Use of "O Come O Come Emmanuel" during Mass
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,536
    Oh, I know too well the words that fit that tune. </shudder
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,675
    The only time I really tired of, "O Come, O Come..." was the year a Benedictine dropout convinced the pastor to sing different verses each week to correspond to the "O" antiphons. Four weeks of it were just three too many.
  • Carol
    Posts: 761
    Thank you for the suggestions and other interesting comments. I sing with a very tasteful guitar accompaniment provided by my husband so some of these hymns may not be successfully adapted to guitar. Some of you may think "tasteful guitar accompaniment" is an oxymoron, but I assure you we strive very hard to use the guitar to support the voice and we NEVER go ching-a ching-a- ching-a.
    Thanked by 1canadash
  • I'm just jealous that your parishes get to sing "O Come, O Come"....we've had a change in pastors who insists that songs need to be "peppy" and hymnody (other than patriotic hymns) is generally forbidden (and this after 3 years of a pastor who encouraged the use of antiphons/Latin - alas, that pastor not good with the mechanics of running a parish/parish school... school almost closed so new guy brought in to raise money/keep the school open...and has been successful at that). So we probably will be Walking in the Reign and Raining Down.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,675
    I truly believe we as Catholics (Byzantine, but we are in communion with Rome) put up with entirely too much. There are some great pastors out there, but don't subsidize the fools in that office. Let them hang themselves. When the money dries up, it will get the bishop's attention.
  • Carol
    Posts: 761
    It is sad when Church musicians and parishioners are riding the pendulum back and forth as new pastors arrive and depart. When you have lived and worshipped 50 years in the same parish, you experience a lot of swings. Also, I will pray for your Catholic school, Agincourt. I taught first grade in a Catholic school in the Archdiocese of NY and we closed suddenly a few years ago. Soon only inner cities will have Catholic schools! I fear for the future of the Church.
  • As a volunteer musician,it is sometimes difficult to be taken for granted by your pastor, but small town parishes are like that.


    You are not as alone as you may think. We are in a small town (rural southern) parish and were volunteer musicians until the pastor "fired" us (myself and three teenagers) in favor of a music director who would play "contemporary" music which we were unwilling to do. We "got away with" antiphons and some Latin for a while, but were cut off at the knees when someone willing to cater to the (perceived) LifeTeen crowd showed up.

    So, again, do the best you can do always remembering Whom it is you need to please in the end.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • KARU27
    Posts: 184
    It is sad when Church musicians and parishioners are riding the pendulum back and forth as new pastors arrive and depart. When you have lived and worshipped 50 years in the same parish, you experience a lot of swings. Also, I will pray for your Catholic school, Agincourt. I taught first grade in a Catholic school in the Archdiocese of NY and we closed suddenly a few years ago. Soon only inner cities will have Catholic schools! I fear for the future of the Church.

    Here in Indiana, Catholic schools (as well as other religious schools) are going strong, thanks to the Indiana Republicans and the school voucher program. Hopefully we can keep the government meddling to a minimum.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Admittedly, culturally speaking, singing 'O come...Emmanuel' during Advent is as joyful and necessary as singing
    'O come, all ye faithful' at Christmas,
    'Jesus Christ is ris'n today' at Easter,
    'The head that once was crowned with thorns' at Ascension',
    etc.,
    etc.,
    at least once, but not more than twice.
    Don't we all know that there are much, much worse things that some of us 'have to' sing?
    Rejoice and be glad that, for once or twice or so through the year there comes along something sui generis good that 'the people' love to sing!
    Who among us would want to be such a curmudgeon that he or she would not want to sing any of the above?
    _________________________________________

    So you have to play-sing them at multiple masses.
    This is hardly worse than playing the same ordinary at multiple masses for months on end.
    Your challenge is to think it and play or sing it freshly every time, putting your all into it as if each time was the first, because it is for God and his people.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Carol
    Posts: 761
    My husband and I lead music at only one Mass per weekend. I was curious if the tiring of singing "O Come O Come.." was caused by singing at multiple Masses per weekend. I was pointing out that that could be part of the reason for feeling it was overused. Anyway, I agree that it is wonderful to have the congregation looking forward to singing a hymn at Mass. Doesn't that mean that the hymn is doing it's job of lifting hearts and minds to the Lord?
  • I'd suggest reserving it to the 4th Sunday of Advent,


    Actually this raises a interesting point for this year.

    How many people do you expect will show up for the Mass of the 4th Sunday of Advent? Granted it will be better for those who have a Saturday evening vigil. But in a parish without, I expect that it will be the pastor and a small handful of people who will be travelling to family later in the day. We are seriously considering having no music at all - because the musicians who are available will be pretty fully committed later in the day.
  • Personally, I think we should embrace and celebrate the calendar as it is. It was just announced that a choir I sing in would be given the morning off since we have to sing for Christmas eve that evening. So what? Why shouldn't we do both, and sing again on Christmas Day? Sure it's exhausting, but is there anything else more important?

    Granted, some won't come Sunday morning, but I think we should lead by example and not lower our standards.
  • Sure it's exhausting...

    Indeed it is!
    As are all major feasts and solemnities, whether they are 'back to back' with other observances or not.
    That's part of the joy of them.
    They require the last ounce of one's efforts and none would wish them to require an ounce less.
    Thanked by 2MarkS Incardination
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,675
    My parish choir has taken Christmas Day off for the last 50 years, at least. Long before I arrived there 17 years ago. They say that since they sing at Midnight, they are not coming back in for the morning. Of course, the big choir breakfast they have after Midnight Mass could be a factor. I never go to them because I have to be back at church for the Christmas morning masses.
  • Carol
    Posts: 761
    We had a choir director who was also a music teacher. After she decided being choir director was too much, they hired a man who had young children. The first choir director volunteered to play the earliest Mass on Christmas morning so the replacement choir director could be with his children. That's a classy, Christian lady!
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,936
    Venez Divin Messie - look it up on youtube... if you are into multiculturalism, sing it in French...
    Thanked by 1chonak
  • Sometimes I think that there is a tendency to allow the perfect ideal to become the enemy of general good. Yes, Veni Veni is derived from the "O" antiphons from vespers of Dec. 17 - Dec 24... but that hardly precludes the use of the piece until the 17th, anymore than it would preclude it from being used at Mass at all, given that it is derived from the Divine Office.

    There are very few pieces of music that I use every single year - perhaps none except certain Mass ordinaries. I list all repertoire according to category - Mass ordinaries and lustrals (including polyphonic settings) in one list; open / close music in another list; polyphony in a third list. I then derive a schedule of use for each list that is broken across a 3-4 year cycle.

    I derive my music schedule to use items from each list in the given year of the cycle. My lists give me a target of how many times to use different pieces. Polyphony - especially "high-end" pieces / Masses which involve more effort to learn have a higher targeted use than things that are easier like Open / Close pieces... but I try to use even the most basic pieces a minimum of 2x in a season.

    For Veni Veni, there are seasons where it isn't scheduled at all - seasons where I feature other pieces during Advent. In other seasons, we may use it across 3 of the Sundays.

    Perhaps not "perfect", but good.

    If we applied the most restrictive thought process to chant ordinaries, many of us would find little opportunity for using other options other than Mass XI for nearly 60% of Sundays (assuming only doing chant Masses for a given year).

    For a variety of reasons, one of my goals for my group is to use the full Kyriale every 3-4 years, including the Ad Libitum chants. This is very useful pedagogically for the choir... it exposes them to a much more diverse range of chant Masses, it enriches their ability to read chant fluently over time and develops their appreciation of chant. Of course we use polyphonic settings - both simple and "high-end" as well... a way of continually growing musically.

    I think there is more value to be gained from repetitive use and broader scheduling in the context of the season than there is from stressing a "perfect" music schedule for each individual feast / Sunday Mass. Other directors may have different goals - and that is absolutely fine. Presumably directors are the best judge of their parish and unique circumstances.
  • Incardination,

    Presumably you're not subject to the pressures of "St Swithun's on the Hill is singing Christmas music already..... why aren't you?"
  • Yes, I am very fortunate in that regard... I have a degree of autonomy that perhaps isn't a universal (or even general) experience... but isn't that really the point?

    Other directors may have different goals - and that is absolutely fine. Presumably directors are the best judge of their parish and unique circumstances.
  • Josh
    Posts: 102
    I look after an amateur schola for our once-a-month EF Mass, which is a Missa cantata done very simply, including psalm-toning the propers since the full Gregorian settings are beyond us (though occasionally we have sung one of them that is within our ability range, such as the Trinity Sunday and All Saints Introits). By request of our priest, this December we will sing the first part of Veni, veni Emmanuel after the Offertory, and the second part after the Communion antiphon.
  • If you have a GIA hymnal or onelicense account, a prudent approach to take would be to use Richard Proulx's arrangement of the Mass to the Veni Emmanuel tune, "Missa Emmanuel." That would get those who see the melody as essential to all of Advent some of what they want without ticking off those who know the history.
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 593
    This is an old post but not nearly as old as the first post I found almost 9 years previous.

    I wanted to suggest as an alternative to the traditional O Come, O Come Emmanuel a hymn Draw Nigh, Draw Nigh, Emmanuel which is the original translation by Neal and a melody composed by A. Edmund Tozer.
  • Carol
    Posts: 761
    I stumbled on to this forum as a result of my love for OCOCE. I got my answer and have learned so much from those who frequent this forum. Thanks!
    Thanked by 1Don9of11
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,946
    For what it's worth, Source & Summit still displays in adverts, most recently for its Digital Platform, none other than "O come, o come Emmanuel" as the Opening Hymn for the First Sunday of Advent. That alone (it's been there from the launch of their planning program) turned me somewhat off to their Liturgy Preparation offering. I feel that the hymn should be delayed until Advent IV (or possibly Advent III (if it is on or after December 17th).
  • Bri
    Posts: 46
    @RPBurke

    Here's the story I heard about the Proulx Missa Emmanuel setting:

    Proulx was at Holy Name Cathedral at the time and regularly used "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" during Advent. One of the priests didn't like this particular choice, so he forbade Proulx from scheduling it.

    Proulx then wrote the Missa Emmanuel and used that for all four Sundays ... and apparently Proulx got away with this!
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Bri,

    Wait... you mean he outfoxed the clerics in Chicago? And lived to tell about it? Impressive!
    Thanked by 1Bri