Offertory chant in the OF
  • IdeK
    Posts: 87

    I have heard a very interesting explanation about why the offertory chant isn't mentioned in the missal. It was a priest, well acquainted in the two forms of the rite, and liturgy professor at the foundational year of my diocese, that explained this :

    Apparently the reformers considered that originally the offertory chant was sung during the offerings procession, before it disappeared.

    The offertory rites we know, the medieval ones of the EF as well as the judaism-inspired ones of the OF, are, well, very different from a procession, even though there can be a procession in the OF.

    Thus, in the OF, the offertory chant should only be sung during the procession if there is one. If there is not, there shouldn't be any singing.

    The offertory rites are then to be said silently (even though there is possibility to say it aloud, which, I was told, should be done only in a very limited number of pastoral exceptions, such as Mass for children) by the priest, while the faithful participate by offering their own lives, also silently.

    I found that very interesting in theory, and, well, very unpractical to put in practice.
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,956
    Before our former pastor retired, I did offertory chants. He was elderly, had mobility issues, and I had plenty of time for music. Our newer pastor is younger and moves at a more rapid pace. If I do even a short anthem, he is standing behind the altar waiting for me to finish. I don't even try to do those chants because they are unworkable with the current liturgy and speedier pastor.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,182
    IdeK's priest acquaintance is on to a valid point: some of the proper chants (introit, offertory, communion) are meant to be sung during certain actions. The structure of these as an antiphon with verses makes it possible to sing the piece until the action is completed, and then stop.

    The GIRM is written with the assumption that there will be an offertory procession, and says that the Offertory Chant should be sung, at least until the gifts arrive at the altar (paragraph 74).
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  • Thus, in the OF, the offertory chant should only be sung during the procession if there is one. If there is not, there shouldn't be any singing.

    That would be news to abbeys of the Solesmes Congregation, where there often isn't a procession at the offertory, including at the abbey I'm attached to. Yet the offertory is sung every day...

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  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,411
    Thus, in the OF, the offertory chant should only be sung during the procession if there is one. If there is not, there shouldn't be any singing.
    That is directly contradictory to GIRM 74.-
    ... Singing may always accompany the rite at the Offertory, even when there is no procession with the gifts.
    The Preparation of the Gifts is very variable in length (Procession? Incensation?), but there is no need for celebrant and congregation to interact from the carrying of the sacred vessels to the altar until he invites them with "Orate fratres ...".
  • It's my understanding that most of what Bugnini and his henchmen (the correct term) said about ancient liturgy is hogwash. It's worth doing deeper digging to see if there was an actual "offertory procession" in ancient rites. One should bear in mind, too, that much like the tired example of St. Cyril of Jerusalem stating that communion happened in the hand, one aberration does not a rule make. One example of an offertory procession (as such) does not mean it was universal praxis. Also, the purpose of the propers is to provide a specific verse of scripture or prayer, often irrespective of the liturgical action of the celebrant. The actions of the priest and the chanting of the choir coexist beautifully but in often independent-yet-complementary fashion. I highly doubt the offertory chant was stripped away because of any procession or lack thereof. It was just one more baby thrown out with the tub. To my mind it is more likely that the offertory chants existed in their own right as appropriate thematic prayers and merely occurred in conjunction with action at the altar, but did not exist for the action at the altar.

    I'm curious if anyone knows more about this.
  • ServiamScores,

    You may very well be on to something. Imagine someone saying "let's compromise: we add the offertory procession, and you keep the Offertory chant, which therefore accompanies our offertory procession. If you oppose the procession, it's because you don't want the chant, since, as you can see, the chant accompanies the procession."

  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,956
    I would be careful in dismissing St. Cyril so lightly. He occupied a position higher than anyone here. It is fact that communion did happen in the hand in the earliest days. The good saint wouldn't have been inclined to follow liturgical rites and practices that developed over a thousand years after his time. We don't know he had that particular prophetic set of gifts.

    Oh Lord, you mean they didn't follow Tridentine Mass protocols and procedures in the 4th Century? How can that be?

    Well, it can be because that's the way it was. However, I have been told a fair amount of nonchalance if not disrespect developed from communion in the hand and that was a contributing factor in dropping it.

    As I have noted elsewhere, the Offertory has changed in recent NO times. It moves so fast I would have difficulty even fitting that Proper in. In essence, there often is no procession. YMMV, as the late CA sage would have said (may his memory be eternal), depending on your particular location and leadership.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 1,041
    Most of the time that the "offertory" takes is consumed by the collection, at least at Sunday Mass: passing the basket, ushers doing their thing. Nobody has brought that up yet.

    In every parish I have been at the sequence has been:
    1) congregation and clergy sit after the universal prayer (general intercessions)
    2) ushers proceed to the front of the pews with baskets to begin the collection
    3) choir begins the "offertory" song or an instrumental piece is played
    4) the priest sits and waits while the collection is being taken
    5) when the collection has been completed and the money placed in one large basket, the procession with gifts begins
    6) the priest stands and walks to the foot of the sanctuary
    7) members of the congregation bring forward the bread and wine and the chief usher carries the basket of money
    8) the priest receives the bread and wine, blesses or acknowledges the money basket with a nod, then proceeds to the altar and begins preparing the offerings
    9) if incense is used, that is done after the offerings have been prepared

    In my NO experience, there is a lot of time to complete a chant/song during the offertory. In fact, sometimes I think the whole thing takes too long, and it's primarily the collection that is to blame for taking so much time.
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  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,411
    @MarkB - quite so, and the Offertory chant can last through all nine of these steps. Thus the procedures permitted by GIRM can still mirror the EF structure. The clergy are doing the physical preparation for our foretaste of the heavenly banquet (and their own spiritual preparation) while the congregation is free to pursue their own spritual preparation, collectively by singing/listening or individually.
    As @ServiamScores hints there is a deficiency in the OF in not suggesting the spoken fall-back use of an Offertory verse, though personally at a weekday Mass I welcome the opportunity of silent reflection.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,956
    I should have noted that our weekday masses have no procession and no collection. We only do those things on Sundays. Time is still tight at offertory but not as much as during the week.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,411
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,956
    Jackson, he's using your dot.
  • IdeK
    Posts: 87
    I come back, having done further research.

    As it happens in France we have not only the GIRM, but a Cérémonial à l'usage des paroisses, which is a kind of explanation of the GIRM, from the bishop conference, for parish masses.

    It specifies that "during this time [the offerings procession], is sung either the Graduale romanum antiphon (...), or another suitable song. It is suitable that the song, or (...) an organ prolongation, be continued until the priest has washed his hands" (translation of my own).

    Thus the Cérémonial does specifically not agree with what the priest told on the other day.

    However, the Cérémonial also provides a very touching anecdote about ancient times offertory processions : the people were supposed to give from their own possessions, but the orphans taken care of by the church in Rome, of course, couldn't give from the possessions they didn't have. Thus they were granted the privilege of fetching the water for the Papal mass from the fountains of the town.

    And, I do agree with MarkB, with the collection and, sometimes the incense, there is lots of time to sing a hymn or an antiphon, provided you are not forbidden to sing during the blessings of the offerings.

    One last thing : the priest I am talking about does not deserve, as far as I know, to be compared to a "Bugnini henchman". He is very reverent, very careful of the liturgy, and I understand he offers Mass in the two forms. And most usually, I found him very much knowledgeable, so when he gave that piece of information, I thought it would be food for thought, since I had read someone wondering why the offertory antiphon had disappeared from the Missal. (No offence taken, though. I just thought it necessary to clear his untold name).

    Sorry, my message is way too long.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,182
    Too long? Oh, not at all. This isn't Twitter. :-)
    Thanked by 3CHGiffen tomjaw Elmar
  • What explains the length of time it takes to sing all of the full, melismatic Offertory verses? In a EF Missa Cantata with incensation, I can sing one of these verses. If I sing two or three of them, the priest will be waiting for me at the altar. Was the Offertory rite much longer way back when?
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,735
    @OffertoryVerses The Missa Cantata is not normative, we need to look at the Missa Solemnis (High Mass) with Deacon and Sub deacon, by the time you add in a Bishop, assisting priests and follow the older rubrics, you will have plenty of time to sing all the verses.

    At a normal EF Requiem we usually have time to sing all 4 verses of the Offertory, although that does depend on the priest some are much faster than others.
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  • OffertoryVerses,

    Many local details go into addressing this question.

    I sing in two EF choirs locally, so I'm in a position to draw some contrasts.

    In the one I don't direct, we usually sing one verse, rarely sing two verses and never (to my 10-yr recollection) sing three, when there is a third verse.

    In the one I direct, I usually sing 2, and sometimes sing 3. Rarely do I sing only 1.

    What are the differences which make such a stark contrast?

    1) The musicians take longer to assemble in the one I don't direct.
    2) The pace of the chant is slower in the one I don't direct.
    3) The choir, in the one I don't direct, tries to sing polyphony at both Offertory and Communion, which leaves less time for verses.

    4) …. a very minor difference in the speed at which the two priests speak their Latin.

    Tomjaw's comment posted while I was typing this, so let me add that the two Masses I'm involved in are usually the same: Missa Cantata, not Missa Solemnis. Even in the Missa Solemnis, there isn't usually time for more than 2 verses, in part because of what I have outlined above.
  • Elmar
    Posts: 503
    Thanks for all the insights concerning the chant/singing at offertory!

    Coming back to IdeK's original question
    ... why the offertory chant isn't mentioned in the missal ...

    ... I understood that Introit and Communio are still considered 'real' propers in the OF, while the Offertory isn't.

    See GIRM 47-48 for the Introit and GIRM 86-87 for the Communio (Universal-Latin and USA-English version are more or less identical):
    The Missal provides antiphons for these propers, to be recited in case there is no singing. These have been reworked for the Novus Ordo - with the result that even the adapted Graduale Romanum [1974] doesn't always match...
    Substitutes for the sung propers at Entrance and Communion that go beyond some well-defined cases - Graduale Romanum, Graduale Simplex, Missal - need approval by the Bishop(s' Conference).

    None of these restrictions apply for the text sung at Offertory (GIRM 74), the Graduale Romanum isn't even mentioned as 'first choice' [*]. And as reciting an Offertory antiphon, in absence of singing, wouldn't well match into the priest's prayers (btw, is that different in the EF?) there isn't any in the Missal.

    (P.S. I am a bit intrigued by the extensive use of "Chant" in the USA-GIRM for the Latin "cantus", but that is for a different thread.)

    [* edit: the reference to GIRM 48 could however be interpreted as not only referring to the way of singing, but also to what to sing]
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,411
    I understood that Introit and Communio are still considered 'real' propers in the OF, while the Offertory isn't.
    That is not my understanding, but I feel woefully ignorant of the reasons for the divergent treatment of these propers. I am aware of Bugnini's statement that one purpose of the new texts of the spoken propers was to stimulate the production of appropriate vernacular musical settings.
    Bugnini also says
    The offertory antiphon, on the other hand, may be omitted if it is not sung, because it then loses its value as an accompaniment to a procession and to the offertory rites; if it is simply read it would create a textual oveload of this part of the celebration (TRotL p.387)
    An argument that could be applied to the Communio when not sung, where in my experience many celebrants do not use it as prescribed, and indeed it often just comes across as a random text snippet.
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  • One last thing : the priest I am talking about does not deserve, as far as I know, to be compared to a "Bugnini henchman". He is very reverent, very careful of the liturgy, and I understand he offers Mass in the two forms.

    To be clear, I was not referencing your priest at all.. I was referring, in general terms, to historical persons who aided Bugnini in spreading his revisionist reforms. I'm sorry if my comment gave you that impression. There are many mistaken historical notions out there that were "weaponized" by those who fancied themselves reformers. The old adage, "an exception does not make the rule" seems to have been summarily dismissed by many liberal periti during VII and its aftermath. It is those persons to whom I was referring, not your priest.
  • I understood that the antiphons in the priests missal are spoken antiphons, for when there is no singing. as the priest is praying other prayers at the offertory there is no antiphon possible. but the sung antiphons, which are not necessarily the same, are contained in the Graduale Romanum, and do contain the offertory, as the these belong to the schola who do sing at the offertory. The idea of setting the spoken antiphons to music is a bit odd, i think, there are already given propers.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,411
    Yes there is a clear distinction between the Graduale texts and melodies, and the Missal texts of which IGMR says “Si ad introitum non habetur cantus, antiphona in Missali proposita recitatur … (IGMR#48)”. But we need to look at the origin of the Missal texts to interpret this fully.
    The Council called for the first place to be given to the treasury of Gregorian chant, the completion of the restoration of the chant and the provision (from the ancient sources) of simpler chants for small churches. (SC#117)
    They also called for a greater range of scripture at Mass (SC#51). That led to the three/two year lectionary, and the restructuring of the Temporal Calendar. Which in turn gave the opening for a greater range of texts to be used as antiphons.
    And, importantly, the opening up to the vernacular.

    So we have proper texts and melodies – in Latin. The Church does not want neo-Gregorian melodies. But in other languages we do not have music for the propers. Apparently the Consilium intended the revised/new antiphons to provide inspiration for settings for vernacular propers.
    I regard it as a deficiency in IGMR/GIRM that it does not mention the language of celebration. There is no clue as to whether when speaking of GR and GS they refer only to the Latin originals.
    NB the US GIRM (uniquely AFAIK) does envisage singing the Missal texts.
    Thanked by 3CHGiffen Elmar CharlesW