Agnus Dei tropes – for Pentecost

As Pray Tell reported, it is not permitted to add invocations to the Agnus Dei with other Christological titles. It is permitted to repeat “Agnus Dei” as many times as needed. A door has opened, and we’re going through it this Pentecost Sunday at the abbey. We’re going to repeat “Agnus Dei” in many languages. As befits Pentecost, the Spirit brings about unity around the Table from the many languages of believers. We’re doing tropes in Hebrew, Greek, Esperanto, German and Japanese (recalling our Bavarian origins and our mission in Japan), and Spanish (the second-largest language group in U.S. Catholicism).

Schola does primitive organum on the congregational parts.

Here it is:

Agnus Dei multilingual tropes – Pentecost


  1. Excellent suggestion (for next Pentecost – no more rehearsals for us this choir “season”)! Also feeling affirmed that our parish choir does the same organum as at the Abbey!

  2. That is a sublime solution (but, Esperanto? really? reminds me of my college Latin professor, who, with his Classics professor wife, determined to raise their first-born child speaking Latin as its mother tongue — this circa 1980…).

    At my parish, it was the practice for a number of years (not sure if it’s being stamped out by newer leadership) to recite, instead of sing (our usual practice), the Our Father, with an invitation for all congregants to pray it in their respective mother tongues, which were many, given the broad international representation in the parish (typically, the celebrant would recite in Latin, btw).

  3. This is very similar to the Orthodox practice of singing the Paschal Troparian “Christ is risen from the dead…” in many languages.

    Since the encyclical Dies Domini sees every Lord’s Day as a weekly Pentecost as well as a weekly Easter, perhaps we don’t need to confine the use of multiple languages to one day a year.

    Musicians might find some ways of being creative about this for regular Sunday celebrations.

  4. The assembly will be unsure of when to change to “grant us peace” without changes in the tropes. The exception to this would be when priests disregard the rubrics and use one of those personal sized hosts that they can consume all by themselves. Just the usual three tropes required in that case. For the rest of us who are actually breaking the large host and distributing portions of it among the ciboria of freshly consecrated hosts, we’ll need to plod on with “Bread of Life” and similar tropes in hopes that the Temple Police won’t make a stop at our church.

    1. Changes in the tropes are not required as an aural signal. I know this because I’ve seen other methods work at least as well. If a cappella, all that’s required is a broader caesura by the singers; if accompanied, a difference in cadence (harmonically; dynamically; et cet.) will more than suffice.

    2. The exception to this would be when priests disregard the rubrics and use one of those personal sized hosts that they can consume all by themselves.

      Please cite rubrics that say this is illicit.

      1. Jack did not say, nor even imply, that the use of a small host for the priest celebrant is illicit, though I am not surprised that they have been so misread.

        I suspect Jack has the current GIRM in mind, at paragraph 321. While that paragraph specifically says that small hosts are not ruled out when pastoral needs genuinely require them, it makes quite clear that the principal bread offered for consecration “made in such a way that the priest at Mass with a congregation is able in practice to break it into parts for distribution to at least some of the faithful.”

        I know there is a “letter/spirit” tension in some quarters, so I would not want to press too far what the “spirit” of these lines might be; nonetheless, I think a 2.5-3 inch host which can be broken into parts sufficient for distribution to 2 or 3 others, in addition to the priest celebrant (who could, after all, consume a host from the ciborium), would hardly fulfill what this paragraph has in mind: it would, indeed, disregard the main point of the rubric — which is not to preserve a minimalist practice but clearly to encourage a maximizing of the sign.

  5. Elegant solution.

    Along those lines I was thinking of doing the EP’s in Spanish begining on 11/27.

    1. And some equally elegant implications churning within your satirical (or not) “thinking.” To whit/wit:

      Would you were to actually do that-
      Would that be a repudiation or endorsement of Liturgicam Authenticam?
      Would that be en exemplar of an autocratic, clericalist mentality so often decried here, there and everywhere….or an inspired tactic of a nobly-minded presider to politically (yes, it would amount to a political, not pastoral decision) draw attention through confusion and deception thrust upon a trusting congregation of the faithful towards mitigating the celebrant’s personal distate of the “lex” of the land?
      Would that be a terminal improvement acknowledging that Romance language’s closer kinship to Latin, or a stubborn reaction that ironically delays the clear call to all towards a iconic unity in that mother-tongue.
      Just sayin’, Father Blue

  6. Too bad Vatican II called for an elimination of vain repetitions and needless Latin. Oh well, maybe the next Council will stick — if there’s even a church around to hold one.

    1. Sandi;

      I’m curious to know what exactly you are talking about. When you say “needless latin”, do you mean the readings and homily? Sacrosanctum Concilium calls for the retention of the Latin language except for those parts of the liturgy.

      36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

      It does call for the elimination of unecessary repetition…generally assumed to mean the repeating of prayers by the server that the priest has just said.

      1. Jeffrey, this is interesting. I’ve never heard before the interpretation that SC intended all to stay in Latin except readings and homily. The commentaries of the drafters don’t say that anywhere, as I recall. SC 22 leaves it to bishops’ conferences (territorial bodies) to apply for which parts they wanted in vernacular, and doesn’t mention these limitations. What is your source?

      2. I didn’t say that was the only parts designated in SC, but rather which parts she was referring to as “needless” since those are the parts of the Mass which SC specifically calls for to be in the vernacular. My question was whether Sandi considered the readings to be “needless Latin” …

        But since you asked..

        36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

        2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

        And later…

        54. In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. This is to apply in the first place to the readings and “the common prayer,” but also, as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people, according to tho norm laid down in Art. 36 of this Constitution.

        Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them

        Art.54 is one of those strange places where it says “you can do X (use the vernacular) so long as it follows the directives in Y (retain the Latin).” A grand loophole if there ever was one, but so be it.

        I guess my point was that while it certainly allowed for some things to be in the vernacular (needless or not!), there is certainly no implication that the entire Mass be in the vernacular. That I would like to hear someone make an argument for…

  7. In the words of Godfrey Diekmann, OSB:

    Deus, qui per rubricistarum ordinem viam caeli impedisti, da nobis, quaesumus, ipsis in mare rubrum detrusis, ut per aliam viam vitam aeternam consequamur.

    O God, who through the Order of Rubricists has impeded the way to heaven, we pray that you give to us who have been buried under this sea of red, another way to eternal life.

    1. You should change the “has” to “have” to capture the archaic usage of the pending translation…..

    1. Hey good point. Would have been nice, but leaflet is already printed. But… danger is that it would have cued people to sing in English chant, “you take away…”

  8. OK – I;m totally confused. We’ve been singing tropes forever. Now, it’s not allowed? Should we immidiately stop using them?

  9. In terms of knowing when the assembly should sing “grant us peace” – simply begin and end with the English / or Latin.

  10. A door has opened, and we’re going through it this Pentecost Sunday at the abbey. We’re going to repeat “Agnus Dei” in many languages.

    Why do I have the impression that this is an increasingly elaborate game. The liturgical authorities on one side (sometimes from the USCCB, sometimes from Rome) micromanaging the way in which we worship; individual parishes or monasteries on the other side, finding ways to get around the silliness of those rules while respecting their letter. “Excellent”, “sublime”, “excellent” mean that the bystanders’ opinion is: score one for the abbey!

    Indeed, who could object to a multilingual Agnus Dei when that choice is so closely related to the readings? If that idea came up before the USCCB ruling, I say: “Bravo”; if it came afterwards, I say: “Bravo, but…”

    In this game, the next move will logically be for authorities to come up with even more specific, more detailed rules that leave nothing to chance, in their effort to force obedience. Then the abbey (or parish, as the case may be) will come up with some other creative way around.

    It’s fun to watch, in a way, and it is probably a stimulating intellectual exercise. But I wonder if it does not lead to a dead end: increased rigidity on one side and increased creativity on the other side, until the relationship is frankly adversarial. And then, what will happen?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *