GILM 20-22: Singing the Psalm

These next few paragraphs are important. How many parish music directors have read them, let alone have an awareness of them?

20. As a rule the responsorial psalm should be sung. There are two established ways of singing the psalm after the first reading: responsorially and directly. In responsorial singing, which, as far as possible, is to be given preference, the psalmist, or cantor of the psalm, sings the psalm verse and the whole congregation joins in by singing the response. In direct singing of the psalm there is no intervening response by the community; either the psalmist, or cantor of the psalm, sings the psalm alone as the community listens or else all sing it together.
Are you surprised at option 2, a through-sung psalm? Or at the possibility that the psalmist may render the piece alone? Or that the community may sing the psalm in its entirety?
21. The singing of the psalm, or even of the response alone, is a great help toward understanding and meditating on the psalm’s spiritual meaning.
Singing has spiritual value for the faithful: nice to see it explicitly expressed in print.
I like this small section:
To foster the congregation’s singing, every means available in each individual culture is to be employed. In particular, use is to be made of all the relevant options provided in the Order of Readings for Mass [GILM 89-90] regarding responses corresponding to the different liturgical seasons.
Every means available devoted to fostering the congregational singing of the psalm: this is no small conciliar reform. Facilitating this singing means that liturgy planners may go off the page of the day and turn to another psalm to accomplish the task.

22. When not sung, the psalm after the reading is to be recited in a manner conducive to meditation on the word of God.

The responsorial psalm is sung or recited by the psalmist or cantor at the ambo.

And we know location is important. I served one parish where the implementation of this was handled very badly. I had to tread very carefully; they even brought up the issue at my interview. One cantor objected to “prancing” across the altar for the psalm. I would have told her to journey across the storage space behind the altar and appear on the other side to get the psalm done from the sweet spot.

What do you think?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in General Introduction to the Lectionary, post-conciliar liturgy documents, Scripture. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to GILM 20-22: Singing the Psalm

  1. FrMichael says:

    Singing the psalm all the way through?

    Wow, not only did I miss that “minor” detail, but I would wager that every liturgist, musician, and cleric that I know is also unaware of that detail.


  2. Terrik says:

    I tend to disagree with the idea that there should be established ways of singing the psalms. I sing the psalms often and meditate on the words that i sing. I find this very helpfull in understanding and memorizing the psalms.

    The idea of singing a psalm all the way through is quite interesting though. I would actualy like to try this very much, particularly with psalms that, due to their langth, have been broken into many parts. I’ve never been able to get a clear image of what is being presented in psalm 119 for example. Perhaps singing this psalm all the way though would help. Perhaps i’ll make a day of it. Intersting idea.

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