AD ORIENTEM - Facing the Lord
For some weeks we have celebrated the Eucharist in a slightly different form at the 9.00 a.m. Mass on Sundays: From the Offertory until Communion, the priest celebrant stood in front of the altar, facing East, which in our church also means facing the Tabernacle and the large crucifix, together with the whole congregation. This way of celebrating is normally referred to as “ad orientem”, Latin for “facing East”. Interestingly, the documents of II Vatican Council itself nowhere speak about giving up the traditional practice of priest and people facing east together.
We are so accustomed to the practice of the priest facing the people that we are not aware of the effect it has on our Eucharistic celebration. It tends to put too much attention on the person of the priest -- his face, gestures, and so on. Ad orientem can assist us in placing our primary focus on God. It also highlight the priest’s role gathering up the prayers and intentions of the people and presenting them to God. The most basic experience that the people and priest share in an ad orientem Mass is ‘facing God’ together. Visually speaking, we are ‘facing God’ in the tabernacle; theologically, we are also facing East together.
The symbolism of the East is very important in Christian history, as is the posture of our bodies in prayer. Together, as a people, we face the “rising sun”, which is symbolic of new life in Christ. It also symbolically points us toward Jerusalem, and even more so the “New Jerusalem,” and our eternal home. Finally facing the same direction with the priest reminds us of leaving our bondage of slavery to freedom, as the Israelites left Egypt led by Moses to the Promised Land.
Older parishioners and people familiar with the traditional (Latin) Mass are familiar with this practice. At St George’s, we know it from Corpus Christi celebrations in years when we are using the ritual of our neighbors at Annuciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
After our first celebrations ad orientem at St George’s, we received encouraging and grateful feedback from a number of parishioners; others are less enthusiastic though generally open. We can be glad, and even a bit proud, that in our parish discussions about this project has been informed and respectful, avoiding any liturgical hysteria.
There are both pastoral and liturgical reasons for this practice, and as already mentioned, it is supported in current liturgical legislation. Facing God while addressing him, doing so together as one community led by the priest (during the Liturgy of the Eucharist), and facing the congregation when addressing them (during the liturgy of the Word) makes eminent sense.
This ancient form of celebrating the Mass will enrich the liturgical life at St George’s, adding to the diversity and fullness of our celebrations. The way into a good future for our parish lies in us being more missionary/evangelizing and more traditional. In fact, we cannot really be the one without the other.
Starting March 2019, we will have celebrations ad orientem at 9.00 a.m. Masses on the second and fourth/last Sunday of each month, as well as on Thursdays and Fridays. All parishioners and friends of St George’s should give this a try, and invite others to do the same.
Chant Mass Choir
Our Chant Mass Choir sings during the Sunday 9:00 am Mass. Our Members volunteer their time and talent under the direction of Tim Kennedy.
The Christian faithful who come together as one in expectation of the Lord’s coming are instructed by the Apostle Paul to sing together Psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles. Singing is the sign of the heart’s joy thus, according to the ancient proverb, “Whoever sings well prays twice over.”
The chant of the Roman Rite represents the very voice of the Faith, a true prayer in song, one that draws all generations of Catholics together in the Mass.
Rehearsals take place at 8:15am before the Mass on Sundays. Participants do not need to sing at every Mass.
For further information or to join our Chant Mass Choir please contact Tim Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coram Deo Choir
Come and learn to sing beautiful sacred music for the Mass with the Coram Deo Choir Program. Ages 8 and up. Individuals and families welcome.
Only requirements: love of God and sacred music and willingness put the time and energy into learning.
We practice at St. George's two to three times a month on Mondays from 6:00 - 7:30 and sing at the 9 AM Mass on the last Sunday of the month. Suggested donation $20/individual; $50 family
For complete details, schedule and music selection contact: email@example.com
Norms for Music and
the Liturgy of the Roman Rite
General Instruction on the Roman Missal (Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops - 2011)
The Importance of Singing
39. The Christian faithful who come together as one in expectation of the Lord’s coming are instructed by the Apostle Paul to sing together Psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles (cf. Colossians 3.16). Singing is the sign of the heart’s joy (cf. Acts 2.46). Thus St. Augustine says rightly, “Singing is for one who loves,”48 and there is also an ancient proverb: “Whoever sings well prays twice over.”
40. Great importance should therefore be attached to the use of singing in the celebration of the Mass, with due consideration for the culture of peoples and abilities of each liturgical assembly. Although it is not always necessary (e.g., in weekday Masses) to sing all the texts that are in principle meant to be sung, every care should be taken that singing by the ministers and the people not be absent in celebrations that occur on Sundays and on Holy days of Obligation. However, in the choosing of the parts actually to be sung, preference is to be given to those that are of greater importance and especially to those which are to be sung by the Priest or the Deacon or a reader, with the people replying, or by the Priest and people together.
41. The main place should be given, all things being equal, to Gregorian chant, as being proper to the Roman Liturgy. Other kinds of sacred music, in particular polyphony, are in no way excluded, provided that they correspond to the spirit of the liturgical action and that they foster the participation of all the faithful.
50. Since the faithful from different countries come together ever more frequently, it is desirable that they know how to sing together at least some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, especially the Profession of Faith and the Lord’s Prayer, according to the simpler settings.
47. When the people are gathered, and as the Priest enters with the Deacon and ministers, the Entrance Chant begins. Its purpose is to open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical time or festivity, and accompany the procession of the Priest and ministers.
48. This chant is sung alternately by the choir and the people or similarly by a cantor and the people, or entirely by the people, or by the choir alone. In the dioceses of Canada the Entrance Chant may be chosen from among the following: the antiphon with its Psalm from the Graduale Romanum or the Graduale Simplex, or another chant that is suited to the sacred action, the day, or the time of year, and whose text has been approved by the Conference of Bishops of Canada. If there is no singing at the Entrance, the antiphon given in the Missal is recited either by the faithful, or by some of them, or by a reader; otherwise, it is recited by the Priest himself, who may even adapt it as an introductory explanation (cf. no. 31).
The Preparation of the Gifts
74. The procession bringing the gifts is accompanied by the Offertory Chant (cf. no. 37b), which continues at least until the gifts have been placed on the altar. The norms on the manner of singing are the same as for the Entrance Chant (cf. no. 48). Singing may always accompany the rite at the Offertory, even when there is no procession with the gifts.
86. While the Priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion Chant is begun, its purpose being to express the spiritual union of the communicants by means of the unity of their voices, to show gladness of heart, and to bring out more clearly the “communitarian” character of the procession to receive the Eucharist. The singing is prolonged for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful.74 However, if there is to be a hymn after Communion, the Communion Chant should be ended in a timely manner. Care should be taken that singers, too, can receive Communion with ease.
87. In the dioceses of Canada singing at Communion may be chosen from among the following: the antiphon from the Graduale Romanum, with or without the Psalm, or the antiphon with Psalm from the Graduale Simplex, or some other suitable liturgical chant approved by the Conference of Bishops of Canada. This is sung either by the choir alone or by the choir or a cantor with the people.
The Concluding Rites
90. To the Concluding Rites belong the following: a) brief announcements, should they be necessary; b) the Priest’s Greeting and Blessing, which on certain days and occasions is expanded and expressed by the Prayer over the People or another more solemn formula; c) the Dismissal of the people by the Deacon or the Priest, so that each may go back to doing good works, praising and blessing God; d) the kissing of the altar by the Priest and the Deacon, followed by a profound bow to the altar by the Priest, the Deacon, and the other ministers.
Musicam Sacram (2nd Vatican Council, 1967)
16. One cannot find anything more religious and more joyful in sacred celebrations than a whole congregation expressing its faith and devotion in song. Therefore the active participation of the whole people, which is shown in singing, is to be carefully promoted as follows:
(a) It should first of all include acclamations, responses to the greetings of the priest and ministers and to the prayers of litany form, and also antiphons and psalms, refrains or repeated responses, hymns and canticles.
(b) Through suitable instruction and practices, the people should be gradually led to a fuller—indeed, to a complete—participation in those parts of the singing which pertain to them.
(c) Some of the people's song, however, especially if the faithful have not yet been sufficiently instructed, or if musical settings for several voices are used, can be handed over to the choir alone, provided that the people are not excluded from those parts that concern them. But the usage of entrusting to the choir alone the entire singing of the whole Proper and of the whole Ordinary, to the complete exclusion of the people's participation in the singing, is to be deprecated.
18. Among the faithful, special attention must be given to the instruction in sacred singing of members of lay religious societies, so that they may support and promote the participation of the people more effectively.
27. For the celebration of the Eucharist with the people, especially on Sundays and feast days, a form of sung Mass (Missa in cantu) is to be preferred as much as possible, even several times on the same day.
28. The distinction between solemn, sung and read Mass, sanctioned by the Instruction of 1958 (n. 3), is retained, according to the traditional liturgical laws at present in force. However, for the sung Mass (Missa cantata), different degrees of participation are put forward here for reasons of pastoral usefulness, so that it may become easier to make the celebration of Mass more beautiful by singing, according to the capabilities of each congregation. These degrees are so arranged that the first may be used even by itself, but the second and third, wholly or partially, may never be used without the first. In this way the faithful will be continually led towards an ever greater participation in the singing.
29. The following belong to the first degree:
(a) In the entrance rites: the greeting of the priest together with the reply of the people; the prayer.
(b) In the Liturgy of the Word: the acclamations at the Gospel.
(c) In the Eucharistic Liturgy: the prayer over the offerings; the preface with its dialogue and the Sanctus; the final doxology of the Canon, the Lord's prayer with its introduction and embolism; the Pax Domini; the prayer after the Communion; the formulas of dismissal.
30. The following belong to the second degree:
(a) the Kyrie, Gloria and Agnus Dei;
(b) the Creed;
(c) the prayer of the faithful.
31. The following belong to the third degree:
(a) the songs at the Entrance and Communion processions;
(b) the songs after the Lesson or Epistle;
(c) the Alleluia before the Gospel;
(d) the song at the Offertory;
(e) the readings of Sacred Scripture, unless it seems more suitable to proclaim them without singing.
33. It is desirable that the assembly of the faithful should participate in the songs of the Proper as much as possible, especially through simple responses and other suitable settings.
47. According to the Constitution on the Liturgy, "the use of the Latin language, with due respect to particular law, is to be preserved in the Latin rites." Pastors of souls should take care that besides the vernacular "the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them."
63. In permitting and using musical instruments, the culture and traditions of individual peoples must be taken into account. However, those instruments which are, by common opinion and use, suitable for secular music only, are to be altogether prohibited from every liturgical celebration and from popular devotions.
Sacrosanctum Concilium (Constitution on the Liturgy – 1963)
7. …Rightly, then, the liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the liturgy the sanctification of the man is signified by signs perceptible to the senses, and is effected in a way which corresponds with each of these signs; in the liturgy the whole public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and His members. From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree.
8. In the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle ; we sing a hymn to the Lord's glory with all the warriors of the heavenly army; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ, until He, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with Him in glory .
10. Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord's supper.The liturgy in its turn moves the faithful, filled with "the paschal sacraments," to be "one in holiness" ; it prays that "they may hold fast in their lives to what they have grasped by their faith" ; the renewal in the Eucharist of the covenant between the Lord and man draws the faithful into the compelling love of Christ and sets them on fire. From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the Eucharist, as from a font, grace is poured forth upon us; and the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God, to which all other activities of the Church are directed as toward their end, is achieved in the most efficacious possible way.
30. To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes. And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence.
112. The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy.Holy Scripture, indeed, has bestowed praise upon sacred song , and the same may be said of the fathers of the Church and of the Roman pontiffs who in recent times, led by St. Pius X, have explained more precisely the ministerial function supplied by sacred music in the service of the Lord.Therefore sacred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion as it is more closely connected with the liturgical action, whether it adds delight to prayer, fosters unity of minds, or confers greater solemnity upon the sacred rites. But the Church approves of all forms of true art having the needed qualities, and admits them into divine worship.
113. Liturgical worship is given a more noble form when the divine offices are celebrated solemnly in song, with the assistance of sacred ministers and the active participation of the people.
114. The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care. Choirs must be diligently promoted, especially in cathedral churches; but bishops and other pastors of souls must be at pains to ensure that, whenever the sacred action is to be celebrated with song, the whole body of the faithful may be able to contribute that active participation which is rightly theirs, as laid down in Art. 28 and 30.
116. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services. But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action, as laid down in Art. 30.
121….The texts intended to be sung must always be in conformity with Catholic doctrine; indeed they should be drawn chiefly from holy scripture and from liturgical sources.
Sacramentum Caritatis (Pope Benedict XVI)
In the ars celebrandi, liturgical song has a pre-eminent place. Saint Augustine rightly says in a famous sermon that “the new man sings a new song. Singing is an expression of joy and, if we consider the matter, an expression of love”. The People of God assembled for the liturgy sings the praises of God. In the course of her two-thousand-year history, the Church has created, and still creates, music and songs which represent a rich patrimony of faith and love. This heritage must not be lost. Certainly as far as the liturgy is concerned, we cannot say that one song is as good as another. Generic improvisation or the introduction of musical genres which fail to respect the meaning of the liturgy should be avoided. As an element of the liturgy, song should be well integrated into the overall celebration. Consequently everything – texts, music, execution – ought to correspond to the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, the structure of the rite and the liturgical seasons. Finally, while respecting various styles and different and highly praiseworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy.