Verses, that is. In Far As the Curse is Found, Abp Augustine DiNoia’s Christmas Eve homily we’re privileged to be able to post “On the Square,” he says that the verse of which this is the last phrase is “rarely sung.” It’s rarely sung in Catholic churches, certainly, but in most Protestant churches it is sung, and with spirit, whenever that carol is sung.
It would be a wonderful thing if Catholic churches sang more verses of the hymns we sing, especially at a feast like Christmas when the Mass has or should have a degree of festive leisure and the great carols we sing offer complex and detailed meditations on the event we’re celebrating. It’s a bit like mining for gold and only taking the top layer, when you know that with just a little extra effort and time you can scrape off the next layer and get even more, but don’t because you want to get home to watch television reruns a few minutes earlier. There are riches to be had, and to be celebrated in song, with just a little extra effort and a few more minutes.
Before some liturgical pedant jumps in to inform us that hymns aren’t integral to the Mass: Yes, we all know that. But if you’re going to sing hymns, sing ’em right. Take advantage of the lyrical riches they offer and the pleasures to be had from singing more of the verses. Especially at Christmas, when the carols are such an integral part of the modern Western experience of celebrating the birth of the Son of God. Please, sir, I want some more.