Singing At Daily Mass

Until today, I overlooked the post at PrayTell on singing daily Mass. Songs and hymns at entrance and ending are default in many places. But when I arrived at my parish, the Gospel and Eucharistic acclamations were also in place. I had hopes for the psalm, but unless I lead it, it remains in the realm of the spoken word.

One commentator there disagreed with the whole idea of singing at daily Mass, and wrote:

The low Mass, in either form, permits the congregant to become one with his or her innermost thoughts.

No. At least that’s not the point of Mass. Unity with one’s inner thoughts is accomplished better through things that are designed for it: centering prayer, lectio divina, yoga, Eucharistic adoration, or other forms of prayer.

Part of the point–and genius–of Vatican II liturgical reform was to relieve us of the idea of the Low Mass. The modern Roman Missal may have flaws in translation and in the execution of its celebration. But essentially every liturgy is meant to be a sung High Mass on some level. Please: let’s not bring back the Low Mass. And perhaps it would be good to phase out the 1962 Missal unless it were a sung Mass.

While I know there are busy, modern people used to one-stop shopping. I get that. I purchase fresh produce, prescription medicine, cat litter, and furnace filters at the same store.

I wonder about the impulse to try to cram in everything churchy on a Sunday morning: Mass, religious ed for children, parish meetings and meet-ups, and quiet prayer. Especially the latter. And where small children are concerned, I’ve long thought it fruitless to attempt to introduce church behavior when there are dozens to hundreds of people in the room. Kids fuss before the hour is up at Mass? It’s probably because they haven’t been schooled in behavior in an empty and quiet church in increments during the week.

I understand the impulse to be silent and such in God’s presence. But it is a challenge, at least for me, to pray as an individual in a room of three-hundred.  Or even thirty. I think we’re better off singing when it’s two or more of us with the Lord. Taking the extra time to contemplate God seems more respectful to me.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to Singing At Daily Mass

  1. David D. says:

    Not every Low Mass was/is of the type prevalent in 20th century, non-ethnic, American parishes; so-called active participation has varied considerably across time, place and culture. My own experience of the new Mass has most often been that of a noisy Low Mass rather than a scaled down High Mass. Having primarily attended sung Masses in the older form over the past decade, I am not put off by the occasional Low Mass. Given the rubrics and absence of options, the older form – even in the most bare-bones Low Mass – is far more visually stimulating and intelligible than the new.

  2. Jim McCrea says:

    How could anyone want to get rid of the 20 minute “get it over and done with as quickly as possible and then go to breakfast” special?

    I served many of them in my youth (the early morning lowest of low was the role of the newest of new altar boys’ roles) and know of what I speak.

  3. Devin says:

    The current missal does envision liberal use of silence for reflection and meditation. Unfortunately, this is rare. If time is the main concern, I think it would be appropriate to omit the closing hymn to allow for silence at other points in the liturgy. It would be opportune to have silence after each of the general intercessions (either a shorter space followed by the response or a longer period where the “Lord, hear our prayer” or similar response is omitted). Again, if time is a constraint, the number of intercessions could be reduced. The Appendix in the Roman Missal provides about four intercessions. I think it would be better to have four well crafted intercessions of a truly universal nature than 7 or 8 prayers of average quality sans silence.

    • Todd says:

      Hi Devin,

      For daily Mass, I think expediency can sometimes be a thought in people’s minds. As for intercessions, they are rarely written up except for Sundays and perhaps holy days. But I’m in total agreement with you on more silence, especially at Sunday Mass. There’s never enough time for meditation, in my opinion. But reflection time, thumbs up from me.

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