Communion song standing
Should people stand for the Communion hymn?
In the past I would have said "No". This is what
I have seen at most Masses and it follows the instructions I
learnt in Daily Mass Book (EJ Dwyer, Sydney, Australia,
1975) page 252:
"THANKSGIVING AFTER COMMUNION SIT
After communion there is a period of silence or a song
of praise may be sung.
PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION STAND"
Despite this instruction to "SIT" most people seem
to kneel at this time.
But in Q&A: The Mass, page 84, Dennis Smolarski
SJ wrote about the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM):
"... when it does mention a hymn after communion, it
explicitly states that it should be "sung by the entire
congregation" (#88); and the posture of the assembly during
the singing should be standing (#43). ..."
He seems to be correct. The 2000 GIRM 43 has standing in general,
"... They should sit ... if this seems helpful, during
the period of religious silence after communion. ..."
But if you are singing a hymn it is not a "period of
religious silence". The intention of 2000 GIRM 43 seems
to be that people should be standing when singing a hymn.
The US Bishops used the same wording in their adaptation:
POSTURE OF THE FAITHFUL
This adaptation will be inserted at number 43, paragraph
They should sit during the readings before the gospel and
during the responsorial psalm, for the homily and the preparation
of the gifts, and, if this seems helpful, they may sit or
kneel during the period of religious silence after communion.
This seems to indicate that the US bishops also intend that
people stand if singing, rather than being silent. But there
are indications that this was not their intention in a discussion
of these adaptations, at a meeting in November 2001 (from adoremus.org/0202BishopspartII.html).
"... Archbishop Charles Chaput (Denver): Archbishop
Lipscomb, number 3 it's not my amendment, it's Bishop Clark's.
But it says there that it has been accepted or subsumed into
number 2, but I don't think it really has been. Because in number
2 it says, "The faithful may kneel or sit during the period
of religious silence after Communion". And Bishop Clark
is suggesting that no one sit or kneel till everyone receives,
so it really isn't I mean it's kind of ignoring the question,
and for clarity I would just ask, I wanted to know, why does
the Committee think it really is answering his question with
the wording of number 2?
Archbishop Lipscomb: Well, I "They may kneel or
sit following the reception of Holy Communion", and instead
say: "They should sit during the readings before the Gospel"
and so forth "and if this seems helpful, they may sit or
kneel during the period of religious silence after Communion".
Archbishop Chaput: And what Bishop Clark is suggesting
is that nobody sit or kneel until everybody receives; and then
they can. So they're not really the same issue it seems.
Archbishop Lipscomb: Well, again, if that was the bishop's
intention I don't think we would have we would kind of accept
that as practice for the United States: Until everybody goes
to Communion, then you either sit or kneel. If everybody remains
standing until then, I just don't think that follows the practice
of most of our churches in the United States.
Archbishop Chaput: See, I agree with you; but I thought
this was confusing so I was just asking for a clarification.
So the period of silence can begin as soon as you receive, if
you want to go back and sit down, or kneel.
Archbishop Lipscomb: You can sit down, or you can kneel
or you can stand. That's included previously.
Archbishop Chaput: Okay, thank you. ..."
Here both Archbishop Chaput and Archbishop Lipscomb seem to
agree that not everyone would be standing for the whole communion
procession. But often the Communion song would be sung for all
of this time.
The Ceremonial of Bishops (for the Stational Mass of
the diocesan bishop) has a different instruction to 2000 GIRM
166 When the bishop returns to the chair after communion,
he puts on the skullcap and, if need be, washes his hands. All
are seated and a period of prayerful silence may follow, or a
song of praise or a psalm may be sung.
"All are seated" translates the Latin "Omnibus
sedentibus". This suggests everyone is seated for a song
after communion, while 2000 GIRM 43 suggests everyone is standing
except for a period of religious silence.
According to 2000 GIRM 112: "At Mass celebrated by the
Bishop, or whenever he presides without celebrating the Eucharist,
the norms which are found in the Caeremoniale Episcoporum
should be followed."
So the liturgical books seem to be saying: Everyone stands
to sing, except for a "Stational Mass of a Bishop"
when everyone should be sitting for the song after communion.
I think the liturgical books should be faithfully followed. Then
if Conferences of Bishops want to modify the instructions they
By J.R. Lilburne, 24 August 2002. Updated 20 July 2003.
I give what I have written on this page to the public domain.