When do we sing the Gospel at Mass?

Before Pope Francis gave Benedict XVI’s funeral homily this Thursday, January 5, the deacon who proclaimed the Gospel sang it. A way to highlight the Word of God. Back to the rules and meaning of this practice.

Did you notice it? During the funeral mass of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on Thursday January 5, the Gospel was sung by the deacon. The act, traditional, is more significant than it seems at first sight. When we read the General Presentation of the Roman Missal (PGMR), which explains how to celebrate the liturgy, we notice that the Gospel is not read but proclaimed. Moreover, this proclamation “constitutes the summit of the liturgy of the Word. He must be accorded the greatest veneration” (§60).

Singing the Gospel is therefore first and foremost a mark of veneration. And a way of underlining the solemnity of the moment, because the sung parts of the mass are all the more numerous as the feast celebrated is important. The same PGMR thus says: “All possible care will be taken so that the chanting of the ministers and the people is not absent from the celebrations on Sundays and holy days. […] Priority will be given to those [les parties de la messe] that matter most” (§40).

Sing to turn to God

The liturgical text, on the other hand, remains silent on the appreciation of the solemnity and the musical tone to be used. For the first point, the minister who presides over the Eucharist is invited to a pastoral discernment, according to the place and its traditions, his will to underline the importance of such mystery of the faith, and… his vocal capacities! For tone, Gradual, repertory of the Gregorian pieces of the mass, indicates rules. Which therefore do not apply to vernacular languages. For the latter, we most often use tones of psalms adapted to the text read and to the liturgical season, tested by other priests beforehand and transmitted by them.

Saint Augustine said: “Singing is the act of those who love.”

More profoundly, as the angels invite us to during Christmas night, singing is the eminent way of turning to God, of expressing the joy of the heart by using one’s whole body. Saint Augustine said: “Singing is the act of those who love. His faithful disciple, Benedict XVI, in a passage as profound as it is lyrical in his speech to the Bernardins, says nothing else:

“Just like in rabbinical school, among monks, the reading performed by one of them is also a bodily act. […] The Psalms contain in several places instructions on how they should be sung and accompanied by musical instruments. To pray on the basis of the Word of God, labialization alone is not enough, music is necessary. […] The Christian Liturgy is an invitation to sing with the angels and to give the word its highest function. […] Here is expressed the awareness of singing, in community prayer, in the presence of the entire celestial court, and therefore of being submitted to the supreme measure: to pray and sing to unite with the music of the sublime spirits. »


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When do we sing the Gospel at Mass?

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