OCM Introduction 7-8: Alleluia and Sequence

Today, a look at the liturgical moments before the Gospel:

7. The second reading is followed by the Alleluia or the Tract. The Alleluia chant is arranged in this way: Alleluia is sung completely, with its melismatic neume, by the cantors and is repeated by the choir. If appropriate, it can even be sung by all. The verse is presented by the cantors, up to its end; after that is done, Alleluia is repeated by all.

During Lent, in place of Alleluia the Tract is sung; its verses are sung in alternation by two parts of the choir responding to each other, or by a cantor and choir. The last verse can be sung by all.

8. The Sequence, if there is one, is sung after the last Alleluia, in alternation by cantors and a choir, or by two parts of a choir, omitting the Amen at the end. If the Alleluia is not sung with its verse, the Sequence is omitted.

A few observations:

I’d like a peek at the Latin original; it’s not entirely clear to me if “all” means the entire music ministry or the whole assembly.

The Sequence is placed after the Alleluia. This makes for a rather awkward liturgical moment: in the US people customarily stand for the start of the Gospel Procession. Standing for a Sequence, especially a performance one, would be an interesting conclusion to the procession, especially when people (and clergy) expect the proclamation of the Gospel.

If the Alleluia is not sung, or not sung with the verse, the Sequence is omitted. My guess is that this text instructs that if a community isn’t singing the Gospel Acclamation, they shouldn’t recite the Sequence. Singing a verse wouldn’t seem to be the determining factor. Perhaps Paul Ford or Richard Chonak could shed some light.

Note: I appreciate Richard’s translation of the Latin original of the OCM’s second edition (1988).


About catholicsensibility

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

5 Responses to OCM Introduction 7-8: Alleluia and Sequence

  1. Liam says:

    As for the Sequence placement: this reflects that origins and traditions that the sequence *followed* the alleluia of the gradual – it was a prose extension.

    This was maintained in the Latin versions of the Roman Missal in 1970 and 1975, though US missalette practice indicated a shift to have the sequence precede the Alleluia (I don’t recall how that shift happened, but I remember reading about it somewhere once…). In any event, the 2002 Roman Missal (the corrected final version of the 2000 edition) adopted that switch, so that sequences now precede the Alleluia. In that respect, the OCM has been superseded.

  2. Liam says:

    Btw, count me generally a fan of the approved sequences (the two mandatory ones and the three optional ones). The Latin is often beautiful (and relatively simple for newbies to Latin), the English translations pretty good, and the chant melodies are lovely. There are lots of options. On Pentecost in my choir, for example, the sequence is sung to the chant melody in English with choir on odd verses and congregation on even verses (the pattern of that sequence is of coupled verses, making this very easy), and then the choir sings the sequence in the beautiful Latin to the chant melody with modern harmonies/counterpoint as an anthem later in the Mass.

    Here’s a more grand version of the Easter Sequence at Notre Dame de Paris (composed with that vast diaphanous acoustic in mind, where it can be difficult to sustain congregational singing in unison due to acoustical delays – one of the reasons organs in liturgy came about…):

    Prose de Pâques grégorien (harmonisé par Jehan Revert*)

    *Jehan Revert (b. 1920) is canon-choirmaster emeritus of the choir of Notre Dame de Paris. http://www.notredamedeparis.fr/spip.php?article613 [you can Google translate to English]

  3. The placement of the Sequence has been debated in the OF for a while especially since its placement seems to have gone back and forth since 1969. As was noted, however the 2002 GIRM places it before the Alleluia. As this is the most recent document it supersedes the others.


  4. redactor007 says:

    “Pro opportunitate tamen cantari potest semel tantum ab omnibus.” -> “If appropriate, it can even be sung by all.”

    I’m not sure this really helps.

    • Todd says:

      It does. The whole assembly can sing it. I wonder what the feel is for the most-known musical setting of the Pentecost Sequence might be, the Taize setting.

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