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