In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: I have two “simple” questions. First, how would you recommend a liturgist to proceed when asked to deviate from the GIRM by his priest? Namely number 86 about when the communion chant begins. Apparently it’s “more appropriate” to wait until after the Chalice has been received and the presider begins giving out communion. I was under the impression that the GIRM was not to be tweaked or changed and that the directives were to be followed to the best of our ability. That leads to the second question-I’m giving server training this weekend and I have been given a list of things to cover, including the ringing of bells at the end of the priest’s communion. Isn’t that something not to be practiced any longer?

I know they seem like two small details but my concern on a wider scale is “where do we draw the line?” If we don’t like or agree with a particular directive, what gives us a right to change that one and not another? These two details personally shift my focus as a member of the faithful from the Body of Christ as the focal point to the priest as the focal point because we are going the extra mile to draw attention to the priest’s receiving communion.

Let me know if I’m out of line or worrying too much about small things. I just want to do justice to my role as liturgist and Musician. Any advice is appreciated. Thank you!


A: You are reading the GIRM correctly. The communion chant begins with the priest’s communion because communion is beginning. The same music covers all the communion. There is no bell for the priest’s communion. That was removed from the liturgy 50 years ago.

Your question is how to proceed when the priest wants you to do something that’s not in the rubrics. I think it’s fair to ask him exactly what you are wondering: What are his criteria for not following the GIRM?

In the end, it’s not just a matter of doing what’s there, but learning why the rubrics are the way they are. They are meant to form us in the mystery of the eucharist.