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Musical Musings: CNP Feedback

CNP Feedback - Entrance Psalms

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:

At a funeral, the antiphons given in the Sacramentary are quite short so they could not possibly "cover" the time it takes to process from the door of the church (after the reception of the body) to the altar. Should we sing psalm verses with the antiphon repeated after each verse? Has any kind of official direction been given on what psalm verses to use for funeral entrances or any entrance? Is it a correct thing to do? Or do we just sing the antiphon once and let it go at that? Thanks for your infomative website and for your answer to this question.

Funeral Liturgist

A. Dear Funeral Liturgist:

Thank you for your kind words about the CanticaNOVA Publications website.

Your question concerning the appropriate psalm to use with the Entrance Antiphon (Introit) is very understandable. This area (the Propers of the Mass: Entrance, Offertory and Communion Antiphons) is one in which direction and materials are considerably lacking in the Sacramentary (the English translation by ICEL of the Missale Romanum). There is little indication about how the Entrance and Communion Antiphons are to be used, and no indication as to what psalm and verses should be sung between antiphon repetitions. Further, the Offertory Antiphons themselves were never even translated into English and are completely missing from the Sacramentary!

There are ways, however, to correct these mistakes or oversights in the Sacramentary, but it requires considerable research and volumes that may not be available to every parish.

There are three volumes that contain some or all of the Propers of the Mass, in addition to the Latin Missale Romanum:
  1. the Graduale Romanum
  2. the Graduale Simplex
  3. the Sacramentary
Let's look at the Introit for the Requiem Mass (Funeral Mass) is it occurs in each volume.

1. The Graduale Romanum (using Gregorian chant in neums and Latin texts) offers:

Antiphon: Requiem æternam dona eis Domine: et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Verses: from Psalm 65 (64): 2-5
2. Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sion ...
3. Qui audis orationem ...
4. Etsi prævaluerunt ...
5a. Beatus quem elegisti ...
5b. Replebimur bonis ...

2. The Graduale Simplex (using simpler chant and neums, with Latin texts) offers:

Antiphon: Requiem æternam dona eis Domine: et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Verses: from Psalm 65 (64): 2-5
2. Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sion ...
3. Qui audis orationem ...
4. Etsi prævaluerunt ...
5a. Beatus quem elegisti ...
5b. Replebimur bonis ...
There are also two alternates given: "Dona eis Domine ..." with Psalm 6, and "Aperite mihi portas ..." with Psalm 118 (117).

3. The Sacramentary (with no music at all) offers simply:

Antiphon: Give them eternal rest, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine on them for ever.
There are two alternate antiphons given: "The Lord will open ..." and (for Eastertide) "Just as Jesus died..."

It's clear from the first two volumes that Psalm 65:2-5 should be used as the verses between the first antiphon, "Give them eternal rest..." One can easily chant these (using a psalm tone, Meinrad tone, Anglican chant, etc.) with the appropriate text from the New American Bible (or other approved translations).

Noting which psalm verses are called for during the Entrance for various liturgies sounds like a good project for CNP, and we'll work on such a list to publish on our website. We did a similar list for the Offertory music — this was more imperative since even the Offertory Antiphons themselves are missing from the Sacramentary!

It should also be mentioned that Dr. Paul Ford has completed a helpful volume called By Flowing Waters (available from Liturgical Press) which translates the Graduale Simplex into English, using modern musical notation. The Introit for the Funeral Mass is given as follows:

Antiphon:: Lord, grant that they may have eternal rest for ever in the radiance of your light.
Verses: from Psalm 65: 2-5
2ab. Praise is due to you ...
2c,3. O you who answer prayer ...
4. When deeds of iniquity ...
5a. Happy are those ...
5b. We shall be satisfied ...
The other two options from the Graduale Simplex are also translated.
The Scripture translation used is the New Revised Standard Version.

I hope this information is helpful. Keep checking the CNP site for an article that will list the psalms to be sung with each Sunday's Entrance Antiphon.

Gary Penkala
CanticaNOVA Publications

See also:
      Graduale Romanum
      Graduale Simplex
      Proper Offertory Antiphons

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