Chant may gain traction under new missal, but hymnody’s place secure

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Although the new General Instruction of the Roman Missal has eliminated the use of the word “song” from the General Instruction promulgated just eight years earlier in favor of the word “chant,” don’t be so quick to ditch those hymnals.

The hymns that have been part and parcel of Catholic worship are likely to continue for some time to come.

“Our interpretation of ‘chant’ is in using the word ‘chant’ in a generic way, a translation of (the Latin) ‘cantus,’ ‘that which is sung,” said Father Richard Hilgartner, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Divine Worship.

When the church uses “chant” in the General Instruction, Father Hilgartner told Catholic News Service, it is “really talking about what texts are sung, not the musical form.”

Of course, tell that to the blogosphere, home of rhetorical volleys back and forth on every issue, the new General Instruction included. “If it weren’t for the blogosphere, we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” Father Hilgartner told CNS. “We’d just be going about our work.”

On Nov. 27, the first Sunday of Advent, the new English translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal will begin to be used parishes in the United States, Canada and other English-speaking countries.

“It’s a very hot topic right now in the Catholic blogosphere,” said Jerry Galipeau, associate publisher at World Library Publications in the Chicago suburb of Franklin Park, Ill., and himself a liturgical music composer and a blogger on liturgical issues.

“There’s a camp that’s becoming entrenched, (saying) that the proper antiphons that are found in the missal are as essential to the liturgy as the reading, and no one would ever replace the proper antiphons with something else.”

In liturgical terms, “proper” refers to texts used for a particular day, feast or rite. Each Mass includes verses from Scripture as entrance antiphon and Communion antiphons. However, in current U.S. practice, they are most often used when there is no music for the Mass — and even then not always included — and, when included, almost always recited.

“It has been kind of been under the radar, it’s ebbed and flowed in history. Mass propers have been staples since the seventh century,” said Jeffrey Tucker, a proponent for the use of chant with the new missal. Tucker, who sings in a schola in Auburn, Ala., is a blogger, assistant editor of the journal Sacred Music, and publications director of the Church Music Association of America, a group Galipeau called “small but loud.”

After the Second Vatican Council in 1963 permitted the Mass to be celebrated in the vernacular, “there was a lot of confusion that followed,” Tucker said. “Pretty much there has been no effort (regarding chanted antiphons) in this direction since 1963 in the Catholic world.”

How music is used at Mass has evolved since Vatican II, according to Galipeau. He identified the 1970s as “when the terminology of the ‘four-hymn syndrome’ began to be challenged. Basically, it was ‘Music in Catholic Worship,’ the (U.S.) bishops’ first document on music after the council, that said it’s the acclamations at the Mass that have the priority — the Holy, the Eucharistic Acclamation. Instead of singing four hymns at Mass, we need to change our thought completely and sing the Mass.”

Father Hilgartner gave an example of how an antiphon could be interpreted musically. “If the antiphon that’s printed in the missal is Psalm 23, ‘The Lord is my shepherd,’ a legitimate use would be ‘The King of Love My Shepherd Is,’ which is a hymn.”

He added that at the Mass he celebrated earlier in the day of his CNS interview, “I used ‘Where Charity and Love Prevail.’ It’s chant, but it’s a hymn. There are those who want to turn this into a battle between chanted antiphons and strophic hymnody,” but the new General Instruction is “not that restrictive.”

Tucker said the Church Music Association of America has already published a book of English chants for schola use with sales of 1,400 copies, “which by any standard is a best-seller.” That figure would be dwarfed, though, by the number of copies of a hymnal like “Worship” or “Gather Comprehensive” in the pew racks of just a couple of large suburban parishes.

Galipeau, in a July 11 post in his “Gotta Sing Gotta Pray” blog, said that at his majority-black Chicago parish, “I just don’t think this whole argument about the singing of the propers will ever amount to a hill of beans to these parish people. The people have grown accustomed to singing hymns and songs at the entrance and at Communion from a wide variety of traditions. … A different antiphon every single Sunday might be a bit too challenging for Catholics.”

Tucker, in a July 13 post on his “Chant Cafe” blog, said that from his experiences with using chanted antiphons as Mass, “the people in the pews don’t rush up after Mass and say, ‘What a fantastic performance today, that was just what I needed!’ Instead, they find themselves thinking and praying through the performers and through the music toward eternity. … All we are saying is give propers a chance.”

Chant has a legitimate place in Catholic worship, Father Hilgartner said, but “there’s room for other legitimate cultural adaptations, which includes the form that music for liturgy takes.” He added the word “song” was removed from the new General Instruction of the Roman Missal because “it sounds secular, even when it’s preceded by ‘liturgical.'”

And what, if anything, preceded chant? “Likely, it was hymnody because it was memorable,” Father Hilgartner said. “St. Paul does that whole great hymn to Christ — ‘though he was in the form of God.’ Is that early hymnody? Is that used liturgically? We don’t really know. As one of my liturgy professors used to say, we’ve lost the videotape.”

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33 comments

  1. “A different antiphon every single Sunday might be a bit too challenging for Catholics.”

    But a different hymn every single Sunday, that’s fine, of course.

    “Chant has a legitimate place in Catholic worship, Father Hilgartner said…”

    That’s not exactly what (e.g.) SC 116 says, but after all, I suppose it’s the ‘spirit’ of the Council that really matters, not what the Council actually said…!

    “The people have grown accustomed to singing hymns and songs at the entrance and at Communion from a wide variety of traditions.”

    That may be so, but that doesn’t mean it’s liturgically ideal, or spiritually more beneficial for them. Neither does it mean that they couldn’t become accustomed to singing something else, like the propers.

    1. Sounds as if your objection is ideological rather than pastoral or theological. Chacun à son goût! or De gustibus non disputandum.

      Just exactly how would you propose to judge whether X is ‘liturgically ideal or spiritually more beneficial than Y?’

      1. Ideological? Ah, that wonderful, catch-all phrase!

        In any case, I thought we were all about “full, active and conscious” participation? As the propers are an integral part of the liturgy, wouldn’t singing them foster “full, active and conscious” participation? And isn’t substituting them for hymns a barrier to this same participation the Council called for? This is the sort of discussion needed when deciding whether X is spiritually more beneficial than Y.

        As to whether X is liturgically ideal: the propers are the texts in the Missal, no? Yes, it is permitted to substitute them, but the first options given in the GIRM are the propers, and, in any case, if you’re going to substitute them for something else, it still needs to be in keeping with the texts given in the Missal. Fr Hilgartner’s example of substituting Ps. 23 is illustrative here.

        My thoughts on all this, I suppose, are along these lines: as well as the liturgy of the word, the introit, gradual, alleluia, offertory and communion chants are all taken from the scriptures as well, and the Mass itself is chock-full of scripture references and allusions. So, if part of the idea behind the reformed lectionary was to expose Catholics to more of the scriptures at Sunday Mass, why do we not also use the chants and antiphons of the reformed Missal to expose them to even more scriptural treasures? Why substitute them with songs or hymns–doesn’t that (more often than not) end up obscuring the scriptural references?

        The English translation of the introit for today is this (in England): “I call to you all day long, have mercy on me, O Lord. You are good and forgiving, full of love for all who call to you” (Ps. 85:3, 5) What a wonderful preface to the penitential rite (as well as linking with today’s responsorial psalm [Ps. 62])! Why substitute that introit with something else?

      2. Quite apart from your improper (if you’ll pardon the pun) use of the verb to substitute, it’s still not at all clear from your post what you mean by the expression, ‘spiritually more beneficial.’

        Is it a synonym for ‘in keeping with my personal taste?’

    2. In my parish experience, we usually sing a different Psalm every week, and while we don’t have unique hymns for every Sunday, we still have a big repertoire. What’s the problem with a different antiphon every Sunday?

  2. To borrow a page from my friend, David Haas’ playbook- it’s always a curiosity when someone not part of an association is “called upon” to describe and characterize that same association. I love Jerry Galipeau’s take on a ton of stuff. But I wonder if he meant CMAA’s presence in this issue as “small…but loud” to be a good witch or a bad witch. I’ll assume the former. I dunno, but it seems a rather LARGE indication that CMAA will hold its annual colloquium in Salt Lake City at the Madeleine in order to accomodate doubling its solid 250 attendance from Chicago and Pittsburgh event sites over the last three years (which always sells out early.)
    I also suppose even 500 entrenched chanters in Utah, by this article’s measure, is a paltry indicator of our “camp’s” limited appeal by comparison to 3000 NPMers carrying their GATHER III’s. But I digress.
    If there is one sure indicator of the toxic nature of these blogosphere caricatures, it is surely that we keep having the same arguments/contradictions over and over with the same outcome and result: misinformation and rampant ad hominems, even if no one is directly named. I believe this is the textbook definition of insanity.
    I am an indebted and greatly appreciative CMAAer. But I’d bet Jerry Galipeau his congregation could sing any weekly ordo from my schola Mass repertoire in a heartbeat, with joy.
    So, as Jeffrey Tucker says, may we please remain part of the conversation?
    Thank you.

  3. I know that this may be anathema to both groups, but in our parish, every Sunday we begin the procession by having the cantor or choir chant the Introit from the Roman Missal which then moves flawlessly into the metrical processional hymn. The cantor or choir does the same for the Offering of the Gifts and the Communion Antiphon as the priest receives Holy Communion. There is always a congregation hymn or refrain of some kind normally for the full length of the Holy Communion Procession and dead silence which Paul Ford will appreciate after Holy Communion is completed. My parish would tar and feather our choir and me if we were to eliminate metrical hymns altogether and they sing everything that applies to them with gusto, especially metrical hymns. We use a hymnal and so we don’t constantly through new stuff at them and fortunately our People’s Mass Book which will soon be replaced by the Vatican II Hymnal contain only familiar traditional melodies that my parish belts out almost from memory. It doesn’t have to be either/or but both/and.

  4. Some chant proponents don’t like to be told that all the composers they love to hate were largely responsible for replacing the four-hymn devotional sandwich with Scripture-based music–songs and hymns alike.

    Some of them also don’t like to be reminded that the propers, especially in ordinary time, are largely throwaway Scripture references that may or may not have anything to do with the day’s liturgy. The later I get into ordinary time, the more random it all seems.

    A music director with a fair awareness of Scripture, especially the psalms, will likely do an equal or better job of finding appropriate hymns, songs, and psalm settings than those who suggest only antiphons.

    That said, the antiphons inform my planning, but they don’t govern it. This issue is a non-starter in mainstream music circles. As it should be.

    1. The only ones in my library are those in the Sacramentary. Those are the most accessible to music directors. I would be very interested in seeing the Scripture citations and texts of the Graduale.

      If I thought such a project would have any traction, I’d like to explore both Old and New Testament texts as practical substitutes for the propers on a three-year Lectionary cycle. There is a great deal of lyric material in the more lyric passages of the Hebrew Scriptures, especially the prophets, that would help draw out some of the thematic material in the Sunday Lectionary. That would be very stimulating.

  5. I’m surprised to learn that Fr. Hilgartner has been transmogrified into the General Instruction of the Roman Missal!

    Of course, tell that to the blogosphere, home of rhetorical volleys back and forth on every issue, the new General Instruction included.

  6. How music is used at Mass has evolved since Vatican II, according to Galipeau. He identified the 1970s as “when the terminology of the ‘four-hymn syndrome’ began to be challenged. Basically, it was ‘Music in Catholic Worship,’ the (U.S.) bishops’ first document on music after the council, that said it’s the acclamations at the Mass that have the priority — the Holy, the Eucharistic Acclamation. Instead of singing four hymns at Mass, we need to change our thought completely and sing the Mass.”

    Of course, before MCW, there was “Musicam Sacram” from the SCR in 1967. Whether it’s completely compatible with the 1969+ Missal, it’s clear it supports the primacy of the acclamations (16a, 29-31).

  7. *Sigh*
    As a cantor on occasion, I find this power struggle to be tedious. I like chant, I like hymns, and I am comfortable with either, just let me know what to do. I think most congregants feel that way, too. Remember the congregation? As a group, I believe most of them simply want to worship as meaningfully as they can and receive the Eucharist. They also like the idea of ritual. But flipping back and forth is not a way to have them embrace anything.

    I am in a two priest parish. One priest, the pastor, just doesn’t sing. Great guy that the parish loves, but doesn’t sing a note, not even ‘through Him, with Him’, etc. Then we have a new priest who LOVES to sing and really thinks the chanting is critical, and is insisting upon it. He even seems to want lectors to sing ‘The Word of he Lord’. I can’t wait to see how that turns out. Both priests are really great guys, but diametrical opposites on the music. That would be no problem, except that it is confusing to people who work in music preparation, and more importantly, to parishioners.

    Time will tell, I guess. Maybe old priest will have a following and new priest will also have a following, and as long as everyone knows who says Mass when it will work out. I just wish there were a little more effort made in ministering to a congregation as opposed to asking them to basically take sides.

  8. Here is another small but loud presence: due to exceptional circumstances I went to an EF Mass this morning in another city. All the Propers were sung by a schola without organ. As for the Ordinary it was sung by the people in Latin, with no organ. And behind me were two small children a boy and a girl neither over 8 years old. And they were angels. They sang in Latin all the people’s responses, the Asperges, Mass XI, and Credo III; and they sang them loudly and confidently. They even tried to hum at times some of the Gregorian Propers. These two darling little angels told me today everything there is to know about liturgical music in America despite what Mr Galipeau and other people on this blog have to say.

  9. Fr Allan J McDonald – ‘I know that this may be anathema…’

    I agree with the solution you have found in your parish. It is not unlike the practice in parishes of the Anglican Use. At our Lady of Walsingham in Houston we sing a hymn at the entrance, followed by the introit during the censing of the altar. Likewise, at the offertory the proper antiphon precedes an anthem or motet; and so with the proper communion antiphon.

    I do not agree with those who hold that, at Roman Rite masses, only the propers can or should be sung. I believe that we all should accept that hymnody, more now than even before, has become an acceptable ornament to Catholic mass. The object should be making certain that it is, in fact, good hymnody (fine literature and highly respectable tunes) and that it is appropriate to the day. Having said this, I must stress that hymnody IS and always has been, after all, extraneous to the Roman Rite of mass. Unlike The Propers, there have never been hymns (with the unique exception of sequences) appointed and integral to the Roman mass. Whether in English or Latin, there is a wonderfully worshipful ethos experienced when the mass and its propers proceed in an uninterrupted continuum. Every parish should have this experience regularly in its schedule of public worship. One cannot but have the thought, the realisation, that ‘ahh: so THIS is the Roman Rite!’.
    Still, we must, I think, accept that hymnody is not going to be replaced. Nor should it be. Its use is, after all, quite licit, and can be considered an historical and valid development in the Roman Rite. Those who refer cynically to the ‘four hymn sandwich’ are neither smart nor cute. They show a shameful lack of knowledge about good hymnody, and a pitiful lack of appreciation for an important element of our heritage. A mass with good hymns only, or with hymns and propers, or with propers alone are all beautiful and reverent, though different acts of worship, facets of our inheritance.

  10. I guess no one has given any place to the value of inculturation. Even before VII, the Germans were hymn singers and still are. Americans have clearly become hymn singers and will likely remain so. The only obstacle to that will be the efforts of “younger” priests and chant effetes to impose their superior views that would make us all more roman. We do have a rite called roman or Latin but this isn’t Rome and we are not Latins.

    1. We do have a rite called roman or Latin…

      Is this why translating “Missale Romanum” as “Roman Missal” is unwelcome? It hits too far away from home?

      I’m of the mind that propers and hymns can co-exist in the same liturgy. I’ve been to EF Masses that have had chanted or polyphonic propers as well as Latin and English hymnody. This can work in the OF too.

      But from one extreme, haven’t there been statements made here recently that the Mass need not “carry the weight of every type of prayer and every need.” From that angle, why require the Mass to bear the weight of hymnody which can be used in any number of other liturgical and para-liturgical actions of the parish? (Note: this is not my own position.) Maybe good hymnody in other aspects of a parish’s prayer life would increase parishioner participation in them?

      (But then perhaps removing the hymnody from the Mass would decrease even more the participation of the people therein…)

      1. (But then perhaps removing the hymnody from the Mass would decrease even more the participation of the people therein…)
        ———————————————–
        and what’s worse, a return to the days of the silent Sunday Tridentine liturgy. There seems to be a return to the string of private Masses celebrated in side chapels in larger churches and religious houses with all the celebrants lined up in a row and the devout making a visit to each “station” at a different point in the Mass to participate in a mumbled Mass. Collecting all that grace from multiple celebrations going on at the same time.

        For these people, maybe an EF Mass with music on Easter and Christmas and the occasional feast is their highest expectation, but it’s the private Mass without music of any kind they’re hoping will become the norm again. I hope not.

      1. I agree that services outside of Mass might be a better way to test chanted accompaniment. My childhood parish had Holy Hour with Adoration, read Vespers, and Benediction. People who would not sing a note at Mass would happily chant the Aquinan hymns in English or (sometimes) Latin.
        ———————————————-
        Before the Council, many Latin-rite parishes, especially in the mid-west, had the same schedule. During Lent we had a mission on Wednesdays and Fridays with Vespers or Stations and Benediction.

    2. Re: Jeffrey Pinyan on August 28, 2011 – 4:41 pm

      Chanted propers and hymns can go together in one liturgy. The local Anglo-Catholics here chant either the BCP or the English Missal propers, chant the Mass ordinary in English or Latin, and sing Anglican hymns (English Hymnal mostly). The parishioners are very good singers, and can switch from polyphony, metric hymn, and chant very easily. The result is wall-to-wall parishioner accompaniment save for the eucharistic prayer. Baby steps — I don’t expect this of your average Catholic parish tomorrow. As one of my Anglican priest friends who attends both Catholic Mass and Anglican Eucharist on a regular basis has said, the Anglican tradition has had huge head-start on vernacular composition and the inculcation of a vernacular musical culture. It’s going to take time for us Catholics.

      I agree that services outside of Mass might be a better way to test chanted accompaniment. My childhood parish had Holy Hour with Adoration, read Vespers, and Benediction. People who would not sing a note at Mass would happily chant the Aquinan hymns in English or (sometimes) Latin. Worth a try.

  11. When I was contacted by CNS, the reporter had a very limited knowledge of the conversation that has been occurring regarding the Mass propers. He had never heard of CMAA; he had never heard of Jeffrey Tucker. At the conclusion of my conversation with the reporter, I encouraged him to expand the coverage and urged him to contact Jeffrey, whose contact information I forwarded. Trying not to establish camps; that’s the last thing we need.

    1. This is an important behind-the-scenes peak: Regardless of your opinion on any of things, we should all take a moment to notice how little the author seems to know about the things he is talking about.

  12. “I know that this may be anathema to both groups, but in our parish, every Sunday we begin the procession by having the cantor or choir chant the Introit from the Roman Missal which then moves flawlessly into the metrical processional hymn.”

    I don’t know that it’s anathema so much as it concerns me that the Roman Rite gets used like any old cluttered sacristy in a fit of fussiness. The point is less to cram everything good into the Mass and more what points to the essentials: the Word of God and the Eucharist.

    Personally, I like using psalm settings at entrance from time to time. I care less for metrical hymns, but I’m willing to program good ones that are based on Scripture, or pieces that at least allude to them.

    1. Thanks, Todd. We started the antiphon experience at Lent of this year with no explanation, no introduction, reasons why, etc. and initially without the antiphon placed in our week-end order of celebration.

      It continues to feel like an “add-on” to the two masses in which it is used (this also says something about the parish in terms of consistency, etc.). Without a choir, the cantor is usually left to sing a solo.

      Sorry, it feels like an add-on; it morphs those two masses into a six hymn formula, etc. Like Todd, find the antiphon/scripture to be disconnected from our three year cycle – so why force the issue. Our hymns – by and large – can echo the scripture of the day unless the DM is having a bad day. After almost 50 years, would suggest that most communal liturgies have evolved so that the original GIRM about antiphons has changed – have frequently asked about the antiphon history; how translated and inserted into the MR, and why?

      Would stress that what is important is that the community “chants” the commons and responses; that we move more to psalm settings/metrical hymns at key moments in the liturgical year and that this be explained.

      Liturgy is an art – it requires pastoral sense; good education; and an ability to call on the community so it is educated about our ritual; heighten our experience in song; and deepen the scriptural roots in the liturgy of the word and eucharist.

      Not big on folks assuming that they are liturgical experts and enforcing change because they read it in a document. Actually am surprised and pleased by this statement of Hilgartner…it makes imminent good sense and thus good liturgy.

  13. Dear Jerry, no need to explain at all. As I said, I took the comment as positive. I was much more amused by how natural it is for “journalists” to frame quotations to serve this or that agenda or point. We’re good and on the same page. I think blogdom needs something like a Feel Good Moment- maybe a globally posted cameo of Todd and Jeffrey T. arm in arm chanting, hymning, singing “we shall overcome” in Latin, English, Spanish, Gaelic, Farsi….well, you get the point.
    Speaking of my brother Todd: Dude! Wrong day to bust propers and scriptures!
    We also pretty much do what Fr. Allan does down south with the “Stuffed Mass” format, but we have huge congregations, so it’s all good and tidy. But to keep dissing us poor DM’s as ill-equipt liturgical aesthetes by categorically waving proper antiphons as “throwaway scripture” seems a tad harsh and perhaps to some, borderline blasphemy. Ditto the the ill-timed remark when the Communio for today was “If anyone would follow me, he must deny himself and take up his cross.” I don’t think you can get anymore intimately associated with today’s Gospel than that, can you?
    Unless you were upset about the gender exclusive aspect…
    Really, many of us who are disposed towards a systematic, inclusive and FCAP-attendant re-orientation are not wide-eyed idealists or demigogues. So, I’m ready for starting a Liturgy on Tap jam session, as long as we don’t have to have any bouncers who just like a good brawl in the pub…every darn day.
    Peace, mein Bruder.

  14. Oops, I forgot to confess- back in the early days of forums and blogs I was routinely castigated for being an unrepentant Joncas apologist by many. But they weren’t “hating” on me or Mike, they were just, uh, exuberant. And of course, they were right, I’ll defend Joncas to my dying day. And for the record, I’ve had a man crush on Bob Hurd for decades, would carry an umbrella over Janet Sullivan-Whitaker and a marguerita on a sultry day in Auburn, and sit at M.D. Ridge’s feet to hear her stories all day long. And regarding propers, I happily endorse Ken Macek and his compatriot’s new collection!
    Stop typing the cast in stereo, folks. We should be doing surround sound in Dolby!

  15. Liturgy is an art – it requires pastoral sense; good education; and an ability to call on the community so it is educated about our ritual; heighten our experience in song; and deepen the scriptural roots in the liturgy of the word and eucharist.

    Not big on folks assuming that they are liturgical experts and enforcing change because they read it in a document. Actually am surprised and pleased by this statement of Hilgartner…it makes imminent good sense and thus good liturgy.

    Again, I choose to roll or ignore that conceivably specious assumption, Bill, as even the average PIP knows that no matter the presence of me, you, or Todd at a planning meeting or an actual liturgy, the man wearing the chasuble IS the liturgical expert and the only person charged with enforcing (an unfortunate characterization one might think) “change.”

    “If it weren’t (sic) for the blogosphere, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. We’d be going about our business.” RV. Hilgartner

    And what exactly would that business be, Father? Enforcing smugness, or safeguarding the traditions and “genres” of worship articulated by your brother priests over decades and centuries?
    Sorry, Bill, we didn’t invent your playing field. Some of us just think, no, believe it ought to be level.

  16. Guess I understand where you are coming from and yes, guess that is reality in some cases but your overall negativity and statements about PIPs, DMs, etc. falls very short of the reality in some parish communities and with some pastors, community leaders.

    It is not my playing field – but it is a playing field that I have experienced from time to time. Yes, unfortunately fearful, arrogant, and clerical pastors can diminish this but not sure I would just throw my hat away.

  17. Bill, it seems you might have missed the point and misinterpreted my comments. My observation that the final, temporal authority that arbitrates liturgy resides with each celebrant was no indicator of any negativity from my quarter towards the faithful, ministers or the priesthood in the slightest. That’s a simple reality. That you stated you weren’t “big” on (self appointed) enforcers of liturgical praxis seemed likewise negative, tho I clearly allowed as how you may not have meant it to appear thus.
    Yes indeed, there are 10s of 1000s of heroic priests of all philosophical stripes, including Fr Hilgartner. But his quote, as reported, seemed quite dismissive of the role of blog based discourse, no mention of any particular POV, as if it inhibited the status quo of priestly duties. Needless to say, many of the critics of the MR3 on this blog would beg to differ. As others have quipped, “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”
    I hope this clears up any question about negativity.

    1. Charles, in terms of the propers which are Scripture, since we’ve been chanting only the words contained in the Missal and not the longer Roman Gradual versions, I do find that without exception these bring a richness to the each Sunday Mass which in my own experience since being a priest was sorely lacking. This past Sunday and almost every Sunday since we began chanting these for the past year we’ve been exposed to the complete Liturgy. Omitting these in favor of some other song is like omitting the Gloria and substituting something similar or the Sanctus, or Mystery of Faith. And in fact, if I recall accurately the 1970’s and early 80’s many parishes did precisely that or at least a paraphrase of these parts of the Mass.

  18. Many people complain about the horrid Catholic music, yet the author proclaims hymnody is here to stay. Then stating that the GIRM’s allowance for “other cultural adaptations” must be allowed but that is what is also stated as already being the fact on the ground. So why defend it as if it is not happening? In fact the chanted propers are what needs to allowed and used more often. It is already acknowledged as being what is not used and not desirable. So yeah, lets’ keep using what we Catholics and even people outside the Catholic Church often describe as the horrid and deplorable music found in the average parish.

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