We’re Getting the Responsorial Psalm All Wrong
From John Lee, Johannesburg – In many parishes in the country, the incorrect practice of reading the responsorial psalm together by the entire assembly takes place regularly. Psalms are meant to be sung by a cantor or one suitably musical, with the assembly coming in singing the antiphon. The practice of reading the psalm together encourages the bad habit of the congregation reading along, from the missal, with the one proclaiming, instead of listening to what is being proclaimed.
One should familiarise oneself with the readings at home, from the missal, before coming to Mass. The congregation should not be burying their heads in the missal at Mass during the readings, so that people can see “how devout I am”.
According to noted liturgist Sr Madge Karecki SSI-TOSF, if the gospel acclamation (and Alleluia) cannot be sung, it should be dispensed with entirely.
The powers that be, in parishes, should audition suitable persons for the role of reader and proclaimer, and not just select them from those stalwarts involved in the parish in various societies and sodalities, or those with theatre training or “cultured” voices, or worse still, from among their friends.
One should be able easily to discern whether a candidate is in love with the Lord and his Word, by the way the text is read, the reverence and pace used, as well as a certain “style”, and the clearest enunciation and respect for the sacred text.
It has nothing to do with a “pseudo Oxford accent”. Anyone who rushes through the readings (through nervousness) is not suitable as a candidate. The proclaimer should also raise his eyes from time to time to engage the congregation.
Many Catholics are not familiar with the Bible. We should therefore be very selective, but fair, in our choice of proclaimers, to ensure our congregations “drink in the Word”.
Gone are the days when we were told that we fulfilled our Sunday Mass obligation as long as we came into the church before the celebrant’s Communion!