Omitting Preparation/Communion Hymns
  • PaixGioiaAmorPaixGioiaAmor
    Posts: 1,473
    Many here seem to be supportive of ditching the Preparation and Communion Hymns. I have certainly used instrumental music at preparation a great deal.

    Here's my quandry: In a re-reading of the GIRM, I am having trouble finding justification for the practice. The GIRM says that the offertory chant is sung; the only illusion it makes to anything else is to say that "even when the gifts are not brought up, the rite may still be accompanied by singing". This seems to suggest that there are times it could not be; but it doesn't directly say this. Now, I know the CHOIR can sing the proper or another text during that time, since this need not be congregational - but I am hard-pressed to find justification for INSTRUMENTAL music.

    The exact same as the above can be said about Communion, where the GIRM says "The Communion chant is begun when the priest receives communion." Of course the choir alone can sing the chant, but what about instrumental music? This seems to not be condoned.

    Sing to the Lord BRIEFlY mentions in one sentence about the Preparation that "instrumental music is also appropriate". This seems to contradict the GIRM.

    Your thoughts? Am I missing something?
  • smvanroodesmvanroode
    Posts: 978
    The Ordo Missae in the Missale Romanum says (no. 23 and 25): "Si vero cantus ad offertorium non peragitur, sacerdoti licet haec verba elata voce proferre; in fine populus acclamare potest:" ("If, however, the Offertory Chant is not sung, the Priest may speak these words aloud; at the end, the people may acclaim:"). This means that the Offertory may be skipped.

    As far as I know, the Communion Chant is always sung.

  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,956
    I dropped offertory hymns some time ago and no one has complained. The congregation generally thought 4 hymns were too many, and someone even commented, "You are singng us to death." I think we musicians forget everyone is not dying to sing something at every moment. I use varying combinations of solos, choir pieces, and organ pieces during that time, along with some silence. I did reinstate sung English communion antiphons a few month ago and they have been hugely successful. They are followed by a communion hymn, or sometimes a choir selection. Around communion time, organ solos are generally used as "cover" while the choir receives communion, or while the second offering is being taken after communion.
  • The more we require them to sing, the less they sing. The GIRM and the USCCB ignore adding the provision that the recommendations apply to the monastic level and, as always, the local parish is not expected to frustrate the people by expecting them to do what a monastery would do.

    The local parish should do all that it can to do so, but not when it creates a music program for the Mass which is full of trash in order to fulfill the bizarre idea that all Masses each weekend should have the same music and all should be equally poor as a result.

    The problem is THEY. Reducing the amount of music that THEY have to sing and increasing how much a schola, even a tiny one does sing can improve every Mass. This, however, is very hard to do, primarily because of the objections of the new pseudo-clerical office, the cantor.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,956
    See, I don't understand this. The cantors are not in charge - at least mine aren't. They lead singing on the parts that are listed on the program for them to lead, or that have my approval for them to lead. They don't add or take away anything. They don't plan the music. From time to time one will sing a solo at offertory, but that's planned, too.

    I have even concluded that at the average mass, there is sometimes too much congregational singing. At least it's more than I would want to do if I were in the congregation. Scholas and choirs have a legitimate place in the liturgy, and I certainly use them, along with the organ - it has a legitimate place, too.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    I think when a document says "communion chant" it means the actual communion chant. The fact that a hymn may licitly be used in its place does not elevate the hymn to the same level of importance. You need not ask permission not to sing a hymn that is only taking the place of the chant to begin with.
  • marajoymarajoy
    Posts: 781
    Come on people, PaixGioaAmor is *not* asking about whether it is appropriate to SING or not at these places, the question asked is whether it is OK to use *instrumental music* at that point instead. An excellent question which I have never really considered before, although I have certainly done that. While STTL allows it, what about the vagueness of the other documents?
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    The GIRM and the USCCB ignore adding the provision that the recommendations apply to the monastic level and, as always, the local parish is not expected to frustrate the people by expecting them to do what a monastery would do.

    The local parish should do all that it can to do so, but not when it creates a music program for the Mass which is full of trash in order to fulfill the bizarre idea that all Masses each weekend should have the same music and all should be equally poor as a result.

    Spot on, Noel. I may not agree with many of your conclusions regarding this, but I do agree wholeheartedly with your principles. At a previous job, I was asked to play for the feast of St. Joseph, which the parishioners appreciated. I told the priest that, given the short length of the Mass, number of people attending, and a total of one St. Joseph hymn in the hymnal, I would use a hymn at the beginning and the end of Mass and chant the offertory and communion antiphons. He gave the matter some thought, and asked that I only chant the communion and use three hymns. I pointed out that the congregation wasn't sizable enough to sing nor was there a large selection of apt hymns. His decision stood. (NOTE: this priest is a superb and holy defender of sacred music who was merely acquiescing to the reality of the congregation's expectations. I will not countenance ANY criticism of him.)

    This idea that the congregation sings everything all the time means that we wind up with these summer Masses where you have one or two good hymns that aptly replace the propers, and 2 or 3 hymns that at best may be of high quality but totally unrelated to the rest of the Mass.

    This is not a tangent because this is why many of us choose to program instrumental music. But I too must question if this is liturgically correct. There are 4 options for these 3 proper-correlated events, and NONE of those options is "the organist may play whatever he likes." Now, I've done it, and I wouldn't feel bad about doing it again. But I question whether it's a licit activity according to the legislation of the OF Mass.
  • Who has a link to that GHASTLY playing of a Hammond Organ playing the Mediation from Thais during the consecration by the lady in Brazil?
  • eeegads, Thais at communion? only in Brazil!! que pasa! if it exists that link, would make for a true grin on my part.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,956
    I hadn't heard the Meditation from Thais - an OK piece of music, just not so for church - so I must have missed that link. I did find photocopies in my file cabinets with words set to Edelweiss. After getting over the shock that one of my predecessors would do something that totally asinine, I realized the copies were illegal and tossed them.
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    "At least it's more than I would want to do if I were in the congregation."

    As a Byzantine, you say that? I'm surprised, actually.

    I guess not all Eastern parishes are alike, but I notice a lot more congregational singing in Orthodox churches, and eastern liturgies are usually a lot longer and have a lot more congregational parts. I guess there are some places I've been, though, which mostly leave singing up to the choir. I'm usually in the choir, so I don't always notice.
  • To get to your quandry~
    In the Ordinary Form, Offertory and Communion chants (or hymns used as substitutes) serve a liturgical function- to cover the liturgical action, which is the procession in both cases. (Even though sometimes gifts are not brought up during the Offertory.)

    Singing can take place during the processions as long as possible, for the duration of the chant, and verses can be added to prolong the singing (Communio is designed for this). Then the time can be filled out with instrumental music. Organ improvisation is especially useful, and beautifully suited to this purpose.

    Having ONLY instrumental music at the Offertory or Communion is not listed as one of the four options, so I think you are correct that this is problematic. Not that I wouldn't *prefer* to hear the organ played over some mediocre or theologically flabby hymn, but in fact that is not an option in the GIRM. SttL does not contradict this if you consider instrumental music as filling out the time after the singing of one of the four options. Of course, wherever SttL might possibly contradict the GIRM, remember that GIRM has authority that SttL does not.

    And I thought tax code was confusing.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,956
    Jam, I think a key difference is that in the eastern churches, the music never changes. You memorize it at an early age and just sing it. You don't need hymnals, worship aids, or anything else to fumble with. It's more of an automatic response and you don't have new material to try to sing every week.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I had a chance to go to Byzantine Mass a couple of month ago. And the lady next to me was very kind to help me to follow the singing. She knew everything by memory. She sang very prayerfully and joyfully. (although she didn't have the best voice, and didn't shout to my ear, it was very beautiful. I don't know why our church always asks the congregation to sing so loud. It is most distracting to me. I noticed in our church whenever they find the song they like, they start to shout, and if they don't like the song, they put the hymnal back. Why people think the music in our Mass should be chosen according to their tastes?)
    If the Catholic church congregations are taught to sing the Responses and listen to the Propers, it would be so prayerful and easier to focus on the Mass.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Jam, my experience at an Antiochian Orthodox church was that the congregation sang everything that wasn't for the priest, deacon, or cantor. All responses, troparia, hymns, you name it. Cantor sang the verses. I found it quite heavenly - the troparion of the parish was sung louder than Lutherans singing A Mighty Fortress! There was the aspect of having the same melodies all year, and while the troparia and kontakia changed, it was listed which mode they were in, and the whole congregation knew what to sing just from "mode 3" at the top! Also, it probably helped a lot that the liturgy was in English.

    Sadly, my experience there has not been universal. Many Orthodox churches in my new area (besides having pews) have a cantor doing ALL the singing - and again I mean all! I sang all the Greek I knew (Amen, Alleluia, Agios o Theos), but I was the only one doing anything but sitting back reading the bulletin! And it is modern Russian tradition that the choir sings everything. Frankly, having experienced a service where I knew not more than 10 words in the language and I had no way of externally participating, I can really understand the discomfort many have at large changes in the Mass. It made me feel very uncomfortable and not a little bit bored.

    Back on topic, why not preface the organ pieces at offertory/communion with a quick recto-tono or psalm tone singing of the proper chant? It would be totally legit (if not against the spirit of the law) AND has the added benefit of (kind of) introducing people to the propers.
  • Charles holds the key to getting a congregation to sing. The music never changes.

    The musicians in the Catholic church kill the singing by expecting the congregation to be as active as monks and nuns in monastery. It's that simple.

    STTL further compounds this by encouraging the practice.

    The organ, as Jeffrey has rather eloquently written, has its own voice. It may play, but when it plays music based upon the music that is sung, its voice is richer. It's yet another wordless interpretation of the melody and brings the prayer of the unsung words to the mind,
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,956
    As Noel affirms, that is the key to congregational singing. When I took my current job, I succeeded an NPM-er who was just as likely to select a hymn about as well known as, "Over the Moon with Noah's Cow" because the words matched something in the readings, or were supposed to evoke some sentiment or emotion. To no one else's surprise, the congregation wasn't singing what was to them, unfamiliar. One of the first things I did was drastically cut the hymn selection to 15 or so hymns they knew and could/would sing. They have become familiar enough with those hymns that they now are singing them. I also change mass parts only for the major liturgical seasons - Easter, Christmas, and Ordinary Time. I take months to introduce a new hymn. I will play it several times somewhere in the mass or for a postlude. At some point, I will have the choir sing it at offertory. After at least three months, then I will use it as a recessional hymn. From there, I will use the hymn at least once per month for a while. After all this repetition, the congregation starts viewing it a something they recognize. It goes without saying that it must be a quality hymn to begin with.
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    Charles, This is the way we do at my church- We sing Proulx 'Community Mass,' in the Fall and Spring before Choir quits for the summer, Chant Mass for Advent and Lent, and the dreaded 'Mess of Cremation' in July when we have many visitors. Also we sing that 'Gloria' by Lee occasionally. I have always felt the ordinary parts should be by same composer, but this lets out much good service music . How do you feel about this? I'd like to do the Schubert 'Sanctus' sometimes, or any of an assortment of Amens, but always hesitate. My choir members bring me programs from other churches and I see a great variety of responses, some written by the Organist/choirmaster. Is there some unwritten rule about this? Or possibly a written rule?? :)

  • G
    Posts: 1,397
    Not to continue down the rabbit hole, rather than addressing the question of instrumental music but evidence of this, "the more we require them to sing, the less they sing," was pretty well nailed down in a Notre Dame survey of parochial liturgical music praxis a decade or two ago.

    (Save the Liturgy, save the World)
  • G
    Posts: 1,397
    And to the topic at hand, I realized I had never questioned the practice of substituting instrumental music for the processions.

    But i would think the fact that it is expressly forbidden in the Ceremonial of Bishops for Funeral and Lenten Masses is a pretty good indication that it is licit at other times and isn't explicitly mentioned in the GIRM only because it was thought to "go without saying"?

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • G
    Posts: 1,397
    Congregation for Divine Worship

    Sacred Congregation of Rites

    5 March, 1967

    65. In sung or said Masses, the organ, or other instrument legitimately admitted, can be used to accompany the singing of the choir and the people; it can also be played solo at the beginning before the priest reaches the altar, at the Offertory, at the Communion, and at the end of Mass.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    "But i would think the fact that it is expressly forbidden" [exact quote please?] "in the Ceremonial of Bishops for Funeral and Lenten Masses is a pretty good indication that it is licit at other times and isn't explicitly mentioned in the GIRM only because it was thought to "go without saying"?"

    Why can't one extend this to replacing the ordinary with organ music as well? The only time the GIRM says not to play the organ is when the priest is chanting. It "goes without saying" that we can just play the Bach Allein Gott trio instead of the Gloria! (After all, we do have the venerable tradition of the French organ Mass)

    Let me be crystal clear: I would love for this to be true - that we can replace the processional chants with organ music. And I'll add that the rubric stating that the processional chant (or an authorized replacement) should be sung is one I have violated for organ music, and may well do the same in the future. HOWEVER I'm not going to pretend that's something legislatively acceptable until I SEE the "Fifth option" (which is what it is!) that we're discussing.

    By all means, if you want to do a legal organ solo at Mass, sing the antiphon quickly and then play. But IF ONE OMITS THE TEXT OF THE MASS, one is violating the rubrics. UNTIL I see legislation stating that the chants (or their lawful replacement) may be omitted, I will maintain that the before-stated IS the legislation of the current Roman Rite. I judge such a violator kindly, others may not, but they are still not following the rubrics.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Aha, thank you Geri! The other question: Musicam sacram doesn't apply to the OF Mass though, does it?

    And if so, why not to the EF (since it was "never abrogated") - can one omit the propers at High Mass after 1967?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,182
    The OF's GIRM cites Musicam sacram in the footnotes, so it seems to still be in force.

    As for the EF, the old indult and the new motu proprio are for the 1962 Missal, with the norms in use at the time.

    On the other hand, the Ecclesia Dei commission has been fairly generous in granting permission to bend or waive various rules, so they probably have no objection to doing anything prescribed by Musicam sacram.
  • PaixGioiaAmorPaixGioiaAmor
    Posts: 1,473
    I have located something:

    In the (now abbrogated) Appendix to the GIRM, #50 notes "...the following criterion was adopted by the National Conference of Bishops in November, 1969:"

    It then goes on to talk about the nature of the offertory song, before saying "The procession can be accompanied by song. Song is not always necessary or desireable. Organ or instrumental music is also fitting at this time."

    Again, I believe we are still waiting for a new Appendix, so this may be moot. But there seems to be some official credence to the practice.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Aha. I suppose it is acceptable!

    I would argue it's somewhat in violation of the SPIRIT of the law, but I suppose given its appearance in the appendix and MS, it must be allowed.
  • G, I also commend the article in SACRED MUSIC by Mary Jane Ballou a couple of years ago that typified how Joe and Mary Pewsitter are fully prepared and engaged to ignore or tolerate whatever the latest singing dictum is presented them, and remain just as seated as before on their larynxes, tongues and lips.
  • G
    Posts: 1,397
    The only time the GIRM says not to play the organ is when the priest is chanting. It "goes without saying" that we can just play the Bach Allein Gott trio instead of the Gloria!

    Ummm.... if you have a setting of the Gloria that "goes with" the Bach Trio, knock yourself out, maybe it exists (I have a setting of the Gloria to the Widor Toccata, for example.)

    BUT - although I can't swear to the wording, I am almost positive that there are authoritative documents that say essentially that liturgical music shouldn't be "bad" or "ugly" or "stupid", (although it is probably prescribed in a positive, rather than a negative manner,) which would preclude playing the Bach while you snag, say, a Leon Roberts setting, or the Miss de Angelis.

    And you can't use the Bach INSTEAD of a part of the ordinary because it is specifically stated many times in many documents that it is illicit to substitute other things for the parts of the Ordinary.

    Musica Sacra, a VCII doc, was intended to apply to the new missal that was then in the works, so to speak.

    And I'm neither canonist nor liturgist nor really an EF person, but my sense in looking back on it all is that in the day more flexibility in the degrees of sung Mass was intended, so it doesn't surprise me that chonak says that "the Ecclesia Dei commission has been fairly generous in granting permission to bend or waive various rules."

    I don't think a gentle little Benoit elevation at communion time violates the "spirit" of the rules at all.

    Again, not a canonist nor liturgist nor EF person, but my sense is that the Church's way is and always has been to allow a great deal of latitude with the (perhaps naive) assumption that everyone will use his common sense.

    So it isn't until, say, Sousa's Liberty Bell March played by a steel drum band becomes the default communion procession music in some part of the world that Rome thinks it necessary to step in and get more specific with Her DOs and DON'Ts.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,182
    The Liberty Bell? I don't have it from a steel drum band, but here's an organ performance I heard in Milwaukee before the colloquium.
  • My predecessor believed in the Guitar as a Liturgical Instrument, elevated by Stuebenville, I believe. Sometimes It is embarassing to be from Ohio.

    The organ does have a liturgical voice, only losing it when it takes the tremolo of a long-past-her prime Wagnerian in Mr. Chonak's example. A major difference in the church organ and the theatre organ is that the TO most often uses far fewer pipes but plays them at a higher pressure, to give an equal or louder volume than a CO. And, since the tremolo works by a little trap that lets air escape from the air line or chest at a regular speed, the higher pressure, the wider the pitch shift in the tremolo along with a large drop in volume.

    CO tremulant: Pitch Modulation - TO tremulant Pitch and Volume Modulation

    And the GIRM says that the Communio should be sung. It's too bad it does not stop there
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    When I went to a Mass in Steubenville in February (daily Mass on a Tuesday) they used an organ. They used horrible ordinaries, some pop-sounding things which were pitched so high to be unsingable--I'm an alto--but they did use an organ. And they had communion arranged so that the Body of Christ was distributed by only priests, which was good to see (although the chalices were handled by an army of student EMCs).

    hymn selection was bad--they sang a shaker song, even--but the level of devotion, which I measure by people staying after and kneeling to pray, was remarkable. Somewhere around 90% of people stayed to pray after.

    The homily was really good, too.

    Overall, Steubenville is really tame compared to other Catholic churches I've been to.
  • The Faith can overcome bad music.
  • G, I'm not convinced that the writers of MS meant that organ can *substitute* for the propers and singing options. Rather, taking all sources together, it seems clear that an organ solo is acceptable in addition to the singing, and not as a replacement for proper texts. If that really was another option, why is it not mentioned as such?

    # 65 of MS-
    Seems to me a huge clue in sorting out how an organ solo can fit is this- 'it can also be played solo at the beginning before the priest reaches the altar'. In a sung liturgy (especially at the time this was written) the liturgical action would not be finished when the priest reaches the altar. The incensation of the altar would begin, right? So why would the organ solo need to be done at that time? I think to save time for the Introit. I remember our liturgically savvy (former) auxiliary bishop instructing me to begin the Introit when he arrived at the altar, for example.

    PGA, it would be very surprising if the appendix came back with #50 retained. But it is interesting, and points especially to shifting ideas surrounding the Offertory and its attached proper.

    How great it would be if CMAA had super document nerds on hand to clarify situations like this. When I get rich as a church musician, I will be sure to dump a lot of $ on the CMAA.
  • Gavin, it is my understanding that MS is binding only in the OF.

    You also asked, 'can one omit the propers at High Mass after 1967?' My understanding is no, omitting propers is not permitted.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,182
    As many forum readers know, Musicam Sacram para. 28-31 describes three degrees of music that can be implemented in a Missa cantata. Since the document permits the omission of the third degree (which contains the propers), I have to conclude that it became permissible to omit sung propers in a Missa cantata after MS was issued in 1967.

    That doesn't imply that it's expressly OK to do so now, since the motu proprio allows the use of the 1962 Missal, but doesn't automatically approve changes authorized afterward. (I opined above that the Ecclesia Dei commission probably wouldn't mind, and that's just my opinion.)

    Some friends have contended to me in the past that Musicam sacram didn't apply to the 1962 Missal at all, but only to transitional Mass forms authorized in 1965. However, the document Musicam sacram doesn't indicate any such limit on its application, so I don't think their case is proven.

    Moreover, if I understand aright, in some countries no transitional forms had been implemented by 1967, and the 1962 Missal was still fully in use.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    frogman: "Who has a link ... playing ... during the consecration"

    Use the forum Search (Comments): massenet thais meditation

    She's....baaaaack.....but it's Bach! And the church is beautiful.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,956
    It beats the Frankenstein song, "We Are Many Parts," any day. ;-)