“Why Ain’t Nobody Singin’ Back the Responsory?” Lector Wondering. “My Arms Is Raised Up High Like They Supposed To Be”

March 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Mass, Uncategorized


Knoxville, TN––Lector at St. Hildegund Catholic Church in Nashville, Tennessee Helen Banks is currently questioning why parishioners are neglecting to sing the Responsory after clearly being given the cue to respond. “Why ain’t hardly nobody singin’?” Banks is thinking to herself as she raises up her arms in the air for yet another attempt. “‘The Lord has done great things for us…we are filled with joy.’ Nothing? What’s wrong with you people? Hold on, let me try again…alright, Banks, you can do this…inspire these people…raise your hands up real high, palms up, like you were taught, smile and nod, condescendingly…aaaand go…’The Lord has done great things for us…we are filled with joy.’ Come on!” At press time, Banks has put a halt to the Responsory to remind the parishioners that the Responsory can be found on page 253 of the hymnal…that’s 253 of the hymnal.

  • Chris

    That would be the Cantor, not the Lector, eh?

    • Julie

      Sometimes the lector does sing the psalm response. It should be sung from the ambo, anyway. But usually the cantor does have to do it because the lector is not musically-inclined.

  • I still expect these individuals to go “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina!!!!!!” when they raise their hands. Might also be the fact that the hymns selected for the responsory are dull and crap, etc etc etc.

    • Martha


  • Fr. John

    I am often amazed that Catholics, who normally are very talkative before and after Mass, sit or stand with their mouths closed during the Gloria, the Creed, the Responsorial Psalm, and many of the responses during Mass. If I were to be that quiet they’d call me boring.

    If you don’t want Mass to be boring don’t be a boring people. Participate when you should!

    • Benjamin

      Why aren’t we responding? Maybe because many of us are troubled by the liturgical changes of Advent 2011!

      I still muttered the ‘old’ liturgy; I refuse to ‘give in’ to the new ‘improved’ translation.

      • Benjamin

        Excuse me, that should have been ‘mutter’, present tense.

      • Andy, Bad Person

        Sounds like a personal problem.

  • JohnK

    I don’t understand the point of the office of hand raiser. When I was a boy, we didn’t need anyone to stand in front of us raising their hands. The guy who shook the tambourine let us know when it was time to respond…

    • Steve

      Love it!

  • steve

    tambourine??….for us it was the guy with the geetar….

  • Andy, Bad Person

    Maybe Helen should stick to singing the Responsorial Psalm and save the Responsory for the Liturgy of the Hours.

    • Jeff

      What? you mean the mass at your parish lasts an hour? So Loooong! (I know what Liturgy of the Hours is by the way)

  • Shirley

    I am hearing impaired so sometimes it takes me until the last verse to comprehend what is being sung. We don’t have missals in our parish–and even if we did–the music ministry sometimes changes the psalm and corresponding response. I am also a very visual learner so try as I might, it is very difficult to be an auditory learner. Lastly, sometimes the cantor is singing but not really projecting their voice. I sit in the front pew & there are times when it is impossible to make out what the cantor is singing. I imagine that people in the back can’t really hear anything then. That also applies for the lector who doesn’t project their voice well either during the readings.

  • Nick Lanier

    Now raise your hands in the air, and wave ’em like you just don’t care….or not.

  • Poor Yorek

    Dear Helen:

    To paraphrase ‘Dirty Harry’ Callahan, “your deodorant ain’t cuttin it!”

  • Carol McKinley

    We stopped singing the Creed and Gloria because the musicians painfully butchered the prayer to the point where the chorus is repeated so often, it is impossible to focus on the substance of the actual prayer. It goes on ad nausuem. Go back to letting us…just pray the prayer.

    • Carol McKinley

      Those of us who are there to connect with the properties in the Eucharist and know what’s going on in the Sanctuary tune it out to quietly pray the prayer.

      • scooter

        “Connect with the properties in the Eucharist”? I must have missed that lesson in chemistry class.

    • daniel


    • SJ Man

      Another reason to like Lent…..you don’t have to hear the Andrew Lloyd Webber version of the Gloria sung at Mass. Thankfully we don’t sing the Creed. That would be awful……

  • Carol McKinley

    What part has you upset?

    The addition of the word “holy” before “Church”?

    Admitting grievous fault?

    The illumination that the priest’s prayer ‘the Lord be with you’ is literally a prayer intended for the faithful to receive properties of the Holy Spirit?

    • SJ Man

      The changes were necessary and much appreciated.

  • Mama7 G.

    True story: When my daughter was 7 or 8 years old, we went to a church for the first time where they had a cantor in the front. At the beginning of the Psalm she leaned over to me and asked, “Why is that lady doing that??” (raising her hand). I said, not wanting to bad-mouth anyone, “She thinks we’ll sing better if she does that.” Daughter said, “So if we sing louder she’ll stop? It’s kind of distracting me.”

  • Nomad128

    NB: “Responsory” is a form germane to the Divine Office, not to the Mass.

    The “Responsorial Psalm” is probably what this author meant to reference.

    This is a bit surprising; normally EOTT is pretty “aware”.

    • Casper

      This cantor also uses a lot of double negatives. I think it’s part of her “character”.

  • antigon

    If you said the truly Extraordinary historical Latin Mass Padre, maybe people would start to respond just like they used to before the very Clericalist hootenanny Mass was imposed.
    Give it a try for the next couple years Padre – pass out the Latin with accompanying English translations to help the ignorant – & you’ll not only get no more boring Mass or boring people, but all the boring clerics will flee too!

  • antigon

    I’m deaf too, which I expect was God’s merciful way to help me keep the Faith these past ridiculous decades.

  • Vince M Sr

    yea let’s stop using the Bible as our Hymn source. Simon and Garfunkel were much better song writers than the Profits who wrote the Psalms.. And yea remember David was prone to liturgical dance before the Lord too, can’t have any of that either so do away with that real fast…!!

    • Josh Himself

      Bet he wouldn’t have done a liturgical dance at Golgotha on Good Friday.

  • Tom

    I go to many different parishes as i travel and i actually find it fun to observe the diferent hand raising for the response techniques

  • Casper

    Your church is treating you horribly. Ask someone if they can provide missals, something, to everyone.

  • Casper

    It doesn’t help that they appear to be in a barn. With chairs, no kneelers. So many issues here…

    • Uxi

      Agreed… though it should be noted that pews are themselves a relatively modern innovation from the last few centuries. None of the great European cathedrals had them originally. Chairs might be placed against the walls for the elderly or the infirm but the naves were generally empty with men on one side and women on the other (indeed, St. Charles Borromeo still assumes this in his Instructions). More virtuous and/or prominent towards the front with the penitents in the rear. The faithful would stand for most of the Mass and kneel on the floor.

      Families worshiping together is something that started with the English speaking countries.

      • SJ Man

        You mean the Church didn’t begin after Vatican II????? Seriously??? Well I feel sheepish……..

    • SJ Man

      Actually that is a pretty ugly church now that you mention it…..

  • Uxi

    Please consider celebrating the Mass ad orientem… it will reinforce their belief in the Real Presence… and you won’t see what they’re doing.

  • Tom

    I travel quite a bit and attend mass in a lot of different parishes. My own personal favorite game is to observe the lectors hand raising techniques at the responsorial. I do not enjoy as much trying to pick up the way to sing he Gloria and other prayers, Wait what??? We just sang that part why are we repeating it again, it goes at the beginning not repeated in the middle . And no I don’t want to step into the aisle and hold the hand of the guy in the next pew during the our father.

  • SJ Man

    I remember the cantor of a church we used to attend, make us all rehearse before Mass started. She’s sing, “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want”…..again…..”The Lord is My Shepherd……..” like we were too stupid to remember how to do it. They would use an overhead projector too, so you could just read it so you didn’t even have to memorize it anyway….?!?!……

  • pat