A new article on singing the collects at Mass offers a step-by-step guide for priest, with the help of a trusted musician, to learn to match and control their pitched voice, and introduces them to sing the presidential prayers.
The traditional vesting prayers accompanying each item of the celebrant’s attire link the particular vestment to some spiritual reality. The prayer recited when assuming the alb, for example, reminds the priest that it is a symbol of being washed whiter than snow (Psalm 90:9) in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14), an appropriate reminder of the precious price of baptism. The stole is accompanied by a plea for the joy of eternal life despite one’s unworthiness. When the chasuble, often the heaviest garment of them all, is put on, the celebrant is reminded of Our Lord’s words in Matthew 11:30 that his “yoke is easy” and his “burden is light.”
In a similar way, the collects to be sung at Mass are appropriately clothed in the rich melodies which the Church holds in her musical wardrobe. Certainly, there are many overt prayers in the Psalms linking music and the offering of one’s self to God. Indeed, one might say that the garment of song, when it clothes the texts of the liturgy, is a symbol, a physical manifestation of the worship of God. Many a choir has prayed the following text before rehearsal, which captures this connection between song and the sacrifice one offers with that of Christ at the Mass: “May the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:15).
Surely this could also be the prayer of any priest singing the orations. Let us see, then, how, on both a theoretical and practical level, the singing of the collects by priests can achieve for pastors and parishes alike a tailor-made fit of music and words.
For pointed texts of the presidential prayers according to the Roman Missal‘s “solemn tone,” check out the liturgical planner at Cantica Nova Publications. Click on the “L” on each Sunday to see the texts of the prayers; Italicized syllables are on the lower pitch (SOL).