singing at Mass
  • Pax!
    How do we know when the choir or congregation should sing?
  • Thread abandoned due to a premature Missal strike by Adam.
  • A (more or less) complete answer to your question can be had by studying the "General Instruction of the Roman Missal" (the "GIRM"), particularly 39-41 and 46-90 (passim).

    More general norms can be found in the 1967 instruction Musicam Sacram, (esp. 16-36), which you can find here.
  • This is not a church document, but might serve your need.

    All of these may be sung by choir and/or congregation:

    In Latin or English (or the local vernacular):

    1. Kyrie
    2. Gloria
    3. Credo*
    4. Sanctus
    5. Agnus Dei

    This must be sung or omitted:

    6. Gospel Alleluia - sung by a cantor with choir and people responding.

    This may be sung or spoken:

    7. The Psalm - often sung by a cantor with choir and people singing a repeated response.

    8. Entrance Procession**
    9. Offertory Procession
    10. Communion Procession

    11. The Exit Hymn***

    *Often spoken (due to time constraints), but can be effectively chanted on one note.

    **The processions have text assigned to them to be sung. However, modern practice has been to replace them with hymns, which is permitted. The Processions texts are sung with a repeated antiphon, followed by psalm verses, making it very simple to end the singing as the Mass continues.

    ***A recent addition and not covered by church documents since it is not part of the Mass.
  • Credo, for example, is sung antiphonal. The choir sings one part and then the congregation sings the next part and so on. That's how I understand it. Then how do we know what part the congregation should sing?

    The exit hymn? Shouldn't the Liturgy end with the Marian antiphon?
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,787
    HH: the references above are sufficient. Local practice may vary, but that is not to canonize local practice. Do not confuse "shall" or "should" with "may"; the distinction is important.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    Henrik: the credo may be sung antiphonially. Also, the Marian antiphon, while a laudable tradition, is not required (or even found in church documents as a recommended usage, if I recall).
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • G
    Posts: 1,388
    I thought the wording in the latest General Instruction anent the "Alleluia" was that it MAY be omitted if not sung.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,325
    And, as I keep pointing out: if you sing it, you cannot also omit it.

    [-1 for obfuscation.--admin]
  • So Adam, you are saying that the actual rule is that it may be omitted if not spoken?
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,206
    Oh, for crying out loud. Either it is omitted or it is not, and if it is not omitted it may be sung or it may be spoken. End of story.
    Thanked by 1Ben Yanke
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,519
    The rubric in the Graduale Romanum for the chants between the reading on ferias (when there are only two readings) is that one choses to sing either the Gradual, the Alleluia, or Both; during Lent the Gradual is sung, only; and during Paschal-tide one choses either of the two Alleluias. The Instruction in the Missal/Lectionary is basically saying the same thing: if there are only two readings, only one of the 'chants between the readings' need be sung/said.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Ignoto
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,325
    The above comment is a joke based on how the wording is put:
    "If not sung, it may be omitted."

    The obvious implication of this is: If you sing it, you can not also omit it.
    Thanked by 1Ignoto
  • Ignoto
    Posts: 126
    Regarding the Missal/Lectionary, I agree with Salieri. Here is my understanding:

    The Alleluia must be sung.

    EXCEPTION: If there is only one reading before the Gospel, it may be omitted.
    The Alleluia must be sung unless there is only one reading before the Gospel (cf. 1981 OLM #90 "The chant between the second reading and the Gospel...").

    CONCLUSION: At a Sunday Mass, the Alleluia/Lenten Gospel Acclamation must be sung.


    •You must not omit the Alleluia/Lenten Gospel Acclamation at a Sunday Mass.

    •You may omit the Alleluia/Lenten Gospel Acclamation on the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter on Feb. 22, since there is only one reading before the Gospel.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,787
    Acquit the omit if it does not fit.
  • So which book should I read in order to get to know more about my question?
    I may need to add that I am mostly thinking about Gregorian chant...
  • There is nothing that "must be sung" at any Mass, Sunday or weekday..

    The Gospel Alleluia only to be sung and may not be spoken - so if there is no one to sing it, cut it.

    We really need to abandon the idea that there must by music and or singing at Mass. That becomes a starting point for revising the liturgy, not singing the propers.

    Get rid of the need for a cantor spewing a responsorial psalm and gospel alleluia and then ban lay people from doing the readings, put the readings back into the mouth of the priest and get rid of him sitting and watching the Mass proceed when he should be leading it.

    Priests have handed the liturgy to people who know nothing about it, people who have not given their lives to study and preparation. Altar boys in the 1950's had more commitment to being at Mass than laypeople doing the readings...not to mention the ridiculous "extraordinary ministers of the eucharist". The parish I was at had the bizarre practice of a person standing up front and hold fingers up during the Agnes Dei to indicate how many EMOTE they were short that Mass....if people do not show up when assigned to distribute the Eucharist, it shows how little respect and understanding of the presence of Christ in the eucharist...and this practice must be halted.

    It is difficult to admire lay people in the pulpit with their imperfections, the imperfections of all of us.

    A priest with human failings is still a person who has given up much to be a priest and as a result, can be admired. A priest who is know to be a drunk rises above that to say a Mass and is respected.

    The people need never sing at Mass. They should be silent. If they sing it should be the ordinary parts of the Mass first, 1-5 above. Once they are comfortable doing that then a small choir should sing the propers during the processions.

    Then, at the main Sunday Mass, the Alleluia and Psalm should be sung. The people should sing the Alleluia, but not the psalm antiphon. Sung parts of the Mass that change should never be sung by the congregation, for this creates a situation in which there is no true full participation by the people since many will not sing the changing parts.

    That's what Vatican II was all about, full participation by all. Anything that people will not do freely HAS to be omitted - and singing of changing parts is definitely one of them.

    This may sound like BS, but attend ANY church and listen to the people. They WILL respond with spoken responses. They all will not sing them.

    The church has always been practical. The practice of singing the Psalm antiphon is not a practical practice.

    [played a silent movie last night. Got a black and white film of the 48 star American flag being raised and waving on the screen, invited the people to stand and sing the national anthem. Every person stood up and sang. Any more questions?]

    People will sing things they know due to repetition. Changing the ordinary music a couple of times a year will cause a drop in participation. Changing every week means that most people will not sing and ante not included in the Mass.

    Thanked by 1dad29
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    I don't I agree with this at all, noel. The sung liturgy is the highest form, and there should be singing, if possible, at Mass, especially the dialogs and the ordinary.
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,438
    I beg to differ, Noel. I know everyone has a different experience, but the congregation at our small EF Missa Cantata sing the Ordinary and the opening and closing hymn, the Marian antiphon and all of the sung responses with great enthusiasm.

    Some of them have also begun singing the Communion antiphon which we always sing with a few verses. We sing a different Mass setting every month, and the people do a great job singing along. We have learned close to ten chant Masses settings in four years.

    Two things which help a great deal I think: First, we're in a small chapel, and the schola is located with the people in the nave (see part of our schola below preparing for Mass.)

    image

    Second, our handout which I think is key in helping the people feel they are welcome to sing along. A number of people have told me just seeing the chant every week has helped demystify it and they are beginning to understand how the notes "go up and down."
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Calm down, God's in His heaven, all will be well.
    I would suspect Noel's screed was proffered in extremis, and to exaggerate the paradoxes aplenty afoot in the documents, the choirs and the pews. In a quantum universe there are no absolutes, and so trying to superimpose an absolute, even the word "absolute," into the realm of ritual and mystery/mysitical is, to me, a fool's errand.
    Those among us who wish to truly dwell in absolutisms regarding these things that we believe, say and do, are free to pursue them and then share them to whomever wants to follow and share in the discipline. I call that having life in abundance. But ritual absolutism, in the wrong mind and hand, can become ritual autocracy. That concept I believe to be foreign and alien to catholicism. And it is, again, only a concept.
  • WHS.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,325
    @JulieColl

    I've said it before (I think)- What you describe as going on up there strikes me as just completely amazing. I really I hope I have the opportunity to visit and worship with you all.
    Thanked by 1JulieColl
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Is that first initial standing for "What H____S____!?" Hey, just trying to help a fellow ol' hippy bro' out. I shoulda known not to channel my inner Sartre, Kierkegaard, Hawking! Slowly walking backwards out of the room.....
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,948
    henrik.hank, unsatisfying as it may be to say this, there isn't a single source to which one can go for all the relevant info.

    And there's a good reason for this: many issues of musical practice are matters of custom and usage that may not be stated in any official document. Some customs are practically worldwide, while some are only practiced in some countries.

    The most useful documents related to the modern form of Mass are
    (1) the GIRM, especially chapter two
    (2) Musicam Sacram (1967)
    (3) The introduction to "Ordo Cantus Missae"

    These documents leave some questions unanswered; and some answers have been given in the official "Notitiae" newsletter from the Congregation for Divine Worship. Also, some questions have been answered on a national level by the USCCB Committee for Divine Worship (see the back issues of that office's newsletter).
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,325
    @JulieColl

    Have you recorded audio and/or video?

  • What He Said!

    I was agreeing with what you said!

    JC, in a parish where havoc is the norm, abandoning ALL efforts and beginning from Silence would be a great step forward. I assume the Henrik is at an OF parish. since what the people and choir should sing is clearly defined by historical practice and heavy documentation in easy and complex form.

    In an OF parish, which proceeds based upon hysterical practice, throwing out the burnt stew is always better than trying to cover up the burnt flavor.

    Ben, you are absolutely right...that should be the goal. Getting there in an OF parish can be impossible, especially when the local bishop creates a Sunday afternoon ghetto existence for EF groups, draining the few people in most parishes that would stand up for authentic liturgies. You can count on US Bishops to find ways to twist decisions from Rome into achieving their local goals of bending backwards to keep contributions coming in instead of inspiring people to give.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,108
    meloCharles, I thought it was "What He Said." I thought Noel was agreeing with you. FWIW.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,108
    Ha! Noel beat me to it!
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,438
    @AdamWood God bless! So kind of you. If you're ever in NYC hope you visit and we'll all go out on the town and show you Texans how to party. : )
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Ben, you are absolutely right...that should be the goal. Getting there in an OF parish can be impossible

    I refer everyone to Fr. Thomas Kocik's amazingly insightful article posted today about "how we got here" regarding participatio actuosa over at NLM. Then you can get an equally clear (though oblique) opposite POV from PTB commentariat (read "Ruff/Inwood") in the Reid/Grillo thread.
    Thanked by 1Ben Yanke
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,438
    especially when the local bishop creates a Sunday afternoon ghetto existence for EF groups, draining the few people in most parishes that would stand up for authentic liturgies.


    This struck home. I agree; going to the EF Mass in a cemetery is about as far away from the mainstream as one can get, but, believe me, we stayed in our own OF parish as long as we could before fleeing for our spiritual lives and sanity.

    One of the many reasons I'm so grateful for this forum is the opportunity to stay connected, as much as is possible, with other Catholics, and discovering that there is definitely a consensus among the members as to what constitutes authentic liturgy, even though it may have many different expressions.

    Until (and it may never occur, and maybe it isn't necessary and or desirable) there is some sort of official "liturgical reconciliation" between the two forms of the Roman rite, as Pope Benedict sometimes referred to, it's important for people to know that there is already in practice a general liturgical "ballpark" around which Catholic musicians should hover and not stray too far from.
    Thanked by 1gregp
  • I'm currently working on improving the atate of liturgical music in a parish. It currently has a different "choir" each week and each wek there is a different ordinary and vastly different "hymns" most of which bear no relation to the liturgy.

    At the moment one person is constantly pushing for piano and guitars for contemporary stuff (Hillsong) which is at odds with the psrish priest's instructions.

    I'm lucky that my instructions have been to use one mass ordinary, which the parish has standardised for all masses, and a mixture of traditional and newer hymns which the congregation will know and sing.
  • I actually attend both forms of the Roman rite (although a non-Catholic).
    My question was actually about Gregorian chant. But please have your nice debate...
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,948
    Oh. You didn't mention Gregorian chant.

    Would it help if you pose the question again in a more specific way?