CNP Logo Home
Online Catalog
Musical Musings
Liturgical Planners
Submit Your Music
Contact Us
Company Description
CanticaNOVA Publications
Bookmark and Share

CNP Feedback -
A Proper Introduction

Q. Dear CNP:

I have a question regarding the introduction of the Propers to my congregation. During Advent and on Christmas Eve, I am having our choir/cantors sing some of the Communios from the Graduale simplex and Graduale Romanum and your Mass Propers for Advent. I don't think the congregation or the priests are quite ready for the Introit as intended. Would it be "OK" from a liturgical point of view to use the Proper Introit as a prelude, as a means of introduction? Any thoughts are welcome.

N. Troy Tintro

A. Dear Troy:

When a vast (but thankfully diminishing) majority of Catholic parishes in the U.S. are singing dated, sub-standard musical styles from the 1970s, the use of Propers in any form is a welcome change. By all means, do as you suggest!

Here are some ideas that parishes are using to introduce the "sound" of the Introits to congregations.

  1. Have the choir sing an Introit in place of a choir "anthem" or "motet." These are beautiful, historical settings of psalm verses that have a specific relationship to a particular Mass. As Gregorian chant goes, they're of medium difficulty — harder than the Communios but easier than the Graduals. Choirs should learn at least one Introit per season, simply as a repertoire piece, if nothing else. Each year, add a different Sunday, and in a few years, you'll have all the Introits under your belt. And don't overlook teen and children's choirs — Latin has a particular fascination for them these days!
  2. Sing the Proper Introit as the Prelude music for Mass, either after or instead of the organ prelude.
  3. At solemn Masses, particularly when incense is used at the beginning, sing both an Introit and a hymn at the opening Procession. You can chant the Introit as the ministers (and schola?) process to the altar, singing a hymn during the incensation. Or reverse the order and open with a hymn, saving the Introit for the incensation.
  4. Use the Introit as "walking music" in places where the congregation normally wouldn't consider singing a hymn.
    • At the procession that opens solemn Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer
    • To lead the family and friends to the font during a Baptism
    • To begin Tenebrae
    • To open sung Compline (Night Prayer) as part of a Penitential Service
    • Anywhere else that the organist might have been invited to play something to get the priest or people from one place to another
  5. During Eastertide, why not sing the Introit during the Procession, leaving a full hymn for during the Sprinkling Rite? That avoids having so much congregational music at the beginning of Mass. The other order makes sense, too: start with a hymn and sing the Introit during the Sprinkling, followed by a congregational Gloria.
  6. Alternate weeks, chanting the Introit one week and a singing a hymn (or better yet, a hymn based on the Introit text) the next.
  7. Work the congregation into singing the Introit text: a refrain can be chanted in Latin or English, using a Gregorian psalm tone or a Meinrad-style tone; psalm verses and a doxology are easily sung between repetitions of this refrain.
  8. Wouldn't it be wonderful for the Schola to chant the Proper Introit, and afterwards, with the sacred ministers in the sanctuary, for all to sing the English translation of it, using a modal psalm tone that matches the Introit!

These ideas have great merit and may have the outcome of leading the clergy and congregation into accepting a sung Introit as a perfectly legitimate option for opening Mass, either occasionally or on a regular basis. There's no questioning the rubrical validity of opening Mass with a chanted Gregorian Introit — our battle will always be to educate clergy and congregations who falsely claim "pastoral insensitivity" when this format is used.

Gary Penkala
CanticaNOVA Publications

CanticaNOVA Publications / PO Box 1388 / Charles Town, WV 25414-7388
Send website comments or questions to: