A very nice lady some weeks ago asked why the short Entrance Chant listed in her hand missal was rarely ever spoken at Mass. The answer is that it’s really best if it’s never “recited”: the Roman Missal takes it for granted that there will be singing at the entrance of the priest and other ministers. So singing takes the place of a spoken text. As far as the wording to be used goes, either the text of the antiphon found in the Missal or another appropriate sung text or hymn is sung.
The Church’s most recent official rubrics (that’s a churchy word for liturgical rules!) say more: only “if there is no singing … the antiphon given in the Missal is recited either by the faithful, or by some of them, or by a reader; otherwise, it is recited by the priest himself, who may even adapt it as an introductory explanation” (GIRM 48).
Liturgical authorities in Rome in particular have suggested that this antiphon be paraphrased as part of the priest’s introduction to the Mass, or in the phrasing of the “Lord Have Mercy” litany during the Penitential Act.
For instance, the recent text of the Entrance Antiphon (also called the Introit, from the Latin word meaning “entrance chant”!) for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time is a verse from Sirach 36:18 – “Give peace, O Lord, to those who wait for you, that your prophets be found true. Hear the prayers of your servant, and of your people Israel.” If there were no singing it would be better to adapt those ideas into a penitential litany, such as: “You have always given peace to those who long for you, Lord, have mercy”; “Your goodness is proclaimed by prophetic voice still today, Christ, have mercy”; and “You hear the prayers of your people, Lord, have mercy.”
(And now you know one of my big secrets for composing “creative” penitential prayers at the start of Mass!)