice that departs from the original practice of standing. Even as the Council of Nicea stated in Canon 20, "Forasmuch as there are certain persons who kneel on the Lord's Day and in the days of Pentecost, therefore, to the intent that all things may be uniformly observed everywhere (in every parish), it seems good to the holy Synod that prayer be made to God standing."


    Charles,

    I won't quote documents if you won't. This is sufficiently out of context as to be unhelpful. Moreover, it is an appeal to what is generally termed archaeism -- the assumption that nothing happened between (whatever point is being cited in the distant past) and now In any event, so what if kneeling were- for the sake of the argument - a medieval practice? How long was the medieval period?

    The mistake, often promoted here, is that the Church began with the Council of Trent, and nothing before or after can be different. That is so wrongheaded, especially since it is no different than the same argument advanced by those who think the Church began with Vatican II. Perhaps it would be better to look at interior dispositions of the heart, rather than at externals. Now there is a radical concept!


    Charles,

    I don't know anyone who promotes the idea that the Church began with the Council of Trent, here or elsewhere. Interior dispositions are impossible to evaluate, but external posture is. One stands when the national anthem is played, out of respect. Often, people bow their heads in prayer, to represent a prayerful attitude, regardless of what is in the heart. The Holy Synod can't regulate internal dispositions. It is, of course, a good thing for people to be properly disposed.

    I should note, by the way, that in the Extraordinary Form, there are no rubrics about the posture of the lay faithful, only custom which governs such things.



  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,423
    I've never really understood the argument that runs like "everything before Vatican II is old fashioned and medieval, and we should just do it like they did before that."

    Wouldn't prior to old fashioned be, like, super old fashioned?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,641
    Exactly, Adam.

    CGZ, you are generally the one who chimes in and implies that all who don't subscribe to your views are unfaithful, not humble, and not devout enough. One only has to look back through your posts to pick up on that. Trent was the law of the land until Vatican II, but it isn't anymore. So quit trying to beat everyone over the head with it, since it is not a standard any of us working in the OF should follow. Those in the EF need to follow what is in the 1962 missal. It doesn't apply to anyone else. Some of us are not EF people and don't care whether you kneel or not, and don't look to you for approval or guidance. If kneeling makes you feel humble, or just superior, go ahead and do it. Why would anyone care? I certainly don't. I suspect you know exactly how long the medieval period existed.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,154
    ....then an actual communion hymn is sung - most often a solo, since the congregation refuses to sing while going to communion


    They're not clever enough, Charles. Flog them a bit more.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,897
    To get back to the original question on this thread, ghmus7 writes:
    I have been asked to put choral music in the place of the "communion meditation" in the Mass.


    Does this mean, ghmus7, that the practice at your church has been to sing a piece after the distribution of Holy Communion, and designate it as the "communion meditation" piece -- but it hasn't been choral music?

    Thanked by 2melofluent CHGiffen
  • Charles,

    You have raised the 1962 Missal, not I, in this case. I merely commented that said missal doesn't prescribe a posture for the laity at this or any point in the Mass.

    I don't know how you have come the opinion that I think I'm somehow holier than anyone else on this box-- and I will invite you (with Chonak's full-throated approval, I suspect) not to take up space here, but in private mail if you feel the need to vent.

    As to your claim that Trent was the law of the land until now, but...., you're attempting to get me to defend a claim I haven't made in the first place. I didn't claim that Vatican 2 was all wrong and Trent was all perfect. I merely stated that Vatican 2 documents can be read in a perfectly Catholic sense, but that these same documents can be read in a sense which provides a logical basis for the situation on the ground today.

    Neither you, nor anyone else on this combox is required to do anything on my authority
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,641
    They're not clever enough, Charles. Flog them a bit more.


    Oh, they are plenty clever enough, but are highly independent, and have always done as they pleased.

    To add a bit to this, there is some history at work here. A previous DM/organist refused to allow communion hymns for over 20 years. A couple of successors after him tried to introduce them. The congregation resisted by refusing to sing them. I have communion hymns, but don't try to force them on anyone. The hymns, in practice, are either cantor solos or choir pieces.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,641
    CGZ, no desire to vent, I have just seen clearly through your tactics. However, that bit about asking a choir to sing while kneeling was just too goofy to let go. If you are really doing that, they should rise up and ride you out of town on a rail. You are a lucky person to have survived this long. LOL.
  • I'm of the mindset that one communion hymn with a limited number of verses, followed by sacred silence (especially after distrubtion of Eucharist) is the way to go. Or, of course, delete the hymn completely and just go with the antiphon.
  • donr
    Posts: 969
    I tried sacred silence after communion, but our priest doesn't like everyone staring at him as he cleans the sacred vessels. He feels its more important to have a communion song that everyone can sing ( we do Salve Regina every week during OT).
    As far as a choral piece goes. I would just get the congregation familiar with the melodies of several good pieces, then when they are good and gel familiar with them add the choral arrangement with your choir. The Pips that feel the need to sing will sing with you.
    Thanked by 1Wendi