The Problem of Gospel Acclamations

One aspect of the ordinary form texts I’ve never really figured out (not that I’ve spent hours trying to figure it out) concerns the text for the Gospel Acclamation. It seems that the texts are rather unstable. For some reason, the USCCB does not provide them on its website, though it provides the full Responsorial Psalm and readings. Also I see no parraellel between what is in the Missalette and what is provided for in the actual Alleluia text of the Graduale Romanum.

The contrast today struck me in particular.

Missallete: “Stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” (Lk 21:28)

Graduale: “Out of the depths have I cried to you, 0 Lord; Lord, hear my voice. (Psalm 129) 

Someone needs to put this problem on the agenda.

8 Replies to “The Problem of Gospel Acclamations”

  1. This is interesting. It's indicative of a subtle problem, especially during Ordinary Time. While I appreciate the three-year Lectionary (acknowledging that some do not), the Propers (even the Collect, Secret, and Post-Communion) are not always harmonized with them.

    I'm torn between the continuity of the Propers with tradition and having texts (especially at the Gradual and Alleluia during the Liturgy of the Word) that truly harmonize with the readings.

  2. Even historically, the issue of an alleluia with its verse said/sung before the Gospel is problematic. It was introduced at Rome most likely from Byzantium in the late 7th century. When they were first being introduced, the verses were taken from the psalms but by the mid 8th century they were being taken from the New Testament as well. Exactly what the original purpose was of introducing this alleluia and its verse after the gradual in the non-penitential seasons is unclear. But for centuries thereafter it served as a time for meditation, allowing the soul to receive the Word of God with devotion.

    After Vatican II, a novelty was introduced, the so called Gospel "acclamation". One is now meant to stand and sing with vehemence to welcome the Gospel reading as if clapping one's hands with the voice. That kind of exhuberance or other liturgically founded emotive expressions was formerly the domain of the Sequences which accompanied the Gospel book procession, but which, whatever is left of them, have now been placed before the Alleluia as "Gospel acclamation". It is interesting that it was the Gallican liturgy that had a sort of "Gospel acclamation" but which immediately followed the Gospel reading, and which in a way perhaps made more sense.
    Because of this role change, most of the alleluia verses in the lectionary today come from the New Testament, and often from the very Gospel of the day. The confusion that arises here is when one tries to continue the old tradition when roles have significantly changed, including the post-conciliar addition of so many new Gospel readings.

  3. Not only are the propers not aligned to the three-year Lectionary cycle, but neither are the priest's orations. It's a major flaw of the Latin edition of MR3.

  4. Considering seniority, could one not say it is the the three-year Lectionary cycle that is not aligned to the propers?

  5. But even with a one-cycle Lectionary, were the orations along the same "material theme" as the readings? And in the Time through the Year, the second reading is not along the same theme as the Gospel and First Reading. I wonder if allowing the readings alone to dictate the theme might actually impoverish the Liturgy, and that might be a reason why MR3 didn't jump on the bandwagon, despite there being such thematic orations in Italian (officially approved) and English (never reached the recognitio stage).

    The other thing I remember in the British edition of the Lectionary (which we use where I am) is the indication that the Gospel acclamations are all suggested texts and that other choices from the appendix are always possible. If that's still the liturgical law, I wouldn't see the difference in texts problematic, unless the people were following from some text predetermined by the publisher.

  6. "Considering seniority, could one not say it is the the three-year Lectionary cycle that is not aligned to the propers?"

    Probably not. As fine as the propers may be, the use of the Scriptures predates the appearance of programmed music at Mass.

  7. Todd:

    Anonymous’ was referring to three year lectionary cycle itself and not simply to having readings from Sacred Scripture.

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