Active Participation at Mass

Some definitions:
  • A “Latin Mass” is a Mass where latin is spoken and sung, often in alternance with English, and can be either:
    • A Tridentine Mass (also called Extraordinary Form, or E.F.). The Priest uses the “1962 Missal” and we sing from the “Liber Usualis” where the chants of the Roman Gradual are listed in the order of the 1962 Missal.
    • A Mass per the rite started after Vatican II (also called “Ordinary Form”, “O.F.”or “Novus Ordo”). The “Roman Gradual” (or Gregorian Missal for Sundays only) is also used for chants. In the O.F., the congregation is invited and encouraged to sing and respond.
  • The “PROPER” of the Mass change with each Mass. These are:
    • Introit (Entrance Chant),
    • Graduale (after the first reading, sometimes replaced by a “Responsorial”)
    • Alleluia (before the Gospel is read)
    • Offertory (during the presentation of the gifts)
    • Communion

NOTE: In your parish, you may hear hymns in lieu of the Proper. See why by reading here: Four-Hymn Sandwich .

  • The “KYRIALE”, also called “ORDINARY of the Mass” change with the Liturgical season. The US Bishops (USCCB) recommend the “JUBILATE DEO” as a minimum to know. Mass XVII is proper to Sundays in Advent and Lent, Mass I to Sundays during Easter season, Mass XI for Sundays in Ordinary time. Mass VIII (De Angelis) can also be used in Ordinary Time. These parts of the Mass are:
    • Kyrie Eleison
    • Gloria (if said)
    • Sanctus
    • Agnus Dei
  • The other parts usually do not change, but may vary depending on the solemnity of the Sunday, or the language chosen by the celebrant.
  • How to prioritize your “active participation” in singing ?  click here

Another important word: “Clericalism” is best defined by this article (click here) . Clericalism is what happens when “active participation” does not.

NOTE: This page was written primarily as a learning aid for the Congregation of the 5:15PM Mass for a New Evangelization at Mary Star of the Sea in San Pedro, CA. This is a latin Mass following the Ordinary Form (Novus Ordo).

More generally, the document Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, (Download) issued by USCCB, on November 14, 2007, states:

“75. Each worshiping community in the United States, including all age groups and all ethnic groups, should, at a minimum, learn Kyrie XVI, Sanctus XVIII, and Agnus Dei XVIII, all of which are typically included in congregational worship aids. More difficult chants, such as Gloria VIII and settings of the Credo and Pater Noster, might be learned after the easier chants have been mastered.”

You will find below:
– excerpts from the General Instructions of the Roman Missal,
– Videos to learn examples of the active participation suggested by USCCB:

“The Importance of Singing

39. The Christian faithful who come together as one in expectation of the Lord’s coming are instructed by the Apostle Paul to sing together Psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles (cf. Col 3:16). […]
40. Great importance should therefore be attached to the use of singing in the celebration of the Mass, […] every care should be taken that singing by the ministers and the people not be absent in celebrations that occur on Sundays and on Holydays of Obligation. […]
41. The main place should be given, all things being equal, to Gregorian chant, as being proper to the Roman Liturgy. […]
Since the faithful from different countries come together ever more frequently, it is desirable that they know how to sing together at least some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, especially the Profession of Faith and the Lord’s Prayer, according to the simpler settings.[51]”[…]

“The Kyrie, Eleison

52. After the Penitential Act, the Kyrie, eleison (Lord, have mercy), is always begun, […]. Since it is a chant by which the faithful acclaim the Lord and implore his mercy, it is usually executed by everyone, that is to say, with the people and the choir or cantor taking part in it.”

The KYRIE music can vary with the liturgical season. See examples in our Kyriale pages:

Jubilate Deo , Advent and lent , De Angelis ,…

“The Gloria in Excelsis

53. The Gloria in excelsis (Glory to God in the highest) […] glorifies and entreats God the Father and the Lamb. […] it is sung either by everyone together, or by the people alternately with the choir, or by the choir alone.”

Practice Gloria VIII

59. […] After each reading, whoever reads it pronounces the acclamation, and by means of the reply the assembled people give honor to the Word of God that they have received in faith and with gratitude.

[ See Call-responses in either English or Latin ]

“60. The reading of the Gospel constitutes the high point of the Liturgy of the Word. The Liturgy itself teaches the great reverence that is to be shown to this reading […] by the fact that through their acclamations the faithful acknowledge and confess that Christ is present and is speaking to them and stand as they listen to the reading”

[ See Call-responses in either English or Latin ]

“The Profession of Faith […]

68. The Creed is to be sung or said by the Priest together with the people on Sundays and Solemnities. It may be said also at particular celebrations of a more solemn character.

If it is sung, it is intoned by the Priest or, if appropriate, by a cantor or by the choir. It is then sung either by everybody together or by the people alternating with the choir.”

Practice Credo III (and Gloria VIII)

“The Eucharistic Prayer […]

[ See Call-responses in either English or Latin ]

b) The acclamation, by which the whole congregation, joining with the heavenly powers, sings the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy). This acclamation, which constitutes part of the Eucharistic Prayer itself, is pronounced by all the people with the Priest.”

The SANCTUS music can vary with the liturgical season. See examples in our Kyriale pages:

Jubilate Deo , Advent and lent , De Angelis ,…


e) The anamnesis, by which the Church, fulfilling the command that she received from Christ the Lord through the Apostles, celebrates the memorial of Christ, recalling especially his blessed Passion, glorious Resurrection, and Ascension into heaven.”

[ See Call-responses in either English or Latin ]

“The Lord’s Prayer81. […] The Priest pronounces the invitation to the prayer, and all the faithful say the prayer with him; then the Priest alone adds the embolism, which the people conclude by means of the doxology. ”

Practice singing the Pater Noster (and Gloria and Credo)

“The Fraction of the Bread

83. […] The supplication Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) is usually sung by the choir or cantor with the congregation replying; or at least recited aloud. This invocation accompanies the fraction of the bread and, for this reason, may be repeated as many times as necessary until the rite has been completed. The final time it concludes with the words grant us peace.”

The AGNUS DEI music can vary with the liturgical season. See examples in our Kyriale pages:

Jubilate Deo , Advent and lent , De Angelis ,…

%d bloggers like this: