Certain questions, problems, and issues arise in trying to understand the mass of detail in the Use of Sarum. This page serves as a place where these questions can be explored.
1. ‘Deo gratias’ at the end of mass. (See Missal: 1194.)
‘Deo gratias’ (Thanks be to God), the response to Ite missa est or Benedicamus Domino, is expected by congregations at the end of mass in our day. However there appears to be no definitive Sarum source that would either confirm or refute the notion that this response was intended to be sung aloud, except on the vigils of East and Pentecost, for which a musical setting of Deo gratias is provided. It will be noted that when Requiescant in pace is said at the end of a requiem mass, the response Amen is indicated to be said. It will also be noted that the use of Sarum explicitly omits the response to the versicle Benedicamus Domino when it is sung at the end of Vespers and Lauds, but the response Deo gratias is sung at the end of the little hours, where it is sung to a the simple versicle-tone and at the little office of the Blessed Virgin, where is is said (sung) recto tono. There is merit in the notion that when Benedicamus Domino or Ite missa est is sung to an ornate melody, the response is not made aloud . . . thereby averting the danger of making an error in the response . . . but that the response is sung aloud when the music is of the simplest nature. It must be remembered also that normally only the soloist(s) know which ornate melody will be chosen for the versicle.
2. ‘Deo gratias’ at the end of the canonical office.
There is no substantial evidence that ‘Deo gratias’ is to be sung at the end of either of the ‘Benedicamus Dominio’ that conclude vespers and lauds of the canonical hours. In contrast, it is evident that ‘Deo gratias’ was an audible, sung response at the conclusion of prime, terce, sext, none anc compline. It would seem that the response ‘Deo gratias’ was made only silently at vespers and lauds, and we may presume that this practice is related to the use of more ornate melodies at those hours.
3. The employment of ornate Benedicamus melodies at vespers and lauds.
There is evidence that more ornate melodies were sung on more important feasts. But there is no clear evidence as to whether a distinction was made between the first and second Benedicamus. The first Benedicamus marks the conclusion of canonical vespers and lauds, while the second Benedicamus marks the conclusion of the memorials and procession after vespers, if there is one. Seeing that the versicle and prayer tone for the memorials and procession is the simple one, it may be appropriate to also use the simple vespers and lauds ‘Benedicamus’ tone, even if a more ornate tone is used for the first ‘Benedicamus’.