Singing the Response Part of the Responsorial Psalm

In a recent meeting, it was announced that there will be no singing of the psalm verses until further notice. By this, the priest said to wait for instructions.

The priest intends to have a consistent quality in psalm singing for all psalmist/lectors. What he had in mind is to eventually form some kind of training that will result in the uniform singing or chanting of psalm verses during the Responsorial Psalm for the lectors' ministry.

Good, I thought, for I have deferred my singing psalmist role for a long time now. I have to admit that there are extraordinary good singing psalmists in our ministry - and I'm not one of them.

But just the same, I look forward to some technical training for aspiring singing psalmists.

Psalm Response Singing

The Psalm responses, however, are not part of what the priest was thinking. In our church, the choirs oftentimes sing the responses, not the verses. These choirs are part of the music ministry. So I suppose the choirs will continue to be singing the psalm responses, whenever they can.

Should that prevent lectors when lectors assume the commentator role from singing with psalm response with the choir? In my opinion, it should not.

Commentators Lead in the Psalm Response

My explanation for that is, commentators lead the assembly with the psalm response when it is recited. Yes, when the choir opts not to sing the psalm response, the commentator simply recites the response with the assembly reciting it also.

Now, if the choir sings the response, then I suppose the commentator can still take an active role and join the singing of the psalm response. The psalmist/lector could continue to just recite the psalm verse.

What prevents the commentator from singing the psalm response with the choir? Nothing, in my opinion.

  • The commentator is tasked to lead in the psalm response when it is recited anyway. So the assembly is used to seeing the commentator stand during the Responsorial Psalm and hearing him lead in the psalm response.

  • It should be easy for the commentator to join in the singing. The choir won't be singing the psalm response unless they know the tune down pat. There have been a few boo-boos, but those are not the norm.

  • The commentator doesn't have to sing loudly. If the commentator finds the tune a bit odd or challenging, he may sing in a softer voice and let the choir lead it.

The commentator joining and singing with the choir with the response is better than him just sitting on his stool when everybody else (not only the choir) is actually joining in the psalm responses.

Tips to Join the Singing of the Psalm Response

Here are a few, in my experience, helpful techniques to help you in joining and singing in the psalm response.

  1. Come in early. By arriving early, you will most likely still hear the choir practicing the psalm response. The tune is typically always different every Sunday. So the choir practices the tune over and over before the mass simply because it's a new tune.

  2. Look at the melody.. The melody notation is in the missalette. Ordinarily, the choir follows this notation for the tune. Even if you're not a note reader, you could glean the ups and downs of the notes throughout the psalm response tune.

  3. Join the practice. While the choir practices, join in their practice while singing silently by yourself. Just be sure your microphone at the lectern is off or is moved away from your mouth.

  4. Just enough volume. In the actual singing of the psalm response, you don't need to hear yourself singing out loud on your microphone. Just you singing with enough volume and following the tune would be enough to show your joining the choir.