Singing or Reciting the Alleluia

Author: Father Edward McNamara, LC


Singing or Reciting the Alleluia

Rome, 18 December 2018 (ZENIT)
Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum university. 

Q: As lectors during weekday Masses, should we not all follow the same order? One sings the Alleluia, the other recites the Alleluia. Is not the Alleluia sung even during weekday Masses? — R.L., East Hartford, Connecticut

A: According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal:

“62. After the reading that immediately precedes the Gospel, the Alleluia or another chant indicated by the rubrics is sung, as required by the liturgical season. An acclamation of this kind constitutes a rite or act in itself, by which the assembly of the faithful welcomes and greets the Lord who is about to speak to them in the Gospel and professes their faith by means of the chant. It is sung by all while standing and is led by the choir or a cantor, being repeated if this is appropriate. The verse, however, is sung either by the choir or by the cantor.

“a. The Alleluia is sung in every season other than Lent. The verses are taken from the Lectionary or the Graduale.

“b. During Lent, in place of the Alleluia, the verse before the Gospel is sung, as indicated in the Lectionary. It is also permissible to sing another psalm or tract, as found in the Graduale.

“63. When there is only one reading before the Gospel,

“a. During a season when the Alleluia is to be said, either the Alleluia Psalm or the responsorial Psalm followed by the Alleluia with its verse may be used;

“b. During the season when the Alleluia is not to be said, either the psalm and the verse before the Gospel or the psalm alone may be used;

“c. The Alleluia or verse before the Gospel may be omitted if they are not sung.”

No. 62 clearly recommends and promotes the singing of both Alleluia and verse and offers several solutions in order to achieve the singing of both Alleluia and its corresponding verse.

Since the missal desires that Acclamation and verse both be sung at each and every Mass, Sundays and weekdays, then any order that favors this objective may be employed.

If the reader is incapable of singing the Alleluia verse, he or she may be replaced by a choir or cantor who can sing the verse without having to come to the ambo.

Although not the ideal, and as a last resort, at daily Mass the Alleluia may be sung by the assembly and the verse recited by the reader.

Otherwise, if all else fails, it may be either omitted or recited by assembly and reader.

I believe that this possibility is implied in No. 63.c when it says that the Alleluia may be omitted if not sung. This “may” implies a possibility but not an obligation.

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