The Armchair Liturgist: Hymns of the Day

Many modern Catholic hymnals include a section listing “Hymns of the Day.” What are these?

Supposedly, there is to be found in the repertoire a congregational hymn that fits well with one or more of the readings of the day. In my exposure to some Protestant and Anglican traditions, such a hymn might be sung after the homily or sermon. Before the Creed wraps up the Liturgy of the Word, we get one last text that might or might not match the preaching. But it might offer an additional insight to the readings.

Other communities place this hymn at a more “Catholic” spot in the Mass–maybe one of the sandwich layers.

What do you think? Too much of a Protestant idea? The Mass propers cover it already? A hymn after the homily is a good, bad or indifferent idea? Sit in the purple chair and render judgment.

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Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: Hymns of the Day

  1. Liam says:

    I have, much to my surprise, grown more agnostic about the value (as a matter of principle and a matter of effective practice) of having too tight an association of the variable music (be they hymns or propers of either sort – Gradual or Missal) with the readings other than the Responsorial Psalm (the licit use of the Gradual, especially in Ordinary Time, would likely leave me cold – in the “holy seasons” it might partake of a more seasonale note to make it more convincing (perhaps)) or the Gospel acclamation versicle.

    Why? My life experience has made me much more deeply aware that worthwhile insights are much more likely to come contrapuntally, obliquely or even orthogonallly, rather than linearly. So I am more skeptical about excessive linearity in programming variable music to align with the readings.

    Maybe this is the longer term fruit from a former colleague of mine who insisted, as he programmed music, on NOT directly echoing lection texts in the hymns programmed for the day. He said it tended to have the opposite effect of what was typically intended: dilution rather than reinforcement. He would, however, often program hymns that were based on the lections of the preceding or succeeding Sunday, especially during Eastertide and Ordinary Time, where there’s a cursus approach to the Gospels (during Ordinary Time, you can topically group Sundays by the general sub-sections of the relevant Gospels and key off hymns in a kind of sub-seasonal approach).

    As for a song after a homily (that is, before the Creed; not an Offertory song, which would have a different purpose): Nope. It would be like raising the homily to the level of a Scriptural lection, but with the problem that the quality of the homily would rarely match that of Scripture. It would be unrealistically aspirational. There’s also no place for it in the current Roman ritual, FWIW.

  2. Wow, since KLS went deep, I’ll go shallow: I think it’s sheer laziness.

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