Q: At a recent meeting of people involved in the music ministry in our parish, the issue of singing the Psalm at Sunday Mass was talked about. Generally in this parish, the Psalm of the day is always sung however with people moving out of the ministry, this goal is proving harder to achieve 100% of the time. The thought of the meeting was that if a psalm could be sung for a season eg Lent, the demand on the musicians could be lessened. Are seasonal psalms included in the new translation and how could they be used given our situation? Thanks.
A: Yes indeed, you may use common psalms. The revised translation of the Roman Missal did not affect them because those psalms are found in the lectionary, and there has not yet been a change to that book. Look for #173. You’ll find a set of people’s responses that can remain the same for an entire season, and then in #174 a set of complete responsorial psalms that can be used on any Sunday of the relevant season. They were created exactly for a situation such as yours, where the musical leadership may not be able to learn a new setting each and every week.
Comment: Another possibility for the Psalm is for the cantor to chant the response (and the assembly to respond in chant) and then to read the strophe or to chant it, as well. This allows the assembly to hear the Psalm of the day , which is an important response to the first reading (which is the reason it is called a “responsorial Psalm”). This doesn’t put quite as much burden on the choir.
We used a seasonal Psalm at our parish for many years, but have begun this chant procedure in recent months. I, for one, appreciate hearing the Psalm of the day.
A: Good idea.
Comment: I would argue that “responsorial” refers to the people’s response to the Cantor, not a response to the first reading.
A: You are correct. However, the psalm usually does share a theme with the first reading and in some way comments on it. There are exceptions, but normally it has been chosen to develop a particular theme.