Rome, 20 September 2016 (ZENIT)
Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum university.
Q1: Should community notices, such as dates of youth meetings, matrimony courses, when prayer meetings will be held, and the like be read after Communion? Or should they be read after Mass is finished (i.e., outside the liturgy)? Q2: Should organ music continue to play softly when the priest is purifying the chalice after Communion and the tabernacle on the main altar still open? — L.B., Rabat, Malta
A: In answer to question one we can say that the correct moment for such announcements is after the closing prayer but before the final blessing. If necessary the people may be instructed to sit down. Thus the General Instruction of the Roman Missal [GIRM] says r[e.] the concluding rites:
“90. The concluding rites consist of
“a. Brief announcements, if they are necessary;
“b. The priest’s greeting and blessing, which on certain days and occasions is enriched and expressed in 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 out to do 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.
“166. When the prayer after Communion is concluded, brief announcements to the people may be made, if they are needed.
“184. Once the prayer after Communion has been said, the deacon makes brief announcements to the people, if indeed any need to be made, unless the priest prefers to do this himself.”
These norms would seem to indicate that the priest or deacon make these announcements. It is a fairly widespread practice, however, that at least on some occasions a layperson may make specific announcements as, for example, a member of a parish youth group, or some other lay association makes an invitation to participate in activities.
The indications stress that such announcements should be brief. Only very exceptionally should this time be used for longer interventions in normal masses. On special occasions such as ordinations this time may be used for a brief thanksgiving speech. During funerals a eulogy may be pronounced at this time, although norms and customs vary from one country to another.
With respect to music after Communion the GIRM has the following to say about music:
“88. When the distribution of Communion is finished, as circumstances suggest, the priest and faithful spend some time praying privately. If desired, a psalm or other canticle of praise or a hymn may also be sung by the entire congregation.
“163. When the distribution of Communion is finished, the priest himself immediately and completely consumes at the altar any consecrated wine that happens to remain; as for any consecrated hosts that are left, he either consumes them at the altar or carries them to the place designated for the reservation of the Eucharist.
“Upon returning to the altar, the priest collects any fragments that may remain. Then, standing at the altar or at the credence table, he purifies the paten or ciborium over the chalice then purifies the chalice, saying quietly, Quod ore sumpsimus (Lord, may I receive), and dries the chalice with a purificator. If the vessels are purified at the altar, they are carried to the credence table by a minister. Nevertheless, it is also permitted, especially if there are several vessels to be purified, to leave them suitably covered on a corporal, either at the altar or at the credence table, and to purify them immediately after Mass following the dismissal of the people.
“164. Afterwards, the priest may return to the chair. A sacred silence may now be observed for some period of time, or a Psalm or another canticle of praise or a hymn may be sung (cf. above, no. 88).
“313. The organ and other lawfully approved musical instruments are to be placed in an appropriate place so that they can sustain the singing of both the choir and the congregation and be heard with ease by all if they are played alone. It is appropriate that, before being put into liturgical use, the organ be blessed according to the rite described in the Roman Ritual.
“In Advent the organ and other musical instruments should be used with a moderation that is consistent with the season’s character and does not anticipate the full joy of the Nativity of the Lord.
“In Lent the playing of the organ and musical instruments is allowed only to support the singing. Exceptions are Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Solemnities, and Feasts.”
Therefore, we can distinguish two moments, the priest during the purification and the priest on returning to the chair. There are also two different songs. The song during the distribution of Communion and an optional hymn or psalm to be sung during thanksgiving unless a period of silence is observed.
I would say that, except during Lent, the organ could continue to play some final strains of the Communion song during the purification. Many of the faithful have already ceased singing and begun their personal thanksgiving, and occasionally the choir receives Communion after the faithful at this time.
However, while observing silence is usually preferred, the above norms seem to indicate that if a meditative psalm or hymn is chosen this should be sung by all and not be simply an organ piece.