Friday, March 18, 2005


In my previous post, we covered the Introductory Rites. Here we will cover the Liturgy of the Word.


61. After the first reading comes the responsorial Psalm, which is an integral part of the Liturgy of the Word and holds great liturgical and pastoral importance, because it fosters meditation on the word of God. The responsorial Psalm should correspond to each reading and should, as a rule, be taken from the Lectionary. It is preferable that the responsorial Psalm be sung, at least as far as the people's response is concerned. Hence, the psalmist, or the cantor of the Psalm, sings the verses of the Psalm from the ambo or another suitable place. The entire congregation remains seated and listens but, as a rule, takes part by singing the response, except when the Psalm is sung straight through without a response. In order, however, that the people may be able to sing the Psalm response more readily, texts of some responses and Psalms have been chosen for the various seasons of the year or for the various categories of Saints. These may be used in place of the text corresponding to the reading whenever the Psalm is sung. If the Psalm cannot be sung, then it should be recited in such a way that it is particularly suited to fostering meditation on the word of God.

In the dioceses of the United States of America, the following may also be sung in place of the Psalm assigned in the Lectionary for Mass: either the proper or seasonal antiphon and Psalm from the Lectionary, as found either in the Roman Gradual or Simple Gradual or in another musical setting; or an antiphon and Psalm from another collection of the psalms and antiphons, including psalms arranged in metrical form, providing that they have been approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop. Songs or hymns may not be used in place of the responsorial Psalm.

First, the position of the Psalmist. The preferred location for the Psalmist to proclaim the Responsorial Psalm is from the ambo. However, note the words to follow: "or another suitable place". In many places, cantors and Psalmists can be few and far between, therefore, the organist often has to lead from the console.

When accompanying the Psalms at the organ, the best result is playing the cantor parts on the swell with fairly soft 8' stops, and accompany the congregation in its response on the great with something much fuller (not necessarily the big 8', 4', 2' combination - a good full 8' and 4' is sufficient, especially in more somber Psalms).

The Psalm should be that of the Lectionary for Mass. However, the setting from the Roman Gradual or Simple Gradual may be used. The setting found in these latter two books is known as the "Gradual", and is usually an antiphon and one verse. This should be treated just like a Responsorial Psalm may be treated - that is, the antiphon intoned by the cantor, then repeated by all, the versicle sung by the cantor, followed by a repeat of the antiphon by all.

Psalms may be in a metrical form (e.g., the Gelineau Gradual, as found in the hymnal "Worship II" and much of "Worship, Third Edition", both published by GIA Publications). At least until a new translation of Mass arrives, the Grail/Gelineau settings are still approved by the USCCB. However, songs/hymns can never fill this spot. This means that you cannot program "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace" as a responsorial Psalm. Offertory? Sure! But not as the Psalm.


62. After the reading that immediately precedes the Gospel, the Alleluia or another chant indicated by the rubrics is sung, as required by the liturgical season. An acclamation of this kind constitutes a rite or act in itself, by which the assembly of the faithful welcomes and greets the Lord who is about to speak to them in the Gospel and professes their faith by means of the chant. It is sung by all while standing and is led by the choir or a cantor, being repeated if this is appropriate. The verse, however, is sung either by the choir or by the cantor.
The Alleluia is sung in every season other than Lent. The verses are taken from the Lectionary or the Graduale.
During Lent, in place of the Alleluia, the verse before the Gospel is sung, as indicated in the Lectionary. It is also permissible to sing another psalm or tract, as found in the Graduale.

Just before the Gospel reading, the Alleluia is sung. First, it is good to point out that the Alleluia is just that - ALLELUIA. It may be sung as a singlefold, twofold, twentyfold. However, adding words to the Alleluia (as an antiphon) is discouraged (e.g., "Give thanks to the risen Lord" or "Praise the Word of Truth and Life"). Like the Responsorial Psalm, it is intoned by a cantor, repeated by all, then again by all after the cantor sings the versicle.

The versicle can be taken from the Lectionary for Mass, or the Roman Graduale. The official musical setting from the Roman Gradual (often the same setting that had appeared in the Liber Usualis for Tridentine Masses) is a single Alleluia intoned by the cantor, repeated by all, but the repeat has an extended final syllable, usually by ten or more additional notes. However, multiple alleluias (double, triple, six-fold, etc.) are also allowed.

The Alleluia is replaced by an alternate Gospel acclamation during the season of Lent. The four choices of the Gospel Acclamation in the Lectionary for Mass in English are as follows:
  1. Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
  2. Praise and honor to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
  3. Glory to you, Word of God, Lord Jesus Christ.
  4. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory.

During Lent, it is also permissible to sing another Psalm from the Graduale - known as the Tract. The Tract is just a straight-forward (not responsorial) Psalm before the Gospel. It can be sung by all, or just the choir, or alternately between cantor/all or choir/all. These vary in length - from short (Lent II) to really long (Lent I and Palm Sunday).


64. The Sequence, which is optional except on Easter Sunday and on Pentecost Day, is sung before the Alleluia.

In today's Mass, three sequences arise. The Corpus Christ sequence, "Lauda Sion" is optional. If sung, it should be done in full, though it's common to sing the last four verses ("Ecce Panis Angelorum"). The other two sequences, Easter Sunday ("Victimae Paschali Laudes") and Pentecost Sunday ("Veni, Sancte Spiritus") are required. Note that this is Easter and Pentecost SUNDAY and not VIGIL. On those two days are two seperate sets of Propers which should NEVER be interchanged. Note also that this is sung before the Alleluia. In the Tridentine Mass, it was sung after the alleluia. Efforts are being made by some to restore the sequence to that spot.

In the next chapter, we'll nit-pick through the Liturgy of the Eucharist - from the Offertory to the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer (Amen).

+In Christ,

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