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    A View from the Pew
    Sunday
    Oct232011

    Feasting or Starving? The Communion Rite in the Church of Over There

    Welcome back! This week, let’s take a look at a Communion Rite from the Church-of-Over-There. 

     

    Pastoral Musician X winds up the assembly’s robustly sung Lord’s Prayer with a full throttled ‘Amen’.

    + See Sing to the Lord 186  on the preferred sung treatment of the Lord’s Prayer on Sundays (yes, every week!) and solemnities.

     

    With an eye on the presider and an ear for a cue, Pastoral Musician X takes a breather from ritual music to greet people within logistic proximity with the Sign of Christ’s peace.

    + Sing to the Lord 187 argues for the preferred lack of music behind this ritual activity. Music may distort the meaning of this part of the Communion Rite. The total connotation of the Sign of Peace finds its expression in gesture extended to other members of the Body of Christ. Music may confuse and actually diminish the full understanding of the Sign of Peace. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal and Order of Music do not allow for any sung or instrumental music as part of the Rite of Peace.

     

    Pastoral Musician  X waits for the cue to begin music to accompany the Fraction Rite.

    +  Depending on the amount of bread broken and wine poured into multiple cups, the litany accompanies the fraction and may be repeated as many times as necessary until the rite reaches its conclusion, the last time always ending with the words dona nobis pacem (grant us peace). (GIRM 83) That means that Chapel A with 50 people may only need two repetitions of the litany while Church B with 200 people may need three repetitions and Basilica C with 1,000 participants may require ten or more verses of the invocation until the Fraction Rite concludes. Hint: Three repetitions does not a magic number make.

     

    + Sing to the Lord 188 suggests that alternative invocations that replace Lamb of God (i.e. bread of life, cup of hope, prince of peace, etc) do not acclaim the full reality of this liturgical action. The Lamb once slain is now broken during this fraction rite for communion. As a result, we invoke the Lamb of God that corresponds to the entire breaking of the bread and pouring of the cup. The invitation to communion echoes the litany (Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.)

     

    After completing the ritual music that accompanies the Fraction Rite, Pastoral Minister X performs one of these multiple choice actions. Pastoral musicians: IDENTIFY YOURSELVES WITHIN ONE OF THESE MODELS.  

     

    1)     Pastoral Musician X stops all music to receive Eucharist prior to anyone in the assembly. The procession of the assembly begins in silence and without ritual music accompaniment because Pastoral Minister X waits on line for food before other guests eat and drink. Must eat first. Must eat first. Must eat first.

    2)     Pastoral Musician X begins a lovely solo rendition of Schubert’s Ave Maria to accompany a silent assembly processing to receive Communion. (Warning: Mantillas, doilies or tissue hats may appear on the heads of some as this Church-of-Over-There emulates the Mad Men model of the pre-Vatican II era. Barettas may appear.)

    3)     Pastoral Musician X begins the Communion song immediately when the Communion procession begins. The assembly knows the song by heart and sings the song without carrying hymnals or worship aids as they process to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. As the procession ends, Pastoral Minister X waits to receive Eucharist and is forgotten by both the presider and assisting ministers. Pastoral Minister X starves to death.  

    4)     Pastoral Musician X begins the Communion song immediately when the Communion procession begins. The assembly knows the song by heart and sings without carrying hymnals or worship aids as they process to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. As the procession ends, Pastoral Musician X simultaneously ends the song and approaches a communion minister who waits to serve both bread and cup. Pastoral Minister X is the last person in the church to receive Eucharist. Pastoral Minister X joins the assembly in a silent time of thanksgiving after all have been served.

    5)     From the lonely choir loft, Pastoral Musician X begins the Communion song immediately when the Communion procession begins. The assembly know the song by heart and sing without carrying hymnals or worship aids as they process to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. As the procession ends, Pastoral Musician X simultaneously ends the song as a communion minister is sent upstairs to the loft with a pix. Pastoral Musician X ends the hymn, receives bread only and is left to thirst for the other half of the banquet.

     

    + The Communion song begins while the presider eats and drinks. Everyone sings to express the unity of the Body of Christ and to emphasize the communal nature of this ritual action. The community sings throughout the rite as they process to Communion.(STL 189) “Care should be taken that singers, too, can receive Communion with ease.” (GIRM 86 and STL 195) The entire Communion rite ends in a moment of silent thanksgiving. If desired, a hymn of praise may be sung by the entire community. (GIRM 88)

    Opinion section (it’s my blog, after all): In our very noisy culture, this may be the only time that the assembly enjoys a moment of peace and quiet. A hymn of praise every once in a while can be a lovely meditation but this practice gets old fast week after week. I’m just sayin’.

     

    Pastoral musicians in the Church-of-Over-There, please allow me to pose some questions for your reflection:

     

    +As a pastoral musician, are you feasting at the banquet?

    +As a pastoral musician, are you partially feasting at the banquet?  Bread, no cup? Why not?

    +As a pastoral musician, are you insuring that your people feast at the table as your provide beautiful and appropriate ritual music to accompany the Communion rite? Remember those Three Judgments: Liturgical - Pastoral  - Musical.   One need not be diminished by another. They interact collaboratively, like the instruments that create a beautiful symphony.

    +As a pastoral musician, are you serving or self serving? Are you a satisfied fat cat or a lean and mean servant of the assembled Body of Christ?  (No judgment, honest; just honest reflection.)

    +As a pastoral musician, are you starving at the feast? If so, what are you going to do about that?

     

    Comments welcome. Be nice.

     

    Until next time, be well.