Intro to the Introit

Some of you are undoubtedly already familiar with the Introit antiphon, but since we so rarely hear it in the Church in the US, I thought it deserved a post.

Almost every mass has a proper introit (meaning ‘entrance’) antiphon specified for it. Usually it ties into the readings for that mass, comes from the psalms, and it often sets a theme for the mass or the liturgical day. (For a fuller explanation and the nuances that I’m skipping over, see here)

In the United States, it has been almost entirely replaced by the entrance or gathering hymn, (such as, “We Gather Together”) which often has no specific bearing on the mass at hand, or relation to the Introit antiphon. But without the introit text, the mass loses something proper to it. 

Besides the Introit chants specified in the Graduale Romanum (the book that contains all the chants specific to indivdual masses of the year), there are modern, vernacular versions available. In fact, our parish has been using the introit antiphons throughout the Easter season (awesome!). And when our music director can’t use the introits, she tries to pick entrance hymns based on the introit for that Sunday.

For the finale of Intro to the Introit – here’s one of the most famous introits, that for a requiem mass, courtesy of Mozart and YouTube. Incidentally, the reason it’s called a requiem mass is precisely because the Introit begins with “Requiem aeternam”.

Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Te decet hymnus Deus, in Sion, et tibi reddetur votum in Ierusalem. Exaudi orationem meam; ad te omnis caro veniet. Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. A hymn becomes you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall a vow be repaid in Jerusalem. Hear my prayer; to you shall all flesh come. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

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