Liturgical music communicates the story of the mystery of Christ, and the assembly in whom the Spirit dwells is the principal storyteller. The primary way they tell that story is by their “fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations” (“Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy,” 14).
As you are selecting music, first ask: Does this piece enable this assembly to participate fully, consciously, and actively in the liturgy, not only internally but externally by their visible actions? Singing liturgical music within the Christian assembly outwardly manifests the inward movement of our hearts to Christ. Both actions are necessary for full participation. To help with this, the church gives an order of preference for which parts should be sung. The order might surprise you!As you are selecting music, first ask: Does this piece enable this assembly to participate fully, consciously, and actively in the liturgy, not only internally but externally by their visible actions? Click To Tweet
The first preference of things to sing at Mass are the dialogues between the people and the priest, deacon, or lector, such as “The Lord be with you … And with your spirit.” Along with these are the Gospel acclamation and the acclamations of the eucharistic prayer.
The second are the antiphons and the responsorial psalm. The antiphons include the processional songs at the beginning of Mass and at Communion. Third are the refrains and litanies of the penitential act, the universal prayer, and the fraction rite. Last are the hymns, which include the Gloria and the songs at the preparation of gifts and the end of Mass.
This post was first published in “GIA Quarterly: A Liturgical Music Journal.”
Image credit: Jan Kolar – VUI Designer, Unsplash, CC0.