Announcing songs
  • henry
    Posts: 241
    I like to keep announcements to a minimum so as not to interrupt the Mass, so we only announce the hymn number, not the title (example: "Please sing number 000 in the Missalette"). At a recent liturgy meeting, a woman requested that we also announce the title of the song, and that we announce the page number of the Psalm. We usually sing a Common Psalm, so it doesn't correspond to the Proper Psalm of the day. However, we've been singing the sames ones for years and most people know them very well by now. What do you think? Should we continue as we have been doing, or accomodate this woman's request? Printed worship aid sheets or song lists in the bulletin every Sunday are not possible at this time.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,499
    How would it help to announce the song title, in addition to the number? I don't understand the reason for this. I wonder if it is something that this particular parishioner feels is "normal" due to her experiences at another parish.

    We don't make any announcements, thankfully, because we use hymn boards.

    In Germany they have these little projectors that show one hymn number at a time. When it's almost time to sing, they project the number onto the wall.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Song title makes you more sure that you're on the right hymn. Also, if the congregation member doesn't have their hymnal open to the page in time, if they know the title they will likely know at least the first few words, giving them time to begin singing a few bars before having the right page. My usual format is "The ___ hymn is number two hundred and thirty-four, Your Title Here, number two, three, four" For more solemn occasions, I tend to go extremely minimalist and say, "the hymn: two hundred and thirty four." No welcome, no invitation, no explanation, no instruction. Just giving information.

    My preferences are:

    1) A weekly Mass bulletin with hymn numbers But that requires the consent of the priest, finance people, and someone to do them. Secretaries are often too busy, and I sure didn't just spend 8 years in undergraduate studies (long story) to type, edit, print, copy, cut, distribute, clean. Yes, it can be a minimal amount of work once one has a good format... but that's still time I'd rather spend doing something besides work. So if there is no way that can be done regularly (I have been known to do it for high feasts or when the choir sings in a foreign language), then I am fine with resorting to:

    2) Announcements. But, as I said, keep it SHORT and CLEAR! I've heard people transgress on both, and it's frustrating. No insincere welcomes, don't tell me to stand, and don't tell me to sing - it isn't being announced so I can stare at the page. Furthermore, I like it non-intrusive if necessary, but don't rattle off the three digits rapidly then immediately play a 4 bar introduction. Get my attention ("the offertory hymn is..."), tell me what I need to know (".. number 234"), then wait and let me open my hymnal before starting! Good announcement manner is all about clearly and concisely communicating the essential information.

    3) I don't like hymn boards for the simple reason that many people cannot read them from a distance. They should always be employed, to reinforce the bulletin or announcement. But I don't think it's fair to our congregations (and there isn't a lot of good long distance vision out there..) to put tiny numbers on a sign and say you've done your job. May as well just have everyone look in the index (option 4)

    As for the psalm.. it seems rather disruptive to announce it. This is why you MUST have a clear cantor. No two ways about it.

    Although I'm strictly against announcements, I think you can actually do MUCH to improve the reverence of and participation in the liturgy just by structuring your announcements better.

    EDIT: an issue I have with using JUST announcements is that having all the hymns displayed allows me time to prepare to sing the hymn.
  • Our hymns are listed in the bulletin. There is a board, but Father keeps it in the closet. I announce anyways, as not everyone grabs a bulletin coming into church. "Our entrance hymn is #500 in the Worship hymnal, Christ is the King, #500 in the Worship hymnal" (we have two hymnals). Then I shut off my mic and sing without it. No need for it. :)
  • Chrism
    Posts: 868
    I find all announcements of the "Please do this" or "We will now do this" variety to be personally offensive.

    Really, who do you think you are to tell me what to do?

    In the Catholic Church, the laity are not required to sing.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,158
    It's usually told as a joke, but I have actually heard a song-leader say, "Please rise and greet our celebrant, Father Joe, with 'Hail, Holy Queen'."
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,934
    We use a 7-foot-tall board with 6-inch numbers that can be read in the back of the church.
  • I had stopped the "Please join in singing..." motif quite some time ago. If they really want to sing, they will. Now it's just "Our entrance (NOTE: not gathering) hymn is..." - period. The congregation should know what to do from there without the aid of someone up front waving their arms and risking hygienic issues (e.g., P.U.!). :)

  • noel jones, aagonoel jones, aago
    Posts: 6,605
    One page, copied costs .06 plus the labor of writing it. Once the sheet has been done the first time, containing only a guide to the changing parts of the Mass, it takes but minutes to update it every week.

    On one side it would be possible to outline three different liturgies - Gregorian Chant / Hymns / Guitars.

    .06 for each person that attends Mass, .06 that tells the person that the pastor and the staff acknowledge that they respect that person and appreciate that they pay the light bills, the salaries and everything else.

    Any priest who thinks that spending .06 is a waste of money is ignoring that he, himself, upon going to a play, a concert or other public event, would find it unwelcoming to not be given an program.
  • Imagine someone announcing hymn numbers in the middle of an EF mass. Sounds very out of place, right? As these are two forms of the same mass, why is it acceptable to announce hymn numbers in the middle of NO mass.

    We have a hymn board. But I really don't understand the Catholic reluctance to print a bulletin - every Protestant church I have ever been to had a printed program with hymn numbers.
  • Bravo for Cantorconvert -
    During mass the interjection of any words whatsoever that are not a part of the sacrosanct ritual text are incredibly offensive, spiritually distracting, and demeaning - not to mention illicit.

    Further - remarks wishing to be uttered 'before mass' or 'after mass' should be made before the prelude and after the postlude. These musics are/should be carefully chosen by the choirmaster to lead joyfully, or meditatively, etc, (whichever is most appropriate) into the mass of the day, and while they are not integral parts of the mass they are yet integral parts of the mass - and legitimate adornments of it - so Nothing should be said between them and the mass. Doing so is rude, boorish, tacky, uncivilised and unchurchly...and insulting. I think people who exercise their urge to speak at such times are rather of the same sort who clap between movements of sonatas at recitals and wonder why they a being stared at. Their lack of emarassment at doing something so beyond the pale reveals a profound ignorance of the sanctity of where they are and the holy miracle in which they are about to participate. Where do they get the gall, the unspeakable cheek to utter their unritual comments; the bizzare extra-planetary logic by which to nurture the belief that they are doing a Good and Valuable Ministerial Work???
    Shouldn't someone inform the 'ministers' that the people really are not stupid? And that they are not empowered to add commentary to the ritual text?
  • BenBen
    Posts: 3,114
    And this problem would all be solved if we went with the council's intentions, and just kept using the gradual or other chants instead of replacing the propers with hymns.
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    I take a small bit of pride in the fact that I don't announce anything during the Mass itself. For the opening song, I'll make an announcement prior to the procession, and I'll announce the closing song after the deacon or priest says "the Mass is ended." And I deliberately don't say "please join us"… just the hymn number.

    I sing the Gregorian Offertory and Communion chants, plus the Introit as a prelude, all with organ accompaniment. I precede each chant with an English translation, sung unaccompanied on a psalm tone.

    My opening announcement is a touch long but it is slavishly consistent, week-to-week. (I adapted the first sentence from something I saw Jeffrey T. post some time ago.) For next week:
    This is the anticipated Mass for the Fifth Sunday of Easter. The music for the ordinary of the Mass this evening is in English and Latin and can be found in the sacred music sheets at the end of the pews, and our opening song is number 75, "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," number 75.
  • MarkThompson
    Posts: 768
    I certainly don't think it's "illicit," as suggested above. It's part of the legitimate function of the commentator, no?
  • It IS ILLICIT - No one has authority (and this is in GIRM among other places) to add one jot or tittle to the ritual text - not even the priest, who likely picks and chooses what he will and will not obey, but expects blind obedience from those 'under' him.
    As for the 'commentator - just what is his legitimate function???? It is non-existant. Since it is illicit to make verbal glosses to the sacred text, He has none.
    His is just another one of those 'offices' or 'ministries' that someone made up so that some layman would have something to do - and what better a thing could he do than make commentary for his fellow (presumedly) daft persons in the pews...
  • MarkThompson
    Posts: 768
    Wow, I didn't mean to hit a nerve. Yet the commentator is mentioned in no. 29 of Sacrosanctum Concilium, and no. 105(b) of the GIRM instructs that among those who "exercise a liturgical function" at Mass is
    The commentator, who provides the faithful, when appropriate, with brief explanations and commentaries with the purpose of introducing them to the celebration and preparing them to understand it better. The commentator's remarks must be meticulously prepared and clear though brief. In performing this function the commentator stands in an appropriate place facing the faithful, but not at the ambo.

    Similarly, no. 57 of the General Introduction of the Lectionary:
    The commentator also fulfils a genuine liturgical ministry, which consists in presenting to the assembly of the faithful, from a suitable place, relevant explanations and comments that are clear, of marked simplicity, meticulously prepared, as a rule written out, and approved beforehand by the celebrant.

    Considering all that, offering simple paraliturgical directions, like announcing a hymn, seem well within the scope of his legitimate duties.
  • Mike R
    Posts: 106
    We just started printing our music numbers in a box on the first page of the bulletin this year, and only actually announce the entrance hymn or introit (we're in a situation where we can't leave the missals in the pews, so we distribute them with the bulletins to everyone as they enter the chapel anyway). It seems to be going very well; I think people like not having Mass interrupted with those announcements.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I was at church once and this fool in a sash started yelling out announcements! "Wisdom! Let us attend!" "Dynamis!" "Guard the doors!" It was highly offensive, I'm sure it's a novel heretic innovation - the church must be liberal, since there weren't any pews.
  • OlbashOlbash
    Posts: 314
    Mark Thompson, thank you for listing those references. We are never going to advance our cause if our arguments are extreme and unreasonable.
  • But, Gavin - 'Wisdom! Let us attend...' is a part of the ritual text.
    One cannot argue with the authoritative quotations given above in defense of announcers and announcing.
    But one can attest that he wonders if the announcer and the priest who appointed him or her thinks that he is a fool who doesn't know which church he's in or what is going on at the mass, and what liturgical day it is. Whatever the legitimising foundation for his or her 'ministry' is, it remains that he or she is a distraction from total involvement in the ritual text and of what should be the uninterrupted flow of ritual action.
  • Charles in CenCA
    Posts: 2,416
    I had occasion to visit a friend's parish in Raleigh-Durham and sing in the choir one Sunday. The church had installed one of those LED news-reader boxes stage right of the sanctuary that can be purchased at Costco. I thought it was cheezeball-in-extremis, made more annoying as the repertoire was GATHER in-extremis.
    So, you're on a desert island, two RCC churches only to attend Sunday Mass-
    One has the blinking red LED hymn numbers scrolling, no announcements but solely sacropop crooning.
    The other has a mannered voice that simply announces "Hymn number 666" by RVW sung well, fully with dignity by all.
    You got three choices- no announcements but excruciating moments of endurance in an "intact" liturgy; engaged FACP in the other "marred" by licit verbal embolisms; or ignoring your Sunday obligation.
    Pop Quiz: what will you do?
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,767
    In German churches hymn-boards are long obsolete, their place taken by displays where the verse numbers can be chosen on the fly: de:WP.

    The "Organist's nightmare" video, in which a guest organist at what looked like the barock chapel in Würtzburg tries to familiarize himself with the console, has disappeared from Youtube, alas.
  • darelmass
    Posts: 11
    Echoing cantorconvert, it is simply not believable that Catholics require the announcing of hymns while liturgical Protestants get by every week of the year without the interruption. Hymn boards are perfectly readable if people will put forth even a minimal effort. If they won't put forth the effort to read the board, they aren't singing anyway.

    My longstanding practice in announcing hymns (we have hymn boards but they are not in use for reasons I won't go into here!) is minimalist as is the practice of most here. The key seems to be taking enough time between the announcing of the hymn and the beginning of the first verse for the congregation to actually find the right page number. Of course, if the hymns were posted already, they'd be ready to sing right away ...
  • Announcing the number and titles of songs is vulgar, a-liturgical, and unacceptable in any truly liturgical contexts.
    It's great at square dances, I'm told.
  • henry
    Posts: 241
    I've decided that, from now on at these liturgy meetings I will kindly thank the person who makes a request or a suggestion and then consider privately, after research, whether or not to implement it.
  • noel jones, aagonoel jones, aago
    Posts: 6,605

    Not a bad way to deal with posting here as well...!
  • Ralph BednarzRalph Bednarz
    Posts: 489
    I really heard this: "Good morning or good evening. I am your name. The theme for today's Mass...."
    And I heard this as sung by the celebrant: "Using acclamation # 3 let us proclaim the mystery of faith"

    How do you inform the congregation about which the ordinary will be sung when it is located in a hymnal? I don't. And I don't think anyone does. Do you even sing the ordinaries offered in your hymnal? In this area we have been operating quite freely and much more can be done without depending worship aids or announcements.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    That's why a bulletin is ideal. Or, for a hymn board, I use the last line and a different color and orientation for the first number of the ordinary. If announced, one may simply say "the Mass ordinary begins at number 234". At a previous parish, we did this when introducing the Latin Gloria - "the Gloria will be at number 234. The Entrance hymn is...."
  • BenBen
    Posts: 3,114
    We get around this problem by putting up the numbers for the ordinary on the hymn boards, and only switching ordinaries a few times a year, so people don't need a hymnal after the first week or two. Also, part of the year we use worship aids, and everything is right there.
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    Since we've bandied about the term "ideal" in this thread, I am a bit curious what the "ideal ideal" really is, at least at the very start of Mass.

    Wouldn't it be that (1) somehow everyone knew what setting of the Ordinary was being sung, therefore it wouldn't have to be announced, and (2) propers are sung rather than hymns, so hymns don't need to be announced either…? (I might add a third: Most everyone would have their own personal Missals, with translations provided as necessary. Somehow I think that fumbling with weekly handouts isn't quite the ideal, either, however nice they might be.)

    That still leaves the question as to exactly what the "cue" for the congregation to stand ought to be. The GIRM says, "The faithful should stand from the beginning of the Entrance chant, or while the priest approaches the altar" (43). So, it would seem that the chant itself is the cue. But I've heard other such cues ranging from the priest saying "please stand," to a very reverent (but rather jolting) bell being rung, to some the more outlandish things that others here have described.
  • MarkThompson
    Posts: 768
    That still leaves the question as to exactly what the "cue" for the congregation to stand ought to be.

    Well, the "ideal" would be that a bell rings (optional) and one, two, or four cantors intone the incipit of the Introit. Right?
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    Right. But I guess I'm curious, too, where the idea of the bell came from.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,451
    The bell is rung by the organist to alert the bellowsmen to start pumping.
  • noel jones, aagonoel jones, aago
    Posts: 6,605
    It was tradition that the server ring the bells at the door of the sacristy as they enter for Mass.

    The organist would, in early times, pull the CALCANT drawknob, which drops a flag to tell the bellows people to pump.

    I've actually had to do this on an early Jardine tracker that had a large flywheel attached to a recalcitrant electric motor - when it failed, choir members took turns turning the flywheel.