This new series gives a piece by piece look through what's really supposed be done at Mass, according to the Instructio Generalis Missalis Romanis, that is, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, and compare these items with what goes on.
THE "Entrance Chant"
47. After the people have gathered, the Entrance chant begins as the priest enters with the deacon and ministers. The purpose of this chant is to open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical season or festivity, and accompany the procession of the priest and ministers.
48. The singing at this time is done either alternately by the choir and the people or in a similar way by the cantor and the people, or entirely by the people, or by the choir alone. In the dioceses of the United States of America there are four options for the Entrance 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 Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) a suitable liturgical song similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop.
First order of nit-picking: Note the nomenclature here - "Entrance Chant" or "Introit" (from the Latin, "Introitus"). Others may use the term "Processional". However, many of those who like a more contemporary worship tend to use the term "Gathering Song". Note what this accompanies. It does not accompany the gathering of the faithful. It accompanies the priest and ministers in procession to the altar. The gathering of the faithful has already happened before Mass begins. So, truthfully, use of the term "Gathering Song" would be out of the question.
Although this is usually done in the form of a hymn (option 4, as stated in paragraph 48 above) in many parishes, the preferred option is the "antiphon from the Roman Missal" or "Psalm from the Roman Gradual". Otherwise, why would this be listed first? Hymns are always the "easy way out". Don't get me wrong - they're not a bad thing. But think of this: as hymns are always printed to different tunes in most cases, the Introit from the Roman Gradual can just as easily be sung to a Psalm Tone as a hymn can be sung to a metrical tune. Though the "official" melody is hard to sing, one can use a Psalm Tone, in fact, use that SAME Psalm Tone for an entire season of Introits.
Let's rewind to the beginning of Paragraph 48. "The singing at this time is done either alternately by the choir and the people or in a similar way by the cantor and the people, or entirely by the people, or by the choir alone." Yes, a choir can sing a choral Introit, either to a Psalm Tone as previously mentioned, or in the form of choral polyphony (aka, the "motet"). This does not detract in any manner the Church's call for "full and active participation".
Another bad practice, usually when option 4 is being used, is the cantor or commentator announcing "Please stand and greet our celebrant and join in singing our gathering hymn, number xxx". We're not greeting the celebrant at this point. That's done socially before you enter (or as you leave) the church. A hilarious point is at one church I worked at, circa 1985. The commentator was absent, and I had doubled as organist and cantor with no microphone in the gallery. The pastor made the usual pre-Mass announcements, stepped into the sacristy for about three seconds, came back out and said "Will you please stand and greet ME by singing hymn number xxx".
THE "Kyrie Eleison"
52. After the Act of Penitence, the Kyrie is always begun, unless it has already been included as part of the Act of Penitence. Since it is a chant by which the faithful acclaim the Lord and implore his mercy, it is ordinarily done by all, that is, by the people and with the choir or cantor having a part in it. As a rule, each acclamation is sung or said twice, though it may be repeated several times, by reason of the character of the various languages, as well as of the artistry of the music or of other circumstances. When the Kyrie is sung as a part of the Act of Penitence, a trope may precede each acclamation.
The "Act of Penitence" as mentioned here is the "Confiteor", that is, "I confess to Almighty God..." After the Confiteor is prayed, the Kyrie is said/sung (preferably sung). The trope method of the Kyrie, mentioned in the last sentence of the above paragraph, is the very commonly used "Penitential Rite C", where the celebrant or deacon intones an invocation such as "You were sent to heal the contrite. Lord, have mercy/Kyrie eleison", and the congregation repeats "Lord have mercy/Kyrie eleison". In either case, the Kyrie is a sixfold Kyrie (was ninefold in the Tridentine liturgy and also in the Vernacular liturgy from 1964) - intoned by the celebrant/deacon/choir/cantor, and repeated by all.
THE RITE OF SPRINKLING
end of 51. On Sundays, especially in the Season of Easter, in place of the customary Act of Penitence, from time to time the blessing and sprinkling of water to recall Baptism may take place.
The Rite of Sprinkling can be done on any Sunday of the year, but, especially during Easter Season. At this time, the celebrant blesses the Holy Water and sprinkles it on the congregation. During the sprinkling itself, an antiphon is usually sung. Outside of Easter Season, it is usually the "Asperges Me" (Sprinkle me, O Lord, with hyssop, and cleanse us...). The verse that follows is from Psalm 51(50), "Miserere mei Deus/Have mercy on me, O Lord". During Easter Season, it is the "Vidi Aquam" (I saw water flowing, from the right side of the temple, alleluia...), and its verse is from Psalm 118 (117), "Confitemini Domino quoniam bonus/Give thanks to the Lord for he is good."
THE GLORIA IN EXCELSIS DEO
53. The Gloria is a very ancient and venerable hymn in which the Church, gathered together in the Holy Spirit, glorifies and entreats God the Father and the Lamb. The text of this hymn may not be replaced by any other text. The Gloria is intoned by the priest or, if appropriate, by a cantor or by the choir; but it is sung either by everyone together, or by the people alternately with the choir, or by the choir alone. If not sung, it is to be recited either by all together or by two parts of the congregation responding one to the other. It is sung or said on Sundays outside the Seasons of Advent and Lent, on solemnities and feasts, and at special celebrations of a more solemn character.
It is very clear here - This text may not be replaced. It may not be altered, paraphrased, or whatever. A sung setting should be through-composed (straight through), though it can be done responsorially (e.g., the "Gloria of the Bells" by C. Alexander Peloquin). The Gloria is omitted on Sundays of Advent and Lent - completely. It is, however, sung on Holy Thursday.
Part II will come soon, and will cover the Liturgy of the Word.