Christmas communion hymns


#1

A pastor told me that according to the Roman missal, only hymns of a Eucharistic nature are appropriate during reception of communion, and no exception is given for the Christmas Season. Is this true?


#2

No, this is false. Proper antiphons or appropriate psalms may also be used during Communion, so hymns are not the only appropriate music.


#3

If your pastor will not let you sing the proper antiphons then consider these Eucharistic Hymns: “Ave Verum Corpus,” and “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” Both contain a Eucharistic theme and acknowledge the incarnation. Both are standard fare for Communion music.


#4

From the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM):

“87. For singing at Communion, it is possible to use the antiphon from the Graduale Romanum, with or without the Psalm, or the antiphon with Psalm from the Graduale Simplex, or some other suitable liturgical chant approved by the Conference of Bishops.”

The two books “Graduale Romanum” and “Graduale Simplex” are in Latin. There is an English translation of Graduale Simplex, called The Simple Gradual (edited by John Ainslie). It has at the front
“First Published,1969
Concordat cum originale; John Humphreys, Secretary of National Liturgical Commission of England and Wales, 20 December, 1968.”

For Christmas the Communion Song in The Simple Gradual has the antiphon “All the ends of the earth have seen the saving pow’r of our God.” The Psalm it is sung with is Psalm 97 (or as most Bibles have it, Psalm 98), which begins:
“Sing a new song to the Lord
for he has worked wonders”.

Perhaps the pastor could be challenged as to whether this is a song of “a Eucharistic nature”. It does not mention bread, wine, drinking or eating. If this song is of “a Eucharistic nature” then what hymn is not of “a Eucharistic nature”?

After Communion the GIRM has: “88. … If desired, a Psalm or other canticle of praise or a hymn may also be sung by the whole congregation.”

I am quoting from the Roman Missal used in Australia. Beyond “suitable” in n. 87, I am not aware of detailed instructions about the nature of the Communion song in the Roman Missal.


#5

For Christmas the Communion Song in The Simple Gradual has the antiphon “All the ends of the earth have seen the saving pow’r of our God.” The Psalm it is sung with is Psalm 97 (or as most Bibles have it, Psalm 98), which begins:
“Sing a new song to the Lord
for he has worked wonders”.

Perhaps the pastor could be challenged as to whether this is a song of “a Eucharistic nature”. It does not mention bread, wine, drinking or eating. If this song is of “a Eucharistic nature” then what hymn is not of “a Eucharistic nature”?

After Communion the GIRM has: “88. … If desired, a Psalm or other canticle of praise or a hymn may also be sung by the whole congregation.”

I am quoting from the Roman Missal used in Australia. Beyond “suitable” in n. 87, I am not aware of detailed instructions about the nature of the Communion song in the Roman Missal.

GIRM 86 describes what the Communion Chant is for. It certainly doesn’t limit it to Eucharistic hymns.

  1. While the priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion chant is begun. Its purpose is to express the communicants’ union in spirit by means of the unity of their voices, to show joy of heart, and to highlight more clearly the “communitarian” nature of the procession to receive Communion. The singing is continued for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful.[74] If, however, there is to be a hymn after Communion, the Communion chant should be ended in a timely manner.

#6

GIRM 86 says more about the nature of the Communion Chant than the subsequent articles. No reference there to Eucharistic hymns.

  1. While the priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion chant is begun. Its purpose is to express the communicants’ union in spirit by means of the unity of their voices, to show joy of heart, and to highlight more clearly the “communitarian” nature of the procession to receive Communion. The singing is continued for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful.[74]

#7

If you like singing carols you could argue that “Silent Night” is an excellent
expanded narrative of the midnight Mass communion proper-(the Chruch’s prescribed text for the communion chant) " In Splendoribus" “in the brightness of the saints : from the womb before the day star (or like the dew) I begot you.” It would be an accurate and appropriate alternate.


#8

In his parish, it is only his definition of “suitable” that should be considered and his opinion respected. His is not the only one though.


#9

No one is advocating disrespect to the pastor’s wishes. However, it is the task of whoever sits on his staff to respectfully discuss issues regarding their disciplines to the pastor, so that he can make an informed decision, then the staff members respectfully carry out his decisions.

To the OP: it is a fair thing to say that most priests of the Latin Church have never heard of the chanted propers of the Mass, which are integral to it (as opposed to music added on to it, such as hymns, etc., no matter how good they are). There are communion propers, etc. If you have respectfully informed your pastor on the matter, then kindly carry out his wishes.


#10

I like the idea of using “O Little Town of Bethlehem” as a Communion hymn.

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is giv’n
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heav’n.
No ear may hear his coming, But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in.

This verse indirectly reminds me of Holy Communion.


closed #11

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