QUAERITUR: When is the “Rorate Caeli” chant to be sung?

From a priest:

I have exhausted every possible avenue, and I cannot answer the following question myself.

This coming Advent – which is only my second Advent celebrating the EF – I am still not sure when to say the Rorate Coeli.

It doesn’t appear in my version of the 1962 missal but handouts (http://maternalheart.org/propers.html) suggest it follows the Gospel. Is it said at a low mass and sung at a missa cantata?

Last year, because we just began, I did my best. This year, though, I want to do it right.

Any help in this area would be appreciated.

First, I am so glad that you want to “do it right”.

Let us assume you mean this beautiful Advent chant:


Otherwise, there are other uses of the text “Rorate caeli…germinet Salvatorem” in the Mass and the Office. But keep in mind that it is not formally a part of the liturgy at all.

Within the Mass, the chant can be used as a cantus ad libitum to cover the Offertory or Communion (hopefully after the propers!).

At Benediction it can be sung during Exposition (at the beginning).

If you are celebrating Low Mass in the Usus Antiquior with hymns, you could use it in any of the usual places (entrance, offertory, communion, exit).

This is a great chant which ought to be sung by all Catholics everywhere.

BTW, the Benedictine nuns of Mary Queen of Apostles have Rorate caeli on their new album of music of Advent.

Here is a sample of their version.

US buy their Advent disk HERE and download mp3 HERE.
UK disk HERE and mp3 HERE.

Did you know that the sisters’ disk made it to the top of the chart? #1 on Billboard for Classical?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. sprachmeister says:

    I remember hearing this beautiful chant while waiting, kneeling, to receive the Lord during Communion at an FSSP church in Nantes, France, in 2009. Literally heavenly.

    “Consolamini, consolamini popule meus…”

  2. bourgja says:

    If by chance he means the “Regina Caeli,” that would be sung at Compline during the Easter season, and also at the Angelus during the Easter season, among other possibilities.

  3. jbosco88 says:

    At the Ordinary Form Mass in the Parish I attend, we sing this as a the “Entrance Hymn” every Sunday through Advent (except Gaudete). It is beautiful and one which our young altar boys seemed to learn quickly – even though we all know Latin is “too hard”.

  4. In my TLM community, we sing the appropriate Marian antiphon at the end of every sung Mass (after the final Gospel)–e.g., the Alma Redemptoris during Advent and Christmas, the Ave Regina Coelorum during Lent, the Regina Coeli during the Easter season, and the Salve Regina during the season following Pentecost.

    Why not do this after all Sunday Masses, EF and OF, as is now done at then end of every papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica (with the traditional seasonal schedule indicated above)?

  5. Ah . . . misread the question. The Rorate Caeli is especially sung during Benediction in Advent.

  6. Mary Jane says:

    Thank you, Fr Z! Our choir was wondering this as well; I will pass this on.

  7. Phil_NL says:

    Thankfully, I’ve been in several parishes (all solely NO by the way, no reason at all why only the EF should enjoy this wodnerful chant) where the Rorate was sung during Advent. Most common would be to sing it during the lighting of the candles of the advent wreath.

    The main issue however, was not when to sing it (the NO is less demanding about such things….) but how much of it. One parish signs all of it all 4 weeks, another starts with one stanza in the first week, and adds one each week, till in the 4th the entire Rorate is sung.

  8. kbf says:

    As good music for the liturgy is making a resurgance I’d commend the version composed by Leo Nestor here:


  9. wolfeken says:

    If one must use polyphony during Advent, I would prefer going back a few centuries with Heinrich Isaac’s setting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VAiQRP3080

  10. wolfeken says:

    The more fortunate readers of this blog will get to hear (or sing!) at least two settings of the Rorate Caeli in Gregorian chant — the one Father Z referenced above as a hymn from the Divine Office, and the different Gregorian chant setting (in Mode IV) that will be the Introit of the 4th Sunday in Advent. The very, very fortunate readers will get to hear the Mode IV Introit also sung on Ember Wednesday on 19 December.

  11. Andkaras says:

    @kbf-loved that version,and will use it at prayers with my children tonight, thanks. @jbosco88, when we were learning the rosary in French my youngest ,then 7,said “mom, the french is toooo hard,can’t we just say it in Latin?

  12. Pingback: Rorate cæli – Gud, hør oss, send fra himlens skyer, som dugg og regn, den rettferdige. » EN KATOLSK WEBLOG

  13. nemo says:

    Introit, Fourth Sunday in Advent. Score here: http://renegoupil.org/chantfiles/155/

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