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CNP Feedback -
Super flumina? — Really?

Q. Dear CNP:

I'm preparing my fall programs and appreciate this website. I have a question regarding the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C). Why is Super flumina Babylonis suggested for offertory? I don't see the link with the Sunday. Thanks for clarifying.

Byda Rivers
Babylon OK

A. Dear Byda:

We're glad you find the Liturgical Planning Pages on the CanticaNOVA Publications website useful.

Your question deals with our suggestion for the text, Super flumina Babylonis, on the planning page for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time in Year C.

Your concern seems to be: "Is this pertinent to the readings for that Sunday?"

One of the great benefits of the Novus Ordo Mass and the liturgical renewal after Vatican II was the expansion and broadening of Scripture heard at Mass. With this came an increased focus on the Lectionary as a basis for preaching and for musical choices.

It's been the position of CNP that perhaps this freedom in choosing congregational music for "processional" moments at Mass was taken too far. The use of hymns almost exclusively at Entrance, Offertory and Communion, stemming from a fourth-level "exception" in the GIRM rubric, has all but eliminated Propers from their legitimate place at Mass.

The glories of the three-year Lectionary allow for more Scripture to be heard at Mass. Sunday readings do not repeat annually, but on a three-year basis. The Propers (Entrance Antiphon, Offertory Antiphon, Communion Antiphon) and the Orations (Collect, Prayer over the Offerings, Prayer after Communion), however, are not part of the Lectionary book, but are contained in the Roman Missal, and do not follow a three-year cycle. These repeat annually. The same Propers and Orations are given for The 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time in all three Years (A B C).

Stemming from our training and/or practice in the early days of the three-year Lectionary (1970s), we musicians have perhaps placed too much emphasis on correlating all the congregational music (e.g. hymns) with the readings for a Mass. This correlation is not present or envisioned in the official Church texts for Mass — obviously, since how could the same Collect for a Sunday, used on Years A, B and C, possibly relate directly to each set of three distinct readings. It's not supposed to. The Church is comfortable with the broader themes put forth in the Propers and Orations.

Super flumina Babylonis is suggested in our planning pages because it is the proper Offertory text (found in the Graduale Romanum but not in the Roman Missal) for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Because this is part of the Propers, which run on an annual cycle, this text is used on this Sunday in all three years.

In terms of preaching, the proclaimed Scripture readings are one source of inspiration for the homily, but others exist: articles of faith, other liturgical texts, issues that impact faith in our lives.

Likewise, in terms of music selection, the readings are only one source of inspiration. We would be wise to expand our resources, particularly looking at the treasures that exist among the Propers — settings of these official texts as simple chant or complex polyphony.

Hope this helps!

Gary Penkala
CanticaNOVA Publications
Article written 05 August 2013

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