OCM Introduction 1: Singing at the Entrance

The OCM next addresses the various parts of the Mass and outlines how the singing of individual elements is to take place. The next eighteen numbered sections address the Mass from entrance to conclusion.

Today, we’ll look at the longest of these sections, treating the singing at the very beginning of Mass. The relevant GIRM sections on which this is based are 47-48.

1. When the people have been gathered, and the priest is approaching the altar with the servers, the Introit antiphon is started. Its intonation can be made shorter or longer as appropriate, or, better, the chant can be started by all at once. Hence the asterisk which is found in the Graduale marking the part of the intonation is only to be taken as an indication.

When the antiphon has been sung by the choir, a verse is presented by one or more cantors, and then the antiphon is repeated by the choir.

In this manner, the alternation of the antiphon and verses can be as long as is necessary to accompany the procession. However, before the antiphon is repeated at the end, Gloria  Patri, Sicut erat, can be sung as a final verse, in the same manner as one of the verses  already sung. If the Gloria Patri has a particular melodic ending, that same ending is to be used in all the verses.

If it happens that the chant, without the verse Gloria Patri and the repetition of the antiphon, becomes too protracted, the doxology is omitted. If the procession is shorter, only one verse of the psalm is used, or even the antiphon alone, with no verses added.

When a liturgical procession precedes the Mass, the Introit antiphon is sung when the procession enters the Church, or else it is omitted, as is provided in the specific cases in the liturgical books.


At first I was a little distracted by “the chant can be started by all at once.” Maybe that refers to the choir. Maybe the people. Perhaps the Latin is clearer as to who “all” is.

The GIRM speaks of the entrance chant as a dialogue between the choir (or cantor) and assembly. There’s no reason to think that won’t work best here. Some sort of dialogue with the antiphon and psalm verses is to be expected, it would seem. A mature singing faith community would have no problem chanting psalms verses here.

There are practical considerations, that the entrance psalm shouldn’t be “too protracted.” I would think as long as the prescriptions of GIRM 47 are followed–those four goals of the entrance music–the local liturgyis on firm ground.

Church musicians should know when the introit is omitted. It can and does happen on Sundays.

Other comments?

Translation courtesy of Richard Chonak who worked with the Latin original of the second edition (1988).

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Ordo Cantus Missae, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to OCM Introduction 1: Singing at the Entrance

  1. Charles says:

    Still on holiday, Todd? Glad you got some time with your ladies! W and I headed for the City by the Bay (not Green!) for R&R midweek next.
    Well done on the commentary. The only thing I have to add is agreement on the participation of the congregation with either the antiphon (my preference) or versicles. We know the hundreds of contingencies that can subvert the ideal of active, but silent participation of the congregation taking in a solemn (grand) procession. But whether one agrees with that notion or not, it’s rarely going to happen in St. Normal’s.

  2. Pingback: OCM Introduction 13-18: Liturgy of the Eucharist, Concluding Rites « Catholic Sensibility

  3. redactor007 says:

    I know this series is two years old at this point, but I just came across it and find it most excellent thus far.

    I am curious why you were distracted by the “all at once” phrase. While the first section of the chant is typically intoned so that the rest of the schola may get the pitch and the tempo, there is no reason why the entire schola couldn’t start the piece from the beginning. This is in fact what I do with my schola. We use a pitch pipe for the first note and then we all start in.

    • Todd says:

      Distracted = mildly surprised. Dialogue at liturgy is most often initiated by leadership. I may have been surprised the OCM listed as a “better” option that the entire assembly sing all together from the outset.

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