At one point we sang just 4 hymns: the Entrance, Offertory, Communion, and Recessional. Why have things changed?
The Four-Hymn Mass began long before the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, as part of the old Low Mass, the silent Mass in which the priest did all the prayers quietly in Latin while the congregation went about their own devotions. In the 18th century in Germany, Poland and other countries, the custom began of singing songs in the peoples language during Low Mass, and by the late 19th century this was standard in those areas. Songs were written that mirrored the various parts of the Mass Later, in the 1940s, in North America and Northern Europe, the Dialogue Mass developed still a Low Mass, but with the people responding in Latin to the prayers of the priest, as the servers had done previously. It was at this time that the Four Hymn Mass began, with real hymns that made sense for the beginning of Mass, the Offertory, the Communion (now that lay people were encouraged to receive Communion regularly at Mass). The hymn at the end, or the recessional, was borrowed from Protestant practice.
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- At one point we sang just 4 hymns: the Entrance, Offertory, Communion, and Recessional. Why have things changed?
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