A year of Introits

Yesterday I opened my Graduale Triplex to look at the introit Omnis terra adoret for this Sunday, the second Sunday in Ordinary Time, and I was astonished to find my own scribbled pencil marks and notes. (Incidentally, Sister Bernadette, the choir mistress of St.Cecilia’s disapproves of us writing in our books.)  I had written “the Magi are gone but spirit of adoration remains’ and below it were scrawled various reminders about the structure of Mode IV, a mode I have to work very hard at.  This means we have now sung the Introit every Sunday for a whole year. Surely it can only get easier!

It is tricky singing the chant in an Ordinary Form Mass especially when there is an established tradition of wall-to-wall hymn singing. It takes a while for people to adjust to the chant and in fact many people never do, primarily because they are adverse to the use of Latin, and secondarily because sometimes it just is not very well sung. At our 10.30am Mass on a Sunday we begin with a hymn (except in Advent and Lent) which is often chosen to reflect the theme of the Gospel rather than the Introit. The hymn is sung until the celebrant reaches the foot of the altar. Our church is not terribly large, so inevitably we normally only manage to fit in a couple of verses before the procession has reached the Sanctuary. The Introit is then sung by a small group from the choir while the celebrant is incensing the altar. When the Introit is sung after the hymn we only sing the Antiphon once, finishing after the Gloria Patri. The reason we do not go back and sing the Antiphon again as is customary is because the celebrant, and the congregation, are waiting for Mass to begin. In the Extraordinary Form, the celebrant has lots of prayers to get through so there is ample time for the Introit and the congregation are all busy saying their prayers.  In the Ordinary Form, it is very difficult not to have a sense of ‘holding up Mass’ with the music.

This year we are going to try and sing the Gradual more regularly from the Graduale rather than just sung to a psalm tone – previously we have only sung it the full length Gradual for significant Solemnities that fall on a Sunday like All Saints, or when we have had time to practice it . The difficulty with the Graduals is that they are long and if they are sung badly, then they are a no better addition to the liturgy than a 1980s setting of a Responsorial Psalm. We shall see…

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One thought on “A year of Introits

  1. passerby says:

    Thank you for the picture and the description. Both are comforting.

    (Dropped in because this week I enjoyed a lecture on Gregorian Chant, with a bunch of Graduale Triplex books being lent for the duration, and now wanted to gawk at the neumes notation again 😉

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