Frequently Asked Questions - Liturgy
The U.S. Bishops have approved a new Spanish-language Lectionary for use in the U.S. composed of readings (first, second and Gospel) from the Mexican (from Mexico) Lectionary and responsorial psalms and Gospel acclamation verses from the Spanish (from Spain) Lectionary.
As of yet, this Lectionary has not been published, but the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy (BCL) has asked all the publishers to begin using the readings from the Mexican Lectionary in their publications. They have, however, already published the Ritual de Exequias Cristianas (Order of Christian Funerals), which includes the readings taken from the Mexican Lectionary.
We will retain the use of the Spanish responsorial psalms and Gospel acclamation verses, which are currently found in all our publications.
If people are in need of a Mexican Lectionary or Book of the Gospels, these can be purchased directly from: Liturgical Press (in the U.S.) 1-800-858-5450 litpress.org or Buena Prensa (in Mexico) 011-52-555-546-4500 buenaprensa.com
The music choices are made according to the principles found in the various liturgical documents from Rome and the U.S. bishops. Primary among these are The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, with its appendix for the U.S., Music in Catholic Worship and Liturgical Music Today.
Our Choral Praise books are designed with the small church choir in mind. They are also to help meet the needs of churches with limited budgets. Not all parish churches can afford an extensive library of choral octavos for their parish choirs.
With new music being added to our missal program every few years, we try to keep the cost of our publications at reasonable levels so that they are accessible to the typical church choir.
These are the principles that we follow: Our fundamental concern for traditional hymnody/carols is to preserve the integrity of our musical heritage as it has been handed down from ancient to modern times, yet in language that is comprehensible to people today. Our music editors have done extensive research from many available sources and texts are selected using the following criteria:
- faithfulness to the original version of the hymn/carol, whenever possible,
- adherence to the essential theological meaning of the original text, especially as it relates to Trinitarian theology,
- inclusive references to the people of faith, and
- adoption of contemporary language in place of antiquated words or phrases, unless popular usage dictates otherwise (e.g., “O Come, All Ye Faithful”)
In the credit line of a hymn/carol, you may sometimes see the term "alt." The abbreviation is for alternative—which means a section of the text has been altered. For example, the credit of the carol “Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming” is as follows; Text: 76 76 6 76; Isaiah 11:1-10; German Carol, 15th cent.: tr. by Theodore Baker, 1851-1934, alt; Music: Alte Catholische Geistiliche Kirchengesang, Cologne, 1599. The "alt" therefore indicated that the original text has been altered or changed.
Most hymnals from both Catholic and Protestant traditions published since 1985 use these adapted texts for Christmas carols and hymnody.
A theme of the Second Vatican Council can be summed up in these words: “in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity." The slight changes in texts of carols and hymns are not part of some “political” agenda by a group of music editors or publishers of hymns and carols; rather, our common goal is find the best texts to express our praise and worship of God.
The "O" Antiphons dating from the seventh century are poetry announcing the preparation for the solemnity of the Nativity. The "O" Antiphons found in the Liturgy of the Hours are for use with evening prayer from December 17-24. Each "O" Antiphon combines a laudatory invocation of the expected Messiah with a petition for his coming as Savior.
Today's Missal contains the entrance and Communion antiphons for the Order of Mass; these are taken directly from the Sacramentary. What is in Today’s Missal corresponds to the celebration of the Eucharist and not the Liturgy of the Hours.
In regard to including the verse “You have given us the bread of heaven” or “Having within it all delight," this text is no longer part of the official ritual for Benediction. However, many worshippers have requested that we include this text in the outline for Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction in our publications. The Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy gave OCP permission to include this text in our publications.
You can be assured that as liturgical publishers, we never change any words in the Scripture readings or the prayers of the Mass.
Our American Bishops and the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) copyright these citations. We are given permission by the bishops and ICEL to use only the copyrighted translations. It is not within our authority to change anything -- we do not change any spelling, punctuation, capitalization, phrases or pronouns.
What you see in our missal (e.g., as regards the pronouns which refer to the deity) is exactly as it is printed in the authorized text of the Lectionary or Sacramentary.
The Church provides Common (seasonal) Psalms for use in addition to the appointed Psalm of the day. That is why you will notice the seasonal option listed above the appointed Psalm of the day. The Common Psalms are found at #174 in the Lectionary.
The official color for the season of Advent is violet. The ORDO says the following: "In order to distinguish between this season and the specifically penitential season of Lent, the bluer hues of violet may be used during Advent."
Many people use blue candles. Even many of the major candle companies (e.g., Marklin Candle Co. of Nashua, NH) sell candles for Advent that have blue in them. Many communities use white candles and decorate the wreath or candles with festive ribbons using various shades of blues, violets, silver and pink.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal has this to say about the Gloria. "The Gloria is an ancient hymn in which the Church, assembled in the Holy Spirit, praises and entreats the Father and the Lamb. It is sung by the congregation or by the congregation alternately with the choir or by the choir alone. If not sung is to be recited either by all together or in alternation."
The prayers and texts of the liturgy, which are biblically rooted, often use the words "bread" and "wine" in reference to the Eucharist. The eucharistic prayers themselves use "bread" and "wine" in reference to the Eucharist; the entrance and Communion antiphons from the Sacramentary use the same references.
A good example is the Roman Canon—Eucharistic Prayer I which uses the term "bread of life" and "cup of eternal salvation" even after the institution narrative (words of consecration). The Communion Antiphon for the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ likewise uses this language.
As Sacrosanctum Concilium teaches: "In the liturgy, by means of signs perceptible to the senses, human sanctification is signified and brought about in ways proper to each of these signs" (#7). References to the consecrated elements as "bread" and "wine" help to bring out the fuller meaning of the Eucharist, not diminish it.
Poetry, the genre of hymn texts, much like the liturgy itself, is metaphorical. It expresses meaning not by didactically precise statements but primarily through imagery and symbol-laden language. A literary genre contributes to meaning; poetry tends to open up deeper meanings, being oriented more toward the affective than the analytical. Eucharistic hymnody reflects the breadth of symbolic and poetic expression to bring out the fuller meanings and implications of the Eucharist.
When examined from this context, eucharistic hymnody that employs bread and wine terminology is not detrimental to Catholic faith.
Each year when we prepare our Missals we are directed by the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy to follow the calendar that they send us. You are correct in that there are several options for antiphons for feasts and memorials.
Our publication is limited in space and size. It is not possible for us to include all the options for feasts and memorials. The ORDO or the Lectionary and Sacramentary provide the additional options which the presiding minister is always free to use.
However, since we are required to follow what is presented in the BCL calendar we must use the first option that is suggested by the Bishops.