Saturday, March 19, 2005


We last left off at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer. Now we're going to wrap this tour up with coverage of the Communion and Concluding Rites.


81. In the Lord's Prayer a petition is made for daily food, which for Christians means preeminently the eucharistic bread, and also for purification from sin, so that what is holy may, in fact, be given to those who are holy. The priest says the invitation to the prayer, and all the faithful say it with him; the priest alone adds the embolism, which the people conclude with a doxology. The embolism, enlarging upon the last petition of the Lord's Prayer itself, begs deliverance from the power of evil for the entire community of the faithful.
The invitation, the Prayer itself, the embolism, and the doxology by which the people conclude these things are sung or said aloud.

In many Protestant denominations, the Lord's Prayer is said, with the doxology ("For thine is the kingdom...") as the ending. As Roman Catholics, this doxology was added on with the Novus Ordo Mass. It was never used in the Tridentine Mass. The correct format in Catholic liturgy is the Lord's Prayer itself - from "Pater Noster"/"Our Father" to "Sed libera nos a malo"/"But deliver us from evil", followed by the "embolism", which the priest says the prayer "Deliver us, Lord, from every evil...", the followed by the proclaiming of the people, "For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever." The text is not to be altered.

Last half of 82. The priest breaks the Bread and puts a piece of the host into the chalice to signify the unity of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the work of salvation, namely, of the living and glorious Body of Jesus Christ. The supplication Agnus Dei, is, as a rule, sung by the choir or cantor with the congregation responding; or it is, at least, recited aloud. This invocation accompanies the fraction and, for this reason, may be repeated as many times as necessary until the rite has reached its conclusion, the last time ending with the words dona nobis pacem (grant us peace).

This prayer, sung or said by all, is a three-verse litany. Yes, three and only three verses. When sung, it is usually cantor or choir intoning "Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi"/"Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world", to which the people respond "Miserere nobis"/"Have mercy on us" the first two times, and "Dona nobis pacem"/"Grant us peace", the third time. Additional tropes detracting from the meaning of the text, such as "Jesus, Lamb of God", or "Risen Lord", or "Bread of Life and food for our souls" should be avoided. If the repetition as many times as necessary, as stated above, is a must, then the first two verses (those ending in "Have mercy on us") should be the verses repeated, with no text changes.


86. While the priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion chant is begun. Its purpose is to express the communicants' union in spirit by means of the unity of their voices, to show joy of heart, and to highlight more clearly the "communitarian" nature of the procession to receive Communion. The singing is continued for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful.
If, however, there is to be a hymn after Communion, the Communion chant should be ended in a timely manner. Care should be taken that singers, too, can receive Communion with ease.

87. In the dioceses of the United States of America there are four options for the Communion chant: (1) the antiphon from the Roman Missal or the Psalm from the Roman Gradual as set to music there or in another musical setting; (2) the seasonal antiphon and Psalm of the Simple Gradual; (3) a song from another collection of psalms and antiphons, approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) a suitable liturgical song chosen in accordance with no. 86 above. This is sung either by the choir alone or by the choir or cantor with the people.
If there is no singing, however, the Communion antiphon found in the Missal may be recited either by the faithful, or by some of them, or by a lector. Otherwise the priest himself says it after he has received Communion and before he distributes Communion to the faithful.

In the case of the antiphon from the Roman Missal or Roman Gradual (option 1), these antiphons are generally short, and serve as just that - an antiphon. Verses from Psalms can be used, via the Simple Gradual Psalm choice (e.g., option 2) or other suitible Psalms (e.g., option 3). In the case of option 4, the "suitable liturgical song" may be a hymn by the congregation, a motet by the choir, or a responsory consisting of parts by cantor/choir and congregation.

One should take care that if option 4 is used (not the most preferred by the Church, but most popular amongst many parishes in North America), the song should be Christ-focused, even on those feasts that would pertain to Mary, unless it is prescribed in the Proper for Communion of that day. The Magnificat would be an exception of those which should be avoided, as it is not a hymn to Mary, but to God by Mary. However, such devotional pieces as "Ave Maria" and "Hail, Holy Queen Enthroned Above" should be avoided here, and perhaps placed elsewhere.


90. The concluding rites consist of:

  • Brief announcements, if they are necessary;
  • The priest's greeting and blessing, which on certain days and occasions is enriched and expressed in the prayer over the People or another more solemn formula;
  • The dismissal of the people by the deacon or the priest, so that each may go out to do good works, praising and blessing God;
  • The kissing of the altar by the priest and the deacon, followed by a profound bow to the altar by the priest, the deacon, and the other ministers.
From the Vigil of Easter to the Octave (Second Sunday), the dismissal is amended by the double alleluia in both the priest and people's parts: The Mass is ended, go in peace, alleluia, alleluia! / Thanks be to God, alleluia, alleluia!


Neither the Roman Missal nor the Roman Gradual make mention of the "Recessional Hymn". The Recessional Hymn was started by custom, probably around the time Vatican II was in the works. However, this "Recessional Hymn" was only used in the case of Low Mass. You see, it was originally intended that when Low Mass (Missa Recitata) was used, that the people were given hymns to sing - Entrance, Offertory, Communion, and Recessional, and the sung Ordinary and Proper be recited; and that High Mass (Missa Cantata) was (still is) the complete sung Mass - the Introit, Kyrie, Gloria (when seasonally correct), Gradual, Alleluia (or Tract in Lent), Credo, Offertory Proper, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Communion Proper, and Ite Missa Est, along with any other sung dialogues between priest and people.


OOPS!!! I did!

67. The purpose of the Symbolum or Profession of Faith, or Creed, is that the whole gathered people may respond to the word of God proclaimed in the readings taken from Sacred Scripture and explained in the homily and that they may also call to mind and confess the great mysteries of the faith by reciting the rule of faith in a formula approved for liturgical use, before these mysteries are celebrated in the Eucharist.
68. The Creed is to be sung or said by the priest together with the people on Sundays and Solemnities. It may be said also at particular celebrations of a more solemn character. If it is sung, it is begun by the priest or, if this is appropriate, by a cantor or by the choir. It is sung, however, either by all together or by the people alternating with the choir.

Very rare is the case of the Creed in the Vernacular sung for some reason. Perhaps it's because of its length. It could be sung, obviously, as seen in paragraphs 67 and 68 above. It doesn't have to be, but it's definitely encouraged. It would be great to see it done. In a Latin High Mass (Missa Cantata), it is always sung.

Here endeth the Lesson, and the tour of the IGMR. Any questions?

+In Christ,

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