Tuesday, December 4, 2007


This second part of my review of Sing to the Lord takes us through The Church at Prayer.

16. In his capacity as “the chief steward of the mysteries of God in the particular Church entrusted to his care,” the diocesan bishop is particularly concerned with the promotion of the dignity of liturgical celebrations, “the beauty of the sacred place, of music, and of art.” He carries out this duty through the example of his own celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, encouraging sung participation by his own example; by his attention to the practice of liturgical music in the parishes and communities of his diocese, especially in his own cathedral church; by his promotion of the continuing musical education and formation of clergy and musicians; and by his careful attention to the musical training of future priests and deacons.

17. The bishop is assisted in this role by his staff in the diocesan Office of Worship and/or the diocesan music or liturgical commission, which provides “valuable assistance in promoting sacred music together with pastoral liturgical action in the diocese.”

Are you sure? There are some bishops who are very good in implementing good liturgy. But there are some others, well.... not so good.

19. The importance of the priest’s participation in the Liturgy, especially by singing, cannot be overemphasized. The priest sings the presidential prayers and dialogues of the Liturgy according to his capabilities, and he encourages sung participation in the Liturgy by his own example, joining in the congregational song. “If, however. . . the priest or minister does not possess a voice suitable for the proper execution of the singing, he can render without singing one or more of the more difficult parts which concern him, reciting them in a loud and distinct voice. However, this must not be done merely for the convenience of the priest or minister.”

I've worked for my share of them in my day. I even once worked for a priest who opted to SAY the Exsultet at the Easter Vigil, instead of having a cantor chant it if he REALLY couldn't.

20. Seminaries and other programs of priestly formation should train priests to sing with confidence and to chant those parts of the Mass assigned to them. Those priests who are capable should be trained in the practice of chanting the Gospel on more solemn occasions when a deacon may not be present. At the very least, all priests should be comfortable singing those parts of the Eucharistic Prayer that are assigned to them for which musical notation is provided in the Roman Missal.

I've worked with only one deacon (no priests) who ever chanted the Gospel in the Ordinary Form of the Mass. Otherwise, the only time I've ever heard the Gospel chanted is in the Extraordinary Form.

21. The priest joins with the congregation in singing the acclamations, chants, hymns, and songs of the Liturgy. However, the priest does not join in the singing of the Memorial Acclamation or the Great Amen. To the greatest extent possible, he should use a congregational worship aid during the processions and other rituals of the Liturgy and should be attentive to the cantor and psalmist as they lead the gathered assembly in song. In order to promote the corporate voice of the assembly when it sings, the priest’s own voice should not be heard above the congregation, nor should he sing the congregational response of the dialogues. While the assembly sings, the priest should step back from a microphone, or, if he is using a wireless microphone, he should turn it off.

First emphasis: The priest doesn't join in singing the Memorial or Amen??? That's a first.
Dialogue emphasis: Highly agreed! That might give me a change of heart in the first emphasis above.
Microphone emphasis: Very highly agreed! As for the wireless mic, I'm not a big fan of those to begin with, especially when you start hearing enough static to fill three basilicas and a cathedral.

23. In accord with their abilities, deacons should be prepared to sing those parts of the Liturgy that belong to them. Deacons should receive training in singing the dialogues between deacon and people, such as those at the Gospel and at the dismissal. They should also learn to sing various invitations in the rites, the Exsultet, the third form of the Act of Penitence, and the Prayer of the Faithful. If they are capable, deacons should be trained in the practice of chanting the Gospel on more solemn occasions. Programs of diaconal preparation should include major and compulsory courses in the chant and song of the Liturgy.

Agreed. I have worked with some singing deacons. Although I must admit, the last deacon I worked with, an elderly gentleman -- very nice guy, he and I got along great, but hardly any voice, let alone a singing voice.

In my next post of this series, "The Gathered Liturgical Assembly". OMG! There's that word "Gathered" again! (OY VEY!)


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