Hymns for 5th Sunday in Easter (A)
This Sunday we are all singing mainly from the same hymn sheet. “Pourquoi?” Je vous entends crier. “Surely the bishops of England and Wales can’t have imposed a policy of mutual enrichment that quickly?” Indeed they have not. However, this Sunday, the Extraordinary and the Ordinary Form share virtually the same propers, with the exception of the Communion proper, and it is astounding how rarely that actually happens.
So this might be an ideal time to think about how the texts of the propers can ‘mutually enrichment’ the hymns or music that you choose for this Sunday’s Mass. Remember there might be an ‘ideal’ when it comes to singing the music of or at Mass but if you are singing every Sunday, you also have to be practical. Only do what you can manage. It is better to sing something simple well than to sing something difficult badly.
The theme for 5th Sunday of Easter in the Ordinary form are the words of Jesus, “I am the way, the truth and the light.” which in the Laudate hymn book is conveniently indexed in the ‘Trust/Hope/Guidance” section – sadly when you see the hymns listed in this section it reads like a roll-call of music from one of my 1980s school Masses. I can picture Mr Lewis with his 12-string guitar as I type this.
Thematic Processional hymns :
Be thou my vision
Christ is made the sure foundation
Christ is the world’s light
Good Christian men rejoice and sing
Be thou my vision or Lord of all hopefulness. Don’t choose both of these hymns as I once did. They both have the same tune.
Christ the Lord is risen today.
Opening music mutual enrichment style:
At St Ms we have dropped the opening hymn during the Easter Season and we are singing the Vidi Aquam (during the sprinking rite) followed by the Introit which this week is Cantáte Domino. If you have never sung Gregorian chant I would not recommend starting with an Introit this Sunday from the Graduale Romanum. Gregorian Chant might be the ideal and when sung well it is sublime (I still have a long way to go to put myself in the category) but when sung badly it is the last thing that will aid devotion. You do not want to send the congregation dashing back to the folk Mass in the neighbouring parish. If you are not up to the Graduale standard yet, I would recommend singing a simplified form of the Introit text. In the Graduale Simplex. on P.172 there is a simplified version of the Cantate Domino Antiphon with the Psalm 97 verses set to Mode VII. There are also Adam Bartlett’s Simple English Propers which are very good. If you are the guitar player at your Mass and your priest is your number one fan, then I would suggest Daniel Schutte’s ‘Sing a new song unto the Lord.’ It might be folky but at least you are getting closer to singing the correct text.
Other ‘sing to the Lord’ hymns but not necessarily proclaiming ‘canticum novum’ are:
Sing of Christ, proclaim his glory – Beethoven’s Ode to Joy
Sing all creation , sing to God in gladness – French 18th century hymn
Instead of singing the RP this week, how about a simplifed version of the Graduale Romanum lesser Alleluia? This replaces the Gradual in Easter time. There is one HERE on Rene Goupil.
In both EF and OF the offertory proper is Jubilate Deo universae terra. There is an option in the Graduale Simplex on P.175 for the Jubilate Deo antiphon with Psalm 46. You could even sing the Taize chant ‘Jubilate Deo’ which is fun to sing as a round.
The Communion Propers vary in the rites. The option for year A in the OF is Tanto témpore which is quite long for a Communion proper. In my experience the Communion Proper is always the chant that gets practised the least, and in the OF often gets dropped just before Mass because we have not had time to rehearse it. During Communion is a great time to sing an appropriate office hymn. The last couple of Sunday’s we have sung ‘Ad cenam Agni providi’ the Vespers hymn up to Ascension Day. It is very beautiful and like many Office hymns, seems to sing itself. If you feel your Latin is not there yet then you could always sing ‘At the Lamb’s High Feast’ instead.
Here is a recording of Ad cenam Agni providi. Dom Ives Marie would not approve of the huge gaps at the quarter-bar lines.