Discussion Question of the Week: In our practice, have Gregorian Chant Propers really ever been the norm?

THE THEORY:

Gregorian Chant is the model, the quintessential ideal of song in the Roman Rite. It has always been so from time immemorial. Therefore preference should be given to Gregorian Latin Propers above all else. The number of musicians who have been persuaded by this argument seems to be increasing ― there are more churches and cathedrals where Gregorian Introits, Offertory chants and Communion chants from the Graduale Romanum are being regularly used, though they are still in a tiny minority.

Support from the documents:

Tra le sollecitudini (1903)

3. These qualities are to be found, in the highest degree, in Gregorian Chant, which is, consequently the Chant proper to the Roman Church, the only chant she has inherited from the ancient fathers, which she has jealously guarded for centuries in her liturgical codices, which she directly proposes to the faithful as her own, which she prescribes exclusively for some parts of the liturgy, and which the most recent studies have so happily restored to their integrity and purity.

On these grounds Gregorian Chant has always been regarded as the supreme model for sacred music, so that it is fully legitimate to lay down the following rule: the more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savor the Gregorian form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple.

Sacrosanctum Concilium (1963)

116. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.

Musicam Sacram (1967)

50. In sung liturgical services celebrated in Latin:

(a) Gregorian chant, as proper to the Roman liturgy, should be given pride of place, other things being equal. Its melodies, contained in the “typical” editions, should be used, to the extent that this is possible.

(b) “It is also desirable that an edition be prepared containing simpler melodies, for use in smaller churches.”

GIRM (1969 and succeeding versions)

41. The main place should be given, all things being equal, to Gregorian chant, as being proper to the Roman Liturgy.

John Paul II Chirograph on Sacred Music (2003)

7. Among the musical expressions that correspond best with the qualities demanded by the notion of sacred music, especially liturgical music, Gregorian chant has a special place. The Second Vatican Council recognized that “being specially suited to the Roman Liturgy” it should be given, other things being equal, pride of place in liturgical services sung in Latin. St Pius X pointed out that the Church had “inherited it from the Fathers of the Church”, that she has “jealously guarded [it] for centuries in her liturgical codices” and still “proposes it to the faithful” as her own, considering it “the supreme model of sacred music”. Thus, Gregorian chant continues also today to be an element of unity in the Roman Liturgy.

Sing to the Lord (2007)

72. “The Church recognizes Gregorian chant as being specially suited to the Roman
Liturgy. Therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical
services.” Gregorian chant is uniquely the Church’s own music. Chant is a living connection
with our forebears in the faith, the traditional music of the Roman rite, a sign of communion with the universal Church, a bond of unity across cultures, a means for diverse communities to
participate together in song, and a summons to contemplative participation in the Liturgy.

THE OTHER THEORY:

The Church clearly envisages that Gregorian chant is not the only possibility, and not necessarily even the preferred option. It is quite clear that pastoral considerations have to take priority.

Other possibilities enunciated in the documents:

Sacrosanctum Concilium

114. The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care. Choirs must be diligently promoted, especially in cathedral churches; but bishops and other pastors of souls must be at pains to ensure that, whenever the sacred action is to be celebrated with song, the whole body of the faithful may be able to contribute that active participation which is rightly theirs, as laid down in Art. 28 and 30. [my emphasis]

116. But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action, as laid down in Art. 30.

118. Religious singing by the people is to be intelligently fostered so that in devotions and sacred exercises, as also during liturgical services, the voices of the faithful may ring out according to the norms and requirements of the rubrics.

119. In certain parts of the world, especially mission lands, there are peoples who have their own musical traditions, and these play a great part in their religious and social life. For this reason due importance is to be attached to their music, and a suitable place is to be given to it, not only in forming their attitude toward religion, but also in adapting worship to their native genius, as indicated in Art. 39 and 40.

Therefore, when missionaries are being given training in music, every effort should be made to see that they become competent in promoting the traditional music of these peoples, both in schools and in sacred services, as far as may be practicable.

Musicam Sacram

9. In selecting the kind of sacred music to be used, whether it be for the choir or for the people, the capacities of those who are to sing the music must be taken into account. No kind of sacred music is prohibited from liturgical actions by the Church as long as it corresponds to the spirit of the liturgical celebration itself and the nature of its individual parts, and does not hinder the active participation of the people.

48. Where the vernacular has been introduced into the celebration of Mass, the local Ordinaries will judge whether it may be opportune to preserve one or more Masses celebrated in Latin—especially sung Masses (Missae in cantu)—in certain churches, above all in large cities, where many come together with faithful of different languages.

and also

51. Pastors of souls, having taken into consideration pastoral usefulness and the character of their own language, should see whether parts of the heritage of sacred music, written in previous centuries for Latin texts, could also be conveniently used, not only in liturgical celebrations in Latin but also in those performed in the vernacular. There is nothing to prevent different parts in one and the same celebration being sung in different languages.

GIRM

41. Other kinds of sacred music, in particular polyphony, are in no way excluded, provided that they correspond to the spirit of the liturgical action and that they foster the participation of all the faithful.

John Paul II Chirograph

7. Like St Pius X, the Second Vatican Council also recognized that “other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations”. It is therefore necessary to pay special attention to the new musical expressions to ascertain whether they too can express the inexhaustible riches of the Mystery proposed in the Liturgy and thereby encourage the active participation of the faithful in celebrations.

12. With regard to compositions of liturgical music, I make my own the “general rule” that St Pius X formulated in these words: “The more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savour the Gregorian melodic form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple”. It is not, of course, a question of imitating Gregorian chant but rather of ensuring that new compositions are imbued with the same spirit that inspired and little by little came to shape it. Only an artist who is profoundly steeped in the sensus Ecclesiae can attempt to perceive and express in melody the truth of the Mystery that is celebrated in the Liturgy.

Sing to the Lord

73. The “pride of place” given to Gregorian chant by the Second Vatican Council is modified by the important phrase “other things being equal.” These “other things” are the important liturgical and pastoral concerns facing every bishop, pastor, and liturgical musician. In considering the use of the treasures of chant, pastors and liturgical musicians should take care that the congregation is able to participate in the Liturgy with song. They should be sensitive to the cultural and spiritual milieu of their communities, in order to build up the Church in unity and peace.

IN PRACTICE:

Has in fact Gregorian chant been the primary model for song in the Roman Rite at any time in the past 600 years?

Would Tra le Sollecitudini have said the following if Gregorian Chant were “in possession” ?

3. The ancient traditional Gregorian Chant must, therefore, in a large measure be restored to the functions of public worship, and the fact must be accepted by all that an ecclesiastical function loses none of its solemnity when accompanied by this music alone.

Special efforts are to be made to restore the use of the Gregorian Chant by the people, so that the faithful may again take a more active part in the ecclesiastical offices, as was the case in ancient times.

Would Sacrosanctum Concilium have said this if everything in the garden was rosy?

117. The typical edition of the books of Gregorian chant is to be completed; and a more critical edition is to be prepared of those books already published since the restoration by St Pius X.

It is desirable also that an edition be prepared containing simpler melodies, for use in small churches.

The crux question: have the Gregorian Chant Propers actually been the norm in recent church history?

A few examples, all from the Roman Rite:

The so-called Ratisbon edition of the chants from the 16th century provided a bastardized version of Gregorian chants, and was commonly used all over Europe until the Solesmes monks produced their new editions in the late 19th-early 20th centuries. Ratisbon was not the earliest manifestation of non-Gregorian chants in the liturgy, which goes back as far as Metz in the 9th century. Other non-standard versions have abounded in different countries, for example the German-speaking nations and those of Eastern Europe.

From the 16th century onwards, polyphonic and other settings were regularly used to substitute for the Chant. Initially fauxbourdon settings were sung in alternation with the Chant, a practice perpetuated in the French “Organ Mass”, etc; but increasingly the harmonized settings came to be used exclusively. By the 18th and 19th century, the musical standard of what was being used instead of the Chant had become very low, rivalling the worst of what could be found in secular theatres. This phenomenon is what gave rise to the movement to restore Gregorian Chant to its proper place, resulting in the foundation of Gregorian societies on both sides of the Atlantic. Their work, however, has been largely in vain, affecting only a minority of parishes.

Late 19th-century and 20th century hymn books on both sides of the Atlantic contain alternatives to the Chant in great number, ranging from simple polyphonic pieces to fauxbourdon settings. Some composers even produced volumes of alternative music (“chanting tones”) for use by choirs who simply could not manage the Chant itself, and these proved very popular.

The German Singmesse from the 18th century onwards and the Betsingmesse in the 20th substituted vernacular hymn and chorale singing for the Chant.

Following the Council, it is scarcely necessary to point out, hymn singing became the first norm to accompany the Church’s rites, followed by a profusion of other styles of music, some ecclesiastical in tone, others more secular.

In most of these examples except the vernacular ones, the texts of the antiphons themselves have generally remained as provided by the liturgical books. It is the music that clothes these texts which has diverged radically from the original Gregorian Chant.

CONCLUSION:

The fact of the matter is that Gregorian Chant has not, since the time of the Reformation if not even earlier, been used as a normal basis for the singing of the Propers, so in this sense is it actually possible to point to it as “always having been in pride of place”, as postconciliar proponents of Gregorian Latin Propers are wont to do? My thesis is that they/we are trying to promote as the norm something which in practice never was the norm during the past 600 years and more. This is either antiquarianism or just plain artificial. Furthermore, we now have a largely vernacular and participatory liturgy which is very different from the largely passive Latin liturgy which preceded it. In such a context, I believe making use of our great Gregorian Chant heritage requires much more subtlety and nuance than simply depositing dollops of Chant into the appropriate liturgical slots and assuming that this will do the trick.

Share:

111 comments

  1. Interesting, Paul: you seem to be saying that SC introduces unwonted antiquarianism where you wish to do something different, but elsewhere you’ve implied that it is reconnecting us with the roots of the liturgy when it is used to justify something that you agree with.

    1. @Thomas Dalby – comment #1:

      I think all these documents were influenced by the antiquarianism of Dom Prosper Guéranger, whose espousal of Gregorian Chant and polyphony as the authentic music of the Church par excellence flew in the face of the history of music in the life of the Church. It had the effect of putting liturgical music into a glass case on a pedestal, to be preserved and venerated, with a consequent sudden halt to development. On the contrary, for better or worse the Church’s music had kept pace with music in the secular world over the centuries, and indeed often led the way for musical developments. To suddenly restrict the music of the Church to two limited styles and periods was, in my view, artificial. Once Guéranger had made his pitch, and Pius X had followed it, the stage was set for a repetition of these views and values right up to our own time. But it is important to remember that they only date from 160 years ago — a mere fraction of the continuum of the life of the Church.

      I have no problem with using all periods and styles of music in the liturgy, and I was brought up on the chant and polyphony and love both those forms and make use of them; but, as indicated in my post, I think this needs to be done with more discernment than has typically been the case.

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #3:
        Influenced by Guéranger or not, Paul, it was the decision of the Council; the argument that you make seems, to my untutored eye, to be straying into the same territory as that claimed by opponents of liturgical reform, who claim an undue influence exercised by the Liturgical Movement or Bugnini.

  2. The singing of the proper texts of the Mass, while intimately linked in our tradition to Gregorian Chant, does not exclude other musical forms. The truth is that these texts are widely ignored and not generally sung in ANY musical form which would seem to be contrary to the priorities as expressed in the GIRM 41 & 48. Perhaps another way of approaching this discussion would be to ask whether these texts, which are given for each Mass in the Missal/Graduale, should have a wider life and place in our liturgical celebrations?

    1. @Msgr Andrew Wadsworth – comment #2:
      The truth is that these texts are widely ignored and not generally sung in ANY musical form which would seem to be contrary to the priorities as expressed in the GIRM 41 & 48. Perhaps another way of approaching this discussion would be to ask whether these texts, which are given for each Mass in the Missal/Graduale, should have a wider life and place in our liturgical celebrations?

      I am in absolute agreement with you there. The point behind my post was that restricting the antiphons of the Missal to one particular musical idiom and the Latin language is perhaps not justified by our recent history. When it is done in slavish and unthinking adherence to a principle that is (as I propose in my response to Thomas Dalby) rather less than two centuries old, then I think we have a problem. As you know, I have been in the forefront of promoting the use of antiphons and psalms rather than hymns for Entrance and Communion for a number of years now. I think people are gradually getting the message, but my impression is that, unfortunately, over-enthusiastic chant advocates are tending to turn people away from listening to that message.

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #5:
        But behind Guéranger there was already a tradition. Some Humanist writers of the sixteenth century wanted to restrict sacred music to Gregorian chant alone, or the very simplest forms of polyphony. And before that, objections were raised to the organum of the Notre Dame school. Chant purism was not a new phenomenon in the 1850s.

    2. @Msgr Andrew Wadsworth – comment #2:
      This is not exactly true. It’s not quite as close as you and Paul Inwood suggest. The introduction to the GR, the Ordo Cantus Missae gives significant leeway to the pastoral practice of substituting “seasonal” options rather than the chant or text of the day.

      The overwhelming directive of SC and practically every follow-up liturgical document (not to mention a few other Vatican II decrees and constitutions) was to place the singing of the Mass in the mouths of the assembly. People such as John Foley and his comrades accomplished this through antiphon+verse formats in setting the psalms and other Biblical texts. Other contemporary composers, from the St Thomas More Group (in the 80’s) and the Collegeville Composers Forum (today) have continued this revival/innovation.

      The point is not the genre of the music. Primarily, it is about appropriate texts. And if Psalm 84 and its antiphon are assigned to Communion on a given week, does it matter if the setting is St Louis Jesuits, Joncas, Collegeville, or BFW? I think not. And if the previous week’s setting of Psalm 34 is better known, the liturgy accepts this too.

      “The truth is that these texts are widely ignored and not generally sung in ANY musical form …”

      As a student and servant of the liturgy I take offense at this misdiagnosis, if it is directed at me and my professional colleagues. I also call into question the emphasis on the 1962 Missal as a distraction from the real work of liturgy: an ever wider appreciation for the psalms and the traditional texts of the Mass.

      Msgr Wadsworth, the recent focus on MR3, including your participation in it, has diverted a great deal of energy and hope away from the ongoing effort of revitalizing the Roman Rite. Not only do you harm the liturgy by insistence on chant performance at Mass, thus damaging the unity in the Church, but we all waste energy loyally implementing a deeply flawed translation.

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #15:
        I am grateful to Paul Inwood for both his thorough examination of both documented legislation and actual praxis as it evolved through many generations over centuries. In a way it calls into question, at least as far as chant-based idioms, how our worship will move from “here to there” in coming generations that our good host, AWR, perhaps out of prudence, sought to avoid addressing directly in his exhaustive and wonderful book.
        Todd, I want to be very careful and fair in how we look at your summary remarks in this comment’s last paragraph. I want to avoid both our penchants for caricature, or for mine of “putting words in your mouth.”
        Msgr Wadsworth, the recent focus on MR3, including your participation in it, has diverted a great deal of energy and hope away from the ongoing effort of revitalizing the Roman Rite.
        Do you believe that could be regarded as a rather astonishing assessment in that: a. There’s an implication that the promulgation (however construed) of MR3 was an alien element not part of some “ongoing effort of revitalizing the Roman Rite?” b. It’s not quite clear what you mean by that “ongoing effort” that sapped “energy and hope” from ritual revitalization? Is that effort represented only by liturgies such as evidenced by the Papal Masses during the Germany, U.S.A or U.K. visitations, World Youth Days, LifeTeen Masses, the Los Angeles RE Congress closing Masses, CMAA Colloquia Masses, NPM Convention closing Masses, etc.? c. Your inclusion of Msgr. Wadsworth’s role as ICEL chair seems to burden the larger issue that the “recent focus on MR3” did not have its origin in his bailiwick. Shouldn’t you acknowledge the role of the “What if we just said ‘No!’” signatories, many of the fine voices here at PTB, and many authors found in both church affiliated organs such as NCReporter andsecular media such the NY Times? d. Many other opposite opinion pieces and testimonies cite Msgr. Wadsworth’s voice quite to the contrary of your determination, and have, in fact, infused and enthused many of us involved in the “revitalization of the Roman Rite?”

        Not only do you harm the liturgy by insistence on chant performance at Mass, thus damaging the unity in the Church, but we all waste energy loyally implementing a deeply flawed translation.

        I am returning to this commentary after covering the evening “youth Mass,” and have read subsequent comments that, to these ears, maintain an unnecessary confrontational tone. I ask, might you be doing Msgr. an injustice by not only holding him personally responsible for the “deeply flawed translation,” but you engaged in doing what you’ve chastised me so often for, namely putting words in his mouth that weren’t actually said or otherwise inferred by him? I’ve heard the man live in person on a number of occasions in the last two years and there was no such absolute insistence advocated. So, if the interest is “unity in the Church,” how does such scape-goating help advance that? Could your last sentence also have an ironic if not oxymoronic disconnect, namely, are we wasting energy when we are being loyal? I won’t invoke a Godwin here, tho’ tempting.
        What is odd is that for the first time in a while, I’ve heard what I thought was an emerging consensus: it’s the texts! And you get lots of props for concurring with a nod to the scripture-based premised compositions from Deiss to the SLJ’s/St. TM’s/HHJ’s to the contemporary Psallite consortium, and folks like Ken Macek as well as Christopher Tietze for “working” the psalms, specifically the Propers. And you well know I concur with your maxim that performance must be part of the analysis equation for all musics employed to serve worship. So, what troubles me is a sort of two steps backward reaction to Msgr. and later to Dr. O’Connor, etc. Is it in all best interest to, when searching for common ground, to plant your flag and stake out your territory based upon what you see as opposed to what Mike sees?
        A few threads back, Dr. Rakosky took me to task for not having established both credentials and track record that would serve my inquiries to his satisfaction. Well, in this arena, like you, I believe I’m on solid rock. And what has been absent from most if not all our rhetorical posturing is an acknowledgment that is most prominent by its silent absence from AWR’s book, an endorsement of any ONE WAY STREET of authenticity, if text is the “all things being equal” standard measure. In my parish over twenty years we have maintained and increased what Msgr. FX Mannion likely regarded as his least appreciated model, the Eclectic Model of musical style in parish use. (I think Paul was at his sessions in Pittsburgh, ’99, if memory serves.) And this is where I probably fail the CMAA pedigree wholly, in that as much as I would prefer to worship exclusively within the EF culture, I know that won’t happen, nor will I force the issue. However, the steady and loving discipline of re-integrating those select elements that are advocated by CMAA has been done by teaching and persuasion, not dictation and imposition. And at only one Mass among 13 English Masses and 5 Spanish. This is likely to remain our future for a long time. Wendy and I had a great time teaching the youth ministry choir Manalo’s “With One Voice” tonight on the fly. And we still sang Bartlett’s Simple English Propers Introit/Communio to no one’s consternation, and everyone still sang the whole Mass (Bolduc St. Ann.) as well as Schiavone, Hurd (my CA guy!) and Sullivan-Whitaker (my Oakland homie!)
        We know this already, Todd. Can we agree occasionally to agree, as well as disagree, or at least disagree agreeably?My place is not your place is not St. John Cantius nor St. Monica’s in Santa Monica nor the Shrine nor Most Holy Redeemer in SF. But, I pray literally that we can drop the attitude of dispensing physicians who dispense prescriptions for relief of ailments of people whom they never consider looking at their faces, or really listening to their words. If I “got” anything out of the Fr. Raab story, that was it. I look forward to our future collaborations., my brother. I’m sorry for the length of this. But about our Big Tent, I can get pretty passionate. Pax.

      2. @Charles Culbreth – comment #26:
        I’m with you on the big tent. No worries on the length. Amen on the texts, too, as long as we’re not getting too terribly persnickety about the particular texts offered on one Sunday or another, keeping both eyes on the overall thrust of the Scriptures and other texts (convoluted as they may be).

        Aware I’m cutting short a lot of my thinking on this matter, I think LA and MR3 are indeed alien to the vector of reform of the Liturgical Movement. And I would criticize any member of ICEL or Vox Clara who supported it. I don’t require this site or NCRep or the rector of St James, Seattle to give me my marching orders.

        I think you know me well enough that I’m impressed more with people like you or the clergy who actually labor in the trenches than Big Names or Big Liturgy, as seen on tv. Or YouTube.

        You also know that I think little of the Magic Words approach to liturgy, as often promoted by CMAA and associates. The real magic, or rather grace, is in authentic ministry, which is less about bringing things (for example, Gregorian Propers) to people, and more about bringing people (for examnple, seekers) to people (i.e. the Church) through Jesus Christ, in the rich and graceful substrate of the Holy Spirit.

        Sincerely, my sense is that Gregorian chant propers are a diversion from what Dr O’Connor cites as a serious concern. The quality of musical leadership needs improvement, especially in small parishes. We need for a more effective musical artistry infused into much of our sacred music. Faith communities that attend to both seem to do well regardless of genre.

        Investing in people means two things. It’s harder than rewriting Vatican II. It always pays off in the end because it’s better than focusing on things–the means to an end.

  3. Paul, you seem to want to pick a fight with someone here but I’m not sure who is going to fight with you on this. If you agree that propers are the liturgical text that should not be replaced, great. You want them in the vernacular, that can be tricky but that’s fine too. You like polyphonic settings, fabulous. If people sing them in Psalm tones, that’s an improvement over not using propers at all. Why do you have your fencing gear on?

    1. @Jeffrey Tucker – comment #4:

      Jeffrey, I’m really not trying to pick a fight. But I have encountered too many instances of musicians shoehorning pieces of Latin chant into celebrations where they simply didn’t fit, all for the sake of a principle. The result has often been to alienate people from a form which still has its place in our liturgy, rather than convert them to an appreciation of it.

      I regret that I clearly did not emphasize sufficiently the final thrust of my conclusion, which is a plea for greater discernment in exactly how we can best use Latin chant in today’s liturgy, coupled, I suppose, with a plea for chant enthusiasts not to succumb to the temptation to thrust their preferences down people’s throats. What I am asking for is dialogue, not a fight. But in order to have that dialogue, we first need to agree about historical facts.

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #7:
        As stated, I don’t think you will find much disagreement. The GR is not the magic book of music that works perfectly in every conceivable context, no matter how it is sung, where it is sung, and why it is sung. It is not the one and only answer to all musical issues. Absolutely.

  4. Two distinctions need to be made. (1) A statistical norm is not necessarily what is meant when we use the term “norm” in liturgical discussions. Even if few congregations – or even none – were using the classic Gregorian tones for the processional chants at any given time, the very fact (which you acknowledge) that in most cases the substitute pieces used the texts of the Gregorian antiphons, clearly demonstrates that the ancient Gregorian propers were held to be a sort of touchstone for what should be sung at those moments in the Mass. In other words, they remained normative, even when they were not normal. (2) This long-established custom of adapting the proper texts to music that was easier to sing or more congenial to the musical tastes of the day, is to be contrasted with the practice widely current today whereby not only the proper (Gregorian) melodies but even the proper texts are simply disregarded in the selection of music for Mass.

  5. Msgr. Wadsworth has spoken well. It would be historically consistent and liturgically desirable were the texts of the propers set to a variety of modern (and I say ‘modern’ in contradistinction to the so-called ‘contemporary’ genre). Composers have been setting the propers to polyphony and other anthem forms since the mediaeval era. Whether the propers are sung to chant or polyphony, or even simple SATB settings, it is clear from GIRM and the other documents cited above that they are the preferred musical options for the Roman rite mass.
    One is at pains, also, to point out that the documents cited above in support of ‘the other theory’, do not, in fact, necessarily infer that chant is not singable by the people – although those who, with ill-informed bias, would have us believe that it isn’t are legion. It is my experience that those who predictably shreek that ‘the people cannot sing this or that’, are stating really that they themselves are incompetent to teach it. Encouraging popular participation emphatically does not mean that chant is automatically disqualified. A very large portion of the chant repertory can be sung very well by entire congregations. Anglicans have been doing it for generations.
    Further, popular participation does not mean that the people have to sing everything that is sung. Parts of the Roman rite, such as the propers, are the legitimate domain of trained cantors and choirs.
    Like the sung mass itself, the propers are not a mere option or a thing added to the rite. They are normative and integral, and their absence means that something has been taken away.
    I do not write as one who dislikes hymns. Quite the contrary. But, clearly, they are not the preferred option of the GIRM, and are inherently extraneous to the Roman mass. One hasn’t experienced the Roman rite in all its inviolable beauty until one has entered into it whole and unspoiled by hymns and songs that are borrowed items.

  6. Paul, this is an excellent point of discussion. You are correct that Gregorian chant has not always been the norm, but some sort of chant has been with the Church since its earliest days. Even during the “dark years” of the 17th and 18th centuries, chant was still sung in some form. The documents you cite are rather recent in the history of Church music, and they seem to point to a desire to reclaim the ancient chant and discard the more secular forms that had established themselves. There has to be a reason for this, don’t you think?

    If you look back at local cathedral documents in the 16th and 17th centuries, you will see an appreciation for modern styles (whether operatic or more popular) but a strong desire to keep the rites from being trivialized to point of theater. The Church expresses her desire for chant’s ability to convey prayer better than any other form of music, while allowing more elaborate forms for their ability to offer humanity’s reflection of the God’s creative powers. The Renaissance humanists understood this. Over the past couple of centuries, however, I notice that clergy and musicians have followed a more Protestant attempt to “lure” people to the Church with attractive music. I have a serious distrust of this method for our Church, while admitting its relative success for the Salvation Army and Southern Baptists.

    In answer to the question of how do we incorporate chant? I see that as the wrong way around. How do we best bring in modern music to Mass in an age of popular music? A good composer should be able to create modern settings that keep chant (not necessarily Gregorian) as a foundation. I’m not a big Taize fan (too repetitive), but those settings are good start, I think. With a new collection of chant-inspired settings in place, the use of real Gregorian melodies on occasion would not seem nearly as out of place. I just won’t accept, however, that because some folks want to sing blues music in church, that the Church’s chant should be excluded for clashing.

  7. Just to add to what I said above, G chant embodies the ideal but does not exclude other approaches such as polyphony and hymns that use the proper text, as well as vernacular chant. However, if none of this is possible and parishes take recourse to other options, here we find the meaning of “other things being equal,” which is to say that G chant remains a first-place ideal even when it is not heard and used.

  8. Over the past two decades, I’ve come to believe the documents on this point are deliberately in tension (intentionally in tension?), and that the People of God (including priests, liturgists, scholars and musicians but with the people in the pews being especially the focus here) are being invited to discernment over time and through experience on this point. What does this mean? In practice, give the people regular exposure over a period of many years to all the options provided in the Missal for the propers, so that they are strangers to none of them but can discern with familiarity and provide fully informed direction and guidance to priests, liturgists, scholars and musicians.

    It’s a formula designed to frustrate those who are already wedded to an answer. And that’s a wonderful thing.

  9. I agree that preserving Gregorian Chant in the Roman Rite is praiseworthy, along with using other appropriate musical styles and hymnody consistent with the liturgical action and that incorporates the cultural background of the community. Does this mean retrieving and using only the Latin texts and original chant melodies for the propers and ordinary as found in the Graduale Romanum or the Liber Usualis?

    During high school and college (prior to Vatican II), our forward-looking parish had active participation in Sunday and weekday Masses for several years. People sang Gregorian versions of the ordinary from the Kyriale and a schola sang the propers from the Liber. Admittedly, that was a rarity in our archdiocese.

    As the liturgy reforms of Vatican II began in the mid-1960s, I became aware of how the Anglicans had preserved the plainchant tradition in their vernacular liturgies – basically transliterating the Gregorian melodies from the Kyriale (with minor adaptations) to the English texts. I purchased a record of these Anglican chants that included chant renditions of the English texts for Credo I and III along with the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei (from Mass IX-in honor of the BVM) Truly amazing and inspiring!

    With expanded use of the vernacular in the transitional “1965 Missal”, our parish used a simplified version of chant propers, “Plainsong Propers – Septuagesima to Easter Vigil”, published by the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood (O’Fallon, MO-1965). IMO this was an effective way to preserve the rationale and dynamics of Gregorian Chant by adapting it to the English texts. This version presented the “square notation” on the modern 5-line staff.

    Following Pius X’s directive that liturgical music should ideally reflect the style of Gregorian Chant, perhaps composers can develop a body of contemporary plainchant suited to the new English propers. I believe this might encourage their greater use in vernacular OF Masses – along with hymnody and other musical settings.

  10. Todd, I have to say that I have been visiting several churches in my area of S. Florida and have found that the mouths of the people are not emitting the song of the Church. Most of the churches here offer the usual fare, so no one can claim unfamiliarity. The people just aren’t singing. What’s left? I get to hear a cantor singing solo, the songs that were supposed to be easy enough and attractive enough for the congregation to sing. I’m sure there are plenty of counter examples out there, but I’ve found a whole diocese of folks who won’t sing. Is this what the Council envisioned?

  11. The GIRM speaks about the Graduale Romanum, not its translation; the Council spoke about Latin to be retained in the liturgy. I do not understand the issue when it is so plain that the Graduale is the first choice in the GIRM and the SC. Gregorian was used for all the Propers in a High Mass when I was a kid, but then I did not grow up in USA. Maybe it is something peculiar to Americans that they cannot accept Latin….

  12. Todd, I don’t know. Maybe because we have older congregations, but it’s embarrassingly silent in our churches. There are a couple who cover this up by playing rock and roll really loud, which really goes counter to the action on the altar in my mind. I’m glad your folks are singing, but I would be comfortable wagering that this is not the norm across the U.S.

    The answer? Choirs singing Gregorian chant? No, not exclusively. I think the answer lies in giving the congregation a distinct role, not a blanket request to sing everything. The dialogues are the place to start, in my mind. Choirs should be allowed to contribute music that a congregation cannot sing, even if it is part of the Ordinary on occasion. I’ll bet that most people would prefer a group singing elegant Gregorian chant at Communion rather than trying to sing and prepare to receive. Just a hunch.

    1. @Michael O’Connor – comment #19:
      Parishes that commit to good music leadership, and that might be either a professional heading music and/or liturgy, dedicated volunteers, a committed pastor, a local tradition, or some combination–these parishes are singing. They tend to hire people like me. But my current parish was singing well when I arrived. So I just try to keep to what works.

      But where I serve, many parishes in rural Iowa are small, lack resources for music leadership, and do the best they can. Some sing competently with a mainstream repertoire of hymns and post-conciliar songs. And some, where the reasons to sing (notably, faith) are absent, people don’t sing.

      I don’t trust completely turning the choir into a parallel priesthood, a subset of persons, even highly competent, to do something on behalf of the people they won’t or can’t do for themselves.

      The Church would prefer a well-formed laity singing the Mass, and singing their faith, and letting that song inspire them in their lives. For me, that’s somewhat stronger than a hunch.

      I think singing Catholic congregations are well within the realm of possibility. And more, I think they are essential to a renewed and reformed Catholic Church.

  13. I like to investigate things empirically. Someone in the first year of this blog pointed me to the Corpus Christi Watershed Latin chants. I incorporated those chants (while praying the full psalm text) into my daily treadmill walk for a year.

    What amazed me was the number of different psalms and canticles, many of them consecutive. I think the purposes of these chants was, in days with little literacy, to make available to the people the prayer book of Scripture, which the Fathers also saw as a compendium of formation in Christian life.

    Essentially that was also the purpose of the continuous recitation of the Psalter in monastic life. In the Orthodox Church these psalms are recited to a tone by the Reader not the choir or the people (who are sometimes seated). A good way to commit the psalms, or at least some of them to memory. I think the psalms at Mass are instruction (lectio divina) perhaps as much even more so than prayer directed toward God.

    All of the psalms were given by the cantors to accompany movements, essentially co-opting these times as times for scriptural formation as much as prayer.

    While I have many favorite Introit antiphons in the Advent-Christmas and Lent-Easter cycles, I really did not see the antiphons as that helpful in OT; moreover since I did the whole psalms, it was clear to me, especially outside OT that large sections of the psalm were relevant.

    My Bible study participants reported most of their knowledge and liking of the psalms came from the responsorial psalms at Mass.

    My conclusion use psalms often at the Introit, Offertory and Communion, and thereby restore the Psalter, and hopefully the Divine Office to the people.

    The psalms always in English, some Antiphons could be done in Latin. People don’t always have to sing the response between the verses. Have the people be seated for all three processions when using psalms. Have Psalters and Hymnals in the pews geared for both Mass and Office.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #20:
      My conclusion use psalms often at the Introit, Offertory and Communion, and thereby restore the Psalter, and hopefully the Divine Office to the people.

      The psalms always in English, some Antiphons could be done in Latin. People don’t always have to sing the response between the verses. Have the people be seated for all three processions when using psalms. Have Psalters and Hymnals in the pews geared for both Mass and Office.

    2. @Jack Rakosky – comment #20:
      My conclusion use psalms often at the Introit, Offertory and Communion, and thereby restore the Psalter, and hopefully the Divine Office to the people.

      The psalms always in English, some Antiphons could be done in Latin. People don’t always have to sing the response between the verses. Have the people be seated for all three processions when using psalms. Have Psalters and Hymnals in the pews geared for both Mass and Office.
      ————————————-

      I agree. Singing the psalms using recto tono, Gelineau melodies, Orland Gibbons, any number of traditional and contemporary Anglican composers of music for the psalms and canticles are excellent possibilities. A shortened Divine Office for use in parishes substituted for the introductory rite for the principle sunday or feast day Mass. With the Kyrie or Gloria and Asperges. Then start with the readings for the eucharist.

      The entrance rite prayers as we have them now in the Pauline rite could be used for smaller , or ferial or weekday celebrations.

  14. they/we are trying to promote as the norm something which in practice never was the norm during the past 600 years and more.

    True, but the same could be said for those who (laudably) promote all kinds of other norms, for example S.C. #55: “That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest’s communion, receive the Lord’s body from the same sacrifice, is strongly commended.”

    I believe making use of our great Gregorian Chant heritage requires much more subtlety and nuance than simply depositing dollops of Chant into the appropriate liturgical slots and assuming that this will do the trick.

    I would agree. For example, the form of the Introit developed to accompany an entrance procession followed by the incensation of the altar. I have noticed that when my choir sings a Introit from the Graduale Romanum and the celebrant omits the incensation, the celebrant is sometimes at the chair waiting before we are halfway through. In such circumstances an alternative option – something from the Simplex perhaps – is arguably more appropriate.

    To take another example, as regards participation, if the congregation is given few opportunities to sing generally but sings responsorial psalm refrains well, it would seem inopportune to sing a Gradual between the readings. If, on the other hand, all of the dialogues between ministers and congregation are sung, and the congregation sings the Ordinary parts well, Gregorian propers will be a much better fit.

    Paul Inwood, I would be (sincerely) interested in hearing more though about what you would consider to be nuanced and subtle use of chant in the liturgy.

  15. In reading these posts all the contributors, including Paul, are musicians of one form or another. I am but a parish priest who loves to praise God in song. I’m one of those “how can I keep from singing guys”. Ive always been somewhat bemused by those who speak of restoring or giving primacy of place to Gregorian chant. They can’t be talking about the normative way in which mass was celebrated using the “Tridentine” Missale Romanum. Outside of some monasteries and perhaps other religious communities, low mass was the norm in a church that had little or no sense of it being offered by priest and people. I suppose it is of historical interest that there places here and there where some effort was made to celebrate a higher, musical form of the mass. But to the best of my knowledge these efforts were not generally placed in the service of promoting greater participation. Weren’t they rather efforts to make the mass more beautiful and inspiring?
    On the other hand, what happened after SC is nothing short of miraculous. In pre- Vatican II parishes there were priest and sisters and housekeeper. After the renewed rite of the Mass introduced full, conscious, and active participation based of a baptismal birthright, ministries and services of various kinds began to flourish. Not only are people singing the Mass, but they’re practicing stewardship and evangelization. That there are fewer people at mass is because it is much clearer know that those who come are called to holiness. There’s not a lot of interest in that you know. Was there ever. The larger numbers reflected the hold that the fear of hell had on folks who were hedging their bets. Chant is beautiful, but few could care less about graduales, antiphons, and the liturgy of the hours. Friends, the city is burning and the emperor has no clothes. Thanks, Paul, for bringing this up.

  16. ‘ … The truth is that these texts are widely ignored and not generally sung in ANY musical form … ‘. (Msgr. Andrew).

    I’m not sure if the above IS true. At my parish, for example, some weeks ago, we sang ‘Eagles wings’ as the communion antiphon (although this psalm was ‘officially’ the offertory antiphon).

    When the introit is psalm 86, we sing ‘God of mercy and compassion, take pity on me’ (a very popular pre-vatican 2 hymn).

    When the introit is ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God … ‘, we sing ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God’ (a very popular 70’s ditty).

    Not infrequently, the reccomended psalm verses in the official books are interpolated with the choir singing these in full to psalm tone by Gregory Murray, for example.

    I do not wish to bore ‘Pray Tell’ bloggers by naming all of the huge variety of psalm-based choral and congregational music available which is so very close to the proper texts of the Mass.

    However, my view is that, Bernadette Farrell’s ‘Restless is the heart’; Bob Hurd’s ‘As the deer longs’; and S.S. Wesley’s ‘Lead me Lord’ are masterpieces, and have made the proper texts of the Church digestible to congregations (along with classic psalm-hymn-paraphrases, and even ‘charismatic ditties’).

    Perhaps going off-topic, but surely in Fr. Mike Joncas’ ‘Eagles wings’, the line: ‘Say to the lord my refuge, my rock in whom I trust’ is a direct quote of the Kyrie from ‘Orbis factor’.

    Okay, on a practical level, in my role as parish helper/musician, I am always looking for good singable music in any form, style or even language that will lead the parisioners I work for into prayer. And in a way that they will identify with.

    I am ambivalent about the exact translation or instrumentation used.

  17. [n.b. – and not to derail the conversation – as of comment #29, no women have participated in this discussion]
    I’ve been doing some research/reading the past couple of months that has included the Caecilian movement of the late 19th/early 20th c. It was, on the surface, a very influential movement … lots of official ecclesial directives about it, people in cathedrals and big churches were supportive of it, and it got lots of space in the journals … but, long-term, didn’t get utilized/implemented all that many places, and didn’t have much of a lasting effect.
    The archives here at WLP have a substantial number of well-done and faithful attempts to render the Gregorian Propers – most of which had a shelf life of less than 10 years. This observation, of course, will bring out all the decrying of commercialism and blindly following market forces. But I am fond of saying that the Holy Spirit can blow anywhere She wants – including sales reports. The “market” we are talking about we elsewhere name “Church” … so it’s not that glibly easy a discussion.
    If there’s a future for the proper texts, it seems to me that it will be gained through a diverse and creative approach to giving these texts to people in ways that will express faith, and will/can be sung.
    Veni, Creator Spiritus!

  18. Your thesis is based on false assumptions.

    First, singing hymns at Mass has never been the norm either for at least 1600 years, that is, except for the past 50, which does not speak favorably about where the Church has gone. I am not talking about the German lands which were already hostile towards Rome long before the Reformation. There has always been pressure to sing non scriptural texts in the Mass such as in Tropes and Sequences, which the Church constantly had to cleanse herself of. Yet the monasteries have continued the Gregorian tradition through the ages.

    Second, the best form of participation in liturgical music is to listen for the beauty of God that can appear in it. Catholics in the pews have traditionally not sung much because they were expecting to find this beauty in the liturgical music, as well as in all the Mass, but it seems all they get these days are crude pop jingles literally being shoved down their throats. Which is the more perfect active participation: hearing the beauty of God in the sung Scriptures (Propers), or making crude sounds from the mouth?

    Third, Gregorian is a living tradition. Its character can be found throughout the ages being expressed in different forms of music, whether in Alleluias, Missa de Angelis, the tenor lines in Palestrina, or themes found in composers over the past 500 years, including modern ones. Solesmes’ task was to restore the chant from the earliest known manuscripts. Unfortunately, many Gregorian style compositions from the ensuing centuries have been forgotten in the post Conciliar rush for antiquarianism in the Mass.

    Fourth, throughout the ages, only limited centers were able to have sung liturgies, primarily the cathedrals and important centers of learning because liturgical music was too important to be banalized. That is why the norm for Mass became the low Mass. But at least the Propers were said in the low Mass.

    Fifth, to repeat, the norm for the Mass was never meant to be the vernacular, but the Latin was to be retained.

  19. Maybe restoration is what the Church has in mind! I thought the typical reading was that the liturgy decayed – from at least the Middle Ages (and in mentality shifts possibly even from 313) onward – until revitalized and restored by the liturgical renewals of the twentieth century. Even if you set Trent as the “bad guy rubricism council”, then what was the norm for the 400 years leading up to Vatican II was not ideal. Right? Why is it acceptable to look back before Trent and the High Middle Ages for models of liturgical renewal, if changing things that have been the norm for 600 years is really “antiquarian” and “artificial”?
    That is the really strange thing about Paul’s post, to me. It would make sense coming from a die-hard advocate of the “Tridentine” liturgy – that is, someone who believes that the last 4-600 years were a high point of liturgical development. But how can you advocate Vatican II liturgical reform, and at the same time propose that the last 600 years should be normative musically?

    Second point – an irony, really. Isn’t it pretty obvious that the later medieval loss of the three processions (Introit reduced to an altar steps-to-chair walk, no communal Offertory, and extremely rare lay communion) played a part in the loss of the rich musical repertoire to accompany them? Of the three the Offertory fared best, just because of all the prayers and altar prep that gave time for music. The irony is that liturgical renewal and V2 restored the processions. Doesn’t a corresponding restoration of liturgical music to cover those renewed processions make perfect sense?

    A final irony – I have heard AWR say that the chant propers are a monastic tradition, not necessarily applicable to parish life. As regard s their composition/compilation, Jeffrey and McKinnon have different takes on that question. Still, the irony is that the entire Liturgical Movement originated as a monastic phenomenon – then extended to the parish and official legislation.

    1. @Jared Ostermann – comment #32:
      “A final irony – I have heard AWR say that the chant propers are a monastic tradition, not necessarily applicable to parish life. As regard s their composition/compilation, Jeffrey and McKinnon have different takes on that question. Still, the irony is that the entire Liturgical Movement originated as a monastic phenomenon – then extended to the parish and official legislation.”

      I think this is a good illustration of the monastic tradition as a place to experiment with and expand the life of the Church. I think it is wrong to attempt to turn every parish into a little imitation monastery, but without the monasteries to serve as a source for retreat and renewal, the Church would be far poorer.

  20. Allan:
    I realize you were making a point for this blog and I am sure you know that the idea of the Holy Spirit as “she” is not Catholic. But it is interesting that the main reason why the Church has traditionally banned non-scriptural texts (i.e. hymns) from being sung at Mass is to prevent the spread of heresy.

    1. @Victor Wowczuk – comment #33:
      It’s going to take a lot more than banning hymns to stop heresy. Lots of luck on that one.

      Metrical hymns are not necessarily “non-scriptural” are they?
      Look at some of the Charles and John Wesley favorites. You couldn’t get more scriptural. Anglicans have a rich and long treasury of them. Which any number of Catholic churches use and have used regularly for years.

  21. As one of the assembly I am so grateful for the comments of Fr. Feehily at post #25. Parish life is now so infused with the energy of God’s people, as is the celebration of mass. When the scripture readings and the homily are spoken by those to whom God has given a well trained tongue, then the people of God cannot keep from singing. It is such a natural response in a spirit filled assembly. Please remember that as our voices age, we may not have the range of our youth, but we can gloss over the flaws when we are one of many. As Mr. Saur said in comment #14, if you expose the assembly to many forms of musical prayer over several liturgical seasons, they will discern those that fit their assembly best. I thank all the musicians for their gifts on behalf of their parish families.

  22. As a follow-up to Victor’s comments, it is critical to distinguish between hymn-singing in general and hymn-singing at Mass. Hymns, in a lay or congregational sense, have been a part of the Catholic tradition since at least the New Testament (which both contains hymns and references their singing). However, the inclusion of congregational hymns at Mass is a much different question. There certainly are traditions – the Gloria and Sanctus were examples of congregational hymns for Mass, at least originally. The German sung High Mass is an example. The various Low Mass hymn traditions are examples. However the German practice was for many years illicit. And I don’t think any liturgists will hold up the Low Mass as an ideal of liturgical praxis.
    A little nuance would be nice. The idea of vernacular hymnody as the primary music of the Mass (as opposed to music to occupy the congregation during the priest’s celebration of Low Mass) is quite new, although a tradition of Catholic hymn-singing is not.

    1. @Jared Ostermann – comment #35:
      However the German practice was for many years illicit. And I don’t think any liturgists will hold up the Low Mass as an ideal of liturgical praxis.
      —————————————————
      Cardinal Ratzinger, as I recall in an interview , once mentioned with fondness the hymns sung in his childhood parish church in Bavaria. I don’t remember him addressing the liceity of the practice. Still common in German churches today.

      Lutheran-style chorale masses are and have been popular in Catholic churches in Germany and in midwestern and north central U.S. parishes going back to at least the 19th century.

  23. Michael O’Connor : Todd, I don’t know. Maybe because we have older congregations, but it’s embarrassingly silent in our churches. … I’m glad your folks are singing, but I would be comfortable wagering that this is not the norm across the U.S.

    I work in Kansas City, and have served the same parish for about 10 years. They sang when I got here, and they still sing. I make an effort to teach well and thoroughly, but not everything will fly no matter how well I teach it. They complain to me about stuff that’s too hard for them to sing (Mayernik’s Mass of St. Gregory, introduced this summer, was a resounding flop), or vote by non-participation if they don’t like a hymn (There is a Balm in Gilead was also a flop), but for the most part, they sing.

  24. To get back to Paul’s question: “Have the propers ever been the norm.”

    The propers that we have were probably composed for the papal Schola Cantorum c.600-700. They were hardly intended for the laity in the nave to sing. Moreover, the papal liturgy at that time was in no way considered normative for Latin Christianity. (Recall how Pope Hadrian answered Charlemagne’s father Pepin’s request for a sacramentary by sending one that was out of date by about 100 years.) It wasn’t until nearly 800 that these propers were being sung with any regularity out side of Rome, and then primarily by monks and cathedral canons. Can anyone point to a time after the imposition of the Roman liturgy on the west by the Carolingians and before Trent, other than isolated instances, when the processional propers were sung by the lay assembly and not the choir/schola alone?

    The propers contain excellent texts, and some of the finest music of the western European tradition (though it is not all so great). The use of them may now be considered normative by many (and I’m not saying here that that isn’t a good thing), and prefered (usually in a qualified way) by the church’s official documents, but the historical bases for this, in terms of both universal use and performance by the assembly, is weak at best.

    Now I have to run to direct the music rehearsal for the monthly Ecumenical Taize service at my parish.

    1. @David Mathers – comment #37:
      Thank you, David. You have provided an important corrective. While I respect the traditional texts of the processional antiphons, we need to be reminded of the context for which and within which they were originally compiled – namely, the papal liturgy in the city of Rome in the 7th/8th century. Thus for example, the introit for the 2nd Sunday of Advent is ‘Populus Sion’. WHy? Because the stational church for tha papal liturgy that day was the basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem. Sion-Jerusalem – get it? Hardly relevant elsewhere.

      And the scriptural understanding of the psalm texts was of its day. If you look at the introit for Easter Sunday – ‘Resurrexi et adhic sum tecum’ – you won’t find any reference to resurrection in any modern version of Psalm 139(138).

      As for the allocation of psalms to processional antiphons in Ordinary Time, they are mainly in numerical order – an obvious sign of arbitrary assignment.

      For all the suitability of the refrain/verse form for processions, most of the texts are too long for use as popular refrains – because they were compiled for singing by scholae. What has been achieved since Vatican II has been the restoration of the processions in a form that pre-dates the compilation of the processional antiphons by several centuries. By the time they were compiled, there was no offertory procession, and little or no communion procession, because communion of the laity had become rare – and was to stop entirely at High Mass by the 11th century. The entrance procession was necessary because Roman basilicas had their ‘secretarium’ or sacristy at the ‘west’ end, and there had to be some decent way of accompanying the pope to the altar. In most churches (and I remember the 1950s), the entrance procession at High Mass was a few yards from the sacristy by side door into the sanctuary, and of course there was no offertory procession and no people’s communion.

      (To be continued…)

      1. @John Ainslie – comment #38:
        (Conclusion:)
        We need also to consider that each of the three processions is different from the laity’s point of view. Their participation in the communion procession is indeed bodily, which demands memorable refrains to free them from carrying anything. But their participation in the offertory procession is by representation, and in the entrance procession entirely vicarious.

        Then there is, for the very first time in official liturgical documentation, the guidance provided in GIRM (##47, 86) regarding the purpose of the entrance and communion processions and of the music to accompany them (there is no particular guidance for the song at the preparation of the gifts). Does an entrance song in which the people have no vocal part give them the right sense of being required to be involved in the liturgical action? Even the late Professor László Dobszay, champion of liturgical conservatism, recommended a popular hymn before the singing of the introit to chant – for that very purpose, I believe.

        Yes, this is a good time to review what we sing as processional songs in the liturgy. By all means take the traditional texts into account. But they are not automatic solutions to the liturgical requirement.

  25. John, your point about the “restoration of the processions in a form that pre-dates the compilation of the processional antiphons by several centuries,” is well taken. One might, however, look to Ordo Romanus I, to see evidence of full blown, if not processions, some kind of lengthy ceremonial in these 3 “soft moments” (to paraphrase Taft) accompanied by chant. Did the assembly at the papal Easter Sunday Mass in Santa Maria Maggiore c. 700 or earlier “sing along” with the schola? Maybe, but the point is we really have no evidence of any such practice outside of the papal stational Mass, prior to its imposition in Francia in the 8th century. (More could be said re the plus/minus of OR I as a (the?) touchstone of the current liturgical reform.
    More basically, the idea of the reformed liturgy we have recieved in our lives today is not to attempt to return to any ancient form for its own sake. For all of Gueranger’s necessary work, that was his major misunderstanding. The liturgy can never be about preserving/restoring what was appropriate to another time and place for its own sake. It’s about what achieves the aims of the liturgy for God’s people today. If examining ancient, or not so ancient, practices provides us a clue to how to do things well today, that’s great – either use that rite, or let it influence the development of a new form. If it makes no sense now, we leave it aside.

    Guidance such as GIRM 47 and 86, is indeed what we should be relying on first in working within the liturgy given to us, and these first principles are are to be applied to the circumstances of each local community. Despite their status as law they are often overlooked or, frankly (no pun intended), massaged to suit a cultural bias. The list of “options” for the Entrance Chant, for example, must be understand within the context of of GIRM 47 for your community. If the Introit in the Gradual doesn’t answer 47 than move on down the list.

    1. @David Mathers – comment #40:
      Good insights. Let’s keep aware also that the “option” lists of GIRM 47-48 are two. First comes the order of preference of who should sing:
      – sung alternately by the choir and the people or
      – similarly by a cantor and the people, or
      – entirely by the people, or
      – by the choir alone.
      And only then is given the order of preference of what should be sung. My sense is that if the people aren’t singing the Gregorian antiphon or chanting the psalm verses, we move on to another musical choice.

  26. There is a basic principle here that seems to be misunderstood by many of those who have commented on this blog post – the GIRM lists PRIORITIES not OPTIONS. The Liturgy is something we receive from the Church not something we make for ourselves. This principle does not in any way limit the legitimate diversity of style which the Church permits in relation to liturgical music but rather explains the norms that govern it.

    A continual ignoring or explaining away of these principles, so recently reinterated, just seems to be an attempt to justify the status quo. Fifty years after Sacrosanctum concilium, we have a wonderful opportunity to appraise the experience of the past in the light of the documents that contain the principles which govern our liturgical life. In so doing, we may discover that it is possible (and even desirable) to do some things differently. My sense is that most people would welcome this.

    1. @Msgr Andrew Wadsworth – comment #42:
      THE GIRM lists lots of things as mandates, priorities, and options. “Options” is not a dirty word. It enables the parish priest, in consultation with his parishioners, to serve the highest needs of the faith community. Even as GIRM lists priorities, the paramount concern is the “sanctification of the faithful,” not the absolute letter of the liturgy.

      Granted, over the centuries, some elements have been found so universally embraced that they are never abrogated: the words of institution, the proclamation of the Gospel, and so forth. There is a hierarchy of “adherence” within the liturgy according to the importance of the part of the Mass.

      When I read the first choice of the second set of options in GIRM 48 (USA):

      ” …. the antiphon from the Missal or the antiphon with its Psalm from the Graduale Romanum, as set to music there or in another setting,” I take that text very seriously during a liturgical season, when I know the harmony with the Lectionary and season is greater, and perhaps less so in ordinary time when I know little effort may have been made to match the Missal antiphon.

      Even so, I will carefully note which psalm (or occasionally in the case at communion, the Gospel phrase) and program accordingly, keeping in mind the priorities given in 48a. And if it happens that the antiphon or psalm is set by a contemporary composer well known to our people, I slot the piece and consider my task accomplished.

      You claim GIRM 48 and 86 are ignored. I don’t see that in most of the print publications with music selections. I didn’t experience that when I visited the parish of a noted NPM member for Sunday Mass last month.

      Granted, most volunteer parish musicians are unaware of the particulars of the GIRM. The antiphons are something an occasional persnickety priest mutters at daily Mass, the bold print in the daily Missal.

      Even the priorities are a means to an end. If that end is a deeper sense of liturgical spirituality among the laity, I want to work toward that. I will tell you I don’t get the sense that ICEL is terribly concerned about it. Why? The pullback from wide consultation of the 80’s and 90’s, the lost focus on education and formation, the unwillingness to listen and regard the experience of clergy and laity who work with the liturgy. When I see your persistent misdiagnosis in the news, I’m not sure I can trust the ICEL perspective or its remedies.

      Sure, I’ll implement as my bishop and pastor direct. But I don’t see this recent work as moving the greater mandates of the Church.

  27. “the liturgy is something we receive from the Church”

    Who – if not “we” – is the Church? We receive the official rites from the hierarchy, but (to paraphrase the maxim about the Eucharist) we, the Church, then make the liturgy, while simultaneously the liturgy makes us. If one thinks that the Church is something/somebody other than all those baptized in water and the Spirit, who are united in that Spirit as the Body of Christ to offer the sacrifice of praise again and again to the Father, then “the liturgy is something we receive from the Church” is an impossibility.

  28. The word option is in fact the word that appears in GIRM 48 in the USA: “there are four options.”

    Granted that items are traditionally listed in according to the prefered option. But in attempting to apply GIRM 47, most parishes in the USA have reached the conclusion, in the case of the Entrance Chant, that the Gradual from the GR will not fulfill GIRM 47.

    The antiphon from the missal is also listed as part of the first priority. But one should recall that in the previous GIRM, that was not listed at all. Little priority, thereofore, has been given by composers, to setting these often unwieldly prose texts whose appearence in the “Sacramentary” seemed an anachronism as well as an implication that they belonged to the priest-celebrant (see definition of sacramentary). After all he said them inaudibly in the unreformed liturgy, and even after the reform frequently continued to say them himself at most of the Masses he would celebrate (weekdays). So what might have been at least in some cases a plausible idea, setting the missal antiphons to music for the assembly to sing, lay dormant until relatively recently.

    Which will bring me to the idea that someone is attempting to maintain a status quo. But alas, I must meet with a couple to help them plan there wedding music…

  29. In discussing options, it’s always important to remember GIRM 20:

    20. Since, however, the celebration of the Eucharist, like the entire Liturgy, is carried out by means of perceptible signs by which the faith is nourished, strengthened, and expressed, the greatest care is to be taken that those forms and elements proposed by the Church are chosen and arranged, which, given the circumstances of persons and places, more effectively foster active and full participation and more aptly respond to the spiritual needs of the faithful. [My emphases]

    1. @Paul Inwood – comment #47:
      Thank you, Paul for this reminder.

      Whenever liturgical leaders, clergy or liturgists or musicians make choices, they should consider the needs of the community above other human factors, especially their personal preferences or desires.

      With respect to those who tout the notion of continuity, participation is a much, much greater conciliar principle. You find it all through the documents that follow up SC, practically everywhere in the praenotandae, not to mention in many non-liturgical documents like Ad Gentes and the General Directory for Catechesis. Continuity, not so much.

      It must also be said that when a faith community has achieved a certain level of maturity, its leaders are responsible for moving the people further forward in liturgical practice. We’ve accomplished the restoration of psalmody in the Liturgy of the Word. We’ve made progress in ritual music for the sacraments. It might then be time to consider more seriously the texts of the propers, if they haven’t been drawn into discernment. And yes, it would certainly be time to consider the extent of the chant repertoire of the parish, especially that which can be easily and readily shouldered by the people. And if the two coincide with deep participation, not with overtones of the modernist entertainment approach to music, then well and good. I want to retire to that parish.

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #51:
        It must also be said that when a faith community has achieved a certain level of maturity, its leaders are responsible for moving the people further forward in liturgical practice. We’ve accomplished the restoration of psalmody in the Liturgy of the Word. We’ve made progress in ritual music for the sacraments. It might then be time to consider more seriously the texts of the propers, if they haven’t been drawn into discernment. And yes, it would certainly be time to consider the extent of the chant repertoire of the parish, especially that which can be easily and readily shouldered by the people. And if the two coincide with deep participation, not with overtones of the modernist entertainment approach to music, then well and good. I want to retire to that parish.
        Much more to agree with here, thank you. But you notice that I’m curious if there’s a presumption of equivilence between the terms “faith community” and “parish” in your vision as articulated? The mere existence of this forum, many others, NPM, CMAA, Adoremus and the hundreds of other international “guild” organizations attests to the extent reality that many of we “leaders” take our responsibilities quite seriously. But even that must not remain blind to the corresponding failure of coherence, solemnity, gravitas and other descriptors in terms of assessing what “we’ve accomplished” according to your litany of goals above. The mere acknowledgment of the establishment of psalmody and paraphrased psalmody in hymnals, new Ordinary settings in the vernaculars, etc. does not, as you know, provide proof that parish leadership is now arrived and has effectively guided parish/faith communitiees’ practices in worship that are consentually regarded as “arrived.” As I mentioned elsewhere, all parishes are not “created equal” or endowed with the same resources. But they do all have access, used or ignored, to the Church’s resources and wisdom, regardless of…

      2. @Charles Culbreth – comment #56:
        “But you notice that I’m curious if there’s a presumption of equivilence between the terms “faith community” and “parish” in your vision as articulated?”

        No. Parish is a subset of a larger group that includes religious communities, seminaries, schools, oratories, mission outposts, base communities, and others that don’t come to my mind at this moment. I’m aware it’s a linguistic flashpoint for some Catholics, but I think it accurately describes the reality.

        And while I might prefer to retire to a monastery, my wife will undoubtedly have something to say about that. I’m merely anticipating her wishes.

        And sure, communities can go backward in liturgical practice with poor leadership. My bottom line: whatever gets the people singing the most Scripture. And praying it. And living it.

        As for how singing takes place during Communion, my parish singers and musicians leave the music area in shifts, depending on the needs of the particular piece. Sometimes a CM brings the Eucharist to the accompanist. Sometimes, if I’m in a playful mood, I’ll surprise the folks and drop off accompaniment to go receive the Eucharist.

  30. This brings me to say that recognizing the limits to the use of the Graduale Romanum at parish liturgies cannot be considered maintaining any kind of status quo. In fact GIRM 41 implies that Gregorian chant will have a limited use in most communities: chant is given “the main place, all things being equal,” and it is desired that the faithful learn to sing “at least some parts of the Ordinary in Latin…according to the simpler settings.”

    Rather, I would say that in response the call of Pius X (Motu proprio of 1903) and his successors, many expert composers and poets have long searched earnestly and with some success for a style of sacred congregational song appropriate to a modern parish or cathedral. Full and regular success has proven somewhat elusive in the face of the 20th century divide between popular and classical idioms, not to mention mass market pressures. But the church needs to better reward and support excellence as well as to improve the theoretical and practice liturgical music training available in university and seminary to both clergy and musicians. Nevertheless there are those who continue to move church music forward by developing “other kinds of sacred music…that…correspond to the spirit of the liturgical action and…foster the participation of all the faithful.” (GIRM 41).

    My apologies for the spelling/grammar errors in the previous post.

  31. What if we thought of chant, not only as an alternative to parts of the liturgy that are commonly sung in a different style, but as an alternative to parts of the liturgy that are commonly spoken?

    Musicam Sacram, which came out in those “middle” years after Sacrosanctum Concilium but before the reformed liturgy was fully promulgated, put forth a hierarchical schema for how the mass should be sung to enable participation. It may be worth looking at its logic, and comparing it to how our masses are actually sung today. Note particularly those listed in the first degree.

    “28 … different degrees of participation are put forward here for reasons of pastoral usefulness, so that it may become easier to make the celebration of Mass more beautiful by singing, according to the capabilities of each congregation.

    “These degrees are so arranged that the first may be used even by itself, but the second and third, wholly or partially, may never be used without the first. In this way the faithful will be continually led toward an ever greater participation in the singing.

    “29. The following belong to the first degree:

    “(a) In the entrance rites: the greeting of the priest together with the reply of the people; the prayer.

    “(b) In the Liturgy of the Word: the acclamations at the Gospel.

    “(c) In the Eucharistic Liturgy: the prayer over the offerings; the preface with its dialogue and the Sanctus; the final doxology of the Canon, the Lord’s Prayer with its introduction and embolism; the Pax Domini; the prayer after the Communion; the formulas of dismissal.

    “30. The following belong to the second degree:

    “(a) the Kyrie, Gloria and Agnus Dei;

    “(b) the Creed;

    “(c) the prayer of the faithful.

    “31. The following belong to the third degree:

    “(a) the songs at the Entrance and Communion processions;

    “(b) the songs after the Lesson or Epistle;

    “(c) the Alleluia before the Gospel;

    “(d) the song at the Offertory;

    “(e) the readings of Sacred Scripture, unless it seems…

  32. After all the references above to “illicit” hymn singing in German Churches, I’m wondering about the role of imposing rules from Rome on liturgical matters had in jump starting the Reformation!

  33. (previous comment continued – it appears I exceeded the allowable space)

    ” … more suitable to proclaim them without singing.”

    It is interesting that quite a bit of discussion in this topic has focused on the responsorial psalm and the processions – yet Musicam Sacram envisioned those as being of the third degree. Much, probably most, of what is listed as being of the first degree is spoken today as much as, or more than, it is sung.

    As it happens, the priests at the parish I belong to do chant the collect on Sundays, and they do chant the preface to the Eucharistic Prayer. I would guess our parish is in the minority in this respect.

    I wouldn’t insist that MS’s schema be followed to the letter. But perhaps there is some wisdom in its prescriptions, that could be ported to the missal of Paul VI? The nature of chant, istm, is well-suited for dialogue and for presidential prayers.

  34. of our pedestrian squabbles over what “options” means bottom line.
    My second observation poses to you a question regarding implementing your interpretation of FACP, and I’ll pose it in a scenario: You have a very large congregation at all Masses. This requires the licit use of EMHC’s to help with the distribution of HC. After the fraction, the celebrant’s/deacon’s reception, they proceed to communicate to the EMHC’s prior to processing to the nave. (Can’t change my scenario, btw, by re-ordering the sequence of events.) During this period when the EMHC’s are receiving, do you consider it appropriate that either a cantor or choir/schola take up the singing of the Communio on behalf of the Faithful, and then, as the cantor/choir communicates, the Communio “chant/hymn/song” is ostensibly sung by all gathered as accompaniment to that procession? Simple question.

      1. @KLS #59

        Yes, yes, Liam, that’s precisely what we do out here, just a mis-speak while trying to type and listen to a “honey do” list provided me during lunch!

  35. Todd, in 61 sez:
    Parish is a subset of a larger group that includes religious communities, seminaries, schools, oratories, mission outposts, base communities, and others … Todd, I simply reply that at best, your definition of “parish” incorporates simultaneously a Louisiana secular model and negates (the likely genetical origin) the definition wherein “parish” is hardly a subset, but the demographic scaffold.
    I hate to point out, but you chose not to address both my major concerns directly, choosing platitudes as panacea. Why? Speculation would suggest a sort of Hebrews in the desert resignation: all parishes received the decalogue from Moses, but have drifted away from the discipline of the trek for a softer conciliation. Not the case.
    Tons of “leaders,” lay and cleric, have never heard either your version of the liturgical covenant or the curia’s. So, can you please not speak in global generalities?
    And you did not in any way answer my question as to whether you would endorse the singing of the Communio in the scenario I specified. Play fair, please.

    And for the record, I don’t regard this this dialogue as some sort of of gender-based exhibition. As a (happenstance) male, I’ve taken body blows, arrows, and the most brutal raised-eyebrow of academic derision here. So, can we dispense with that aspect as some sort of qualifier?

  36. Last week I attended an OF funeral with the ‘standard’ hymn accompaniment, at least for that diocese. Before the committal a cantor sang in paradisum, which I found quite interesting given that the Mass was celebrated entirely in English. However, I realized that there was no translation for in paradisum in the leaflet. I suspect that for almost everyone there, the chant was merely ornamental music and not an integral part of the committal rite. The profound metaphor of the chant was lost, even if a prose translation of in paradisum would not have captured the nuance of the Latin.

    There are many other aspects of the reformed funeral rite which I believe have been suppressed for little reason, such as the recitation or chanting of asperges me during the sprinklings. This, and the rather poor integration of in paradisum into the funeral liturgy pales in significance when the bereaved receive emotional solace from the hymns. Sure, the hymns often selected at funerals of the reformed rite are not connected to plainsong tradition of the Church. Still, is not the comfort of the sorrowing as important as historical congruence? I doubt that Lazarus received a solemn high Mass at his death, and yet he is the metaphorical forerunner of a good Christian death.

  37. Thank you, Paul, for taking the time (lots, I’m sure) to gather up this documentation concerning the preservation of Gregorian chant Mass propers in the Latin Church.

    I find it most interesting that, already by the second comment, some commentators want to move the discussion in the direction of “propers qua texts.” That’s what really must be our concern, says Monsignor Wadsworth. To that I say, “No, that’s not enough.”

    Yes, Gregorian chant Mass propers need to be preserved – in Latin. And by that, I mean BOTH the text and the plainsong music. We have already seen in the period from the mid-1960’s to the early 1970’s (as Alan Hommerding has referenced) attempts by musicians to “white out” the Latin texts and replace them with their English translations. One composer called this music “verna canto.” It preserved the chant melody intact, but it was not successful. For some reason singing the second syllable of an English word under a fifteen note melisma did not produce the same satisfying result as singing the second syllable of a Latin word under the same notes. “Verna canto” did not work in the ‘70’s, and it won’t work today. Today’s composers, don’t go down that path; it’s a dead end.

    And that the executive secretary of ICEL, no less, should say that the real concern should be with the texts of the propers, not the musical idiom! How does this bait and switch fulfill the desire expressed in the documentation above to preserve the treasury of Gregorian chant, all things being equal, of course (which they never are)? Sorry, Monsignor, this documentation is referring to the wedding of text and plainsong melody. If it’s a new composition in a different idiom, it’s not Gregorian chant.

    As to English texts for the propers, ICEL either dropped the ball or it punted when it came time to prepare the English versions of the entrance and communion antiphons in the MR3 sacramentary. They used the translation from The Revised Grail Psalms; they neither asked for nor received the approval of any conference of bishops; and then, of course, Vox Clara came in and changed whatever they wanted at the eleventh hour. Sure, I like the RGP, but I do not buy into the mantra that has been spouted by the CDWDS for the past 20 years or more that English-speaking people should all be using the same translation of the Bible and the psalter. Our people can handle psalm 23 whether the refrain be “My shepherd is the Lord,” “The Lord is my shepherd,” or “Shepherd me, O God.”

    And, as Xavier Rindfleisch has pointed out on several occasions, something in the Latin Vulgate texts of some of these antiphons which made them appropriate selections for particular Sundays or feast days gets completely lost when a psalter translation of the original Hebrew text, rather than the Vulgate, is used.

    And what has happened to these “English propers.” Apparently the texts in the 2011 sacramentary have no canonical status. Composers are free to make their own translation. (Remember, this is from ICEL, the guardian of our English liturgical translations!) And now the Internet has become the locus for aspiring composers to get their “propers” out there. Neither the music nor the text is or needs to be approved by anyone. Since the texts of the entrance and communion antiphons in the 2011 sacramentary are copyrighted, the composers certainly can’t use those on the Internet. So they devise their own texts. And when it comes to adding extra psalm verses, since both the RGP and NAB psalters are also copyrighted, these can’t be used either. So why not use Douay-Rheims or even the Authorized Version?

    And this is what the “propers aficionados” are bringing to the Church’s table of musical fare these days. Some of the same folks who do not think it is sufficient that the Archbishop of Chicago alone approve for publication a hymnal-service book for use in Roman Catholic parishes have no problems at all with these “English propers” (many times no more than a text set to a psalm tone) receiving no ecclesiastical scrutiny. Some of the same Internet sites also post hymn texts that are proposed for use in the liturgy, even though these too have received no ecclesiastical approval.

    These new development are not preserving Gregorian chant Mass propers.

  38. Fr. Ron, you clearly have an admirable love for Gregorian chant, and particularly the proper antiphons. Might I inquire how often the proper antiphons in their original form are used at your parish?

    1. @Tony Ball – comment #65:
      This whole discussion confuses me as a lowly parish pastor who is not a musician but likes to sing and likes good cantors, scholas, choirs and liturgy. However, in my 32 years as a priest and ever since I was a teenager shortly after the Mass began to be revised, I’ve never heard until well into this 21st century the propers of the Mass chanted in Latin or spoken in English or chanted in English on Sunday except when the Mass was spoken and the Entrance and Communion antiphons of the day recited from what was printed in the missalette. The sung Mass always used hymns that were suppose to tie into the theme of the Scriptures or what was happening at the particular point in the Liturgy.

      I guess if we had preserved at least Latin Chant for the Introit and Offertory and Communion Antiphons and allowed metrical hymns in addition to these that we’d have a marvelous tradition by now of both, but we don’t.

      I’m all in favor of the schola or cantor chanting these parts in Latin either in the simple or more complex ways allowed by the Gradual. But I’m reluctant to ditch the tradition of hymn singing we’ve cultivated since Vatican II also. Can’t we have both?

      But it seems to me if Anglicans can have marvelous chants in English, surely the Latin Rite can have them also. That was the old story told us in the 1970’s that Gregorian Chant wouldn’t fit English so we went to something else, namely hymns or other genres of music. But it seems to me that we can have chant in English, it is just a matter of creating it and doing it over the long haul and creating and enforcing the liturgical law that these must be chanted in the sung Mass and never substituted.

  39. Tony,

    Unfortunately I am not now a pastor. The parishes in Orlando where I preside at the liturgy as a weekend supply priest do not ever sing the proper antiphons. One of the parishes does not even sing very good hymns as a substitute! (Suffering is part of the human condition.) Our cathedral is introducing more and more chant these days, thanks be to God.

    When I was a music director in Greenwich, CT, and Lubbock, TX (1969-1981) I programmed quite a bit of chant at the choir Mass, more at communion than at the entrance. I also composed tons of Simple Gradual refrains for use at all Masses in Greenwich. (No one seemed to be interested in what I was doing in those days. I have a box of the stuff in my garage if any publisher out there is interested.) If I were again a music director or a pastor today, I would NOT do what you refer to in your question, namely sing only “the proper antiphons in their original form.” I have never favored turning either the entrance processional or the communion processional into a time for a musical medley. Preferably I would do only ONE musical selection. I would add more psalm verses, if necessary, and I would not find anything wrong with singing the antiphons in Latin and the psalm verses in the vernacular.

    Still, I make it clear, I would use all the options available for the music to accompany the entrance and communion processionals. Perhaps a Gregorian antiphon twice a month or so, on average; seldom during ordinary time, more so during the other seasons and feasts when the antiphons are more related to the entire liturgy of the day.

    I’m fairly certain that I’ve seen nothing on Internet sites which I’ve thought was very good. (Again, I’m not really interested in “English propers”, in light of what I said in my previous post.) And, it’s usually the case that composers use Internet sites because no publisher is interested in their compositions.

  40. And, as Xavier Rindfleisch has pointed out on several occasions, something in the Latin Vulgate texts of some of these antiphons which made them appropriate selections for particular Sundays or feast days gets completely lost when a psalter translation of the original Hebrew text, rather than the Vulgate, is used.

    Thank you, Father, for this. It is my understanding that the initial translation of propers for the RM2010 was from the Vulgate, NOT the Revised Grail. They were indeed much better, or at least the ones I saw. Of course, not sure who changed this, but sad nonetheless.

    I hate to be contrary, but regarding Paul Inwood’s OP: is this even the right question to ask? Why not try to make the propers at least more of the norm, provided the parish has been catechized? Again, not the only option, repertoire-wise, but “the norm”. To me, determining whether they were the norm is a bit of fretting over long-spoiled, spilled milk. In my mind, it’s a bit like saying, “We’ve been trying to tell if the Church [that is, the people of God] was normally ‘holy’ throughout time. They haven’t been, so I guess it’s okay if we’re not, too.” Why not try?

    1. @Bruce Ludwick, Jr. – comment #69:

      It is my understanding that the initial translation of propers for the RM2010 was from the Vulgate, NOT the Revised Grail. They were indeed much better, or at least the ones I saw. Of course, not sure who changed this, but sad nonetheless.

      The initial translation of the Entrance and Communion antiphons for RM2008 was one of the last tranches of work to be done. ICEL’s small group of translators entrusted with this task realized that there was a problem with rendering these antiphons in strict accordance with the principles of Liturgiam Authenticam and they therefore petitioned the Congregation for permission to produce a version which would be more singable. This request was granted, and the group’s resulting work was very good.

      Alas, Mgr James Moroney suddenly woke up to the fact that these antiphons were originally included in MR 1970 as placeholders. (Where had he been for the previous 30 years? This was public knowledge decades ago.) They were included in order to keep the Gregorian Chant aficionados happy, but the intention was never that these actual texts were to be used in the vernacular, nor that they should ever be sung as they stand. He and Cardinal George therefore conspired to remove the antiphons from the approval process of the USCCB, despite protests by Bishop Trautman and others. The antiphons would henceforth be dealt with exclusively by the Congregation and Vox Clara.

      Fast forward two years to RM2010 and you have a completely new translation of the antiphons (the ones the ICEL group had worked on were simply dumped), produced without reference to any Bishops’ Conference, without reference to the desirability or otherwise of singing them, and without reference to ICEL. No one could work out where they had come from until I spotted that all the psalmic antiphons were using the Revised Grail Psalter verbatim. (Perhaps someone else has worked out which translation the non-psalmic scriptural ones make use of.)

      Such is the recent history of these antiphons.

      Now we are being asked to sing them in the vernacular as they stand, despite the fact that this was never the original intention of the revisers of the Missal in the late 1960s and despite the fact that they have been produced without reference to music as such. The revisers preserved the antiphons as a reminder to us that we should be singing something at these points in the Mass, but not necessarily these actual texts. It’s a strange world.

  41. Let’s just be honest about this.

    I am not being homophopic, but latin & plainchant appeal to a very tiny minority of ‘christians’ (wealthy gay American right-wing ‘catholics’).

    Let these poofters / faggotts get on with it, but do not impose this on the People of God.

  42. The idea of antiphons as musical place-holders is misleading and I think unhelpful. Antiphons are by their nature sung texts and this has certainly always been a guiding thought in the preparation of ICEL translations. The antiphons in the Roman Missal are frequently those of the Graduale Romanum and more recent changes evident in the Latin of the third typical edition of the Missal evidence this connection (e.g. on Easter Day the Entrance antiphon now reflects the Graduale introit text).

    While it is clear that the GIRM speaks of priorities for different possibilities at the moments when these antiphons occur in the liturgy, the notion that they merely indicate where there should be song seems to reinforce a ‘Low Mass with music’ concept, in contrast to the GIRM principle that music is integral.

    1. @Msgr Andrew Wadsworth – comment #76:

      The idea of antiphons as placeholders may be unpalatable, but it was in the mind of the revisers. The testimony for this is no less than Mgr Pierre Jounel, who was on the working group responsible for the antiphons. He was quite clear that the Latin antiphons were only retained in the 1970 Missale Romanum in order to (and I use his own language) “placate the Gregorianists” so that they could continue to sing the elaborate pieces of plainchant from the preconciliar Graduale Romanum and Liber Usualis.

      However, for vernacular celebrations the group always envisaged that other sung items would be used at these points in the rites, and moreover those other sung items would relate more closely to the three-year Lectionary cycle than the present antiphons do (which is to say, often only one year in three and fairly frequently not at all). The revisers did not say that the antiphon-and-psalm form should not be used — quite the reverse — but they certainly envisaged sung items that would be not only more relevant to the scriptures of the day but would also be more “assembly-friendly” than they felt the traditional chants were.

      I realize we have drifted away somewhat from the original topic of this post which is whether the Gregorian Chant manifestation of these antiphons was ever in practice the norm in more than a miniscule proportion of celebrations, even though in theory it may have been supposed to be. But linking back to the revisers just mentioned, it could even be that their realization that the use of chant propers was scarcely supported in the vast majority of celebrations was what prompted them in their desire to find a pastoral solution to the problem.

      The problem has not gone away, and we seem to be not much closer to finding a pastoral solution. Indeed, it seems that for some the only solution they can envisage is the re-imposition of what was never actually used in most celebrations.

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #73:
        He was quite clear that the Latin antiphons were only retained in the 1970 Missale Romanum in order to (and I use his own language) “placate the Gregorianists” so that they could continue to sing the elaborate pieces of plainchant from the preconciliar Graduale Romanum and Liber Usualis.

        This makes no sense. If the antiphons were “only retained” as placeholders for the chant texts then a) they would match the chant texts and b) there wouldn’t be rubrics requiring that they be recited when the Mass is not sung.

        Indeed, it seems that for some the only solution they can envisage is the re-imposition of what was never actually used in most celebrations.

        As Bruce Ludwick points out above, that the ideal was rarely executed says little about whether it is a good ideal or not. It’s not an obvious hammer you can use to pound those who disagree with you about what the ideal should be. As Luther reminds us: “Abusus non tollit, sed confirmat substantiam.”

      2. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #75:

        Samuel, all I can say in response to your point is that GIRM was clearly the result of compromises, and indeed continues to be so in its latest revision which still contains some of the internal contradictions which were there in 1969.

        The instruction that antiphons be recited if there is no singing is a good example. What is the underlying value behind such an instruction? To get through a set of words just because they happen to be in a book? That’s the liturgical sin of ritualism. Mgr Wadsworth is quite correct when he says that antiphons are meant to be sung. The question that Jounel and others asked us (and we still haven’t grasped it) is “Which antiphons?”

  43. @Paul Inwood, comment #70:

    Paul, forgive me, of course I meant that the 2008 RM was the one with the Nova Vulgata antiphons. 2010 is Grail, as you say.

    I have to agree with Msgr. Wadsworth: the placeholder theory may be true, but it is also true that many of those antiphons correspond to those in the GR. In addition, Solesmes did their best to make the 1974 GR correspond better to the new order of Mass, especially regarding the communion antiphons for each of the three liturgical years.

    1. @Bruce Ludwick, Jr. – comment #74:

      I find it quite significant that by no means all of the antiphons in the MR 1970 corresponded with the previous GR. It all depends which way you look at it.

      Yes, Solesmes did try very hard, especially with the Communion antiphons, to get a better correspondence with the new Missal (as it then was). The problem was that they decided only to use existing pieces of chant from the mediaeval repertoire, even when they could have achieved a closer correspondence by producing a new chant based on old models (as had happened earlier in the 20th century). In other words, if a suitable setting did not exist, they would go for the next best instead of providing an exact match.

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #77:
        Paul, I think your second paragraph needs some explanation. The former GR/Liber/etc. had a great many neo-Gregorian pieces in it (the Uxor tua gradual from the nuptial Mass is one example). The Solesmes model in the time when the 1974 GR was produced tended to replace these pieces “in Gregorian style” with authentic repertoire (i.e., the “first option” in the ’74 GR for a wedding gradual is Timete Dominum…from the common of martyrs, no less…don’t read into it too much; Uxor tua is given as a second option.

        It sounds like you know this, Paul, I just thought we should explain that fully for anyone less familiar with the Gregorian repertoire.

  44. I would have to see a precise reference to this view of Jounel to take its attribution more seriously. Even if authenticated, it would remain the private view of a scholar pitted against magisterial documents which seem to suggest the contrary. Furthermore, ICEL’s own involvement would be strictly in relation to English translation rather than the production of the Latin editio typica. In this respect, there is much evidence in support of the view that those working on the translations understood that these texts were intended to be sung.

    While it is conceivable that some of those who had a part in the creation of the liturgical books after the Council held a minimalist view of the value of antiphons, I think it would be very difficult to sustain that this is anything more than a minority opinion. It would be interesting, however, to establish whether the Consilium archive holds any clues in this respect – a further indication that we still await the scholarship which will explain much that happened during and immediately after the Council.

    1. @Mgr Andrew R Wadsworth – comment #76:

      It would be interesting, however, to establish whether the Consilium archive holds any clues in this respect – a further indication that we still await the scholarship which will explain much that happened during and immediately after the Council.

      Yes, indeed. The Missal antiphons are a case in point, since (as far as I can ascertain) they are not even mentioned in Bugnini — only the euchological texts, Eucharistic Prayers, etc, are treated. The existence of a working group devoted to the antiphons was unknown to me until I heard Jounel speak about the work of this group, as cited above.

  45. I think the clue is that whereas the Missale Romanum of 1970 is not a revision of the Missale Romanum of 1962 but a new compilation of texts drawing on sources old and new, the new Graduale Romanum is very much more a revision of its predecessor. This is easy to understand given its monastic provenance – Solesmes were eager to provide a continuity of the chant for themselves and others who sought to see that continuity. The anomaly of the lack of correlation between the Missale and the Graduale is at times puzzling – the distinct and very different manner of the production of these two liturgical books may offer something of an explanation.

  46. [A parenthesis: there is still something strange happening with the blog. When I wrote my responses, currently ## 77 and 78, to Bruce and Samuel at ## 74 and 75, my responses were numbered ##76 and 77 and followed directly after Bruce’s and Samuel’s posts, and Mgr Wadsworth’s reply of 1:32pm, now numbered #76, had not yet appeared on the blog. When it did, it seems that my responses were renumbered ##77 and 78. This is somewhat disconcerting.

    When I returned to the thread later and saw that there were now 79 replies instead of 77, I assumed that two replies had been received after my posts. It was only when I scrolled back from the single new post, Mgr Wadsworth at #79, that I saw that he had already made another comment at what is now #76 which had not been there before.

    I have the impression that this kind of thing may be happening on other threads, too. Clearly the software is displaying posts in chronological order, but it seems that it is not necessarily displaying them as soon as they are received.]

  47. Paul, thankfully some comments that were initiated by a troll’s hijack and responses were all pulled, thus re-ordering other posts. Well done, AWR and staff.

  48. Charles Culbreth : Paul, thankfully some comments that were initiated by a troll’s hijack and responses were all pulled, thus re-ordering other posts. Well done, AWR and staff.

    Thank you, Charles, for this reassuring info. AWR and staff must be working extremely fast, as I have been checking this thread at frequent intervals during waking hours! (One of the things that those who start Questions of the Week are supposed to do.) Mgr Wadsworth’s # 76 must have been in the batch that was pulled, and would have been reinserted later.

    This also explains why occasionally some posters do not seem to be replying exactly to the point — their responses are coloured by material which has already been pulled.

  49. Paul, thanks – this was informative and answered earlier questions. Appreciated Msgr Wadsworth’s interaction rather than avoidance. May I ask a pastoral question:

    So, where does this leave us when we consult and provide feedback in parish liturgy meetings and the question of antiphon or Gregorian Chant/Latin Propers use is raised or is implemented because the parish music director believes that this is liturgically correct?

    Historically – to summarize, we have a European-Roman-Western 600 year tradition but some contend that this is the historical norm or *pride of place*. Some add to this that the latin propers are *original* – your history indicates that various groups translated, rewrote, recommissioned propers during this 600 year period. Your comments expand on this – we have two different proper or chant sources now. We have others who stress the latin words and compose their own chant melodies; others reverse this and keep the Gregorian chant but change the words or insert English.

    Vatican II – you posit that the Consilium reform intended to replace the antiphons; that the reformed liturgy focused on the three year lectionary with the readings being the source for liturgical hymn/chant choices (although no one has the Consilium documentation handy; and there is also the Jounel input and propers sub-committee reference). For a combination of reasons, the liturgy moved forward without much focus on sung propers. (It also seems clear that most pastoral practice did not include reciting the proper as a presider or private prayer – if it was not sung; it was skipped.)

    Conclusion – some of us are having to contend with DMs and pastors who have used the new translation to resurface and implement antiphons and propers. In my local situation, this has impacted a very good parish liturgy tradition. With little to no explanation, sung propers replaced or were added to opening hymn, preparatory (often, just the sung proper), and communion hymn. The sung proper was not initially printed in the week-end liturgy phamplet; it is led by a cantor responsorially with very poor community response. The proper may be in latin but is usually in English. The music may be from the Psallite or his own composition. What happens is that folks wind up confused; it multiplies the musical choices (can add three more things to a late Sunday morning liturgy); and, since the propers may or may not be connected to that day’s readings, are not connected in any way with the eucharist or homily. It feels overwhelming; that we are doing the propers because it is required; etc.

    It has become an issue because, after 16 months, the parish is not participating more; complaints continue to roll in; and attendance has been decreasing. The vigil Saturday and late Sunday do not use this approach. The pastor has been printing the opening proper each Sunday in his bulletin comments but without really explaining it. (sort of like taking something from the daily office – can be helpful but?) When the parish liturgy committee tries to discuss, the pastor/DM basically reference some of what you quoted – pride of place; part of the reform of the reform; Gregorian Chant needs to be learned (although the parish has always used Gregorian chant during key seasons and folks participate); this was part of the *excesses of Vatican II* or the *bad ole 70-80s days*. So, some of the other comments around principles – encourage participation; commons are priority; hymns can capture the proper theme/idea; what is the priority – chant or latin?; inserting only adds music and use of a cantor is the last option?

    Anyway, can you comment on this, Paul? thanks

    1. @Bill deHaas – comment #86:

      Bill, you give an example of a phenomenon which is replicated in a (small) number of parishes across the US: where a new music director imposes chant propers on a community that has no tradition of any such thing.

      For me, the problem often seems to be that chant propers are being used as a banner-waving exercise (and I recall how Yves Congar in his Challenge to the Church berated Mgr Lefevbre for using the Tridentine Mass as a “political” weapon). Their use is intended to indicate that the user is more Roman and in fact more orthodox than those around him.

      Little or no effort is made to introduce and prepare the way for the chants; they are simply imposed. That in itself is not good practice, and when combined with a self-righteous attitude can alienate substantial portions of a community, as seems to be happening in yours.

      Whatever the merits of chant propers (and the original purpose of this thread was to debate whether those merits are largely illusory and based on a presupposition that is not supported by historical evidence), proponents of the chant cannot get away from the fact that in many places two whole generations of people (and in some cases many more) have never experienced the chant, and so to impose an unfamiliar form without consultation and without evaluation is asking for trouble. To simply say, in effect, well, you ought to know this stuff: it’s the Church’s traditional form and it’s good for you does not seem to be the most pastoral way of going about it.

      The question is not only whether it ever was in practice the Church’s traditional form, as I adduced above, but also whether it ought to be, given Guéranger’s evident mid-19th century antiquarianism. Even John Paul II, in his Chirograph paragraph that I quoted above (12: “It is not, of course, a question of imitating Gregorian chant but rather of ensuring that new compositions are imbued with the same spirit that inspired and little by little came to shape it”), appears to be saying that it’s not the chant itself which is important but that it should inspire what people are writing today. I have written elsewhere about my view that liturgical music ought to be modal rather than tonal.

      It’s clearly too late to do much about this in your context, where 16 months of not carrying the community with him cannot easily be undone. The pastor has to make the decision whether continuing with this in the face of declining attendance is pastorally or indeed financially wise. I have seen other pastors, when they realized that their musicians were being, how shall I say?, over-rigorous in their pursuit of an ideal, try to dialogue with the musician and then, when that proved of no avail, simply have no choice but to let the musician go.

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #91:
        Paul, it seems that you have discernment powers that escaped my attention, or a whole lot of people aren’t telling the truth about their experiences as I’ve heard them relate over the last six years. And I know that you network with your colonial cousins from Portsmouth, but even via NPM’s I wonder how you can make such definitive assessments from afar.
        Bill, you give an example of a phenomenon which is replicated in a (small) number of parishes across the US: where a new music director imposes chant propers on a community that has no tradition of any such thing.
        Paul, I’d suggest you check with California Paul before projecting the above scenario; the vast majority of pastors have to be part of the Baby Boomer g-g-g-generation, and these fellows are decidedly antithetical towards the reintroduction of chant, any chant, into “their” Masses. There have been some instances noted in US blogs and diocesan papers where a unified front of a RotR pastor and DM retool a whole new parish program based upon a Bill Mahrt paradigm. But those instances aren’t small-they’re rare and miniscule and they aren’t always imposed without preparation or notice. To be honest, we all have to admit there’s no empirical proof to any of our speculations, even if we qualify them as small, big or otherwise. Besides I haven’t heard of too many DM’s who’re granted the autonomy to impose any sort of change that’s significant without having attack sheep on his/her heels, closely followed by the disavowing abrogation of responsibility by a cowed pastor. Tenures longer than three or so years of any RC DM are few and far between. So, I’d sure enjoy hearing how you come upon your assessments of the “state” of music ministry in the states. I can’t imagine Chris Walker’s giving you a very rosy picture from LA.
        For me, the often seems to be that chant propers are being used as a banner-waving exercise …
        I can wave that off as “Okay,, from your perspective it may seem so.” But I have to think that to a large extent that perception is fueled more by blog and internet bluster, rather than by direct, internal observation. Sure, our great friend Jeffrey Tucker’s enthusiasm is often frothier than a latte, but most of the serious chant legwork over here isn’t splashed all over Fr. Z, FRAJM’s blog, or NLM. And there is much more diversity and flexibility voiced at Chant Café than some would publicly admit. Chant doesn’t require pom poms, it requires beautiful renditions and it sells itself. (Did you read my earlier post to Bill?)
        Little or no effort is made to introduce and prepare the way for the chants; they are simply imposed. That in itself is not good practice, and when combined with a self-righteous attitude can alienate substantial portions of a community, as seems to be happening in yours.
        Again, I would concede that we should all be wary of HUBRIS ALERTS when trumpeting our prejudices self-righteously in our blogs and fori. But I have to wonder how you can make such a statement about preparation when not only CMAA (and maybe LMA and Una Voce, for all I know) AND NPM have seen significant increases in their formal chant pedagogical offerings for over a decade? I mean it’s not as if Dr. Tortolano and Prof. J.M. Thompson weren’t facing significant interest in the chant revival over a decade ago. From my perch, I make substantial efforts to prepare our congregations’ participation with chant. And in twenty years, I have never heard a mumblin’ word of negativity by the faithful; I wish I could say the same for our clergy in our region. How are things across the pond?

      2. @Charles Culbreth – comment #92:

        Charles,

        I may be physically based in the UK, but

        (a) I come to the US a lot — 8-10 times a year, to various parts of the nation;
        (b) I have a lot of friends all over the US and I keep in touch with them all the time;
        (c) I belong to several online networks of pastoral musicians across the States — these people are well-informed about what is going on in their dioceses/regions, and they communicate with each other — and I am a member of the major US online liturgy network;
        (d) I am an associate member of FDLC, whose members also communicate with each other regularly;
        (e) I do not spend time reading any of the blogs you mention. In my experience such blogs tend to be rather unrepresentative of the bigger picture.

        I venture to suggest that I may be somewhat better informed about what is going on across the US then you in your Central California neck of the woods.

        While LA may not have the particular problem I adverted to, you don’t have to go too many miles further north of where you are to encounter instances of it, and you will certainly find it in a sprinkling (I did say a small number) of churches and cathedrals across the nation.

        Interestingly, we do not have the same phenomenon in the UK. In the US the numbers are tiny compared with the total number of parishes; in the UK the proportion of parishes affected is a miniscule fraction of the US proportion, so I am not pontificating out of any local experience here.

        Yes, I know that the efforts of people like Bill Tortolano, Columba Kelly and Anthony Ruff, to name only three, have given rise to a renewed interest in chant over the past three decades. That is not what I was referring to. I have no problem with chant itself, as you well realize. I grew up with it and am an experienced practitioner of it. What I have been observing and have been told about, however, is what might be termed a “dogmatist” approach to using chant and especially chant propers, as if through them and them only can salvation be won.

        Beautiful renditions are all very well, when they happen, but of themselves they don’t satisfy folk who feel that they are being excluded from parts of the rite where they have previously been accustomed to taking an active vocal part in the proceedings. And yes, I can point you to cases both past and present where pastors and musicians were at odds over a significant period of time.

        From your perspective the dogmatist phenomenon may not exist, and I can only suggest you look further afield. And I’m sure Bill deHaas will tell us whether he thinks the musician in his parish is a representative of that movement.

      3. @Paul Inwood – comment #93:
        “Beautiful renditions are all very well, when they happen, but of themselves they don’t satisfy folk who feel that they are being excluded from parts of the rite …”. Agreed that this can be a problem. Many have been feeling this exclusion ever since publishing company’s began imposing their creative works on assemblies as replacements over the propers or in preference to a nice quiet low Mass.

  50. Bill, first of all, these are some very valuable insights you’ve provided. This is actually the sort of information that any responsible DM would welcome, even if they would regard it all as subjective. With the sole exception of implicitly linking the attendance drop to the pastoral-musical changes (as that is difficult to prove, easy to correlate,) your scenario provides much more analysis that “we’re” usually provided from PIP, which often boils down to “I like it….I don’t like it.” Thank you.
    I can’t accept that the larger portion of any rationale for either or both the use of propers and chant depends upon historical precedence. In fact, I rather think from attending many CMAA week-long events that you’d find more agreement that the historical issues that seem problematic to some or few, aren’t at all of major concern to musical RotR proponents. In fact, I’ve heard more criticism of the folly of arguing the historical and musicological “problems” among past and present scholars within the united front of CMAA that it obscures the focal concern of advocating both the propers and chant among musical leadership, who otherwise would not worry too much about nuancing chant, but upon demonstrating, teaching and facilitating a healthy, informed appreciation and assimilation of the idiom into parish worship.
    In your assessment, it appears as if the implementation was unilateral, pervasive at all parish Masses, and devoid of any process of consentual, reflective and catechetical assessment. That’s a recipe for disorder and dysfunction. And yes, I understand that opinion can be co-related to the MR3 scenario, but we’ve been there, done that.
    I would offer that despite any issues of justice or collegiality paid heed to or not, the rationale for the infusion of both/and chant and propers stems primarily from both individual and corporate perceptions (which for the believer equates to reality) that whatever’s been going on in the last four plus decades simply is ineffective. To what degree, ask the Pew Polling people. But for every impression that Bill can advance that “The Program” is failing, Charles can counter that the plan’s working fine in his joint. And that means we’re both right to some degree, and equally incorrect on others.
    Here’s the difference. Whereas many chant proponents seem to insist upon that unilateral imposition replacing stylistic diversity, others are working with their pastors by singing “All we are saying, give chant a chance…” And, as Todd always insists regarding the importance of performance practice, where leadership and forces are up to the form, you’re likely to see many hearts converted to at least accept the efficacy of chant alongside of Glory and Praise and high hymnody.
    The processes of change at FSSP parishes dotted around the country, the most notable being S.John Cantius, Chicago-St. Stephen’s Sacramento-St. Ann’s, San Diego are particular. And as I recall the Cantius story unfolded over decades of process. So imagine what we in diocesan parishes must consider as we lobby for small moves, small moves.
    And I fully apologize for not being “Paul” in addressing your concerns.

  51. Thanks, Charles – appreciate the well-reasoned response. If I may:
    – understand chant and moving to chant – in fact, the parish has a history of good participation when using Taize at communion or even the entrance for Advent or Lent. Gregorian chant has been used often e.g. lent, advent, choir communion meditations, some seasonal commons, sprinkliing rites, confirmation, baptism, etc.
    – my questions have more to do with *why latin propers* – Paul seems to lay out the fact that they work best in latin and Gregorian Chant melody e.g. Solemes or Paul Ford’s Psallite. Yet, the questions seem to be that the propers are not connected to the three year lectionary; that, in this parish experience, coupling the chanted propers to the liturgical concept of *procession* is not even touched upon; you have the issue around the cantor/choir doing most of the propers impacting commuity participation; and the latin propers seem disconnected from the reformed liturgy and 50 years of parish experience?
    Paul seems to be suggesting:
    – but, the propers Sunday theme or idea can be achieved in other ways e.g. hymn, Taize style response hymn that use the parish history, enculturation, etc.? (still have the issue of connectedness to the lectionary?)
    Guess that leaves me, again, with whether *chant* is necessary or “pride of place* to the extent that we modify and change our liturgy?

  52. Henry Edwards : “Missal antiphons . . . are not even mentioned by Bugnini” Hmm.

    Please don’t misquote me. If you return to my comment #84, you’ll notice that I said in Bugnini, not by Bugnini. Any self-respecting liturgist would recognize that allusion to a standard work of reference, Annibale Bugnini’s magnum opus The Reform of the Liturgy : 1948-1975 (The Liturgical Press, 1990).

    1. @Paul Inwood – comment #89:
      Bugnini comments thus (p.387) on the antiphons in his treatment of GIRM:

      “To be noted in particular is the wide range of possibilities offered for singing. This allows both the full preservation of the traditional patrimony (Gregorian and polyphonic) and, at the same time, a genuine openness to new musical creations for new texts.

      “Thus, for the entrance song, in addition to the texts in the Roman Gradual and the Graduale Simplex, it is possible to use other texts that are liturgically adapted to [better translation: suitable for] the season or feast and are counterparts of the old texts. They are to be approved by the episcopal conference. The same holds for the offertory and communion songs.

      “All these songs accompany an action. It is therefore possible to allow a certain flexibility… This means in turn that the texts must be to some degree adaptable to new and different musical requirements… The entrance and communion antiphons, for example, are to be sung or read for their value in showing the meaning of the celebration and feast.”

      Whether or not you agree with Bugnini, his commentary is as near as you are going to get to the intentions of those who wrote GIRM.

      1. @John Ainslie – comment #100:

        Thank you for this reference, John, which I had overlooked.

        My point was that, as far as I can tell, nowhere in his book does Bugnini give details of the work that was done on the Missal antiphons, let alone mention the existence of a working group to deal with them — a strange lacuna.

      2. @John Ainslie – comment #100:
        Excellent, John. This attitude surfaces, of course, in the 1967 instruction Musicam Sacram 32, 33 and especially 36:

        “Sometimes it is even quite appropriate to have other songs at the beginning, at the presentation of the gifts and at communion…they must be in keeping with the parts of the Mass or with the liturgical season.“

        Bear in mind that MS was produced before the renewed Missal and contains many conflicting prescriptions, the residue of conflicting visions of the reform. Perhaps Paul or others could speak to that reality.

        For another glimpse into the mind of the council Fathers, let me also point toward renowned musicologist and chant expert Helmut Hucke’s article “Musical Requirements of Liturgical Reform” in vol. 12 of Concilium (1966). In discussing the the introit and communion, Hucke, who was a consultor to the Consilium and was a member of the workgroup that prepared the musical propers for the Mass, and was involved in the creation of Musicam Sacram states:

        “The renewal in the liturgy of singing accompaniment cannot originate in the texts of the Roman Missal. These texts received their form from Gregorian Chant. They owe their present form to their original purpose of being presented by a choir, and from the fact that they were set to music by means which the Roman scholae cantorum employed in their day. The requirements of these forms do not permit a parish to make adaptations of the texts unaided, since the antiphon-texts are too numerous and little practicable for singing by the congregation. Most of these texts do not do justice to their function, namely, to bring close to the community the rites they accompany. Today we can succeed better with other texts and other music.” (pg. 68)

  53. One should not impose chant upon any parish overnight. It should start slowly and progress. It should be used for special occasions to begin with and over the course of years gradually become the norm. I do not like yanking people around and now in my 9th year as pastor and our DM in her 17th year or so, (Charles, our diocese is somewhat kinder to DM’s than your experience of 3 years only, our Cathedral’s DM on August 15 just retired after only 66 years in the position!) we have made great inroads but slowly and without much strife at all. Our regular celebration of the EF Mass has emboldened us though over the years to bring some of its sensibility to our normal OF Masses. But we certainly haven’t jettisoned hymns or our hymnal. I disagree that you can’t have both the chanted propers and hymns. Our tradition for the past three years at all our Sunday Masses is for the Cantor to chant the Introit found in the Roman Missal as the Procession begins which then goes into a metrical hymn. People love it and see that it is integral to Mass as these words are written in the Missalette as the “entrance antiphon.” We are not at the point and I personally do not want to go to the point of ridding ourselves of good metrical congregational hymns. The cantor also chants the Offertory Antiphon and at our choir Masses the choir sings an anthem of some sort in addition, but only instrumental organ is done at the other Masses. At communion time, the cantor chants the Communion antiphon as the priest begins to receive Holy Communion and then we sing congregation music during the Communion procession. We are far from what traditional Liturgical purists would prefer for a chanted Mass, (but we are pure in the Extraordinary Form, oddly enough) but it seems our approach would cause little strife in most parishes and could eventually lead to what chant enthusiasts would consider the ideal.

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #94:
      We are far from what traditional Liturgical purists would prefer for a chanted Mass, (but we are pure in the Extraordinary Form, oddly enough) but it seems our approach would cause little strife in most parishes and could eventually lead to what chant enthusiasts would consider the ideal.

      And that brings us back to Paul’s original point:
      we now have a largely vernacular and participatory liturgy which is very different from the largely passive Latin liturgy which preceded it. In such a context, I believe making use of our great Gregorian Chant heritage requires much more subtlety and nuance than simply depositing dollops of Chant into the appropriate liturgical slots and assuming that this will do the trick.

      Fr Allan provides an example of “more subtlety”, but the more basic issue remains. Is the ideal proposed by chant enthusiasts an ideal we should adopt?

      1. @Jim McKay – comment #95:
        Aha! Jim, thank you for helping me to focus. In answer to your last question , yes! At least that ideal should be provided a place at the table of as many parish Mass schedules for at least one Mass per weekend, absolutely! (Before exhausting my John Lennon, “all we are saying, give CHANT a CHANCE!”)
        I am grateful that my pastor is supportive of the notion of progressive solemnity (whatever that may mean to him, me or anyone else is debatable), but we haven’t even one Mass out of 18 wherein the full flower of the culture of chant is afforded opportunity to blossom every Lord’s Day. And (Paul’s right) from my perch in little CenCA so many of our parishioners have approached me wondering if we could have an all chant OF, in English, Latin, Esperanto, whatever. I’m not making this stuff up. I’m not shoving idealism down their throats. They, including some of our boomer VII spirit defenders, are starting to awaken to a realization that something’s been missing, a gentle guest, if you will, at the table.
        Again, a chant ideologue may be the ironic 21st century version of the caricatured 20th century liturgist/musician barking “You vill zing zeze zongz, und you vill like zem!” But a chant enthusiast will truly be pastoral in his/her approach to sewing the seeds, tending the vines, and harvesting the fruit to offer in thanks.

  54. Alan, you use missalettes? Why would you do that? God’s priestly people are perfectly capable of making the usual responses their own without a text. The use of special materials to become familiar with the newer prayers is understandable, but they will not be available permanently. Shorter sung settings can be easily memorized and hymnals are available for other settings and musical selections.

    1. @Jack Feehily – comment #97:
      Our missalettes last a year and only have the order of the Mass, Eucharistic Prayers and most importantly the readings with responsorial Psalm. These have the entrance and communion antiphons for daily Mass too, which our lector leads but spoken as Mass begins. There are no collects, prayer over the offerings or post-communion prayers though. I do prefer hymnals that have the lectionary at the back, like Worship hymnals have as an option. But our church’s acoustics for speaking can be tricky depending on where one sits. Few of our parishioners actually use the missalette for the their parts which they have down pat.

    2. @Jack Feehily – comment #97:
      I think there will always be some people present who are less familiar with the texts and need the help: visitors, people thinking about coming to church more regularly than before, people who haven’t experienced the new texts. Interesting to read the Ship of Fools church reviews on http://www.ship-of-fools.com/mystery/usa.html – Roman Catholic churches regularly get comments about how there was no text or book to help the visitor follow the liturgy. Everyone was just supposed to know and participate.

  55. For the consideration of all: If we were to look at the variable textual elements of the Mass by genre, somewhat as the concilium did when it divided responsibilities among the workgroups, we could identify the following:

    1. Eucharistic Prayers
    2. The three variable presidential prayers
    3. the Sunday lectionary
    4. antiphons/psalms for entrance, offertory, and communion processions

    The pre-reform content of each of these was judged to be in some way inadequate to the renewed liturgy demanded by SC. Each received an overhaul, but each in a different way.

    1. The Roman Canon was supplemented by three new EPs.

    2. The collects etc. were largely re-scrambled with many additions from ancient sacramentaries as well as new compositions. In addition it was taken for granted conferences of bishops could and would adapt these prayers as they saw fit and even create new ones. And they did (and some who enjoy the new English Missal even still happily use those new compostions that remain to us in the funeral Ritual.)

    3. the old one year Sunday lectionary with no old testament readings was replaced by our three year cycle

    4. songs with new texts and melodies were permitted.

    So here’s a new question. Why can the ancient Roman lectionary (older than the chant corpus) be discarded; the cycle of collect, super oblata and post communion be radically reshaped/re-written; and the precious (I mean that without irony) Roman Canon itself be essentially discarded in favor of utterly new compositions, all to near universal approval, yet a comparable reform of the processional chants be essentially rejected by a growing minority? Comments?

    1. @David Mathers – comment #4:

      This is an excellent question, David. I wish you had raised it further up the thread.

      @David Mathers – comment #3:

      Curiously, both John and I are at this moment on our separate ways to this year’s international meeting of Universa Laus, a body in which Helmut Hucke was one of the leading lights in its first 30 years of existence.

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #5:
        It’s easy for folks to lose the bigger picture when they are concerned primarily with one aspect. Perhaps the question can be raised again.

        I’m afraid with the Assumption etc. and Sunday, I got bogged down with parish responsibilities. Blessings on the UL meeting. Safe travels to you and John.

  56. Vision of Reforming the Propers:

    emphasizing consistency with history, Vatican II policies, and current pastoral practices.

    1. Priority should be given to the psalms (and canticles) since these have historically been a part of the Propers, Vatican II wanted more (not less) Scripture in the Liturgy; the psalms at Mass appear to have been there to foster both prayer and be a compendium of Christian life, the laity’s current exposure to the psalms is mainly through the responsorial psalm since the Divine Office is rarely celebrated in the parish. Bottom line is restoring the Psalter to its centrality in Christian life in the Mass and well as promoting the Divine Office.

    2.Given the centrality of the Psalter, the versus of the psalms and canticles should be sung by the people in the vernacular. There are many ways to do this monophonic and polyphonic alternating or in unison, men and women, right and left side, people and choir (e.g. the choir verses could be polyphonic); could be done with antiphons by the choir. With the New Lectionary we should choose psalms to fit the new readings. A wide variety of psalm texts should be used including psalm paraphrases, and hymns inspired by psalms.

    3. Antiphons because of their historical usage and hymns because of their recent usage should be retained as lesser options (e.g. the choir singing an antiphon in Latin or English; the people singing some of the many hymns that are not closely related to psalms).

    This vision should be built from the bottom up rather than imposed from the top down. In others words we don’t need any legislation to do this.

    We do need resources like a Psalter that could be used for the Office as well as Mass to complement the Hymnal.

  57. How can our great Latin chant and Latin polyphony heritage be related to a contemporary venacular liturgy?

    The choir of my favorite parish has become very accomplished in the polyphonic repertory which it uses only in concerts including award winning ones.

    My first suggestion would be a fifteen to thirty minute prayerful concert (no applause) before Mass with commentary that helps people to understand the music. For example the Latin Propers could be sung at this time with an English translation provided and accompanied by a liturgical commentary.

    My second suggestion are Bible Services modeled on the Anglican Services of Lessons and Carols. I would see these Bible Services as mainly community services open to people of all denominations run by the laity of the parish as an opportunity to network with Christians of other denominations after the service and in community life.

    Both the historic music of the Latin (and perhaps Eastern Churches) would be emphasized along with Protestant hymns and contemporary Catholic music. I basically do this when I invite people to my house to share my diverse liturgical music collection.

    It is very easy to put together an alternation of readings and music. A little booklet and my commentary brings every thing together. There is space for reactions and sharing between readings and music. In the Bible Services this could be done with refreshments afterwards.

    The Bible Services would provide an alternative service for the many talents of our choirs. We do have large parishes with many good voices and the resources to support a talented music ministry. We could provide the whole Christian community with great music and liturgical catachesis, and be a way to introduce them to a Catholicism which is both traditional and contemporary. I also see them as a vehicle for developing a better Divine Office from the ground up. SC does recommend Bible Services especially in mission lands, so why not for the “new evangelization”.

  58. In my experience a major obstacle to participation in the liturgy is the variety of musical settings and hymns currently in use, especially those or recent origin.

    A further issue is the widespread use of music of protestant origin by German and English composers. Whilst it is excellent as music, it has a sprit which is in no way Catholic and does not belong in a Catholic liturgy.

    Incidentally, there is in Sweden a widespread use of traditional Gregorian melodies with vernacular texts. These are largely successful because word orders can usually be changed to suit the music, without, as in English, changing the meaning of the sentences. Whether this is recent or dates from the Reformation I have been unable to ascertain, but the same music is in widespread use in the Swedish national Lutheran church.

  59. Our inner-city church sings the Missal Propers: introits and communions each week, acapella. The traditional monastic tones proved a poor fit for English so we opt for the St. Meinrad tones for the verses and sometimes even for the antiphons. The text and tone of the chant , the antiphons and the verses have really awakened a profound sense of Christ presence . We recognize Christ’s voice in the words AND MUSIC. We really experience him praying with us. It is a new energy . We have no time or talent for dusty museum music.

  60. Pater Wagner wrote that all knowledge of how Gregorian chant was composed was lost to musicians of the 17th century. My website Gregorian Chant Laws takes the first steps at this restoration.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *