Many of the terms listed below overlap one another in meaning a great deal. Not everyone will draw the same line of demarcation between, for example, a hymn and a song, for example; the terms “antiphon, ”"response, ’’and “refrain”are likewise often almost indistinguishable one from the other. The definitions below are intended to provide a basic understanding of the vocabulary currently in use in the United States regarding music ministry in the Catholic Church.
ANTIPHON: A brief refrain, with or without chanted psalm verses, sung at the Entrance, Offertory, or Communion of the Eucharistic Liturgy. Antiphons also precede and follow each of the psalms and canticles in the Liturgy of the Hours. (Please also see entry for “Response/Antiphon/Refrain”).
ANTIPHONAL FORM: From the Greek antiphonon, (“sounding against” or “singing opposite”), this style of singing usually involves a back-and-forth singing of one group in alternation with another.
ASSEMBLY: All those who gather for liturgical worship make up the assembly, the body of Christ, the Church. However, the assembly is ordered hierarchically, arranged by rank and function.
CANTICLE: Any scriptural song not found in the book of Psalms. These form an integral part of the Liturgy of the Hours and are often found in our Sunday worship as well, taking the place of the Responsorial Psalm. Examples of scriptural canticles found in the Sunday Lectionary are the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) and the Canticle of Daniel or Canticle of the Three Children (Daniel 3:57-88).
CANTOR: The minister of the sung or chanted prayers for a worshiping community. In the Roman Catholic Church, the cantor performs three dis-tinct functions: as song leader or animator, he or she leads and assists the assembly in their music; as psalmist, he or she proclaims the sung Responsorial Psalm as part of the Liturgy of the Word; and when there is no leadership necessary, he or she functions simply as a member of the assembly, modeling the participation to which all are invited.
CHANT (OR PLAINCHANT): Often incorrectly used as synonymous with the term “Gregorian chant,” this more general term refers to any form of vocal music which is sung without specific rhythmic values assigned to indi-vidual notes; its rhythmic impetus is usually driven by the text.1 The term “chant,” as a translation of the Latin cantus, is also used throughout the General Instruction on the Roman Missal to refer to most pieces of music throughout the liturgy.
CHANT NOTATION: The precursor to our contemporary musical nota-tion. Chant notation, also called “neume” or “neumatic” notation, had four staff lines instead of five; the shape of the note-heads (called “neumes”) indi-cated the relative length of the note.
COMMUNION ANTIPHON: Please see entry for “Antiphon.”
CONSTITUTION ON THE SACRED LITURGY (SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM): “In the reform and promotion of the liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else. For it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit . . . ”2 The first constitution promul-gated by the Second Vatican Council, this document forms the basis for all our corporate worship and includes sections on the participation of the assem-bly, liturgical inculturation, the Liturgy of the Hours, the liturgical year, and sacred music and art.
DIVINE OFFICE: Please see entry for “Liturgy of the Hours.”
ENTRANCE ANTIPHON: Please see entry for “Antiphon.”
EUCHARISTIC ACCLAMATIONS: The moments during the eucha- ristic prayer that invite the assembly’s response. These consist of the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy), the Memorial Acclamation, and the Great Amen and the acclamations in Masses with children. The Sanctus and Great Amen always use the same text. Options for the Memorial Acclamation include “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again”; “Dying, you destroyed our death; rising, you restored our life. Lord Jesus, come in glory”; “Lord, by your cross and resurrection you have set us free; you are the savior of the world”; and “When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come again.”3
EUCHARISTIC PRAYER: The prayer that is “the center and summit of the entire [eucharistic] celebration begins”4 immediately following the prepa-ration of the altar with the preface dialogue: “The Lord be with you ...” and continues unbroken through the Great Amen as a single prayer. Its elements usually include thanksgiving, acclamation, anamnesis (making present the memory of Christ’s meal and sacrifice), institution narrative (the retelling of the Last Supper), petition, and the final doxology (“Through him, with him, in him . . . culminating in the Great Amen.
GENERAL INSTRUCTION OF THE ROMAN MISSAL (GIRM):
The document of the Roman Catholic Church dealing specifically with the celebration of the Mass. It contains highly specific instructions regarding almost every area of the eucharistic liturgy, including those parts of the lit-urgy that incorporate music. The primary reference document for discovering almost any aspect of liturgical celebration.
GLORIA: Hymn of praise sung as part of the Introductory Rites of the Mass at all Sunday celebrations outside of Lent and Advent, and at all solem-nities and feasts.5
GOSPEL ACCLAMATION: Normally accompanies the procession with the Book of the Gospels. In this song of praise, the assembly “welcomes and greets the Lord who is about to speak to them in the Gospel.”6 It consists of an assembly response (“Alleluia” for most of the year, which is replaced by a different response during the Lenten season7) and a Gospel verse, usually intoned by the cantor.
GREGORIAN CHANT: A specific body of music from the Middle Ages, written in chant (or “plainchant”) form. Generally ascribed by legend to Saint Gregory the Great, this body of chant makes up the bulk of the extant music we have from the earlier centuries of the Roman Church. Gregorian chant is “distinctive of the Roman liturgy . . . and should be given pride of place in liturgical services.”8
HYMN (STROPHIC HYMN): Musical form in which the melody for a verse is repeated several times with different text for each verse, or “strophe” (for example, “Joy to the World”).
LEADER OF SONG: A function of the cantor. The Leader of Song is pri-marily responsible for fostering musical participation from the assembly through strong musical leadership, proper gesture, facial expression, and invitation.
LITANIC FORM: In the form of a litany. (Please also see “Responsorial Form.”)
LITANY: A call-and-response petitionary prayer—such as the Prayer of the Faithful; Litany of the Saints; or Lord, Have Mercy—in which petitions sung or recited by a cantor or leader alternate with a brief fixed response by the assembly.
LITURGICAL MUSIC TODAY (LMT): The 1983 document from the United States Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy that elaborates on some of the specific issues and concerns not covered in Music in Catholic Worship.
LITURGY: From the Greek “leitourgia,” originally meaning a public act (the “work of the people”) performed for the good of the community. In the Roman Catholic Church, the word is used in reference to any of the official rites of the Church as found in the Roman ritual books. This would include, for example, the Liturgy of the Hours, word services, and celebrations of sac-raments (Baptism, Marriage) within and outside of Mass, as well as the eucharistic Liturgy of the Mass.9
LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST: Begins with the Preparation of the Gifts and includes the eucharistic prayer with its acclamations, Rite of Communion, and Prayer after Communion.
LITURGY OF THE HOURS: Also known as the “Divine Office,” this is the cycle of prayers, psalms, and canticles specified for the specific hours of the day. Originally consisting of eight different daily prayer times (Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline). Morning Prayer (Lauds) and Evening Prayer (Vespers) are the “chief hours,” the “two hinges on which the daily office turns.”10 Each office contains hymns, psalms, canti-cles, petitions, and other prayers.
LITURGY OF THE WORD: The first of the two main parts of the Mass, which encompasses the readings from scripture, the singing of the psalm, the proclamation of the Gospel, the homily, the Profession of Faith, and the Prayer of the Faithful.
MUSIC IN CATHOLIC WORSHIP (MCW): The 1972 document from the United States Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy addressing issues of music ministry following the Second Vatican Council.
NEUME: Note-head used in Chant Notation (please see Chant Notation).
OFFERTORY SONG: The song sung as the gifts are brought forward and the altar prepared for the celebration of the Eucharist.
ORDINARY: The liturgical texts that remain unchanged from Sunday to Sunday. These include the Kyrie Eleison (Lord, Have Mercy), the Gloria, the Profession of Faith or Creed (or Credo), the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy), and the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).
PRAYER OF THE FAITHFUL: Litanic prayer of petition offered by the gathered assembly, offered for the Church and the world as well as the local community. The final element that closes the Liturgy of the Word at a eucha-ristic liturgy.
PRELUDE: A piece of music played or sung prior to the Entrance Song of a liturgy. It is not a formal part of any liturgical rites.
PROPER: Texts in the liturgy that change week to week based on the litur-gical calendar. These include the readings from scripture; the Responsorial Psalm; the Entrance, Offertory, and Communion antiphons; and many of the presidential prayers.
PSALM: Any of the 150 poem-songs from the book of Psalms in the Old Testament of scripture.
PSALM TONE: A simple melodic formula used for chanting the verses of psalms.
PSALMIST: The role taken by the cantor during the proclamation of the Responsorial Psalm. This moment is distinct from other parts of the cantor’s ministry. Here, the cantor is a minister of the word, proclaiming scripture in song.
REFRAIN: Please see entry for “Response/Antiphon/Refrain.”
RESPONSE/ANTIPHON/REFRAIN: These three terms tend to be used almost interchangeably in the contemporary Church, although each has a slightly different connotation. “Refrain” is a musical term (referring to struc-ture), “Response” is a functional term, and “Antiphon” is a liturgical term. Normally, “Antiphon” is reserved for specific moments in the liturgy (please see entry for “antiphon”) and for the psalms in the Divine Office. In the Responsorial Psalm, the terms “refrain” and “response” are often used synony-mously by different publishers and musicians, although the term “response” may be preferable in that it connotes the dialogic nature of the psalm in a way that “refrain” does not. For the same reason, the people’s part in a litany is usually referred to as a “response.” When speaking about a song in verse- refrain form, obviously, the term “refrain” would be used.
RESPONSORIAL FORM: A dialogic form of singing alternating between cantor and assembly. Most easily identified in the singing of the Responsorial Psalm, in which the cantor proclaims the psalm verses and the people respond with their fixed refrain, this form can also be used at other points in the liturgy. (Litanic form is a subcategory of responsorial form, in which the cantor’s part forms a petitionary prayer and the people’s response is usually quite brief.)
RITUAL MUSIC/SACRED MUSIC: Any music that forms an integral part of the Roman Catholic Liturgy. “The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art ... . Therefore sacred music will be the more holy the more it is joined to the liturgical rite.”11
ROMAN GRADUAL: Contains the chants for the ordinary and proper of the Mass.
ROMAN MISSAL: The complete texts and rubrics used for the celebration of the Mass in the Roman rite.
SACRED MUSIC: Please see “Ritual Music.”
SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM: Please see Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.
SEASONAL RESPONSORIAL PSALM: The Lectionary makes provi-sion for certain psalms to replace the weekly “proper” psalms for those parishes for whom learning the entire cycle of psalmody would be too difficult. Several psalms are specified for use during different seasons of the liturgical year.
SEQUENCE: A liturgical hymn sung immediately following the second reading. The sequence appears in the eucharistic liturgy on the solemnities of Easter Sunday (and throughout the octave), Pentecost, Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, and the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. Please note that it is only required on Easter Sunday and Pentecost.12
SIMPLE GRADUAL: Contains alternate antiphons for the Entrance, Offertory, and Communion Chants. They are simpler melodies than those in the Roman Gradual.
SONG FORM: Also known as “verse-refrain” form. Musical form in which verses (with identical melody but different texts) of music alternate with a consistent refrain (identical melody and text). Examples include “Blest Are They” and “On Eagle’s Wings.”
STROPHE: One verse, or stanza, of a strophic hymn. (Please see “hymn.”)
THROUGH-COMPOSED FORM: Term commonly given to pieces of music with no set repetitions or refrains. In the liturgy, this form is the Eucharistic Acclamation, and sometimes the Gloria.13
1. Please note that the term “chant” will find other usage, especially in world music and the songs of Taize, where this definition might not apply.
2. SC, #14.
3. As of the date of publication, the acclamation “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again” is still in use in English-speaking countries. This may change with the promulgation of the revised English translation of the Roman Missal.
4. G1RM, #78.
5. The Gloria should not be sung during Advent and Lent with the exception of the solemnities of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, and the Annunciation as well as the feasts of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Chair of Saint Peter.
6. GIRM, #62.
7. Many Lenten acclamations are provided in the Lectionary, #223.
8. SC, #116.
9. It should be noted that in the Eastern churches, the term “liturgy” or “Divine Liturgy” refers only to the celebration of the Eucharist. The word “Mass” is not a part of their tradition.
10. SC, #89.a.
11. SC, #112.
12. See GIRM, #64.
13. At the time of this printing, responsorial settings of the Gloria are appropriate for liturgical use in the dioceses of the United States.
Let All Things Now Living
1. Let all things now living A song of thanksgiving
To God our Creator triumphantly raise;
Who fashioned and made us,
Protected and stayed us,
By guiding us onto the end of our days.
God's banners are o'er us,
Pure light goes before us,
A pillar of fire shining forth in the night: Till shadows have vanished And darkness is banished,
As forward we travelfrom light into Light.
2. His law he enforces,
The stars in their courses,
The sun in its orbit obediently shine,
The hills and the mountains,
The rivers andfountains,
The depths of the ocean proclaim God divine. We, too, should be voicing Our love and rejoicing With glad adoration, a song let us raise:
Till all things now living Unite in thanksgiving,
To God in the highest, hosanna and praise.