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Musical Musings: Liturgy Page 2

Liturgical Surprises (cont.)

  • "[The Gloria] is sung by the congregation, or by the congregation alternately with the choir, or by the choir alone." (GIRM #31)

    The tradition of alternating sung phrases on the Gloria is maintained in many European churches, particularly when a chant setting is used. A wonderful, festive choral Gloria (perhaps from a Mozart Missa Brevis) would be a superb way to mark a solemnity or feast. Yet how egregiously have many congregations and priests been trained to resent this!

  • "The [responsorial] psalm as a rule is drawn from the Lectionary because the individual psalm texts are directly connected with the individual readings: the choice of psalm depends therefore on the readings. Nevertheless, in order that the people may be able to join in the responsorial psalm more readily, some texts of responses have been chosen [the common responsorial psalms], according to the different seasons of the year and classes of saints, for optional use, whenever the psalm is sung, in place of the text corresponding to the reading." (GIRM #36)

    Use a common responsorial psalm occasionally. See CNP's selection of psalms.

  • "Sequences are optional, except on Easter Sunday and Pentecost." (GIRM #40)

    The glorious sequence of Easter (or Pentecost) may not be omitted because of "big crowds." Why not try a CNP setting for choir/cantor and congregation? Praises to the Paschal Victim or Pentecost Sequence

  • "At its meeting in November 1969, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops voted that, in general, the directives of the Roman Missal concerning the posture of the congregation at Mass should be left unchanged, but that Number 21 of the General Instruction should be adapted so that the people kneel beginning after the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer." (Appendix to the GIRM #21).

    Seems clear enough!

  • "During the breaking of the bread and the comingling, the Agnus Dei is as a rule sung by the choir or cantor with the congregation responding." (GIRM #56e)

    This rubric makes allowance for a choir to sing the Lamb of God alone. This is confirmed in the United States by the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy document Music in Catholic Worship:

    "Unlike the 'Holy, Holy, Holy' and the Lord's Prayer, the 'Lamb of God' is not necessarily a song of the people. Hence it may be sung by the choir." (MCW #68)

  • "During the priest's and the faithful's reception of the sacrament the Communion Song is sung...The song begins when the priest takes communion and continues for as long as seems appropriate while the faithful receive Christ's body...An antiphon from the Graduale Romanum may also be used, with or without the psalm...It is sung by the choir alone or by the choir or cantor with the congregation." (GIRM #56i)

    Again, the option of singing an antiphon and psalm verses, ideal for tailoring the music to the time of the procession, is stressed. See CanticaNOVA's Communion Psalms for the Liturgical Seasons.

  • "The concluding rite consists of: a) the priest's greeting and blessing, and b) the dismissal."

    What is of particular interest here is what's NOT in the rubrics. There is absolutely NO mention whatsoever of any Closing Song! This has never been an official part of the Roman Rite. It is added (almost universally) in the United States as a feature borrowed from Protestant worship. Festive occasions, like the Solemnity of Christ the King, might be perfect opportunities to demonstrate the Latin rite as celebrated properly in Rome by using a brilliant organ toccata after the dismissal.

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