I sing in the choir in my church and have been wondering about what the best procedure is for the choir to receive communion. According to the Catholic Book of Worship II (which is what we mainly use) “Music is intended to accompany the communion procession, and begins when the priest receives communion.” This makes sense to me. However, it’s hard to put into practice. Our practice now (and for as long as I remember) is for the choir to be first in the receiving line and start singing when all members are back in place. Of course this means that much of the communion procession is over before any music starts, and if the choir is large it’s a very long music-less pause. The alternative, to wait until the congregation receives, means stopping the music before the end of the procession. My choir director is also pondering the best way to handle this. I was just wondering what other choirs out there do?
My church choir does it last. That way you have one song (or what is needed to pass out communion) then when the last people are up, the choir people recieve communion. That way you can reflect and pray after recieving, instead of having to sing right after recieving.
It really depends on which Mass we are singing at as to when we receive communion. If it is the 10:30 (usually the most attended) then we are able to sing two songs. The other Masses are not as well attended so we usually sing just one song. If we only sing one song we will go afterwards and the pianist plays quietly while we receive. If we sing two songs then the first song is usually a choir piece and the second song is a hymn. The choir will receive during the second song but continue to sing while in the communion line. It’s always iffy. I cantor as well and I ask the pianist to play a long prelude and I try to be first in line. In my parish it is never set in stone and it always feels awkward. I doubt most of the congregation even notices though, which is good.
I might suggest having the cantor/psalmist begin the communion chant as soon as the priest receives, and dismiss the rest of the choir at that time. After each choir member receives, have them join in with the chant already in progress. This is how we do it at our sung NO Mass.
In my parish two extraordinary ministers take communion up to the choir loft. The choir members receive one at a time so that the overall choir sings throughout communion.
In our parish the choir receives last and there is no singing while they receive. That’s unfortunate. Considering that they sing in unison and not in harmony and that they sit at the front, they could easily slip out 1 or 2 at a time, go receive and rejoin the choir allowing the song to last until the last person has received. I know it would work because it did when we tried it through the Triduum a few years ago.
At our parish, the procedure has changed over the years. At present only one EMHC goes to the choir loft. The Precious Blood is no longer taken to the choir loft. The EMHC communicates any family memers first who happen to be in the choir loft and waits for the choir to finish singing. They sing two or three Communion hynms before they receive Communion. By that time about half of the congregation has received Communion. They do not sing any more Communion hymns (while they are receiving Communion or after). However the organist does play a little until the remaining Hosts are put in the tabernacle. No music or singing after Father sits down. The EMHC usually has enough time to get back down by the time everyone finishes receiving Communion. However, should they be a little late, this pastor doesn’t mind.
Why dosen’t the choir simply attend a different Mass to satisfy their obligaton and receive Holy Communion. Then they would not need to receive at the Mass they sing at? Technically nothing requires them to receive at any particular Mass.
In many parishes in Eastern Canada there is only one Mass per Sunday.
I don’t know why I can’t get the multiquote button to work
Anyway, our parish is lucky enough to have 2 masses on Sunday and 1 on Saturday for Sunday. Speaking only for myself, I attend 1 mass so as to have the rest of the day with my family to go for a drive or prepare a family meal, whatever.
This way makes more sense to me. What about the organist/pianist? Does s/he go at the same time as the choir or keep playing?
I really like this option, I might suggest it to our director.
Our choir (and the organ) is right at the front near the altar, the EMHC stands right in front of the choir anyway so it’s not a problem of having too far to go. You sing 2 or 3 hymns at Communion? You must have a very large congregation!
At the cathedral where I sing, the choir receive Holy Communion after Mass. Either the priest or an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion will wait in the Blessed Sacrament chapel for the choir members right after the conclusion of the recessional hymn. This means that the church musicians can completely fulfill their ministry at communion-time - they are ready to sing as soon after the celebrant receives (or after he recites the antiphon) & depending on what the director of music decides, we can sing another hymn or else he will improvise a meditation at the organ. I think it’s a good idea all round really - for the choir, they can receive the Lord and then take as much time as they wish to pray in the Blessed Sacrament chapel. I personally dislike receiving Holy Communion and straightaway having to play the organ or sing, without having sufficient time for reflection and thanksgiving for so great a sacrament.
You are lucky indeed. When I was home on a visit last year I arrived in the village too late for the 7 pm anticipated Mass on Saturday (the only Mass in our parish). I drove around on Sunday morning looking for Mass. Each parish (different towns and villages) had only 1: two of them had only anticipated Masses at 4 & 7 pm respectively, and the third had a 9 am Mass but since it wasn’t the main parish it never occurred to me that they would be the ones having the Sunday morning one. I ended up without Mass that day.
Our choir (on a typical Sunday there are 30-40 of us) usually receives before singing. We process forward while the EMHCs are receiving from the priest and moving into position. The cantor and instrumentalists begin singing/playing at this time and the choir will sing from the communion line (assuming we know the words.) We join in again when we get back to our spots. We typically sing two songs. When we are done singing a couple EMHCs usually come back to the choir area and give communion to the choir director, the cantor, and the instrumentalists.
I am not sure if this would work for an OF Mass, but our EF Mass has only 3 or 4 people in the choir. They come up to the communion rail while the altar boys are receiving communion. Fr. goes to them first. That way they can get back to their places and sing whatever music has been planned for communion time. And Fr. can distribute communion to the rest of the congregation.
In the past when we had more choir members, some would go to communion while others continued to sing and when those members returned and picked up the singing the remaining members would go to communion. In other instances we have also had communion brought to the choir loft by the Eucharistic minister especially during Christmas and Easter. There were also times when the choir members would proceed down to communion to be “first in line” this did not always work out well for the choir members because our choir loft is located in the back of the church and about 20 to 25 feet up. So there is a flight of steps to take. Generally this is not an issue if you are young and can gallop two or three steps at a time, but as I get older…
According to the GIRM (2002):
*86. 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.
Care should be taken that singers, too, can receive Communion with ease.*
Our choirs receive at the end of communion. We begin singing right after the priest has received and then sing until there are only a couple of people left in the main communion lines. By that point, most of the EMHC are done and four (2 for the Host, 2 for the cup) come over next to the choir and we receive. Then about the time we all get back there is a short communion verse around the time the tabernacle is closed. It works fairly well for us. It allows for a couple minutes of silence for almost everyone in the congregation. And most choir members (except the guys at the end) get a short moment to kneel and pray before we jump back into singing.
In my parish, my choir receives last. The communion ends after the last person has received Holy Communion. The EMHC goes to where the choir is and each person receives. Then, the EMHC gives the ciborrium to the celebrant who then replaces it back into the Tabernacle. At this time, we are enganged in silent prayer. It works really well for us because it gives all of us a chance to have sacred silence.