Last Sunday was May 30, the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. Because it is the last Sunday of May, the month of our Blessed Mother, I picked Immaculate Mary for the Gathering Hymn. Other Hymns within the Mass were about the Holy Trinity (Abba, Father, Only a Shadow). Was I wrong to select a Marian Hymn for a Gathering song? In addition to Marian Feast Days, I have picked a Marian Hymn for either Entrance or Gathering Hymn during the months of May and October. I have checked the General Instruction of the Roman Missal but I could not find anything about the use of Marian Hymns as a Gathering Song. I have been involved in Sacred Music Ministry for almost 35 years and this is the first time I have been questioned of my selection of songs for Mass. I would appreciate everyone’s input. Thank you.
If you are using vernacular hymns as opposed to the propers, there are no rubrics specifying that you must use any particular “theme.” You can use “Gather Us In,” or, for that matter, “Go Make of All Disciples” as a gathering hymn. It strikes me as a fairly bad idea to use a Marian hymn on Trinity Sunday, but it’s more a matter of taste than anything else. Basically you’re making a judgment call about what you want the music to convey, what you want the congregation to focus on, and how their singing (which is itself an act of worship) is to be directed. I agree that it reflects a fairly low view of the importance of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity if you’re using Marian hymns instead of hymns relating to the day’s Mass. I mean, Pentecost was also in May, but hopefully you didn’t use any Marian hymns then – right?
In short, the calendar has plenty of Marian feasts, Sundays in Advent, and random Sundays in Ordinary Time. There’s only one Sunday specifically dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity. There’s no document that says when you can and can’t schedule Marian hymns, but I probably wouldn’t have picked this past Sunday.
This is what the GIRM says about the Entrance Hymn:
- After the people have gathered, the Entrance chant begins as the priest enters with the deacon and ministers. The purpose of this chant is to open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, **introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical season or festivity, **and accompany the procession of the priest and ministers.
Using a Marian hymn as the Entrance Hymn in May is problematic since May usually falls within the Easter Season and that is what should be recognized. In this case, it gave more importance to the tradition of May being a Marian month than to the one feast of the Trinity.
If, due to tradition in your parish, you feel you must play a Marian hymn during May & October, it’s better to use it as the Offertory hymn or Recessional.
Feast of the Visitation was just Monday. We had a Marian hymn on Sunday: It was noticeable. I don’t remember if it was the entrance hymn, but it was differently enough added for one to be surprised. We do need to know at the beginning of Mass, what special Sunday it is. For those who didn’t know, it is good that the first hymn announces it. Sometimes the Priest will announce that it is a special Sunday; our Pastor may announce it in the previous Sunday’s bulletin!
I remember requesting a certain Marian song, for a Sunday, when my parents’ had their 50th Anniversary. It was perfect! I think, as it was played, it was highlighted and totally loved and appreciated…
Your question helped me with another thing. Someone from the Diocese was speaking about how Marian spirituality didn’t work with the Eucharist … I couldn’t figure that out, thought she meant not to pray the Rosary actually … I know that sounds strange … but, I felt odder than if I would have heard a Marian hymn, unwanted, rebuffed … not good at adjectives. I would say that rubrics aside (whatever they are called, sorry) Marian spirituality does not take anything but adds to the Mass.
Just to aid the Faithful in knowing what the Sunday is about, common sense rule.
I would not have chosen a Marian hymn as the entrance processional, certainly not on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Inasmuch as I have a Marian devotion, the feast we celebrated revolves around the most basic and central tenent of our Faith, the Most Holy Trinity. While Mary, herself, possesses a uniquely intimate relationship with the Trinity, Sunday was not the appropriate time for a Marian hymn.
Of course, on a side note, I would not have chosen Abba Father nor Only a Shadow. The former because of stylistic concerns and the latter because it is more horizontally-geared.
These would have been more appropriate:
Entrance Processional: Holy, Holy, Holy
Offertory: Father, We Thank Thee Who Has Planted
Communion: Alleluia, Sing to Jesus or Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
(both of these mention the Blessed Mother)
Recessional: Holy God, We Praise Thy Name or God, We Praise You
Now, it would certainly have been fitting to sing the Regina Caeli during the Easter Season. In fact, the Papal Masses use the Regina Caeli as the recessional.
In our little mission parish, the choir sings “Salve Regina”, in latin, prior to the Entrance hymn, during the month of May and October. Our choir does not know what an “Introit” is let alone a “Collect”
What really bugs me is the version of the Mystery of Faith and the Lamb of God. It just reminds me of the beginning of an old Hoagy Carmichael tune (Stardust). Now I like “Stadust” but not at Mass.
I’ll be glad when I have completed all my family obligations so that I can get back to the EF Mass.
I would probably focus on the Holy Trinity. (Not to downplay Mary, but) She is the mother of god, But on that Sunday, we focus on the Holy Trinity.
Well… You could teach 'em:
Since it was Memorial Day weekend our entrance song was America the Beautiful.
I did find that a little…strange.
Thats a sad state of affairs when we have to use song like that for Mass. My whole family is USMC and we are very patriotic but we all feel that is not appropriate.
Catholicben, the choir director is very territorial and has “marked” on the bushes. I would not even be welcome in the choir loft.
That is sad. It is an indication of a secular holiday invading sacred space. Don’t get me wrong. I am patriotic, but, in this case, we needed to have placed the focus on the Most Holy Trinity.
TO ALL WHO RESPONDED TO MY POST -
Thank you all for your response and input. I sure would take each of those in consideration in the future. Sometimes it is very hard for us Music Planners to make such decisions especially this past Sunday when it was the Feast of the Holy Trinity, the last Sunday of May, day before the Feast of Visitation and Memorial Day. I do agree that the MAIN focus should have been the FEAST OF THE DAY.
By the way, Rosario, if you’ve been doing this for 35 years and this is the first time a parishioner has criticized a musical selection – that is a miracle!
You’re welcome. The rule of thumb is that if it’s marked as a Solemnity, then the music needs to fit the liturgy of the day. That takes precedence over everything else. Obviously, if the Solemnity if Marian in character, such as the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Assumption, then, using Marian hymns would be in order. We just should not try to make the music a sort of Mulligan’s stew and try to put everything in there. Each should be in its proper order.
Thank you! Actually, the criticism ame from the Pastor via email. I was surprized to hear the comment from him since he wasn’t even the presider at this partiuclar Mass. I do have a pretty good idea where it came from but I know it wasn’t a parishioner.
Also, the Marian change was a last minute decision on my part. My original plan was “All Praise and Glad Thanksgiving.” (refrain: Praise to God forever be,One in life, in Persons three; Mighty God, saving God, God eternal Trinity). The switch came to me when I realized it was the last Sunday of May and wanted to honor our Blessed Mother. At that time, I thought it was a good idea to use to gather the people together since our parish’s name is also one of the many titles of Mary.
Well, lesson learned. This was my FIRST post and it has been a very pleasant experience.
Again THANK YOU all!
May God continue to shower us all with his love as we journey together to the Kingdom.
Its really nice to hear from Music Directors who are open to fair and balanced criticism. Anything we said was meant in a loving manner.
I’m sure your parish will benefit from your willingness to listen
Oh. Somehow I got the (incorrect) impression that you were in the choir or even the director…
It is most fitting for the processional hymn to reflect what the feast day is about. Something like “All Praise and Glad Thanksgiving”, “O God, Almighty Father”, “Holy, Holy, Holy”, or “All Hail, Adored Trinity” would have been the best suggestions for Trinity Sunday. I know that my music director slips in a Marian hymn around Mother’s Day, which usually falls during the Easter season. So, for the recessional hymn on Mother’s Day, he picked “Be Joyful, Mary” which not only talks about Mary, but talks about her joy at the Resurrection. This hymn interwines the Blessed Mother and the Resurrection. For Trinity Sunday, it wouldn’t have been fitting, in my opinon, to choose a Marian hymn as the processional. Our focus on that Sunday should be about the Trinity.
Anyways, since I was a week and two days late posting on this (awkward ), it’s nice to hear that you’ve been a music director for 35 years and haven’t had a complain! Congrats!