Pentecost and Antiphons

Oct 30, 2017

Did you recognize something different with the music for communion on Pentecost?image

What you heard was the communion antiphon for Pentecost, and the text was an English translation taken from the Graduale Romanum (this is essentially the musician’s version of the lectionary). You might recall singing or reading the “O Antiphons” during Advent – the texts from which are found in many of the hymns, songs and chants of that season.

The antiphon is sung by the congregation, and the psalm verses are sung by the cantor or choir. If this format sounds familiar, that’s because the responsorial psalm is treated in the exact same manner (The word antiphon, simply refers to the call and response (antiphonal) style of singing). In contrast to standard hymnody, this format of music moves your ‘active’ participation more inward; praying and meditating on the beautiful psalm text, which complements your movement in the eucharistic procession. Keep in mind that “active participation” is not solely our spoken and sung responses during mass – just as important, it includes observation, meditation and prayer. The antiphons are a practical tool (and Mother Church’s preferred option) and a musical means to that end.

This is the first in a new series of articles in which I will explain the various functions of music in the mass. The end goal is that we all “sing the mass,” not simply sing at mass. Stay tuned.

Sing to the Glory of God,
Mac Cooney

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