The Lord’s Prayer–Sung, Chanted or Recited?

For the fifth Sunday in a row, the Lord’s Prayer at our Church’s Mass was sung, a version put out by the Notre Dame Folk Choir.   This cranky old physicist (with pretensions to musical and liturgical taste) finds the melody  banal, the whole song elevator music for liturgists,  and offputting from focused prayer.  I will dispute the argument that this is the sort of stuff that’s needed to bring young people into the Church.

The ICEL chant has beauty, dignity and supports a prayerful disposition.

And then of course there’s always the old standby, just praying the “Our Father”.

Maybe I am out of touch with what the modern liturgy should be, and should find a time machine to go back 60 years or so ago.   Let’s do a poll (even though the sampling for readers of this blog is not going to be unbiased).    Please comment on which version of the Lord’s Prayer you would prefer at Mass:

  1. the sung “Our Father” (Notre Dame Folk Choir version);
  2. the ICEL chant;
  3. spoken prayer


Share With Friends
  • 9

Bob Kurland, Ph.D.

Retired, cranky, old physicist. Convert to Catholicism in 1995. Trying to show that there is no contradiction between what science tells us about the world and our Catholic faith. Intermittent blogs and adult education classes to achieve this end (see http://rationalcatholic.blogspot.com/ and http://home.ptd.net/~rkurland). Extraordinary Minister of Communion, volunteer to federal prison and hospital; lector, EOMC. Sometime player of bass clarinet, alto clarinet, clarinet, bass, tenor bowed psaltery for parish instrumental group and local folk group.


  1. One of my pet peeves is having the congregation sing arrangements that require a rehearsed choir. That ND version would be nice on a reflective CD (personal elevator music) but should never be used for a general congregation.

    Or parish uses a chant that has been around from long before the ICEL reforms but is a t least singable by a congregation. . The ICEL would be an improvement.

  2. “Noster”
    Also Gregoria’s and Latin for Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus Dei.

    I also think it would be great to use “oremus” instead of “let us pray “

  3. The ICEL chant would be the top pick. We currently offer that form on Saturday evening Mass. Ordo. Our TLM is well attended.
    It is my favorite Mass. Sunday at 11am.

    Gloriam Deo!

  4. Jesus sang. “And when they had sung a hymn, they went to the Mount of Olives.”

    –Matthew 26:30

    I would much prefer the chanted version of “Our Father”.

  5. The title should be “The Lord’s Prayer – Sung, Chanted or Recited”.
    Otherwise, it implies that chanting the Our Father is not really a prayer.
    Also, chanting is a kind of singing, as well as a way of praying.

  6. From this poll – 3. Spoken prayer. The ICEL is nice, but could be difficult for the congregation to sing together; though I suppose, a few run throughs with the choir director before mass starts would help the less musically inclined. Or a workshop some Saturday.

    My real preference is chanted Latin (Gregor Ian chant, not on your poll). We now attend TLM for Sunday Mass. Attended our first TLM as a lark 5 years ago, and got hooked.

  7. The chant from the Kyriale is best. ICEL’s chant calls borrows some of it adapted to English but not well enough.

    There are other advantages to chanting the Latin: it’s what the Vatican II council fathers requested, and it puts us in unity in space (with fellow Catholics of our rite around the world) and in time (with saints of our rite going back at least to the time of Pope St Victor, and it means visitors and immigrants, no matter where they are from, will pray the Lord’s Prayer in familiar words in our parish.

  8. I used to prefer 3), since I am not comfortable with my singing abilities and I know that others feel likewise

    Now that I often attend Eastern Catholic liturgies I am comfortable with 1) and 2), but I agree with comments about choirs not being too “showy”. We should not be afraid to sing. I don’t know how we as a church can get over that fear.

  9. Mary De Voe, since Jesus was Jewish he probably chanted / sung his prayer, as Jews do in synagogue nowadays, and as the psalms say they did–“sing a joyful song to the Lord”.

  10. I believe that the celebration of mass could be a deeply moving mystery, spirit-filled, a reaffirming covenant, prayerful and a recognition both of a personal and communal commitment if sung (almost) in its entirety. I have attended a ‘jazz’ mass(Fr. Dan Rivers) and Orthodox Mass sung in four part harmony by a congregation from all walks of life. These two were quite ’emotional’ but did not detract one iota from the ‘religious’ dimension. (In hindsight, I suspect that the Gregorian mass I heard as an agnostic was in part responsible for my being open to the Catholic faith as well as the cute date who became my wife).

  11. The chant version is Catholic and the folk one is protestant. We need to stop wanting to be protestant; at many parishes, I can’t tell if I’m in a Catholic parish or a Lutheran congregation.

  12. I prefer is chanted orally in the dialect of Aramaic spoken by Jesus and chanted in the tones of the times., preferably led by a fully trained and certified Cantor.

  13. Best to recite so that non-singers feel like they are participating in the Lord’s Prayer during a public celebration.

  14. Jim P, the closest you could get to the original Aramaic would be an East Syrian rite, maybe Malabar (from the Indian state of Kerala). But the music would be ???. Are Jewish chants now the same as they were 2000 years ago?

  15. I vote for the Chant–simplistic and prayerful. The compositions from these past few years are sadly lacklustre and often distractful…yet I suppose it goes without saying –we don’t go to Mass to be entertained…save the praise and worship music for prayer groups

  16. Whenever the “Our Father” is either sung, recited or chanted faithfully and with a heart full of adoration for our Lord, Jesus Christ, it is beautiful!

  17. Spoken prayer works best for me. Many people can’t sing, and chanting feels awkward in our times. The spoken prayer gives a stronger sense of community because it is easier to speak in unison than singing or chanting.

  18. If there were only one person ever created, Jesus Christ would have become God-man to save him. The Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father would still be valid for Jesus and the one man would constitute us before God. When Jesus went off to pray all night, Jesus prayed for us and Jesus prayed alone, no swaying, no kissing, no hand holding, just God and us through Jesus.

Comments are closed.