The Armchair Liturgist Considers Sing-Along Priests

armchair.jpgI had a chat today with our associate pastor. He reported that at a diocesan workshop, the clergy were discouraged from singing the Mystery of Faith with the people. That got me thinking about the rubrics in the Order of Mass. Is the presider supposed to join in the singing or not? The dialogues are pretty clear: “the priest says” and “the people reply.”

  • The general confession (Confiteor) is “recite(d) together.” And the people “reply” to the absolution that follows. All of the other forms of the Penitential act involve a “reply” by the people.
  • The Gloria is “either sung or said.” GIRM 53 suggests different ways of rendering it, but the priest seems to be included in the directive “sung by everyone together.”
  • The dialogues before and after the Gospel also involve “replies.”
  • The Creed is “sung or said.”
  • At the Preparation of the Gifts, the people’s parts are the response, “Blessed be God for ever,” which the people may “acclaim.”
  • In the Sanctus, the priest’s involvement is directed: “with the people, singing or saying aloud.”
  • After the institution narrative, the instruction after the priest sings, “The mystery of faith,” is “and the people continue, acclaiming:”
  • Same term for the concluding Amen, “The people acclaim.”
  • The Lord’s Prayer is prayed “together with the people.” The “people conclude the prayer, acclaiming.” (For the kingdom …)
  • The Agnus Dei is “sung or said.”

As we implement MR3, it might be a good time to review this sort of liturgical practice. We have an opportunity to clean up a few rough spots. It’s also illustrative to look at the commonality in the Gloria, Creed, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei, but that other elements involve “replies” or “acclamations.” For the Mystery of Faith, how do you read the word “continue?” Priest drops out? Big fuss about a trivial matter? Sit in the armchair and render judgment.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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10 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist Considers Sing-Along Priests

  1. Given the distinction between “together” and “reply” made elsewhere, I would read that “continue” as “the people continue without the priest,” although I wouldn’t fault anyone for interpreting it differently; it isn’t clear.

  2. Jimmy Mac says:

    Rules, glorious rules!
    What wouldn’t we give for
    That extra bit more —
    That’s all that we live for
    Why should we be fated to
    Do nothing but brood
    On rules,
    Magical rules,
    Wonderful rules,
    Marvelous rules,
    Fabulous rules.

  3. Liam says:

    If the priest is joining the people, he better turn his microphone OFF. Same rule for cantors singing with the people. The microphone is only for when you are going solo, as it were.

  4. Randolph Nichols says:

    Regarding the Mystery of Faith, the priest’s invitation has been until now “Let us proclaim the mystery of faith.” In this instance it seems appropriate for the celebrant to join in the response. Am I to assume the new missal translation will change the exhortation as well as the acclamations? Expand if you will on the reasoning behind not having the priest sing the Mystery of Faith.

  5. Randolph Nichols says:


    Thanks. The answer to my question was right before my eyes. It should lessen as well worries of the frequently misused microphone.

  6. Christian Cosas says:

    When introducing the new acclamations, my pastor said, “How will you know which Mystery of Faith we’ll do?” He then cheekily pointed at me, then added, “For spoken Masses, I’ll just start you off.” I didn’t have the heart to correct him in front of the congregation, and I’m not sure I will, ever. Honestly, how will the people know which one to use if they’re not cued in the moment?

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