Congregational singing to be allowed in limited capacity beginning Palm Sunday

Congregational singing will be allowed again “in a limited capacity” starting on Palm Sunday, March 28, Bishop Donald Kettler announced in a letter to pastors March 4.

Included with the letter was a document of protocols titled “Guidance for Palm Sunday and Paschal Triduum 2021,” created in consultation with the diocesan Office of Worship. The parts of the Mass that congregations can sing beginning in Holy Week are:

  • Dialogues and acclamations/litanies (Kyrie, Collects with Amen, Gospel Acclamation, Preface Dialogue, Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, Amen, Agnus Dei)
  • Antiphons and psalms (Entrance Antiphons, Responsorial Psalm Refrain, Communion Antiphon)
  • Gloria (although a hymn of praise, permission is granted)

“The gathering, preparation of gifts, Communion and recessional hymns or songs should be sung by a choir or cantor alone,” the document states. “Sequences are to be recited by the congregation.”

The document states that, while the Minnesota Department of Health still does not recommend congregational singing at this time, it does permit exceptions for such singing. If congregational singing takes place, the document notes, household groups must be separated by at least six feet and masks must be worn at all times, including when singing or chanting.

Choirs and cantors must follow the mask-use guidelines outlined in previous diocesan protocols. Choirs and vocal ensembles were permitted to sing again at Mass in the Diocese of St. Cloud starting the first Sunday of Lent.

Also, beginning with Palm Sunday, Bishop Kettler is permitting again the placement and use of hymnals and books containing texts of the Mass. He pointed out in his letter to pastors that, according to the Minnesota Department of Health, “Sharing books, hymnals, and religious texts by people from one service to the next does not pose a significant risk of spreading COVID-19.”

The document notes, however, that “it is still safer to distribute single-use worship aids that the faithful may take home or else are promptly recycled after use.”

In his letter to pastors, Bishop Kettler also addressed a change in protocols for adoration chapels, and he included a reminder about the importance of wearing masks:

Currently, a maximum of two people at a time are allowed in adoration chapels. Beginning on Palm Sunday, these chapels will be allowed to follow the diocese’s general protocols for worship: attendance up to 50% of total space capacity, masks must be worn at all times, and social distancing guidelines must be followed. When possible, doors to chapels should remain open for better ventilation. “Please be mindful that the longer someone spends in a smaller, enclosed space with others, the greater the risk of exposure to the virus, Bishop Kettler said.

Bishop Kettler reiterated the importance of following the diocese’s protocols for Mass attendance, including the wearing of masks.

“While the COVID situation continues to improve and more people are getting vaccinated, it is still extremely important to do all we can to slow the spread of the virus, which still poses a significant threat to the vulnerable and elderly. The use of masks is one of the best ways to do this,” he said.

“As I begin a new round of confirmations at our parishes, it is essential that everyone who attends a confirmation wear a mask as required by our diocesan protocols,” he said, adding that only young children and people with special medical conditions that prevent mask use are exempted. He also asked parishes to have extra masks on hand to give to those who arrive at a confirmation Mass without one.

The “Guidance for Palm Sunday and Paschal Triduum 2021” also includes specific guidance for the liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil.

Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

The Central Minnesota Catholic is the magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

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