Today’s Question: Singing During Communion
No. 86 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal says of the Communion chant:
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 [Cf. Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, Instruction, Inestimabile donum, April 3, 1980, no. 17: Acta Apostolicae Sedis 72 (1980), p. 338.]. However, if there is to be a hymn after Communion, the Communion Chant should be ended in a timely manner.
Care should be taken that singers, too, can receive Communion with ease.
This raises several questions and presents several challenges.
How do you foster “unity of voices” of the communicants? What repertoires and musical practices make possible and foster the communal singing during Communion that the Church desires? When do the singers and musicians receive – first, or last? How do you keep the song extended throughout the Communion rite when the music ministers also must receive at some point during it? If the rite is unduly long, how does the music still tie the entire rite together – or is it a problem if two or three different (somewhat unrelated) musical pieces are programmed?
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!