Instrumentalists "cutting" communion line


Hello all,
I have a question, that hopefully will be answered by tonight. I am an instrumentalist at our church, who plays with our choir frequently at Mass. I haven’t been playing during Advent, because it is my understanding that the music is to be more simple. Anyway, I will be playing tonight for Christmas Eve Mass, along with several other instrumentalists, and the children’s choir. Here is my problem:

  1. At our parish, the EMHCs get to the front of communion line before the priest, for some reason. We musicians are always at the front of the line on one side. It seems to me that it is just a basic mark of respect for the priest that we wait until he arrives at his place where he distributes.
  2. A young man instrumentalist feels that he should go ahead and go up to an EMHC as soon as they arrive, even if the priest is still making his way to the line. I’m not sure why the young man is in such a hurry.
  3. One time when I was at the front of line (in front of the young man), I waited for the priest. Not because I wanted to receive communion from the priest, just as a mark of respect for the priest. That time, the young man behind me told me to go up, and I whispered shouldn’t we wait for the priest? (it would be like all of 20 seconds). The young man just walked around me, and so did others at that point.
  4. Was it wrong for me to wait for the priest? Was it wrong for the other instrumentalists to “cut” me in line? It’s very awkward, I’m hoping to avoid this tonight if possible. I might just choose not to receive at this Mass, and receive at another Mass I will be playing at tonight.
    Any thoughts? Am I being too harsh on these kids - - or should someone set them straight? :wink:


“Patience you must have my young padawan” talk to him, you may be surprised.


I At my parish our music director and the pastor have procedures worked out for when instrumentalists and singers should receive communion. On solemnities like Christmas and Easter when we sometimes have additional instrumentalists they receive any needed instruction prior to Mass beginning.

Our procedure is that choir members join the communion line prior to singing but instrumentalists, cantor, and music director receive after the communion music is finished (from a deacon and/or EMHC who come over to the music area.) Ushers also know the procedure since it is sometimes necessary to help musicians to get to and from the communion line quickly.

It seems like your parish needs to have a talk about the ideal way for musicians to receive communion at your parish. Most parishes I know of have found it is necessary to have a procedure in place for musicians to receive since they are busy when the rest of the congregation receives. If your parish already has a procedure then it apparently needs to be restated more frequently so everyone knows what it is.


You can begin recisvinv communion as soon as there is someone at the station where you bare waiting. Usually in my parish an emhc goes to the side where the musicians are first so that they can receive and go back to leading the communion hymn.

The musicians in your parish were probably thinking the same thing - to receive early so that they could lead the hymn.


Judging from many posts on CAF, if this is the biggest problem you have at your parish, you truly are blessed. My advice is to not worry so much about this!


In my position as Choir Director my priest and I had worked it out like this:
We had a person in the choir trained as a EM.
We had a much smaller ciborium that held the choir hosts. The person bringing communion up to the loft would tell the priest ahead of time how many people in the choir were receiving.
When distributing the consecrated hosts, the priest would put the required amount in the small bowl.
Our Choir EM would gather with the others at the proper time to receive the ciborium.
I began the hymn as Father descended the steps to give communion along with the other EM’s. We sang, and as we did so, the EM came to the choir, a line formed at the end of the main hymn, they could receive and pray. I could continue playing instrumentally.
Worked well for us. But then, we had a LOFT. :thumbsup:

At my present parish the musicians line up in front of everyone else. Big lag in the music beginning, which I’m not keen on. Also, the guitarists wear their guitars and mics in the line! :frowning: I really dislike this. No one has asked them to stop this practice, which dismays me.

But, I’ve really digressed: I’m sure the singers and musicians feel pressure to “get back and get singing!” They should try to get an EM to come to their area. I always vote for less “show”. Just my opinion. Have a blessed Christmas!


Just a different take: At our former parish we were members of the Choir. There were some problems confusion at communion time. We would wind up singing after many had already received, or we were finished singing and there was still a line. We discussed the issue and took the following to our pastor who approved:

We are music MINISTERS and as such we need to be welcoming to the congregation.
We should not scramble to be first, rather wait to be last.
We need to continue to provide music during communion as it is another sort of prayer that all can join.
Therefore, we will continue to provide music until all have received. When others are finished (and since there was room to do so) EMHC’s, or whoever is free, brings communion to the choir. This is followed by a communion meditation. The instrumentalist played through the communion to the choir (organ or piano).

It worked well and there seems rightness to it. Emphasis was away from our being special and being “performers” and back to us being music leaders for the community.


for 2000 years they still haven’t figured out how to give communion to the musicians.

The missal calls for the communion song to begin as soon as the priest consumes the Eucharist. When musicians go to communion first, this is really not possible to do this, so you do the best you can, which is start the communion song as soon as you can.

There is no reason to “wait for the priest”.


Just drink the Kool-Aid. Often it’s good to go against our own inclinations and do something we find distasteful. Offer that up and receive the Eucharist with great interior love and reverence, despite having to do something that appears unseemly.


A lot of time when I was into music at church, we’d try to receive communion first so that we could immediately begin with the songs. In fact, a lot of priests even had provisions for musicians to receive first in many parishes, so there wouldn’t be any delays with the music.


Thanks everyone.
I will take this all to heart and just do what seems best tonight! I personally don’t like being right in the front of the line, and I think you are right that there just needs to be some clarification from the priest and / or music director.


Perhaps the answer is in the portion of your post highlighted above. If it seems disrespectful to you not to wait, you should wait. And if doesn’t seem so to others, then there shouldn’t be anything wrong if they don’t wait.


At our parish, the priest is the one waiting for the army of EM’s to get into place.
Every begins at the same time.
But it’s nice to have the music going. Maybe the choir can either get a dedicated EM, or wait until the end while the instrumentalist plays something soft and reflective post communion.


From the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (edition approved for Australia):

“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.
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.”

So it seems to being saying that there should be singing from the time the priest is receiving Communion until the last person does. Yet the singers should also be able to receive Communion. So it seems to require that there be enough singers and musicians so that some of them can be receiving Communion while others are singing and playing.


In my parish, in the past, the cantor, musicians, and choir (if present) used to receive first then start the Communion hymn(s) and music. Things have changed to where they now receive last, and 1 person with the hosts, 1 with a cup go up to serve the musicians, cantor, and choir. Usually they have a few trained piano players at each Mass so one goes up, receives, then relieves the other pianist so they can go up to receive so there is very little interuption of the music. They all understand how things are to be now especially since we now have a new priest (sacramental minister) and pastoral adminstrator going back to the summer time of the past year.


In my parish, the choir begins singing a choir-only hymn or anthem as soon as the priest has received from the chalice. An Extraordinary Minister goes up to the choir loft with a ciborium and when they have ended the hymn, they receive the Eucharist. Then they start the communion hymn.

closed #17

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