What's the responsorial psalm for?


This is the part of the Mass where my mind always wanders. I don’t understand why we have it. It just seems like a really long musical interlude between the readings.


It is one of the readings.


They should*** focus*** the worshiper’s thoughts on God in praise and adoration.


Why wouldn’t you want to praise God? And what better way to sing his praises than with the Psalms, you refer to it as a “long musical interlude” and that your mind wanders, this to me implies that you remain passive at this point, maybe rather than remaining passive why not read along with the text of the psalm, sing a-long, PRAY the psalm! And maybe it will change your perspective on it.


I have always presumed the Responsorial Psalm is left over from the Office of Hours. Once upon a time, when Mass was less frequently said, the entire Psalter was said or sung during the day. Over the years it got cut down. I use the modern Four Week Psalter with my Office: that is, it takes four weeks to get through every psalm, though many are repeated.

There are also readings and prayers in the Office. The whole thing is a constant preparation for Holy Mass. This “Liturgical Prayer” forms a body of personal spiritual preparation for the Mass to rest on, like a crown. Priests are obliged to say the Office, whether or not they get to celebrate Mass. Some priests will join their Morning or Evening Office (Lauds or Vespers) with the Mass. If you go to one of those, you would make more sense of the Responsorial Psalm. Best of all, if you say the Office, it really heightens respect for the Mass.

I think it is sad when a only little slice of a great psalm is used at Mass.


It’s more than we used to get. Pre-Vatican II, and still in the OF Mass sung in Gregorian chant as well, the sung gradual response is used instead, and that’s usually only a couple of psalm verses.

Of course when the propers are sung there are several more verses for the entrance and communion antiphons, and often the offertory too.

I too pray the hours, these days using a 2- week variant of a 1-week monastic psalter.

Praying the Divine Office is the best way to get intimate with the pulchritude of the psalter!


I would much rather the congregation chanted the whole Psalm extract to a simple gregorian chant or anglican chant, which would be much more meaningful in my opinion.

I find the repetitive nature of the Responsorial part mindnumbing and some of the modern settings sometimes sound like a comercial jingle.


The responsorial Psalm is what we hear most of the time, but what is not commonly known is that the Gradual remains an option in the Ordinary Form, and as a regular attendee of the Extraordinary Form, I find that meditating on the Gradual/Tract while the choir is singing it is more edifying than repeatedly repeating a response.


The modern settings notwithstanding, the repetition of the antiphon as a refrain I goes way back and is in fact the norm for the invitatory psalm of the Divine Office since well before VII.


The restoration of the responsorial psalm was supposed to encourage active participation but I think it has failed for the most part. For it (and the propers) to succeed, each language has to figure out a way to chant that’s accessible to your average Catholic. We’ve failed so far in the English.


It’s scripture, the same as the first and second readings, and the Gospel. I noticed that it sometimes will relate to the Gospel readings (always? often? not sure off the top of my head). It’s just a different ‘setting’ than the others.


It’s supposed to be related to the first reading though all the readings are often related.


The reason it’s called “responsorial” is because it is a prayer-response to the First Reading. (That’s why you can’t just randomly insert your favourite Psalm, or some other hymn or song, at this point in the Mass.)

We are praying in thanksgiving or in awe or in sorrow for the events described in the First Reading, in the words of the Psalmist. There is an antiphonal chorus that is recited or sung between the verses by the choir and congregation, that typically summarizes the emotion of the Psalmist’s prayer that we are praying at that moment.


The term “Responsorial” refers to the fact that it is responding to the First Reading.

The form of the Psalm is antiphonal, which means that there is a chorus between the verses that can be sung or recited by the congregation and choir.


From the Catholic Encyclopedia article “Gradual”:

the Gradual (with its supplement, the Tract or Alleluia) represents the singing of psalms alternating with readings from the Bible, a custom that is as old as these readings themselves. Like them, the psalms at this place are an inheritance from the service of the Synagogue. Copied from that service, alternate readings and psalms filled up a great part of the first half of the Liturgy in every part of the Christian world from the beginning. Read more]


No we haven’t. It must be your parish. In every parish I’ve attended Mass at, people participate quite readily in singing the antiphons and paying attention to the psalm. It is one of my favorite parts of the Mass and one of the most beautiful.


You’re right. The communion as well as the offertory, introit, and secret verses are in the missalette (carryover from the old Mass) but I have yet to hear them. I see a hymn is an option instead. Bummer.


It’s a real struggle in the English, whereas in Spanish, Latin, Polish, or Italian, it’s a lot easier on the ears.


Luckily the monastery where I attend Mass chants them daily from the Graduale Romanum. I’ve also been to a Cistercian abbey where they translated them into French and adapted a Gregorian melody to the French. It worked out pretty well.


No, the term “responsorial” means that there is a call-and-response format in which the choir or assembly responds to the verses with the refrain (antiphon).

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.