Music at communion

Is there any rule re the use of music at communion? In our church, at the second mass, everyone is encouraged to sing along with the selected hymn. At the first mass, the choir only sings the hymn at communion. At the third mass, the soloist only sings at communion. I have been in churches where everyone is encouraged to sing all the hymns.

No rule. If you want to, sing along - unless it is a big solo like Ave Maria.

There is no rule as such, though sometimes the choir sings a Motet during the distribution. If it is a congregational hymn the assembly is expected to join in, but IIRC the hymn should really begin once distribution is complete.

Actually, there are rules.

[quote=“General Instruction on the Roman Missal”]87. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, there are four options for singing at Communion: (1) the antiphon from the Missal or the antiphon with its Psalm from the Graduale Romanum, as set to music there or in another musical setting; (2) the antiphon with Psalm from the Graduale Simplex of the liturgical time; (3) a chant from another collection of Psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including Psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) some other suitable liturgical chant (cf. no. 86) approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop. This is sung either by the choir alone or by the choir or a cantor with the people.

However, if there is no singing, the antiphon given in the Missal may be recited either by the faithful, or by some of them, or by a reader; otherwise, it is recited by the Priest himself after he has received Communion and before he distributes Communion to the faithful.

  1. When the distribution of Communion is over, if appropriate, the Priest and faithful pray quietly for some time. If desired, a Psalm or other canticle of praise or a hymn may also be sung by the whole congregation.

As you can see, there is no such thing as the “meditation” or “anthem” coming second. If there is a second song, it is sung by all. The communion chant, the first song, can be sung by all, choir, or cantor.

In general, most of the “extra” musical parts of Mass can be sung by the choir alone or with cantor, without the people. Sung responses in the Order of Mass should always be performed by all. Adequate music, words and preparation should be given when the participation of the assembly is required, and in those instances it should be considered compulsory.

Different parishes do things differently in this regard. There is no uniform rule that I am aware of.

EDIT: Well, okay, there are rules, but there are still options. :slight_smile:

If I had my druthers, I’d prefer silence, or at most instrumental music, or singing or chanting in another language, like Latin. I am too easily distracted.

The people in our new parish have an interesting custom. There is often a song, which merifully peters out before too many verses (most are like me - unable to read music or stay on key :eek:). After everyone recieves & the priest sits, we all recite Anima Christi. Then a bit more silence.

Recitation? Ew. It seems that a musical setting would be more in line with the liturgical norms.

Except remember - most of us can’t sing, we can’t read music, we also have no piano or organ, only a sometime amateur guitar player. Recitation works for us. :smiley:

Catholics who can’t sing and don’t want to learn? That’s a profound loss.

Exactly how would singing in ANOTHER language help distraction? The music and lyrics are supposed to actually BE the prayer.

We have no one to teach us. Do you want to come & do the job? We are looking for a parish administrator - Diocese of Spokane.

Unfortunately, I am not competent to direct music. I have been judged incompetent to cantor by my pastor. And our parish choir has suffered the loss of two music directors in six months. Right now we have a paid cantor who does not play an instrument. We are all singing a cappella. Everyone is clamoring for our director back (the penultimate one).

Meanwhile we are sitting with brand new copies of the Lumen Christi Missal and singing a mélange of OCP dreck which our previous director stuck us with, before disappearing with no explanation two weeks before Easter. Our Triduum was a horror show of material from three directors ago. I am pretty sure that our Exsultet was the 1970 ICEL translation. The psalms are consistently Gelineau rather than what’s in the Lectionary/Lumen Christi.

St. Cecilia, pray for us!

If I don’t understand the words (I’m listening, not singing) I’m not distracted by them. They just wash over me like the music and I can pray. (When I write I do the same - listen to instrumentals or other language songs.) I usually don’t know the words (I have a difficult time memorizing), so somehow, going up to communion while looking in a hymnal just doesn’t seem right to me. I prefer to focus on God rather than the hymnal & trying to hit the right notes (remember, I can’t read music & if I’m not familiar with the tune I’m lost).

I’ve listened to Masses on the radio & I always hear just instrumental music at communion.

What is this thing that modern Catholics have about singing being a necessity? Some of us are just no good at it. Why should we struggle & annoy the people near us?

Because God has commanded us to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. Each of us struggles to the best of his ability, but we should not let perfection be the enemy of the good.

Music is an integral part of liturgy. Musical competence and the arts, particularly appreciation, should be taught alongside religious catechesis and the Three Rs. I cannot draw or paint, and I am more impoverished for this lack, but fortunately drawing and painting are not part of liturgical ministry :cool:

I can assure you that I am never insulted by an assembly who sings ineptly or poorly in response to the leadership of the choir. I am, however, often concerned when an assembly sings intermittently, quietly, or not at all, because this is often an indication of the failure of the choir to fulfill our ministry and encourage others to sing. There can be legitimate times when the choir sings alone, but most of our job is fostering active participation among the faithful, and the best reward for me is an assembly who sings loud and proud.

Elizium -

It sounds like you belong a big parish with more money & talent to call on than we do. Our parish is tiny & poor. We have about 20 -25 people on an average Sunday - sometimes fewer. Like I said, most of us can’t read music, so can’t sing a cappella. We have no instruments except for the guy who brings his guitar. He does his best, but isn’t there every Sunday.

In a large parish, those who can sing drown out those who can’t. We have maybe 4 or 5 people who can sing on key, & only one can be guarenteed to be there every Sunday. She’s pretty deaf so I don’t think she knows when she ends up singing a solo. :slight_smile:

I’m serious about our need for a parish administrator. Our priest only comes 3 out of 4 Sundays & on most Holy days. It would be icing on the cake if the administrator could also sing and play an instrument. There’s no room for a piano in the church, so the instrument would have to be something portable - a guitar or electric keyboard, maybe.

Our parish does very well on 3 pieces of music, “Hest Yay-su” during the smudging, the Divine Mercy prayer - we sing 1 decade, and the blessing song which is sung instead of “Happy Birthday.”

So with someone to teach us, I think we could learn to sing better.

Amen !!! Linus2nd

Um…the words ARE Prayer. They are not a distraction to prayer. They music IS focus on God. You can simply listen to the words as you go up to communion and have that be your prayer.

It’s not “modern catholics”. it’s the rubrics of the mass.

It is far more than mere disciplinary rubrics. It is by the Word of God and Divine Command that we are to sing.

If it is a must, then why isn’t there someone willing to come & teach us? It’s possible if we had better singing perhaps more people would come. Tho I think it’s rather sad that we have to have a “hook” other than the Presence of God to get people to come to Mass.

Hi Bonnie and Elzium – it saddens my heart to hear you do not have someone to direct your congregation and choir – and Elizium, what has happened to your recent music directors just is pitiful…you poor people. It makes me aware what a privilege and responsibility and honor it is to be able to play for our Lord’s Church for congregational singing.

I don’t think there are as many people gifted to play music or direct music as there used to be…it concerns me for the future.

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