(This post by contributor Jake Tawney from 2012 is a perennial favorite and thus I am rerunning it today.)
Maybe the greatest challenge that lies before us is the invitation once again to sing the Mass rather than merely to sing at Mass. This echoes the injunctions of the Council Fathers in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and reflects our deeply held instinct that the majority of the texts contained in the Missal can and in many cases should be sung. This means not only the congregational acclamations of the Order of Mass, but also the orations, the chants in response to the readings, the Eucharistic prayer and the antiphons which accompany the Entrance, the Offertory, and the Communion processions. These proper texts are usually replaced by hymns or songs that have little relationship to the texts proposed by the Missal or the Graduale Romanum and as such a whole element of the liturgy of the day is lost or consigned to oblivion. For the most part, they exist only as spoken texts. We are much the poorer for this, as these texts (which are often either Scriptural or a gloss on the Biblical text) represent the Church’s own reading and meditation on the Scriptures. As chants, they are a sort of musical lectio divina pointing us towards the riches expressed in that day’s liturgy.
For this reason, I believe that it is seriously deficient to consider that planning music for the liturgy ever begins with a blank sheet: there are texts given for every Mass in the Missal and these texts are intended for singing.
Quasimodo geniti infantes, alleluia: rationabiles, sine dolo lac concupiscite, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Quasi modo géniti infántes, rationábile, sine dolo lac concupíscite, ut in eo crescátis in salútem, allelúia.
Like newborn infants, you must long for the pure, spiritual milk, that in him you may grow to salvation, alleluia.
[T]he attitude of a child is the truest and most profound attitude of a Christian before his Savior, who nourishes him with his Body and Blood … The word of Christ, which invites us to receive the Kingdom of God like a child (see Luke 18:17), can find its illustration in that very beautiful and impressive manner of receiving the Eucharistic Bread directly into one’s mouth and on one’s knees. This ritual manifests in an opportune and felicitous way the interior attitude of a child who allows himself to be fed, united to the gesture of the centurion’s humility and to the gesture of ‘wonder and adoration’ (Schneider, 29).