With very little fanfare, RCIA launches into a second appendix of many musical texts, but very little in terms of commentary. Perhaps between you reader and I we can come up with something substantive.
RCIA’s Appendix II (the first appendix covered the combined rites for thew baptized and the not) is only three sections long. Two “hymns in the style of the New Testament” make up RCIA 596, and seven “songs from ancient liturgies” are found in RCIA 597. Today we’ll look at the first three of twelve “acclamations from sacred Scripture.”
1. Lord God, who is your equal? Strong, majestic, and holy! Worthy of praise, worker of wonders!
Exodus 15:11 is from the third “psalm” of the Easter Vigil, the Israelites’ song of triumph on the shores of the sea. This quote is slightly suggestive of the Trisagion–which itself may have been a good choice for an initiation acclamation.
When might this be used? The text might suggest it being a bridge between baptism and confirmation at the Easter Vigil. If so, a development as the antiphon of a larger setting might be called for, perhaps some of the (Evening Prayer) canticles from Revelation, like 4:11, 5:9-10, 12 or 11:17-18, 12:10-12 or 15:3-4 or 19:1-7 could be utilized to build that setting.
A better case might be made for a more frequent use during the catechumenate period, to more closely link God’s agency in the Exodus triumph with the initiation journey of the catechumens/elect. My suggestion would be to set this text and use it for the minor exorcisms and the blessings of the catechumens. That would mean a singable melody that could stand well unaccompanied.
2. God is light: in him there is no darkness.
1 John 1:5, but better known as the first phrase of Dan Schutte’s “City of God.” I’ve seen this phrase set in a few collections of RCIA music. When to use it? Rite of Acceptance or Welcoming would be good. A literal stitching into the baptismal rite would be poor.
3. God is love; those who live in love, live in God.
David Haas’s setting of 1 John 4:6 (which includes other baptismal acclamation texts) is probably the most well-known of the handful of versions, but it doesn’t have wide use. I’m probably least sold on this text as an acclamation as any in the bunch. Sure, it’s a quote from Scripture. But out of context in the epistle, it comes off as more sentiment than kerygma.