Just a few observations. All of the music for the Mass was printed in the parish's weekly bulletin. The Gloria scheduled was the Latin chant (Vatican Mass VIII - de Angelis). I was looking forward to singing this, after having commented about the latin Gloria in an earlier blog posting. Unfortunately, when we got to the Gloria, it was recited. It struck me that it was like a group of people gathering around a birthday honoree and reciting—rather than singing—"Happy Birthday." The Gloria simply needs to be sung. The same thing occurred with the responsorial psalm. There was a musical setting for it printed in the bulletin, but the entire psalm was recited. There I sat, reciting the antiphon: "The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy." Frankly, there wasn't much that was joyful about it. There were two women in the sanctuary; one was the lector, the other the extraordinary minister of holy communion. Neither of them ever picked up the bulletin to sing anything. This was like being in another world for me. Minimal participation at best. There was no cantor, or was there?
When it came time for communion, the organist—with a lovely voice—chanted the Latin antiphon "Laetabimur in salutari tuo" (Plainchant, Mode II). Then he played the introduction to the communion processional song. I immediately wondered why he didn't lead us in the Gloria or at least attempt to lead the refrain of the responsorial psalm earlier.
I know that his intention here was to sing the chant appointed for this Sunday, but I've got to tell you, this was simply as disjointed as it gets. I felt like the musician wanted to "get the proper antiphon in," without regard for the liturgical action that was occurring. Here's what Sing to the Lord (the new document that helps guide our musical practice here in the United States) has to say:
"While the priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion chant [or song] 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 begins immediately and continues 'for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful.' Because the Communion chant expresses the unity of those processing and receiving the Holy Sacrament, communal singing is commendable. The singing of the people should be preeminent."
"There are several options for the Communion song or chant, including the proper antiphon from the Graduale Romanum, a seasonal antiphon from the Graduale Simplex, an antiphon and psalm from a collection approved for liturgical use, or another appropriate liturgical song."
Where was the 'communitarian nature?' It looked more like the chant was sung to accompany the priest's reception of holy communion, and that the laity's reception was accompanied by the liturgical song chosen for that Mass, which was I Received the Living God.
We at WLP are encouraging our composers, as directed by Sing to the Lord, to compose settings of communion songs using the proper antiphons. The hope here is that the song, which should begin as soon as we finish the "O Lord, I am not worthy to receive you . . ." accompanies the reception of communion by all. There is one song, not a chant in Latin followed by a song.
I really had to work hard at this liturgy. The celebrant was Ugandan. His English was not easily grasped. The spoken parts that are usually sung sung irked me. The fact that the two women in the sanctuary were not interested in singing was disturbing. When I returned to my pew after having received communion, I belted out the refrain "I received the living God, and my heart is full of joy." And I really meant it, despite the fact that the liturgy simply missed the mark in so many ways. I always encourage people to look for the moment of transformation that God has in store for us at each and every Mass. Mine took place while I sang that refrain during communion. I had received the living God. That was the miracle for me at that Mass.
That being said, however, I firmly believe that we need to work much harder as liturgical ministers to prepare places and times throughout the liturgy for these moments of transformation to occur for those entrusted to our care. God is God, and we are not. But we are given much responsibility when it comes to our ministry at Mass.
Hope your week is a good one. Feel free to comment.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.