Location for cantor during psalm


#1

Hi All!

I noticed a change that started during this Holy Week liturgies. As you face the altar in our church, the lectern (hoping for correct terminology here) is on your left. This is where the readings, Gospel and homily are proclaimed. To the right of the altar (as you face it) is the stand used by our cantor(s) who lead us in songs and sung/chanted responses.

Before this week, the cantor(s) did the psalm response from the right side (same as for the rest of their participation in mass).

This week however, instead, they crossed from their seats on that side, bowed as they passed in front of the altar and then did the psalm from the left side (lectern?). During the Easter Vigil, I noticed they also led the gospel alleluia from there.

I'm just curious if the change was due to holy week, a decision for a style change, or one made based on instruction/clarification/recommendation of our bishop (who is fairly new to our diocese).

I'm not upset, offended, put out, or disturbed - just curious :D
It seems to me to be logical that all parts of the Liturgy of the Word should be done in the same place, on the other hand, having them cross the church to reach the lecern, reduces the seamlessness that had been present when the psalm started immediately upon the return of the lector to their seat. :shrug:

Anyway, looking forward to any replies! Happy Easter, everyone!


#2

The lectern from which the readings are read is called the ambo. I don't think there's any rule about which side it has to be on. The cantor may, but it not required to, use it to for the Psalms or Universal Prayer. There no special rule for Holy Week. Someone probably decided to change it up at your parish.


#3

I agree with the previous poster.

Someone decided that the psalm "deserved" to be sung from the ambo since it is also scripture.


#4

Thanks for the info :slight_smile: Glad to add “ambo” to my vocabulary


#5

Had no idea the position of the cantor was supposed to be regulated. When I cantored, I did so from the choir area with the rest of the choir, out ahead where folks could see me.


#6

I have seen a good number of churches (including my own) who have a two-ambo set up as you describe. At my parish we use the right hand one (looking towards the altar from the back of the church) for the first and second readings, with the psalm and acclamation; and the left hand one for the Gospel itself. The lectionary is passed by the reader to the priest after the acclamation (we do not have a deacon, so there is no book of the gospels brought in procession).

I'm fairly sure that Westminster Cathedral (the Mother Church of England and Wales) has this set up, although when I've been for morning mass they have only used the right hand ambo.

All the best

Martin


#7

[quote="CradleJourney, post:1, topic:321165"]
Before this week, the cantor(s) did the psalm response from the right side (same as for the rest of their participation in mass).

This week however, instead, they crossed from their seats on that side, bowed as they passed in front of the altar and then did the psalm from the left side (lectern?). During the Easter Vigil, I noticed they also led the gospel alleluia from there.

[/quote]

Ok... so, there are a variety of ministries in the Mass. One of them is the role of 'psalmist', who sings or proclaims the psalm. This ministry, however, is often fulfilled by the cantor or the lector. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, at paragraph 61, states, "the psalmist, or cantor of the Psalm, sings the Psalm verses at the ambo or another suitable place." So, it makes sense that the responsorial psalm should be chanted from the ambo, although it's not inappropriate to chant it from a position near the choir (whether up front in in a choir loft).

The Gospel Acclamation (the 'Alleluia') is chanted by the choir or the cantor. The GIRM doesn't specify where this should happen. It would seem more appropriate that the cantor should remain at his/her place, rather than crossing over to the ambo. At the very least, the ambo is where the deacon or priest will proclaim the Gospel, so it can cause a 'traffic jam' to have him waiting for the cantor to finish the acclamation before getting to the ambo.


#8

[quote="Lochias, post:5, topic:321165"]
Had no idea the position of the cantor was supposed to be regulated. When I cantored, I did so from the choir area with the rest of the choir, out ahead where folks could see me.

[/quote]

As far as I know there is no regulation for where the cantor should be. Each parish figures out what works best.


#9

If you go by the GIRM, the ambo is the most appropriate place from which the Psalm and Gospel Acclamation are sung. That works if the psalmist and the cantor (whose function is more extensive) are not the same person. OTOH, if the cantor is the person who also sings the Psalm, the logistics of getting him/her from choir to ambo may be problematic so the GIRM allows for 'another suitable place'.


#10

Phemie wrote: “If you go by the GIRM, the ambo is the most appropriate place from which the Psalm and Gospel Acclamation are sung.”

GIRM 309 has: “From the ambo only the readings, the Responsorial Psalm, and the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet) are to be proclaimed; it may be used also for giving the Homily and for announcing the intentions of the Universal Prayer. The dignity of the ambo requires that only a minister of the word should stand at it.”

The term “Gospel acclamation” can mean what comes before the Gospel or what comes after the Gospel. The GIRM uses “acclamation” for both:

GIRM 59 has “After each reading, whoever reads it pronounces the acclamation, and by means of the reply the assembled people give honour to the Word of God they have received in faith and with gratitude.”

GIRM “62. After the reading that immediately precedes the Gospel, the Alleluia or another chant laid down by the rubrics is sung, as the liturgical time requires. An acclamation of this kind constitutes a rite or act in itself, by which the gathering of the faithful welcomes and greets the Lord who is about to speak to them in the Gospel and professes their faith by means of the chant.”

So really each Mass will have two Gospel Acclamations. The one before and the one after. Perhaps we should start saying “Acclamation Before the Gospel” and “Acclamation After the Gospel”.

Clearly the Acclamation After the Gospel is part of the reading. There is no suggestion that the deacon is going to leave the ambo to say this.

The Acclamation Before the Gospel is not as clear. It is “a rite or act in itself”. Is it intended to be done at the ambo? What about the Sequence? It is clearly not a reading , not a Responsorial Psalm, not an Exsultet, not a Homily and not an intention of the Prayer of the Faithful. On the other hand, the Sequence is in the Lectionary, and the Lectionary is at the ambo.

There are practical advantages in not have the Acclamation Before the Gospel at the ambo. The person who has done the reading can leave the ambo, making room for the Gospel procession to approach.

So GIRM 61 allows “another suitable place” for the Responsorial Psalm.


#11

You are asking about the Epistle Side and the Gospel Side, which in the Extraordinary Form, are both used and both have lecterns or ambos located there. Often, the Gospel Side ambo is more ornate and may include steps and a canopy. In 2012, the Epistle Side was fleetingly restored at the canonization Mass held by then-Pope Benedict XVI.

The distinction between Epistle Side and Gospel Side is not retained in the modern GIRM, however, as you can see, it can still be observed. In my visiting parish, there is still an Epistle Side ambo that is occasionally used by the cantor. This is just one example of the EF enriching the OF in an organic way.


#12

Thanks for this Elizium. I’m woefully badly informed about the EF; I hadn’t realised this was used in the older form of the mass, but as you say, it is an old tradition which has been carried into the newer rite.

All the best

Martin


#13

In my parish where I serve as Music Director, the ambo is on the right side (if you face the altar), and the piano/organ/choir/cantor lectern are on the far left. Before I started here, it was usual practice to have the cantor proceed to the center aisle, and enter the sanctuary with the lector for the Liturgy of the Word, and lead the Psalm from the Ambo. In the past year, I have started having them sing the Psalm from their own cantor stand near the piano. Two reasons for this: (1) I--and most of them--am more comfortable having them near me when they are singing the Psalm, and (2) it saves on unneccessary movement, as I do not wish to add to the parade of people through the Sanctuary during Mass...it's bad enough with all the Eucharistic Ministers trapsing up there for Communion. The cantor's lecturn is the exact same marble design as the Ambo (was probably up in the Sanctuary at one point), so I think it certainly qualifies as "another appropriate place". :D

Interesting note: In the parish where I grew up, they still used the "Gospel Side/Epistle Side" format until only about 5 years ago. No cantors, and only occasionally had a choir. The Lector had their own chair with a kneeler on the Epistle Side. Now everything is done from the Ambo since the ES was discontinued and that lectern taken out.


#14

It really depends on the situation.

The Psalm is a reading from the Lectionary, so reading it or singing/chanting it from the ambo is fine.

But the logistics may dictate a different place. If there is a choir singing the psalm for example (in a polyphonic chant maybe), then gathering several people around an ambo just looks awkward, so it's better to just do it from wherever the choir area is. There is also whether there is an instrumental accompaniment, as there could be a need to keep the psalmist and instrumentalist close together (for timing or tuning or whatever).


#15

[quote="curlycool89, post:14, topic:321165"]

But the logistics may dictate a different place. If there is a choir singing the psalm for example (in a polyphonic chant maybe), then gathering several people around an ambo just looks awkward,

[/quote]

:D I know many members of our volunteer choir and the mental image that popped in my head picturing their various heights and personalities squeezing all in around the ambo was quite amusing.

On the serious side, I appreciate all the new things I'm learning today :)


#16

[quote="Elizium23, post:11, topic:321165"]
You are asking about the Epistle Side and the Gospel Side, which in the Extraordinary Form, are both used and both have lecterns or ambos located there. Often, the Gospel Side ambo is more ornate and may include steps and a canopy. In 2012, the Epistle Side was fleetingly restored at the canonization Mass held by then-Pope Benedict XVI.

The distinction between Epistle Side and Gospel Side is not retained in the modern GIRM, however, as you can see, it can still be observed. In my visiting parish, there is still an Epistle Side ambo that is occasionally used by the cantor. This is just one example of the EF enriching the OF in an organic way.

[/quote]

I don't get this. At the EF Masses, I attend, all readings are from the altar, not the ambo.


#17

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