HEN considering whether is it is wise to repeat musical repertoire, it might be a good idea to look at how and when the ‘propers’ and the readings of the liturgy repeat during the liturgical year. It is instructive to look at how the church employs the repertoire of Gregorian chant through the liturgical year. While many days have particular “proper” chants—only sung for that particular day, a cursory look through the Graduale Romanum will reveal that many chants are used for multiple liturgical days.
For example: on the Feast of Joseph, March 19th, the communio is Joseph Fili David, but there is a note “or” Fili quid fecisti—which is also used as the communion for Holy Family. For Corpus Christi the offertory chant is Portas Caeli however the “or” is Sanctificavit Moyes which is also the offertory for 24th Sunday on Ordinary Time. Similarly on that same 24th Sunday, year B, the communio is Qui vult venire, which is also used for the 12th Sunday Year C.
Many similarities can be observed in looking at the scripture reading in the lectionary, especially in the Novus Ordo. Psalm 51 occurs a dozen times in the lectionary during the year, for such diverse days such as St. Thomas Aquinas, weekdays during ordinary Time, many days in Lent, and the Easter Vigil. In some cases, a Psalm antiphon is repeated, however the verses are different. Many psalm antiphons have 5 or 6 different versifications, so the antiphon is repeated throughout the year, but with variety in the verses to harmonize with the day, season or the other readings in the lectionary. As well, when the body of a psalm such as 51 is repeated, the same verses can be presented, but with different antiphons chosen from the body of the psalm.
Incidentally, the revision of the lectionary where a greater selection of scriptures were chosen by the Vatican II council fathers, is considered by some 1 as one of the most positive results of the council. Just by examining the psalms, one can see a much greater selection of readings.
What may be gathered from these examples: we can conclude that there is no reason not to repeat musical repertoire, and even the “propers” of the liturgy as well as the readings offer many instances where certain chants and texts are repeated throughout the liturgical year. As we know, the readings, pericopes and liturgical season and should be our guide to repertoire.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 “Without a doubt, the massive introduction of scripture in the missal constitutes the most spectacular of the councils’ liturgical reform.”—Adrian Nocent. For a challenge to this view, see The Bugnani-Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform; László Dobszay pg. 121 ff.