Friday, August 08, 2008

Motets during a Requiem Mass

Something useful from a Q&A forum:

Q: Can you tell me if the Panis Angelicus and the Ave Maria can be properly sung at a Missa Cantata Requiem Mass during the Offertory and Communion times only? If sung, would this be following the Rubrics according to the allowance now (1962 Missal)?

A: St. Pius X's motu proprio on church music, "Tra le Sollecitudini" disallows MOST solo-singing (as distinct from the liturgical intoning done by one or more chanters).

That said, it is PERMISSIBLE to sing "Ave Maria" during the Offertory of a Requiem Mass, FOLLOWING the chanting of the proper Offertory text.

However, since the Requiem Offertory, "Domine Iesu Christe" is virtually the ONLY Offertory in the Latin Rite which retains an obligatory Verse, "Hostias et preces," it is likely that there wouldn't be TIME to sing Ave Maria, unless the Offertory is sung to a VERY simple formula, or recto-tono.

The Offertory PROPER should be given pride of place. And the celebrant shouldn't be kept waiting on account of the singing of "Ave Maria."

In passing, most of the Offertory Verses are now available, either in Dom Karl Ott's original "Offertoriale" (out of print), or in Solesmes new printing, "Offertoriale Triplex", which includes the Transalpine rhythmic neums along with the "standard" Gregorian notation. Their use has been permitted since the 1930s, along with Chants Abreges and various other Desclee/Solesmes publications from that period.

Schubert's "Ave Maria" should NOT be used, UNLESS the "corrected" version with the complete Latin text is sung, and even then it is an occasion of scandal ... he wrote it for his mistress, with a non-liturgical German text. The Latin came later.

The Bach-Gounod is less offensive, though still "operatic."

The Franck or the Arcadelt (both found in the St. Gregory Hymnal) are more suitable.

"Pie Iesu" from the Durufle or Faure Requiem would be more appropriate at the Offertory, unless it is sung following the Elevations (which used to be the custom).

There is no particular problem with singing Franck's or Lambillotte's "Panis Angelicus" at Communion-time, particularly if there is a general communion of the faithful, as long as the Communion Antiphon is sung FIRST.

There is some confusion about that.

In the days when general communions were not the rule, singing the Communion after the celebrant's Communion moved it to the Ablutions, PRACTICALLY speaking.

But it is a processional chant to be sung DURING Communion, and books with the Latin psalms to accompany the Antiphons have existed since the 1930s. Both the old and new Vulgate Communion Psalters can be found online.

The new one is on the Musica Sacra website:

The Clementine Vulgate Communion Psalms are at:

Index of /Verse Book Images

Main Readme

Index Communionem A-O

Index Communionem P-V

In general, the fullest possible version of the LITURGICAL texts (either Chant or classical sacred polyphony) should be sung BEFORE one considers ADDING anything to the music-list.

Historically, most motets were settings of the antiphons on Magnificat at Vespers, and were sung when the antiphon was repeated. That's where Anglican Evensong got its "Anthem after the Third Collect" ... for the most part, there was no provision for adding music to the Mass, except possibly at communion-time, but by Mozart's time, the musical settings of Agnus Dei had become so long that they lasted right through Communion AND the Absolutions.

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