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Why Would a Priest or Deacon Chant the Gospel?


A listener named Theresa writes in and asks, “Why would a priest of deacon chant the Gospel?” She explains that the priest at her parish chants the Gospel at Mass, and it’s sometimes difficult for her to follow along.

Father Dave points out that chant is a part of our Catholic tradition, and it helps us to engage more of our senses. “Partially, it is using all of our senses and our lungs to get into something.”

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He points out, “It heightens the experience and that’s the presumption behind anything that we would chant or sing during Mass.” Father Dave uses the example of vestments: “At the time of Jesus, when he was at the Last Supper, he was not wearing an alb and a chasuble like I wore at Mass today … There are certain things that evolve at various points in the history of the Church that for whatever reason stuck … So, when you’ve got these vestments that essentially look like royalty, someone might say it’s strange and why don’t we wear something more modern? Part of it is that we have held onto traditions that we like … There aren’t logical or necessarily theological reasons why we do that, but a lot of it is the tradition of what I suppose is a heyday of the Church. The chanting, the vestments. All that sort of thing.”

Father Dave says that if it’s harder to follow the chanting, he would encourage people to prepare for Mass: “I would give the same advice as I would when someone emails in and says: ‘I have an international priest at my parish, and his accent is so thick that I can’t understand him.’ That puts a little more onus on us. So, maybe that means you have to spend five minutes looking over the Gospel reading beforehand … Similarly, if you know your deacon is going to chant the homily every week, it might be time to do a little homework.” (Original Air 6-15-17)