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Our Lady of Lourdes during Lent

The "Feedback Box" on the CanticaNOVA Publications website has proven quite effective in promoting communications on a variety of subjects, and expressing concerns of liturgists and musicians. From time to time, we'll compile a few of these questions or comments and put them in public view, with the hope that others with similar concerns may benefit from their content.

Q. Dear CNP:

I preparing the music for the celebration of Our Lady of Lourdes on the February 11. I have not been able to find a sung version of the Responsorial Psalm (from Judith) in either plain chant or metrical form. Can you help?

Planning for Mary

A. Dear Planning:

There are a few issues that concern us as we honor Our Lady of Lourdes on February 11.

First, the rank of this celebration is an optional memorial, which in the spectrum of celebrations (solemnity, feast, obligatory memorial, optional memorial) is of lowest rank.

Second, this date (February 11) falls during Lent this year (Friday after Ash Wednesday).

Given both of these circumstances, in most parishes a Mass for Our Lady of Lourdes would not be celebrated this year. Rather, the Mass for the Lenten weekday would be observed, including the propers (Entrance, Offertory, Communion antiphons), the readings (Is 58:1-9a, Psalm 51:3-6,18-19, Mt 9:14-15) and the orations (Opening Prayer, Prayer over the Gifts, Prayer after Communion) for Friday after Ash Wednesday. Vestment color would be violet.

If, for pastoral reasons, you wish to recognize Our Lady of Lourdes on this day, the Opening Prayer from the memorial:
God of mercy, we celebrate the feast of Mary,
     the sinless mother of God.
May her prayers help us to rise above our human weakness.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
may replace the Opening Prayer from the Lenten Mass — or this prayer may be used to conclude the General Intercessions. According to official rubrics, all other Mass parts, including other orations, antiphons and readings, are taken from the Lenten Mass of the day. Thus the Responsorial Psalm for the day is from Psalm 51, not Judith.

There are certain circumstance, though, when the full texts of the Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes may be used, even when it falls during Lent. If your parish is under the patronage of Our Lady of Lourdes (that is, if it's called Our Lady of Lourdes Church) then this day holds the rank of a solemnity in your parish. As a solemnity, it outranks the Lenten weekday, and it would be treated exactly like the Solemnity of Saint Joseph (on March 19). The Gloria and Creed are used, a second reading may be added before the Gospel, and organ music may be used abundantly. The Lenten Gospel acclamation, however, stills replaces the Alleluia. Prayers (orations), antiphons and readings may be chosen from those proper to the Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes or from the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary. White vestments are worn.

If Mary is considered your principal diocesan patroness under her title of Our Lady of Lourdes, then throughout your diocese the day ranks as a feast, which also outranks a Lenten weekday. It would be treated like the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter (February 22). A Gloria is sung, but no Creed is used. Two readings may precede the Gospel. As before, readings may be chosen from the proper or from the Common of the BVM, organ music is used and white vestments are worn.

If your situation falls into one of these latter two categories, then you may indeed be searching for a setting of the Responsorial Psalm from Judith, although this could legitimately be replaced by any of the psalms from the Common of the BVM (I Sm 2, Jdt 13, Ps 45, Ps 113, Lk 1). CNP publishes a version of Psalm 45. Psalm settings of weekday Responsorial Psalms are very difficult to find, especially this particular one from Judith, and substitution may be the best option.

However, if you'd like to use the proper text for your solemnity or feast, it's still possible, although it may require some work on your part. The refrain, "You are the highest honor of our race," can easily be sung to the first phrase of "Sing of Mary" (tune-PLEADING SAVIOR). In the key of F (1 flat) this would be written:
[A] You [G F] are the [D] high- [F G] est__

[A] hon- [C] or [A] of [G] our [F] race.
You could use the regular hymn accompaniment for this phrase, changing the last melody note from A to F. The verses could be chanted to a simple psalm tone, like 8G
  1. [C D] Bless-ed    [F__ ] are you, daughter, by the    [G] Most    [F] High    [F] God,

    [F__ ] above all the    [E] wo-    [F] men    [D] on    [C] earth;

    [F__ ] and blessed be the    [G] Lord    [F] God,

    [F__ ] the creator of    [E] heav-    [F] en    [D] and    [C] earth.    (REFRAIN)

  2. [C D] Your deed    [F__ ] of hope will never be for-    [G] got-    [F] ten

    [F__ ] by those who tell    [E] of    [F] the    [D] might    [F] of    [F] God.    (REFRAIN)
If you want to maintain some continuity within the Liturgy of the Word, you could sing the Gospel Acclamation using the same hymn tune:
Praise to___ you, Lord___ Je-sus Christ,___

King of___ end-less___ glo — — ry.
Set the Gospel verse to psalm tone 8G as above.

I hope this clarifies the situation, and in the case that your parish or diocese are under the patronage of Our Lady of Lourdes, perhaps these options may be useful in the Mass. Remember that this particular "psalm" would be sung this year only if you're gathering in Our Lady of Lourdes Church or if the diocese claims her as its principal patroness under that title.

Gary Penkala
CanticaNOVA Publications

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