The U.S. bishops’ 2007 document Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship gives sound instruction on singing at daily Mass. (See the documentation below.) The basic thrust is that the place to start is with simple (perhaps chanted) Mass parts and acclamations, including perhaps the responsorial psalm. Hymns are in last place. But I get the impression that all this is ignored in many places. The weighty acclamations such as the Alleluia before the Gospel and the great Sanctus hymn are routinely recited, and if there is any singing at all, it is a few stanzas of a song or hymn at the beginning and end of the liturgy
That people think first of this type of singing probably says something about the innate popularity and accessibility of strophic songs, and anyone who seeks to inculturate the liturgy should pay heed. But yet, the liturgy has its own form and structure, and the singing should be based on this. Hence the bishops’ directives.
How do we bring the singing in line with the Mass, even and especially at daily Mass? What do you think?
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No. 115 states which parts of the liturgy deserve preference in the singing: a) dialogues and acclamations; (b) antiphons and psalms; (c) refrains and repeated responses; (d) hymns. 115a says this:
The Eucharistic acclamations (…Gospel Acclamation, the Sanctus, the Memorial Acclamation, and the Great Amen) … are appropriately sung at any Mass, including daily Mass and any Mass with a smaller congregation. Ideally, the people should know the acclamations by heart and should be able to sing them readily, even without accompaniment.
No. 116 says:
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.