Music During Offertory (OF)
  • EvaS
    Posts: 19
    To those of you who program a chant and a hymn/motet/anthem at Offertory, do you usually sing the chant first? That's the way I've been presenting the Offertory music in the last few years. Recently, I've been asked to change the order at the principal Mass so the chanting is done later, accompanying the incensation. How do you feel about this?
  • Paul F. Ford
    Posts: 850
    Not a bad idea, really. Chant is like musical incense.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,581
    In the EF the Offertory Proper needs to be sung before a motet. For the O.F. ???
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,832
    In the OF, there is no such rule. Whatever music is going to be offered starts as the people sit after the Prayers of the Faithful (GIRM 139). If there is music, the formulas of blessing (the ones to which the people respond, Blessed be God forever) are to be said quietly - they are only supposed to be said aloud if there is no music (GIRM 142), an instruction that is not necessarily reliably followed.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw Carol
  • Antiphon first
    Anthem-Motet or Hymn second

    But Paul has a very interesting and compelling observation.

    It occurs to me that -

    Since most scholars now agree that the Offertory was originally responsorial and not antiphonal, we should be referring to the Offertory Responsory, not the Offertory Antiphon. And, as Antiphons and Responsories are two entirely different things, as are antiphonal psalmody and responsorial psalmody, this is an important distinction to make.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,273
    My first thought: I don't like it. I think the proper should be sung first, and then "extra" music.

    My second thought: I suppose this could be more flexible. You'll get the whole choral piece in for sure, and then you can sing the proper chant + psalm verses as long as it takes for the incensing to conclude. Maybe it'd be okay...
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,129
    We have been singing the hymn first and then the proper antiphon. There are several reasons why this works better. Some of the reasons are more defensible than others.

    We sing the introit, offertory, and communion from Rice's Simple Choral Gradual : despite the obsolete translation.

    First: the people , for whom sung proper is at present somewhat unfamiliar, are very used to singing a hymn immediately after the Prayers of the Faithful.

    Second: the collecting of the people 's offerings is not a very liturgical activity, so it's well accompanied by a hymn. The GIRM doesn't really acknowledge that "collection" as a liturgical action.

    Third: the "Offertory procession" really is a liturgical action (although an invention of the novus ordo), so it is well accompanied by liturgical chant.

    Fourth: the Offertory chant is variable in length, if you have psalm verses ready to hand, and so is flexibly adapted to eg censing the oblation, and / or censing the people. But a hymn once chosen has a fixed length. (At our place, there is quite a bit resistance to the practice of winding up a hymn before the verses have all been sung.)

    Fifth: I concur with Paul's observation and happy phrase "musical incense" , and I've found it "effective" (ie aesthetically and spiritually pleasing) to be singing psalms at the moment of the actual procession, offertory actions, and priest's silent prayers at the altar.
  • Palestrina
    Posts: 356
    M. Jackson Osborn, I’d be most interested to read the scholarship on the responsorial offertory if you could recommend any articles. Please do post anything that I could look up!
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,581
    Is this an example of a Responsorial offertory?

    If so it has a similar structure to the Responsories found in the Divine Office.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,278
    There is a brief discussion of the Offertories, and the loss of the verses and hence of the responsory structure by Dobszay in The Restoration and Organic Development of the Roman Rite. Dobszay dates the loss of verses to the 12th &13th centuries, and regrets it.
    The CMAA pdfs include the Offertoriale produced by Karl Ott in 1935, which gives verses throughout the year, in which the responsory structure is fully evident. The next item in CMAA's page is a handy source of one verse for each, by Richard Rice. There is also an Offertoriale Triplex, not so easy to get hold of but here, allegedly digitized by U.Michigan ¿but not available?. The Offertories with verses are also avaliable in English, in the Processional produced by the Society of Saint Gregory in England.
  • An exhaustive treatment of the offertory is Inside the Offertory: Aspects of Chronology and Transmission, by Rebecca Maloy, Oxford Univ. Press.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,259
    We always sing/chant the offertory, before any Motet or hymn.

    The GIRM says:
    74. The procession bringing the gifts is accompanied by the Offertory Chant (cf. no. 37 b), which continues at least until the gifts have been placed on the altar. The norms on the manner of singing are the same as for the Entrance Chant (cf. no. 48). Singing may always accompany the rite at the Offertory, even when there is no procession with the gifts.

    Given the above, it does seem like it would make more sense to sing a hymn or Motet, ending once the procession of gifts is about to occur, in order to sing/chant the proper at that time.

    Also, the referenced #48 only gives the option of chanting or singing the proper introit (or other suitable chant) as an option "at the Entrance," and not the option of a so-called "gathering hymn."
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,832
    The use of the word "chant" in that context has already been scrubbed vigorously back after 2011, and does not have a restrictive connotation just implied. (One clue: if it did, it would likewise prohibit polyphonic settings of the offertory.)
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,259
    It's still the current word published in the GIRM at

    I wasn't suggesting that it must be chanted, but that it must be something that could be and/or originally was - as opposed to most "hymns" or "songs."
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,832
    No. That might be your personal interpretation but it's not the governing one. The word shift in the translation does not carry a restrictive substantive shift. That's the interpretive issue I meant was scrubbed (not the word itself).
  • For what it's worth, where I'm stationed:

    • At the anticipated Sunday NO (no incense offered) is sung the Offertory chant without verses (no incensation of the altar).
    • At the TLM (usually sung with incense offered) is sung the Offertory chant plus one or more verses out of the Offertoriale and the appropriate respond.
    • At the Sunday NO (with incense offered) is sung the Offertory chant without verses, followed by a motet. (This should answer your first question.)

    As far as the second question goes, I don't feel a thing.
  • Tournemire
    Posts: 74
    At the Oakland Cathedral for OF we always do a motet followed by the chant (which then usually accompanies the incensing.)
  • ViolaViola
    Posts: 377
    We do a motet followed by the antiphon. But we don't start the motet until the collection is finished, and the motet then accompanies the Offertory procession. The organist improvises during the collection.
    What do other people do during the collection? Actully, I feel it is a real nuisance because people are fiddling around for change, or donation envelopes and not paying attention to anything else.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,891
    I was told some years ago to drop the offertory hymn and play or have the choir sing. The priest's reasoning was that it inhibited people from giving. I guess you can't get to your wallet when you have a hymnal in your hands.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,083
    Perhaps an opportunity to introduce a choral offertory proper?