Thanks to all who continue to voice their opinions and preferences about the cantor's gesture. This, from Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship:
"At times, it may be appropriate to use a modest gesture that invites participation and clearly indicates when the congregation is to begin, but gestures should be used sparingly and only when genuinely needed."
It's that last phrase, "only when genuinely needed," that should guide the use of gestures.
OK, folks, putting another question out there for you. I know it has been asked before; just trying to get some feedback once again, especially in places where the practice has been changed or adjusted.
I often notice a complete lack of uniformity when it comes to when the piece of music sung during Communion begins. The General Instruction on the Roman Missal couldn't be any clearer:
"86. While the Priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion Chant is begun, its purpose being to express the spiritual union of the communicants by means of the unity of their voices, to show gladness of heart, and to bring out more clearly the 'communitarian' character of the procession to receive the Eucharist. The singing is prolonged for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful."
At this point in the Mass, we all, priest, deacon, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, other liturgical ministers, musicians, and members of the faithful in the congregation are "one" in the Body of Christ. The music sung during Communion begins when the first person receives Holy Communion, namely the priest.
So often, there is no music when the priest receives Holy Communion. Sometimes the music doesn't begin until right after he has consumed the Body and Blood of Christ. Sometimes the music doesn't begin until the deacon has received Communion. Sometimes the music doesn't begin until the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion receive. Sometimes the music doesn't begin until the musicians receive Communion.
At at least two parishes where I have worshiped in the past year, the cantor sings a solo that begins after the priest consumes the Body and Blood of Christ, continuing to "cover" the reception of Holy Communion by the extraordinary ministers. Often this solo continues well into the reception of Communion by many in the congregation. Then, while the congregation is in the middle of the Communion procession, the solo ends, there is a silent pause, then the cantor announces the "Communion Hymn."
How do these practices express, as the GIRM says, the "communitarian" character of the Communion procession. These practices mitigate against a sense of communion, don't you think?
So, my question, when do you begin the music that will be sung at Communion in your parish? What is your reasoning?
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.