Why aren’t readings sung? Easy, easy answer.

The question is asked by a CCWatershed writer: Why are the readings not sung at Mass? One of his suggestions, weirdly, is “psychological immaturity” on the part of the priest.

Even Jesus realizes this is a silly thing to say.

 

But that silliness aside, let’s address the question. I got my first experience of this at the CMAA colloquium this summer, and I think I can answer this pretty easily. I would never suggest singing readings (except in the EF, of course).

In every experience I had with the sung readings this summer (EF or OF), I noticed two things.

A: I couldn’t hear the singer.

B: If I could hear the singer (some were miked, some not), I couldn’t understand the singer.

Now, obviously, this was a very small sample size in a very big church (though I wasn’t sitting too far back). Others’ experience may vary, but my experience was uniformly negative.

There’s also a personnel issue. At my main parish, we barely have enough singers, period. Trying to get them to sing the readings would be a non-starter, and for the priest, singing a long gospel is a non-starter.

I’m sure some people appreciate sung readings, and that’s fine for them. But let’s not mistake preferences as guaranteed to be improvements from whatever you don’t like. And let’s certainly not confuse a preference for “psychological immaturity.”

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