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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

August 29, 2014

Bless me, Father …

evelyn @ 9:49 am

The Penitential Act at the beginning of Mass can contain a huge pitfall for the unwary organist. There are three variants, all of which include

(1) the ‘Lord, have mercy’ or ‘Kyrie eleison’

(2) the absolution:  ‘May almighty God have mercy on us … ‘, followed by the people’s ‘Amen’.

The problem is that in only one of these three does the absolution come at the very end of the Penitential Act. In the other two, the ‘Lord, have mercy’ follows the absolution. Close examination of any missal (and you have to look closely) will reveal this. However, the Mass sheets used in our parish, and in many others, are a bit confusing at this point, probably because they’ve had to cram so much into a page since the New Liturgy came in. On the sheet, the variants are all given, but at the end we have the words:

After the absolution, all respond: Amen’.     Next on the sheet is the Gloria.

An organist working from these sheets can surely be pardoned for thinking that this ‘Amen’ is the signal for the Gloria. But it needn’t be. The ‘Lord, have mercy’ may not yet have been said.  What we have here reflects the immortal words of Eric Morecambe: ‘… all the right notes – but not necessarily in the right order’.

And, of course, much depends on what you’re used to.  Unless we’re in Advent or Lent, our parish priest tends to use the version with the absolution at the end, so that bringing in the Gloria immediately afterwards has become for me a reflex action. This means I can and do get seriously caught out when we have a visiting priest, whose first ‘Lord, have mercy’ can be drowned out by the start of my Gloria introduction. Oops. Sorry.

Even worse, I did it when our new archbishop said his first Mass in our church. It was made more painful by the fact that he chanted the Kyrie most beautifully, accompanied by the first chord of my Gloria.     Oops, oops.     Sorry, sorry.

I made a vow on that occasion always to look out for this possibility when we have a visiting priest. After all, it should be easy enough to register whether one has or hasn’t heard the ‘Lord, have mercy’ words.  No, I would definitely never, never, EVER do this dreadful thing again.

I did it again last Sunday.

Obviously, I’m greatly in need of a firm purpose of amendment.

Mea culpa.

But do check it out, folks, if you are not already aware of it.   It’s a trap.

 

 

1 Comment »

  1. […] Make sure the Kyrie is finished before coming in. I have a track record of mess-ups on this […]

    Pingback by Forth In Praise - Organists' Blog — July 25, 2016 @ 5:28 pm

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