Rorate Caeli

How to sing Et Cum Spiritu Tuo at the Preface

Advent is a beautiful time of year to restore traditional practices, countering the implementation of the novus ordo liturgy, which was done on the First Sunday of Advent in 1969.

Advent is also an ideal time to clean up or correct liturgical details, starting the liturgical year anew.

One such example can be how a choir is to respond to the celebrant during the dialogue at the Preface of a sung or solemn Mass, when the priest sings "Dominus vobiscum." Having traveled to a lot of TLM churches recently, I have noticed many, if not most, places do this wrong, particularly when a congregation joins a schola in singing responses.

As you can see in this post's image (taken from the Liber Usualis, the Gregorian chant book used by a schola at a TLM) the first of these tones is called the "Solemn Tone". It is the tone used at around 99 percent of sung and solemn TLMs. The "Ferial Tone", on the other hand, is only sung at Masses for the Dead, and at extremely rare non-Requiem sung Masses including ferias, vigils of the second or third class and votive Masses of the fourth class. Summary: unless you are at a black vestment High Mass, chances are the Solemn Tone is to be used.

The "Dominus vobiscum" and "Et cum spiritu tuo" chanted at the Preface (before the Canon of the Mass) is sung differently than the many times "Dominus vobiscum" and "Et cum spiritu tuo" is sung throughout the rest of Mass. For this instruction, we are talking just about the Preface.

The celebrant sings two notes during the "bis" of "vobiscum". This is the Solemn Tone. Two notes during the "bis" of "vobiscum" by the celebrant in the Preface, compared to one note during the "bis" in "vobiscum" to be sung using the Ferial Tone.

Then here is the whole point of this lesson: the response by the choir sings two notes during the "tu" of "tuo" when responding "Et cum spiritu tuo". 

Et cum spir-i-tu "too-ooh-oh".

Contrast this Solemn Tone response to the Ferial Tone, which responds with: Et cum spir-i-tu "too-oh".

I think I hear our readers singing. Three notes for the "tuo" -- this is the Solemn Tone, which is used at 99 percent of TLMs. Not two notes for the "tuo" -- that is the Ferial Tone.

Yes, I understand this is an entire post about one note! But with all the crazy things going on in the Church and the world, sometimes it's best to focus on the little things within our control. Singing well -- including the correct notes -- can be an Advent goal. A blessed Advent to you, your family and friends.