After the psalms, we head into the second half of the celebration. The single reading follows the two psalms and canticle of the ‘”hinge” hours:
44. After the psalmody there is either a short reading or a longer one.
We read there are also seasonal factors at work in the choice of readings. We also read that a short reading provides some focused thought or highlight; it’s not meant to overpower or overshadow the experience of the psalms:
45. The short reading is provided to fit the day, the season, and the feast. It is to be read and received as a true proclamation of God’s word that emphasizes some holy thought or highlights some shorter passages that may be overlooked in the continuous cycle of Scripture readings.
The short readings are different for each day of the psalter cycle.
When would a longer reading be used? GILH tells:
46. Especially in a celebration with a congregation, a longer Scripture reading may be chosen either from the office of readings or the Lectionary for Mass, particularly texts that for some reason have not been used. From time to time some other more suitable reading may be used, in accordance with the rules in nos. 248-249 and 251.
Yet I’m not convinced a longer reading should be used only because of the presence of a congregation. Having the option of using a Lectionary reading is a helpful one, though. I can foresee some circumstances in which it would be spiritually beneficial, particularly if the community does not celebrate daily Mass.
A homily is optional:
47. In a celebration with a congregation a short homily may follow the reading to explain its meaning, as circumstances suggest.
A laudable option for silence is provided:
48. After the reading or homily a period of silence may be observed.
There can be a sung response to the Scripture reading, too:
49. As a response to the word of God, a responsorial chant or short responsory is provided; this may be omitted. Other chants with the same purpose and character may also be substituted in its place, provided these have been duly approved by the conference of bishops.
My assumption would be that a musical setting of the given text is a prime choice. Second might be an antiphon (not a hymn!) that fits the character of a response to Scripture. Note the provision for the conference of bishops to approve such items. To my knowledge, they never have done so in the US or Canada. Perhaps somewhere else?
Any comments about any of this? Any surprises?