Procession music during Lent

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: I have a follow-up question to an answer you recently posted.  If the guidelines allow for 4 different entrance processional music choices, but we should just do one, what should I do at the Cathedral during Lent when the processional and the incensing of the altar take more time than the hymn?  Outside of Lent, we open with a hymn, and I put a nice introduction to it, and interludes and then I fill with the organ until Bishop Olmsted or the presider reaches the chair.  However, in Lent, I only use the organ to support singing, and so our music ends up short.  I have compensated by having the choir sing the introit.  Is that alright?  I’ve just never worked someplace where we need so much music for every Mass.  We sing offertory and communion propers and 4 hymns and a motet every week, and I still have to put in improvisation to fill most weeks.


A: You pose a practical question about short music and long procession during Lent. For sure, the GIRM imagines that the entrance antiphon uses psalm verses that can extend as long as needed for the procession. But that is not always the reality. 

With a short hymn, you have these choices: Add another piece, as you are doing. Go ahead and play a light organ interlude to sustain the time of the hymn, which gives voices a rest. Or just stop when the hymn is over, and let the procession continue in silence. 

None of them is ideal, so you may choose the one that fits your community best.