What's A Cantor To Do?
What's A Cantor To Do?

One of the many fruits of the Second Vatican Council is a flourishing in liturgical roles for the laity.  Among them the Cantor, a highly specialized musical role that requires more than a pretty voice.  As with any information referenced in this column the Church provides guidance for musicians in various documents released since December of 1963 when the first document from Vatican II was promulgated. That document was the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy which guides all subsequent documents having to do with liturgy.

“A trained and competent cantor can perform an important ministry by leading the congregation in common sacred song and in responsorial singing.” (Music in Catholic Worship 35)

At Holy Trinity cantors facilitate the song of the assembly at Sunday Eucharist, Funerals and Weddings. This may include informing the assembly of hymnal numbers of songs, leading the assembly in singing the response of the responsorial Psalm, singing the verses of the Psalm and the Gospel Acclamation, and encouraging and supporting the singing of the assembly throughout the Eucharistic celebration. (Gather Faithfully Together 47)

Before all else, the cantor should be competent to lead the singing of the assembly. The cantor should lead both vocally and through personal presence, using effective gestures and agreeable voice quality to encourage and support the singing of the assembly. The cantor should also be able to sing the verses of the responsorial Psalm and the Alleluia. The cantor should maintain an awareness that he or she is part of the assembly, which looks to him or her for support.

Finally, Cantors, in their role as liturgical ministers, should be appropriately attired with consideration given to modesty, the cultural expectations of the assembly and the importance of their liturgical leadership.  (February 5,2006)

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