Our Father or Pater Noster? Let’s ask the congregation what they prefer – It is only the Ordinary Form after all…


Our 10.30am Mass on a Sunday is a sung Mass. The congregation sing all the parts of the Ordinary in Latin (and Greek) including Credo III and the choir sing the Introit and the Gradual in Latin and tend to sing an appropriate office hymn or a simple motet usually in Latin at the Offertory. The rest of the Mass is in English. Last week we sang the Pater Noster rather than our usual ‘habit’ of saying it in English and apparently a couple of the congregation complained…!!?


Unfortunately, if our parish priest receives a single complaint about something, he is more likely to listen to that one person rather than all the other people who would prefer the other option. In this case, we want to sing the Pater Noster and preferably in Latin, just as they do in our neighbouring parish, the Sacred Heart. Ultimately though, it should not be about our personal preferences it should be about what we should be doing.



Sacrosanctum Concilium states:

54. In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. This is to apply in the first place to the readings and “the common prayer,” but also, as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people, according to tho norm laid down in Art. 36 of this Constitution.

Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.


In the Extraordinary Form. the congregation do not even say the Pater Noster until the ‘Sed libera nos a Malo’ and no one complains. Infact in the Extraordinary Form, everything is prescribed and no one ever complains about anything. No female servers, No Extraordinary Ministers,  No communion in the hand, no hearing the Canon, no vernacular etc etc..  and people just accept it for what it is. So why do the congregation feel that they have some kind of ownership over what is said or sung and how it is done with the Ordinary Form?

As a musical director in a Catholic church, I try and do what the Holy Father is encouraging us to do and what is prescribed in the documents of the church like Sacrosanctum Concilium. It really upsets me when people accuse me of being ‘obsessed with Gregorian Chant’ or that I am adding music to the Mass just because I like it. I actually love singing Renaissance polyphony more than anything else but that is not a viable option for our choir and I know that the chant should take pride of place in the liturgy.

When I hear dismissive comments about what ‘we’ as a parochial team not ‘me’ as an individual’ are trying to do to our precious liturgy and ultimately to our prayer I have to admit I start to think ‘what is the point?’   With the Novus Ordo we seem to always be taking one step forward and two back. No wonder the arch-traditionalists will continue to mock the Ordinary Form. We can’t even agree on the Pater Noster, sorry I mean Our Father.



Why are


4 thoughts on “Our Father or Pater Noster? Let’s ask the congregation what they prefer – It is only the Ordinary Form after all…

  1. leutgeb says:

    Musicians; we exist to be punch bags for all those with an opinion.

    The non-musicians who know nothing and the professional musicians who think they know everything.

    The rigidity of the EF has some compelling reasons to commend it, it’s just that instating it into a Church as a Sunday Mass does seem to come at quite a price. A price worth paying.

  2. Clare says:


    The rigidity of the EF has a lot to recommend it but if we are moving towards a more thorough mutual enrichment of both forms the OF needs to be treated with the same sanctity that the EF commands.

  3. leutgeb says:

    PS Sure, I’m not for being rude about the OF. It is the Mass that the Pope celebrates everyday after all. I’m just considering the practicalities of trying to do the right thing when so many possibilities are presented and the reason for choosing one thing rather than another can in fact be someone’s opinion.

  4. Ben Whitworth says:

    The General Instruction of the Roman Missal – I’m talking OF here, obviously – re-affirms that the people should be able to sing in Latin the parts of the Mass pertaining to them, and gives two specific examples: the Creed … and the Lord’s Prayer. You could hardly have clearer or more authoritative mandate for introducing the Pater Noster into parish Masses. I am sure that for every parishioner who grumbles about this there will be plenty who are grateful for the chance to hear Mass celebrated acording to the mind of the Church.

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