Communion Chant PLUS Hymn
  • Hi everyone,

    Are there any documents that clarify, one way or the other, if it acceptable to use BOTH the communion chant, AND a hymn? We have done it this way for several years. New pastor is strongly opposed. Says it must be only the chant, or only one (not two) hymn; having more than one piece of music, he says, prevents the unity that GIRM 86 refers to. His interpretation of that article aside, is there anything concrete with which to guide this discussion?

    This also applies to the entrance chant - we used to do processional hymn, then chant during incensing of the altar. Also vetoed.

    Thanks for your thoughts.
  • Ghunter,

    Not all "gaps" are created equal. The Introit has a shorter completion time (under most circumstances) than the Communion.

    Somewhere in the documents (I can't remember where) the idea that the singing during the Communion should continue until reception by the faithful (assuming this takes place) has concluded. There's more than one way to do this, and not all methods are created equal.

    1) Sing the antiphon with Ps. 118, or with a selection of other psalms (33 comes to mind)
    2) Sing the same hymn multiple times.
    3) Sing one hymn, once only, slowly enough so that it ends as the last person receives Holy Communion.
    4) Sing the antiphon and then supplement with polyphony or some other kind of music (organ, hymn....)
    others?
  • I take it citing long-standing custom (centuries?) of singing the antiphon and then following it with motets, hymns, and/or organ-playing wouldn't fly?
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 1,038
    I don't understand the pastor's reasoning here since the very section of the GIRM he cites (#86) gives chant + hymn as a possibility: "if there is to be a hymn after Communion, the Communion Chant should be ended in a timely manner."
    Thanked by 2ServiamScores CCooze
  • I understand not doing both a hymn and the chant for entrance due to timing.

    However, I think that the chant and hymn for communion is fine. That's what I do at my church all the time. Communion is a lot longer, and you may run out of verses for the antiphon. As others have noted, it is a fairly long standing tradition. Plus as rich_enough cites, the GIRM appears to support it.

    Side note, between the chant and the hymn generally works well for the choir to receive communion too.
  • For starters, communion antiphons are not long enough to support communion unless they are repeated many times with psalm verses interposed. Secondly, for larger parishes, even long hymns are not enough. Thirdly, it is very long-standing custom to at least fill any communion / purification time left over with at least additional organ music, so you're already looking at a bare minimum of two pieces of music during communion. What this priest has suggested simply makes no sense, especially when considering the fact that #86 is then qualified by #87 which permits multiple options for what exactly constitutes the "communion Chant" (notice it is "chant" (generic term).

    While I most certainly support the priest's desire to have the communion antiphon sung first and foremost, that does not have to happen to the exclusion of other music. In fact, there are traditions of singing vernacular hymnody at communion going back centuries in Europe. (I recently learned this when doing some reading about the effect of the Council of Trent upon liturgical music.)

    If anything, this sniffs to me of him possibly not liking your hymn choices during communion, more than not wanting hymns themselves. Perhaps this is a less offensive way (in his eyes) of addressing the hymnody. Not knowing your situation it's hard to tell. But perhaps that question could be posed to him. If, for instance, you do a communion chant, and then follow it with a less-than-reflective P&W "hymn" rather than something with organ, played with reserve, and supporting a traditional eucharistic text (Tantum Ergo, O Salutaris Hostia, O Lord, I am not Worthy, etc.), this could be the problem. Again, this is speculation on my part and I do not mean to impute any motives or duplicity to him.

    Also, as others have observed: singing motets at communion during missa cantatas is also a centuries-old, well-established praxis common to the universal church.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,397
    communion antiphons are not long enough to support communion unless they are repeated many times with psalm verses interposed.
    That is what the current Graduale lays down. For the coming Sunday (Advent III) it provides eight verses plus the concluding doxology, with antiphon and verses alternating throughout.
  • Hawkins, are you suggesting that the repetition of the antiphon-psalm-antiphon-psalm for the entirety of communion is indeed which is desired by the rubrics?
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,397
    The Graduale does not say that, but it does say si magis placuerit another psalm may be substituted, such as Ps 33. It also says it should be made possible for the cantores to receive communion, whether that refers to the schola or specifically the cantors, I could not say. That probably means switching to another piece of music, but if you have several cantors, perhaps not.
  • We sing some version of the communion antiphon (be it Fr. Weber or straight from communio with either Latin or English verses) every week, but it is still relatively rare that the chant is sufficient for all of communion when there are 250+ people there.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    Are there any documents that clarify, one way or the other, if it acceptable to use BOTH the communion chant, AND a hymn?

    Your paycheck.

    My guess is that not only is the new pastor new to the parish, but also new to being a pastor, and is repeating what he heard in his seminary liturgy class.

    having more than one piece of music, he says, prevents the unity that GIRM 86 refers to.

    With all due respect to Bugnini (which isn't much), in this instance the GIRM is stupid. The period of communion is for each individual communicant to be united interiorly to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, which they just received: Not for the community to be united with each other.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,397
    I would think that it is the Lord's Prayer and the sign of peace that express our com-unity, after which we having individual mouths necessarily receive the sacred elements individually. Also we are each in our own state of imperfection and need to express, mentally, our own response.
    GIRM 86 may express a theological truth, but it does not express a physical reality, some people will not sing, many will not listen to the words a choir is chanting, as congregants leave pews, walk up and back, they cannot coordinate that with singing a hymn.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,986
    "The period of communion is for each individual communicant to be united interiorly to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, which they just received: Not for the community to be united with each other."

    No, it's both/and - members of the community are united with each other through Christ sacramentally.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,949
    I did communion chants for years then followed with a hymn.
  • GerardH
    Posts: 422
    ...Not for the community to be united with each other.

    Completely untrue, otherwise we would see no issue with receiving Communion with (otherwise sacramentally valid) churches with whom we are not in communion.
    Thanked by 3Liam tomjaw Elmar
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    Completely untrue, otherwise we would see no issue with receiving Communion with (otherwise sacramentally valid) churches with whom we are not in communion.

    With this I agree, but there is a hierarchy: Communion with Christ first, then the 'community'. What most parish 'liturgists' do is focus on the second and ignore the first.
    GIRM 86 may express a theological truth, but it does not express a physical reality, some people will not sing, many will not listen to the words a choir is chanting, as congregants leave pews, walk up and back, they cannot coordinate that with singing a hymn.

    This is part of the point I was attempting to make: a_f_hawkins expresses it much better than I do. In my personal opinion what works best is: Sing the Communion Chant during communion, supplement with the choir/cantors singing motets/hymns/other chants if needed: After the reception of communion, during the Hymn of Praise, is the best time for the community to be united in praise by singing a hymn.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw Elmar
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,986
    "Not for the community to be united with each other."

    "Communion with Christ first, then the 'community'."

    The two statements are contradictory. The first it outright untrue. The second is true, in terms of causality; as a liturgical experience, it is simultaneous because it's a metaphysical unity. Trying to divide the liturgical experience in either direction begins a path to error.
    Thanked by 2GerardH Elmar
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 1,152
    Communion Chant plus Hymn is what we have been doing at Mass for a while.