Do I dare to sing the Sequence tomorrow?

Big dilemma at the moment. I am on music in my local parish tomorrow morning. Its Corpus Christi and the question is: Do I dare to sing the Sequence, Lauda Sion?

Now, Lauda Sion is a very tricky text. There are a few English translations (The one in the missal is dreadful, but this one is better).

The problems are principally the following:

1) it is extremely long (24 verses!)

2) the 8.8.8 metre is unusual, and it goes pear-shaped at verse 19 ( and then again at verses 23 and 24 (–so there are no well known tunes to sing it too

3) None of the English translations are modern, and some are really twee (eg. “the very music of the breast”) or tortured (“We break the Sacrament; but bold / and firm thy faith shall keep its hold; / Deem not the whole doth more unfold / than in the fractured part resides”) or simply grating (“the bread for God’s true children meant, that may not unto dogs be given”–I know the biblical allusion, but can one actually sing this?)

4) No Catholic hymnal I possess has any setting of it at all, not even the Adoremus Hymnal (I did find a translation to the original Gregorian tone in the New English Hymnal and a paraphrase by Alexander Ramsay Thompson in the Australain Lutheran Hymnal).

Given all this, it is no wonder that no one knows the damn thing. Yet the Liturgy Office of England and Wales lists it in their draft “Core Music Repertoire” (which is quite a neat document in itself).

Now, here’s the rub. Do I dare to sing it tomorrow morning? My parish priest usually likes a bit of music or something solo during the offertory instead of a hymn, so this would be a perfect opportunity to stick it in as a solo piece. In Latin? Or in English?

PS. While doing this blog, I came across this Spanish(?) site that has all the missal texts for the Sundays of this year on it in easy printing PDF form. Check it out!

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10 Responses to Do I dare to sing the Sequence tomorrow?

  1. William Weedon says:

    Hymnal 1982 (ECUSA) has a rather nice setting – accompaniment by David Hurd.

  2. LYL says:

    So today at our parish we finally had an instruction re: the two changes.

    We are instructed *not* to genuflect, but only make a bow of the head, before receiving communion.

    We are instructed to stand before the priest says. “Let us pray brethren…” which seems odd. I thought we were supposed to stand after the priest says this and before we make our response.

    I was going to comment on your post, but noted that it is now past the time that you have been to Mass.

    This is the Archdiocese of Hobart.

  3. Schütz says:

    I’d be interested to know more about this setting, Pastor Bill. I don’t have access that hymnal here. Any chance of scanning it and posting it to me by email (cumecclesia at

    I guess it depends, Louise, how you interpret the directions from the ACBC:

    “From Sunday May 11, 2008 you will be asked to STAND when the priest invites you to pray.

    ‘Pray brethren that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God the Almighty Father.’

    (We STAND and respond) ‘May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands to the praise and glory of His name, for our good, and the good of all His Church.’ (GIRM 46)

    I guess that means that when the priest begins to say “pray brethren”, we stand. In otherwords, his invitation to prayer is the invitation to stand. A little like “Let us pray”. We usually stand as soon as the priest says that.

    For the record, GIRM says nothing about not being allowed to genuflect.

  4. Joshua says:

    The visiting choir sang it as it was written at our Missa Cantata on Thursday, tho’, because of its large range – a twelfth – the guys with lower voices did half, and those with higher, the rest.

    Isn’t there an option in the modern Mass just to sing the last bit from “Ecce panis filiorum”?

  5. Tom in Vegas says:

    I would definitely go with Latin. But no matter which one you choose (or chose), you’ll do just fine!

  6. Anonymous says:

    After the fact, I know, but they sang it in all its glory at the Latin Novus Ordo at St Brigid’s Nth Fitzroy last night at 6pm.

    I’d never heard it before. All 24 verses to the Gregorian. I’m glad I did.

    The translation seemed a very nice poetic English one. I’m guessing from the Extraodinary Form. Needless to say, the fact it was in Latin mattered not a jot to comprehension!!!

  7. LYL says:

    For the record, GIRM says nothing about not being allowed to genuflect.

    I know, but that was the instruction we were given in a one page document from a “liturgy committee.” I think I will write to the Archbishop to clarify whether this is his instruction or not.

  8. Schütz says:

    Also, I should add that in the end, I chickened out of singing the Sequence. Partly this was because I didn’t have time to practice it properly. And yes, it does have quite a huge range–for a piece of Gregorian anyway.

    Instead, I just played the music to it as an accompaniment to the offertory, which worked quite well. You have to learn to crawl before you can walk…

  9. Anonymous says:

    Even at St Brigid’s the higher notes were a challenge for the solo singer, but at least he tried it and made a decent fist of it. That’s really important: as others say elsewhere we should aim at pefection but not let our inability to achieve stop our effort. I’ve heard it said some of the human imperfections give the Gregorian chant a charm.

  10. Schütz says:

    My friend, Pastor Fraser, always says that I have “a certain charm”, but I don’t think he was referring to my warbling, which, methinks, would have been appreciated somewhat less by my local parish than the congregation at St Brigid’s.

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