As we near the end of our fifty-day celebration of Pentecost, here are two suggestions for how to incorporate that mysterious Pentecost Sequence into your celebrations.
First, it's helpful to know that sequences were much more prolific than they are today. Many sequence texts preceded the Gospel reading prior to the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Sequences may have originated when processions before the reading of the Gospel grew longer and more elaborate. Musicians then accompanied those liturgical actions with music, and the music was eventually given texts, which were eventually "officialized" in the Roman liturgy. After the reforms of Vatican II, three of these sequences remain as required texts for Sunday liturgies: Easter, Pentecost, and Corpus Christi.
Two tips on celebrating the sequence--if not this year, then maybe this gives you some food for thought for next year's Pentecost celebration!
1. After the second reading, sing the setting to "Hymn to Joy" (found in Breaking Bread, "Come, O Holy Spirit"). People may remain seated. Sing the verses together, then at the end, go immediately to the Gospel Acclamation Using an acclamation in the same key like Celic Alleluia makes for a seamless transition and helps to restore the Sequence's connection with the Gospel reading and procession.
You could also consider having the people stand and sing it while doing a more extended gospel procession with incense--process the book of the Gospel through the assembly, and then end it with the alleluia and its verse as the procession reaches the Ambo.
2. After the second reading, sing "Veni Sancte Spiritus" from the Taize community, and use the Celtic Alleuia in A Major, or Alleluia 3 from the Taize Community. You can use it in a similar way as the first option though the congregation sings "Veni, Sancte Spiritus" repeatedly while the cantor sings the verses of the sequence.
Either of these suggestions are meant to help you stimulate your creativity in a thrice-occuring "soft-spot" in the yearly cycle. Feel free to contact me for more information. How will you express our common desire that the Holy Spirit will come anew upon us in our parish communities and in this world?