From a reader:
Our choir is in a loft at the back of the church. [That’s where the choir belongs!] We have always come down after the mass and received the precious host kneeling at the alter rail from deacon or a priest. Our new rector has decided that that is wrong and the choir is required by the “rules” to receive communion in the loft in the middle of trying to sing the communion antiphon and a piece of appropriate communion choral music. [?] I understand that the CDW addressed this with US bishops in a letter around 2004 allowing choir members to receive after mass; I have searched everywhere but could not find it. Can you assist me please?
I am not aware of a 2004 letter of the CDW to the USCCB in which Communion for choristers is clarified. If someone can dig it up, I’d like to see it.
This, however, is what I gleaned from the GIRM:
86. While the priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion chant is begun…The singing is continued for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful. If, however, there is to be a hymn after Communion, the Communion chant should be ended in a timely manner. Care should be taken that singers, too, can receive Communion with ease [? “ease”?]. (Curetur ut etiam cantores commode communicare possint.)
As far as I know, that is about all we have on this question. It is vague (which is good). There is nothing herein that requires the choir members to receive at a specific time. There is nothing herein that demands that choir members receive in a specific place.
Nor does the Latin say that they should be able to receive “with ease”. That is what the translator made out of commode, an adverb which is “duly, properly, completely, rightly, well, skilfully, neatly”. To get “with ease” out of that, you have to cover one eye and tilt your head and squint until the letters blur.
Let’s us practice some mutual enrichment through the provisions of Summorum Pontificum.
Let’s see if there is help from the Extraordinary Form, which solved problems like these for centuries before the artificially created Ordinary Form was even a thought.
In the Extraordinary Form, it is fairly common for choir members to receive after Mass. There is a rite for distribution of Communion after Mass which is both reverent and brief.
So, if the Ordinary Form Mass is over, then Mass is over, if those of you in Columbia Heights get my drift.
There is no reason why the Extraordinary Form rite for distribution could not be used after the conclusion of Mass in the Ordinary Form for the benefit of the choristers. You aren’t mixing the forms or rites.
It would be “commode” to use it.