Dismissal of Children
  • ncicero
    Posts: 38
    Hi all,

    I just recently started as Director of Music at a parish, and I've been taking stock of what is there musically before I make any major changes.

    Currently we have a "Children's Liturgy of the Word" as part of our "large" Sunday Mass, and the previous director had taken to singing a short refrain (found in Gather Comprehensive 2 by Bob Batastini.....ugh) as the children were being dismissed and walking out of the sanctuary. It's about as cheesy and musically dull as you may imagine.

    My question is, is there a provision for this type of thing anywhere in any documents? If so, is there an appropriate text for the occasion? Any musically and liturgically appropriate settings? I'm looking forward to hearing other's experiences with such a thing!
  • I've never encountered this unfortunate practice in the Catholic Church, but it used to be a commonplace in many Episcopal churches. The children were dismissed after the pro-anaphora to have 'Sunday School' whilst the adults remained for the anophora. I always felt deprived, and resented not being able to stay for the whole service.

    This is very poor catechesis of the children.
  • ClemensRomanusClemensRomanus
    Posts: 1,023
    It is licit, though it’s been a while since I’ve seen such. There’s even a Lectionary just for these children’s liturgies of the word. I’ll check it this afternoon to see if there’s an official text for the dismissal, but I’m pretty sure it’s a “these or similar words” type of deal. I bet you could adapt the Ambrosian competentes dismissal chant, or even find something in the repertoire for it.
  • Bobby Bolin
    Posts: 417
    A local parish plays "Go forth and listen to God's Word" or something like that. I hate how we have to simplify things for children. They are capable of a lot more than we give them credit for.
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,167
    There is no provision in the Missal or the rubrics for a dismissal of children or anyone else during the rite, not at the Liturgy of the Word, nor at any other time. There is no text, no rubric, and no tradition for doing this.

    At our parish it used to be done with singing Come and Journey With A Saviour, to the Sacred Harp tune called Beach Spring. They come back (usually) by tagging along behind the Offertory procession. We no longer sing for this, but the priest inserts an informal invitation and the little ones gather at the transept and are sent out.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,409
    There is no text, no rubric, and no tradition for doing this.
    Not for children perhaps, but there is in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. I don't have a copy to hand, and am not sure about text, but Catechumens are dismissed after the homily, along with their catechists, for instruction. The tradition, newly restored now that not everyone is baptised, is very ancient, normal in St Ambrose's time, when, as now, many people were pagans.
    And the Directory for Masses with Children says, #17
    ... Sometimes, moreover, if the place itself and the nature of the community permit, it will be appropriate to celebrate the liturgy of the word, including a homily, with the children in a separate, but not too distant, room. ...
    Just as with the Ceremony of Bishops, there are rubrics not placed in the Missal.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Way back in the day this was done at the parish where I served 26 years. When I inherited this practice I immediately jettisoned the treacly tune that was employed prior, and simply exhibited the responsorial melody with improvisation. Eventually the situation was relieved by a pastoral change.
  • cmbearer
    Posts: 74
    At my parish, the Deacon announces, “all those children who wish to hear the Word of God, please come forward...”

    It makes me wonder what he thinks the rest of us will be doing, when the children are escorted out to “hear the Word of God”!

    We sing a song that was specifically composed just for such a dismissal. I cannot remember the composer off the top of my head, but the text goes something like this: let the children hear the Word of God, let the children heard God’s Word etc.
  • Permitted/not permitted...... we have bishops in Germany who want non-Catholic spouses and those in open violation of the 6th Commandment to receive Holy Communion, and we're asking what's permitted? Oh,.... wait a minute … tinkering with the liturgy is, in the Ordo of Paul VI, normal, even normative.

    Fundamentally, dismissing the children so they can listen to the Word of God proceeds from the catechetical view of the Mass. Instead of an act of worship, Mass is (in this view) about educating people. Children, therefore, kinda-sorta-logically should be separated from the rest of everyone so that whatever the "message" is can be brought down to their level.

    Bad understanding of children. Bad understanding of liturgy. Licit or not, it's a really bad idea.
    Thanked by 2Carol MNadalin
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,501
    A parish priest once told me that he hated the dismissal of children, however he believed he would be known as the priest who hates kids if he banned the "children's liturgy."
    Thanked by 1MNadalin
  • Canadash,

    I wish you could get in a TARDIS and travel back to whatever point is necessary to correct this misunderstanding. Sure, children like playing. Some play Mass, some play house, some play Cops and Robbers (or Cowboys and Indians or whatever). They're learning about being adults in their simple, playful way. One reason the older form of the liturgy is so much better for children is that it gives their imagination something to consider while it's giving them the framework in which to worship God.


    Years ago I accepted the really bad advice that I should run a children's choir like a day camp, with non-stop pep, caffeine and sugar, or the musical equivalent thereof. After a very short time, the children were miserable and I was exhausted. When I put them on the schedule to sing for Mass, everything improved. When I changed what music they were learning and how they were learning it, more than everything improved. Sure, they were kids, but they were childlike, not childish.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Carol
    Posts: 856
    Children recognize good music and good liturgy. They are drawn to the sacred and will learn from good role models. Keep families together at Mass and teach about the Mass in religious instruction, preferably daily in Catholic school. Homilies should always be appropriate for all ages, so why send the children away? If parents expect their children to behave properly at Mass they will learn to behave properly at Mass.
  • ClemensRomanusClemensRomanus
    Posts: 1,023
    I forgot my books are all packed up for our move to a new house, so I couldn’t check it. I did find this, though. Hope it helps.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 1,155
    Our Bishop forbade the practice about a decade ago.