Singing Candlemas – A guide

As we love anniversaries in our parish, Candlemas or The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary,  is the anniversary of the first Missa Cantata in the Extraordinary Form to be held at St Mary Magdalen’s for, well, who knows… donkey’s of years. (Missa Cantata this Thursday 7.30pm.)

I am too embarrassed to put up the video from our first year  (we have come on a long way.) You can find it on Fr Ray’s blog.  There are lots of beautiful photos taken at that first Mass by my friend Meli. Have a look on FLICKR.  We had at least a foot of snow that evening so it was a miracle anyone actually made it to the church.

Here instead is a list of resources to get you on your way to having a Missa Cantata for Candlemas:-



Alleluia – Senex Puerum 

Offertory – Diffusa Est:  Simple three part

Choral Wiki resources for Candlemas


Vespers Hymn   – Ave Maris stella – SSA – Three part for equal voices
Hymns to Our Lady  –  Courtesy of Tom Windsor at St Bede’s Clapham

From Maternal Heart of Jesus in Australia.
Mass Sheet from – Orange County 


A few extra musical tips taken from two indespensible books, Psallite Sapienter by B. Andrew Mills and The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described  by Fortescue, O’Connell and Reid :-

1. There is no music prescribed for the entrance of the clergy. The organ can be played. they can enter in silence or a hymn can be sung, even in the vernacular.

2. Before the Blessing of the Candles and the procession, there are five collects. Respond Et cum spiritu tuo and then Amen. This should all be in the second ferial tone.  Begin the Lumen as soon as the celebrant receives his candle. You can keep repeating the verses of the Nunc Dimittas until the distribution has been completed. The Gloria Patri verses can only be sung once though. The Exsurge is no longer sung.

3. Just before the procession, the celebrant sings “Procedamus in Pace” to which all respond “In nomine Christe Amen.”   During the procession sing Adorna Thalamum and Responsum Accepit. One of these can be omitted if the procession is short.  From experience, walking and singing something tricky do not go hand-in-hand and if possible I would recommend that the choir stay in one corner of the church if the procession is not going outside, rather than try and sing the Adorna and process.  During the procession, the church bells are rung. As the procession re-enters the church (or on the final approach to the altar, if  the procession remained in the church)  sing Obtulerunt pro es Dominum (p.1360 in the Liber.)  As soon as this Responsory is finished, begin the Introit for Mass.

4. Both the Gloria and the Credo are sung.




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