OMETIMES IT IS NICE to have our questions answered, even when the answer makes absolutely no sense. For years, many have wondered why the Offertory Antiphons in the Missal were not revised for MWMs (Masses Without Music). The Introit and Communion were revised for MWMs. They are called the Spoken Propers because they’re only supposed to be used when there is no singing. Why not the Offertory?
I gave some possible reasons several years ago in this article:
Reading an Archbishop Bugnini on the CMAA forum, it seems that I was pretty close:
To be noted in particular is the wide range of possibilities offered for singing. This allows both the full preservation of the traditional patrimony (Gregorian and polyphonic) and, at the same time, a genuine openness to new musical creations for new texts.
Thus, for the entrance song, in addition to the texts in the Roman Gradual and the Graduale Simplex, it is possible to use other texts that are liturgically adapted to the season or feast and are counterparts of the old texts. They are to be approved by the episcopal conference. The same holds for the offertory and communion songs.
All these songs accompany an action. It is therefore possible to allow a certain flexibility, especially with an eye on the heritage of popular song in the various countries and the various modern languages. This means in turn that the texts must be to some degree adaptable to new and different musical requirements.
The document [Bugnini refers to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal] prescribes how each ‘sung’ text is to be handled when the Mass is actually a Mass with singing and when the Mass is simply read. The entrance and communion antiphons, for example, are to be sung or read for their value in showing the meaning of the celebration and feast. The offertory antiphon, on the other hand, may be omitted if it is not sung, because it then loses its value as accompaniment to a procession and to the offertory rites; if it is simply read it would create a textual overload of this part of the celebration.
The Reform of the Liturgy: 1948-1975 by Annibale Bugnini (Page 387).
Unfortunately, Bugnini’s “answer” is incomprehensible. A textual overload? Really? And it is really true that neither the Introit nor the Communion antiphons accompany a procession? Really?