"Just want to take a moment to sing the praises of the Antiphon Renewal Project - We introduced chanted propers during the shutdowns, but as people returned to Mass our parish was just not in a spot to abandon hymnody (we're in the south; hymn-singing is it's own religion) So this resource really came to my rescue. All the practical details were considered and provided for, hymntunes thoughtfully chosen and deftly set. The congregation participates with ease and gusto, and it's initiated some great dialogue about sacred music between myself and parishioners. Many thanks Luke Massery for this fantastic resource!"
Madelaine Beckford, St. Claire of Assisi Catholic Church
Crash Course on Antiphons!
Getting tired of singing the same hymns at Mass? You've heard of the antiphons, but are overwhelmed by them.
I get that. I've been a music director for more than 10 years and often felt burned out. I get tired of picking hymns and have been confused about antiphons too.
If you watch this 9 minute crash course below, you'll learn what antiphons are, why singing them matters, what resources to use first, and how to do it. I think you'll feel more challenged and fulfilled as a Catholic and musician.
Want an FAQ on antiphons for your bulletin?
Here you go:
Feel free to copy and paste this FAQ
What have you been singing lately? Hymns are meant to be sung. Does it make sense to sing congregational songs without a singing congregation? Not really. You are hearing a lot of “antiphons” especially at Entrance and Communion on Sunday.
What’s an antiphon? The Church provides scripture passages for Entrance, Offertory, and Communion for every Mass. These sacred texts have been part of the Mass since the earliest centuries, and are meant to be sung. They are like extra scripture readings!'
I thought we were supposed to sing 4 hymns? Hymns are a great way to sing our faith, and are certainly permitted, but every time we sing one, we are replacing the antiphon that the Church intended to be sung.
Why have we always done hymns? Short answer: Because after Vatican 2 none of the antiphons with their chants that the Church provides had English versions, so vernacular hymns filled the void and the rest is history. Hymns had already been a part of low Mass for decades before Vatican II.
If you’re singing antiphons now, why are they all chant-like?
It was only last Advent that a publisher finally came out with some modern-style settings of the antiphons which we will use. But also, Gregorian chant as sung speech is well-suited to deliver the scriptural texts without altering them. Scripture is prose, not rhymed meter, so the free-floating quality of chant fits the scripture like a glove fits a hand. They express all the many emotions of the psalms. It is the supreme model of Sacred Music. Don’t take my word for it!
Pope Pius X: Gregorian chant is the “Supreme Model of Sacred Music.
Pope Francis: “Together you can devote yourselves better to song as an integral part of the Liturgy, with Gregorian chant inspiring you as the first model.”
Vatican II and the Roman Missal: “Gregorian chant, as proper to the Roman liturgy, should be given pride of place, other things being equal.”
Will I ever hear hymns again? Definitely. There’s no reason we can’t have a both-and approach when the coronavirus restrictions loosen. Also, some antiphons we will use are arranged like a hymn!
What if I don’t really like it? I get you—it’s different for sure. I implore you to keep an open mind and try to use the opportunity to meditate on the scripture. You haven’t really ever had steady exposure to Gregorian chant and the antiphons as the Church intends. It may grow on you. Don’t worry, things will feel more normal eventually.