Should Lector Intone the Response (as well as the Psalm)?
  • jle
    Posts: 2
    Please forgive me if I am placing this in the wrong category. I lectored tonight for the first time in years and was asked after Mass by the Pastor to intone the Response to the Responsorial Psalm as well as reading the Psalm. I had been trained in the past not to do this - had been told that was the congregation's part to respond (with the antiphon). The Pastor said the people won't remember the antiphon if the lector doesn't intone it between each strophe. I couldn't find anything in the GIRM that directly relates to this issue and think the training I had on this was from a Priest / Liturgist. Do any of you know of anything written on this that you could refer me to? Thank you and God bless you.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,734
    You raise an interesting point. On one hand, the GIRM (in section 61) does not explicitly direct the cantor of the psalm to sing the antiphon. Yet in practice this is always done.

    Perhaps we should look at the role of the cantor in general. GIRM (section 104) says:

    It is fitting that there be a cantor or a choir director to direct and support the people’s singing. Indeed, when there is no choir, it is up to the cantor to direct the different chants, with the people taking the part proper to them.

    The function of "supporting" the people's singing means that the cantor sings the people's parts, providing a model for the congregation. Without his singing of the responsorial psalm antiphon, it's going to be particularly difficult for the congregation to learn its melody.
    Thanked by 1Cailín Ceol Naofa
  • Serious question (though I recognize that it sounds snarky):

    Why would the cantor intone the antiphon before each iteration by the congregation? Wouldn't that overly lengthen Mass, and make more un-necessary ministers of holy communion necessary?
  • @Chris, I think that the pastor means for jle to lead the singing of the response by singing also, not singing it so the congregation can sing back each time.
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  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 521
    Generally speaking in my experience the organist will intone the response then the cantor sings so the church can hear it and then the cantor brings everyone in repeating the response. The cantor then sings the first psalm and he brings everyone in on the response. This continues until all the psalms are sung. The cantor sings everything regardless of what the congregation is doing.

    If there is no organist and the cantor is comfortable with intonation he should sing the responce just the same as if there was an organist. If the cantor is uncomfortable with doing this then the response and psalm are recited usually by the lector. In my parish we will go over the response with the congregation before Mass if it is deemed particularly difficult or if the congregation does not have the music or words.

  • RevAMG
    Posts: 154
    If the congregation does not have the text and/or music in front of them, having the cantor "sing along" or at least lead the congregation in the response is something beneficial. Depending on the musical arrangement of the response, the musical prowess of the congregation, and the size of the congregation, it might be necessary for the cantor to lead the congregation this way. I know in my own parish, if the cantor did not lead the response each time, there would be nothing but a bunch of accompanied mumbling from the congregation.
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  • jle
    Posts: 2
    Thank you all for your responses. I realize I am probably not using correct vocabulary. I was serving as a lector - I am not a cantor, although I would love for God to give me the gift to sing well! This was for a daily Mass, and I was reading the first reading and the Responsorial Psalm. I have been taught that the Responsorial Psalm is an antiphonal model - the lector reads (or cantor sings) the antiphon once, then the congregation repeats the antiphon. Then the lector reads (or cantor sings) each strophe of the Psalm (or other scripture) and the congregation responds to each strophe with the antiphon. As the lector, I was taught not to respond along with the congregation, that that was "their part". If there is not clear directive I think it is probably best for me to acquiesce to the good pastor's request. :-) God bless you all and grant you all a very Blessed Christmas Season in the joy and peace of the Christ child!
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,183
    I see what you're asking, and as someone who usually goes to 2 daily Masses per week with my toddlers, I often find it beneficial for the lector to go ahead and repeat the antiphon through the mic/aloud after each psalm verse. Sometimes the words are much harder to remember when not set to music, especially if it is a particularly long antiphon and/or not the fall-back psalms we hear (at least) 10+ times per year.
    It's really the same as the cantor repeating it each time. If you didn't repeat it, then perhaps no one would, and they'd all sit there staring at you to do something else, instead.
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  • fcbfcb
    Posts: 283
    Whether sung or said, it seems to me that it is useful to have the cantor repeat the antiphon with the congregation, if for no other reason than to bring everyone in at the same time (I think this is less of a problem with the short invariable dialogues because everyone is responding to the same thing every time and you have a sense of the rhythm). And I feel your pain on the long psalm responses. Sometimes I feel like I'm engaged in a memory test.
    Thanked by 1canadash
  • JLE,

    Sing (or don't sing) - speak (or don't speak) away from the microphone if you're joining the congregation.