Two Issues (Communion Hymns and Month of May)

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Biodiode
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Two Issues (Communion Hymns and Month of May)

Post by Biodiode »

I wonder what the groups feeling are on the following 2 issues:-

1) Communion Hymn - There are normally around 220 people that attend Sunday mass at the church where I am the organist and they do adequately well at singing. However, when it's the turn of the communion hymn everyone seems to go into shutdown and I end up with only one or two people singing (literally). I am considering discussing it with our priest whether to only have a communion hymn when my choir are on (every other week) and the other weekends to just play a simple piece, for example one of J.G.Walther's Chorales.

2) Maybe a bit of a controversial this one, but now we are coming towards May I being inundated with members of the congregation asking what hymns to Our Lady will we be singing. I have tried to explain that weekend masses are not the place as one should not detract from the Gospel message.

I would be interested to hear other peoples views on these matters and if you have experienced them what you did.

Thank you in advance for any comments.

Adrian
“A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.”

JW
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Re: Two Issues (Communion Hymns and Month of May)

Post by JW »

(1) Communion Hymns: GIRM identifies (a) the Communion Processional and (b) a Communion thanksgiving. Paul Inwood wrote a very good article in the last M&L discussing the Communion Processional - I'm sure you could obtain a copy if you haven't seen it. The Communion Thanksgiving is a song for after the distribution of Communion has ended. I suspect different churches' practice revolves around what works for them. At Rainham I play an organ piece (there is a thread on incidental music at Mass) at the beginning of Communion. This allows the music group to receive and allows the Communion Procession to proceed without people having to worry about hymnbooks/words etc. Towards the end of Communion we have a Communion thanksgiving song ('One bread one body' last week)

(2) May: The last 3 Sundays in May are Ascension, Pentecost and Trinity Sunday - it is probably not appropriate to detract from these feasts, though I suppose an additional hymn could be added after Mass. The first week (05 May) is the 6th Sunday of Easter. The Southwark Directory reminds me that "the Sundays of Easter have precedence over all other celebrations" but there will be some priests who would not object to a Marian hymn ending the Mass on that day. We won't be having one at Rainham, much to the annoyance of some of our congregation and also our music group. Perhaps the best way to celebrate May is to say the Rosary in common, a hymn to Our Lady could be included here. There is no reason why a hymn to Our Lady couldn't be sung at Morning & Evening Prayer, perhaps replacing the hymn in the breviary or in addition?
JW

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SOP
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Re: Two Issues (Communion Hymns and Month of May)

Post by SOP »

What our parish has done in the past is to have a little procession AFTER Mass to the statue of Our Lady as we have sung something to Our Lady. No big deal, think we then had a few Hail Marys and everyone was happy!

But the music during Mass is relative to the Mass.

alan29
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Re: Two Issues (Communion Hymns and Month of May)

Post by alan29 »

1) At communion I generally improvise (thats a bit posh for the kind of twiddling about that I do) around the hymn that will be sung. I do this until at least half the people have returned to their places. But we have a music group who receive first and then are able to join in the improvisation (one guitarist can at least) and gradually build the sound to coax the assembly to sing when the time comes.
2) Marian hymns. Why not suggest a novena or some such to slake the thirst of those with a taste for such hymns. I am sure if there is a real desire for it, people will put in the extra time and attend. If, however it is just a vague winge (sorry, suggestion) then nothing will come of it. either way, it would encourage them to take some responsibility for their suggestions.

Biodiode
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Re: Two Issues (Communion Hymns and Month of May)

Post by Biodiode »

Thanks for the input so far, very interesting thoughts. Basically my choir sing every other weekend so with reference to the communion hymn I usually play a short piece then start the hymn after about half or so have been to communion. For some reason no one wants to join, it's as though they are afraid of people hearing/judging their voice.

I certainly like your suggestion about the novena Alan and will discuss this with the priest before next weekend.
“A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.”

IncenseTom
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Re: Two Issues (Communion Hymns and Month of May)

Post by IncenseTom »

Yes, I think we'll be having some rather overly-grand, pompous organ music after the blessing and dismissal while the Priest and Altar servers process to the Lady Chapel where we will sing the Regina Caeli, followed by a return of the foundation-shuddering organ for the exit procession.

The other music at Mass will certainly be based on the day and not (yes, to the disgust of some) in dovotion to Our Lady.

quaeritor
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Re: Two Issues (Communion Hymns and Month of May)

Post by quaeritor »

The thing about the Communion Processional is its impracticability - we've tried a selection of hymns with refrains, or psalms or other chants with responses but the only voices that join in are a few of those in the pews who are not going to Communion or have not set out yet - no-one actually processing ever sings. However, we try to do things by the book, so we've taken to singing a choral setting of the Communion Antiphon, then the choir goes to Communion and then, as others have said, a sort of hybrid between a Communion hymn and a post-Communion hymn, starting "towards the end" of the distribution.

The post-Communion hymn too has its impracticalities - it is sometimes interrupted by the PP announcing the purpose of the second collection, or if we time it early enough (by accident rather than by design) there is a prolonged hiatus while the congregation scrabble noisily in their pockets/purses. On the other hand if we wait until the announcement has been made they become restive at the unnecessary prolongation of the ending of the Mass.

I am intending to try to come closer "to the book" by setting psalms to go with the Antiphon, as suggested in the Processional, but the text of the Antiphons is usually too long to be picked up as a response by the processing assembly, so the challenge is to write a setting that however elaborate has within it one phrase simply set which can then be extracted as a free-standing response to be repeated after each pair of verses, one chanted, the other harrmonised, the whole chant concluded by the whole antiphon in all its glory :D - well, that's the plan! - I'll let you know if it works!

As for hymns to Our Lady, the principle of working "by the book" should be allowed to act in our favour where it will, not always against our inclinations; - since there is no such thing as a "Recessional Hymn" envisaged, and since, as the Deacon has just proclaimed, "the Mass is ended", I can see nothing to prevent the singing of a hymn to Our Lady at that point, - even a whole "Songs of Praise" in you could actually persuade anyone to stay on :)

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Re: Two Issues (Communion Hymns and Month of May)

Post by Southern Comfort »

quaeritor wrote:The thing about the Communion Processional is its impracticability ... <snip> ... - no-one actually processing ever sings.


Funny. My experience is exactly the opposite. Lots of people are singing the refrain. But you have to spend time getting people used to the fact that it is OK to sing in the Communion procession. Doesn't happen overnight. Months if not years of softening up the assembly, explaining to them what the Communion procession is about, and that it's all right to sing when you're in it. Etc, etc. And of course, give them something singable!

quaeritor wrote:but the text of the Antiphons is usually too long to be picked up as a response by the processing assembly, so the challenge is to write a setting that however elaborate has within it one phrase simply set which can then be extracted as a free-standing response to be repeated after each pair of verses, one chanted, the other harrmonised, the whole chant concluded by the whole antiphon in all its glory :D - well, that's the plan! - I'll let you know if it works!


That's where the Psallite project comes in. Designed to do just that: short-to-medium length antiphons which relate back to the scripture readings. Optional harmonies often enough. Better than the Missal antiphons, which are not meant to be sung anyway.

(And see John Ainslie's excellent article in the latest M&L.)

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Nick Baty
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Re: Two Issues (Communion Hymns and Month of May)

Post by Nick Baty »

quaeritor wrote:The thing about the Communion Processional is its impracticability
I would have said the same once – and have said as much here. But, a few months ago, it started to happen. People started singing. The volume isn't always overwhelming, especially if it's a newish piece, but the looks on the faces and the moving lips say a lot. So don't give up – they'll get there.

quaeritor wrote:The post-Communion hymn too has its impracticalities - it is sometimes interrupted by the PP announcing the purpose of the second collection
Well there are only a couple of second collections a year, aren't there? Same with retiring collections? And isn't the PP doing his announcements a tad early?

IncenseTom
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Re: Two Issues (Communion Hymns and Month of May)

Post by IncenseTom »

Southern Comfort wrote: Better than the Missal antiphons, which are not meant to be sung anyway.


Really?

Aren't these the propers i.e the 'proper' text to be sung?

quaeritor
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Re: Two Issues (Communion Hymns and Month of May)

Post by quaeritor »

IncenseTom wrote:Aren't these the propers i.e the 'proper' text to be sung?

Oh Dear, IncenseTom, I fear you have been lured into a well-known bear trap, and any minute SC will remind you that the "proper" Antiphon was specified precisely for those occasions when singing was for some reason not possible. :?

I'm as confused by that as I hope you are, but it's been stated in another thread some time ago.

(and, SC, genuine apologies if it wasn't you. - it's a long time ago and it's very late now.)

Q

Southern Comfort
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Re: Two Issues (Communion Hymns and Month of May)

Post by Southern Comfort »

quaeritor wrote:
IncenseTom wrote:Aren't these the propers i.e the 'proper' text to be sung?

Oh Dear, IncenseTom, I fear you have been lured into a well-known bear trap, and any minute SC will remind you that the "proper" Antiphon was specified precisely for those occasions when singing was for some reason not possible. :?

I'm as confused by that as I hope you are, but it's been stated in another thread some time ago.

(and, SC, genuine apologies if it wasn't you. - it's a long time ago and it's very late now.)

Q


Incense Tom, once again, see John Ainslie's excellent article in the latest M&L, especially page 53, foot of l.h. column, if you don't believe me. Note that the Missal antiphons are NOT listed in GIRM as an option for singing at either Entrance or Communion. Other things are, but not those antiphons (unless they also happen to appear in one of the other sources mentioned).

Southern Comfort
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Re: Two Issues (Communion Hymns and Month of May)

Post by Southern Comfort »

Southern Comfort wrote:
Incense Tom, once again, see John Ainslie's excellent article in the latest M&L, especially page 53, foot of l.h. column, if you don't believe me. Note that the Missal antiphons are NOT listed in GIRM as an option for singing at either Entrance or Communion. Other things are, but not those antiphons (unless they also happen to appear in one of the other sources mentioned).


As a further clarification for any American readers of this forum, the US version of GIRM does deviate from the universal text by specifying the Missal Antiphon as an option for singing in both places (paras 48, 87). (You can find the US text on the Vatican website: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_doc_20030317_ordinamento-messale_en.html.) In the versions of GIRM for other English-speaking countries, the Missal antiphon is conspicuous by its absence from those paragraphs.

johnquinn39
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Re: Two Issues (Communion Hymns and Month of May)

Post by johnquinn39 »

' ... we are coming towards May I being inundated with members of the congregation asking what hymns to Our Lady will we be singing.

-- Adrian

I just put on any hymn to Our Lady that anyone wants when anyone wants it (usually at communion) & at Sundays in May.

We will be singing 'As I kneel before you' after the communion antiphon, I think next week.

If there are any disputes about this, I refer them to the Parish priest.
Last edited by johnquinn39 on Wed May 01, 2013 7:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

johnquinn39
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Re: Two Issues (Communion Hymns and Month of May)

Post by johnquinn39 »

' ... however, when it's the turn of the communion hymn everyone seems to go into shutdown and I end up with only one or two people singing (literally)


-- Adrian

At the parish I serve in, we (the choir / music group) usually sing a choral setting of the communion psalm, or a song with a well-known refrain that people can join in, leaving the choir to sing the whole thing -- e.g. 'Eagles wings'.

This Sunday, just gone, we sang to Bob Hurd's 'As the deer'. This segued into 'As the deer pants' when the congregation had returned to their seats.

The actual comm. antiphon 'I will be the vine' was sung as a recessional to a setting by Liam Lawton.
Last edited by johnquinn39 on Wed May 01, 2013 8:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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