It’s here!

The new volume of the Antiphonale Romanum is now in stock at Solesmes. Oddly, it is called “Antiphonale Romanum II.” We already have an “Antiphonale Romanum II” issued since Vatican II, also known as the Liber Hymnarius, of 1983. They started with “II” for the book of office hymns with the idea that “I” would be the antiphonale, and the two volumes would give you everything for all the Latin day offices. Apparently the plan has changed. This latest Antiphonale Romanum II is billed as having the hymns and everything else for the office, but only for Vespers on Sundays and feast days. So this book is a vesperale in genre but not in title. Does the title indicate that the Liber Hymnarius will be superseded by the hymns in the new antiphonale? Have they already revised the 1983 hymns? What do they plan for the new Antiphonale Romanum I?

There has been a lot of back-and-forth on this project. More than one scholar or committee has produced its version of reformed melodies, and more than one draft has landed in Rome for approval. I know many of the players. Some years ago I heard that I was about to get a letter from Rome asking me to serve on a commission to evaluate the latest draft. (The letter never came. My only role in this new antiphonale has been to fast and pray for its speedy appearance.) For decades now various proposals have risen and fallen, depending on which concerned player got ahold of which bishop got ahold of which cardinal got ahold of which curial official. So what else is new? We pray and expect that the Holy Spirit works through all of this, and we look forward hopefully to this book so important to the Roman rite.

Here is my earlier post on the topic.

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  1. Given the topic of music, which I am no expert, other than I can sing, what has not been discussed in any comments to any posts is the nature of sacred music as it pertains to the formal liturgies of the Church such as the Mass and Liturgy of the Hours and music as it pertains to popular devotions. Prior to Vatican II in this country and elsewhere there was a rich, vernacular musical repretorie for popular devotions, especially Marian devotions. After Vatican II, these devotions for the most part disappeared. However, the music of these devotions found their way into the Mass, sometimes prior to the Council (the fours hymns allowed in the vernacular)and after the Council. In terms of the popular devotional music, I think of “populist” hymns such as “Mother Dearest” etc, what some would call kitsch, I believe. I’m also thinking more in terms of easy, catchy melodies rather than just the words used.
    My question to musicians is, have we foregone the legitimate use of what some would call “kitsch” (I don’t’ know abut the spelling here) for popular devotions since these do not exist as they once did, and allowed for it to be incorporated into the Liturgy, albeit, now Christological but set to very catchy and emotionally satisfying tunes of the kitsch genre? I’m just asking the question, not being divisive.

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