The U.S. document Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship (2007) treats “The Parts to be Sung” beginning at no. 115. Helpful guidance is given on these genres, in this order:
- dialogues and acclamations,
- antiphons and psalms,
- refrains and repeated responses,
- and finally, hymns.
Then there is this about daily Mass at no. 116:
At daily Mass, the above priorities should be followed as much as possible, in this order: dialogues and acclamations (Gospel Acclamation, Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, Amen); litanies (Kyrie, Agnus Dei); Responsorial Psalm, perhaps in a simple chanted setting; and finally, a hymn or even two on more important days. Even when musical accompaniment is not possible, every attempt should be made to sing the acclamations and dialogues.
As we move into Lent, a time when attendance at daily Mass oftentimes increases, it would be useful to talk about music at daily Mass, and whether the bishops’ guidance is being followed. When I’m away from the abbey and off campus, I find that singing at daily Mass typically involves one or two hymns – probably about two stanzas of each – but everything else is recited.
Is it possible to sing the more properly liturgical items first, as the U.S. bishops advise? What has been your experience? When there is not musical accompaniment, what Mass settings and refrains work best unaccompanied?
Let us share our wisdom and learn from one another.
Moderator’s note: “Non solum” is a feature at Pray Tell for our readership community to discuss practical liturgical issues. The title comes from article 11 of the Vatican II liturgy constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium: “Therefore there is to be vigilance among holy pastors that in liturgical action not only are laws for valid and licit celebration to be observed, but that the faithful should participate knowingly, actively, and fruitfully.” (Ideo sacris pastoribus advigilandum est ut in actione liturgica non solum observentur leges ad validam et licitam celebrationem, sed ut fideles scienter, actuose et fructuose eandem participent.) May the series contribute to good liturgical practice – not only following the law, but especially grasping the spirit of the liturgy!