The third music ministry examined by the US Bishops’ document Sing to the Lord is the cantor. Thanks to my consistent experiences in getting small choirs recruited to serve at multiple Masses, I’ve only occasionally worked with cantors. Official church documents, including SttL, see them as second choices “when no choir is present. What is that role? Aside from serving as the psalmist, SttL outlines these:
- the invocations of the Kyrie,
- intone the Gloria,
- lead the short acclamations at the end of the Scripture readings,
- intone and sing the verse of the Gospel Acclamation,
- sing the invocations of the Prayer of the Faithful,
- lead the singing of the Agnus Dei.
- sing the verses of the psalm or song that accompany the Entrance, Preparation of the Gifts, and Communion.
Paragraphs 38 through 40 address three contemporary issues: sound system, gestures, and location.
On the note that amplification should be used only if the assembly singing is weak, one might wonder why. Does the liturgy demand the lay people say something, anything? If anything amplification might retard the musi9cal growth of a community. But the bishops see it as permissible.
On arm gestures, modest, and “only when genuinely needed“.
Where does a cantor serve? “(A) place where they can be seen by all without drawing attention from the liturgical action.” Or, if the people know what they are singing, not even visible.
How does your parish compare?