Preparing Ritual Action and Music

Since full, conscious, active participation by all the people is the norm to be considered before all else in liturgical celebration, the role of the assembly will be a primary consideration in the preparation. How will people gather or process; will there be any movement within the rite which demands specific arrangement of the space? Is there a Gloria or Creed on this day? What form of the penitential rite is most appropriate for the season or feast? Will there be incensation, sprinkling rites, or other elements which need preparation? Where will the liturgy be celebrated? What ministries are involved?

Another aspect of preparing the liturgy may involve the celebration of other rites within the Mass; will there be baptism, confirmation, anointing of the sick, one of the rites of Christian Initiation of Adults, or a blessing? What demands will this make on the celebration as a whole?

Where will music be part of the rite? From the foundational principles, we know that Roman Catholic liturgy is musical by nature; we sing the liturgy not sing at the liturgy. Therefore, the primary times for singing in the liturgy will always be the acclamations of the eucharistic prayer (Holy, Holy; Memorial Acclamation, Amen), the Gospel acclamation, the responsorial psalm, and perhaps a processional during the communion rite. The particular settings chosen will depend on the ability of the congregation and the music ministries available in the community. It is good to have some settings of the acclamations and some of the common responsorial psalms which the community knows well and can sing and pray by heart, so that they do not become discouraged by a constantly changing repertoire which never truly becomes their own. Only after the primary musical elements are in place do we turn our attention to hymns of gathering or recessional. Such hymns should, of course, reflect the season or feast or be appropriate for the particular place in the liturgy where they will be used; the three-fold judgment of Music in Catholic Worship applies to all the music used in liturgy--congregational, choral, or instrumental. Some times (such as during the preparation of the altar) are not primary times for congregational singing and might best be reserved for instrumental or choral music.