OCM 68: Hymn or Canticle

After the giving and receiving of consent, rings, and coins, we find a brief rubric:

68. Then a hymn or canticle of praise may be sung by the whole community.

As a church musician, this perks me up. First, the music is optional; it may be sung. It doesn’t have to be done. Second, the intent of the rite is for the whole community to sing, not just a soloist. My sense is that if the community of guests is inclined not to sing, then perhaps it should be omitted.

Unlike other editions of sacramental rites, the church doesn’t seem to provide samples or examples of texts. It did so for RCIA and funerals. The possibility of texts for this part of the rite are many. At least the OCM gives us one word to steer us: praise.

The psalms not used for the Liturgy of the Word could be one starting point. They wouldn’t need to be exact translations. Metrical versions of 33, 34, 103, 112, 128, 145, and 148 are abundant. Some more than others.

“Canticle” suggests a few Bible passages to me. This one, Song of Songs 8:6-7, from an Episcopalian site:


All: Many waters cannot quench love;
neither can the floods drown it.

1 Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;

2 For love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave;
its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame.

3 Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can the floods drown it.

4 If all the wealth of our house were offered for love,
it would be utterly scorned.

All: Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

All: Many waters cannot quench love;
neither can the floods drown it.

Another Old Testament possibility is from Isaiah:

I will rejoice heartily in the LORD,
my being exults in my God;
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation,
and wrapped me in a robe of justice,
Like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,
as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
As the earth brings forth its shoots,
and a garden makes its seeds spring up,
So will the Lord GOD make justice spring up,
and praise before all the nations. (61:10-11)

From the New Testament, I might turn to the canticle in Revelation 19. Even a setting of the Beatitudes–and there are many in many genres–would be suitable.

It would be good to see Catholic composers take a stab at the possibilities here. An antiphon for the people and verses for a cantor. A metrical hymn that could be latched to a well-known tune. Make it easy on the family and friends and other guests. This hymn or canticle is a fine opportunity to echo the other rites where songs and acclamations conclude the ritual.

The text cited in red are rubrics and bold black are ritual text from the English translation of The Order of Celebrating Matrimony © 2013, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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