With COVIDity on an edge, it could be a very long time before anything like normality returns. In the meantime, I applaud keitha and others trying to be creative within current restrictions. I have my own suggestion to add:My view was that we should aim for a staged recovery, and that is what my PP and I agreed. Stage 1 was a said Mass with the bare minimum. After 3 weeks we moved to Stage 2, which was the addition of the organ for a quiet voluntary before Mass, quiet music during the Offertory and Communion and a short'ish voluntary at the end. I worked out timings from our live streams so that the addition of music would not extend the mass (to maintain minimal viral load). Today (we had always targeted the Feast of the Assumption) we started Stage 3 - the addition of a cantor, applying the same timing principles. She chanted the Introit, Offertory Chant, Psalm (using the response/verses/response formula) and Communion Chant from behind a perspex screen at the back of the sanctuary.
Back in March, there was a cartoon in the Tablet showing a priest or music leader announcing to the congregation “we will now hum hymn number 253”. It seemed a ridiculous idea at the time, but with the current constraints on opening one’s mouth to sing, is it worth a second thought?
It appears to me that there is no reason why a cantor, suitably distanced (and even screened) from his/her nearest human being, should not sing a well-known (and liturgically appropriate) hymn, the people being invited to listen to the words they hear and make them their own act of praise or prayer – and even humming along the melody if they so wish. With closed lips there is no expulsion of breath at all. It can be done from behind face masks.
And of course it is liturgically permissible for the cantor to sing the Responsorial Psalm without its response – or the response could be hummed as I have suggested.
Having read of Paul Inwood’s dislike of background music (‘Sound Reflections’, new issue of Music and Liturgy) I have to say that, after months of musicless liturgy, to listen to recorded Taizé chant as ‘Gathering Music’ before Sunday Mass is an absolute treat. On Thursday, for my parish’s patronal feast of St Gregory, we had recorded Gregorian chant (yes, I know, even though Pope Gregory the First probably didn't write a single note...). It created a milieu for liturgical worship a world away from bothering about face masks and social distancing - and from the diet of live-streamed Masses watched from one's sitting room. Background music can be participation by osmosis.