Liturgy in Collegeville: From the Archives – Part II

Pray Tell is running a series on the liturgical history of Collegeville. The sub-series “From the Archives” reprints some of the Liturgy Committee meeting minutes from 1963 to 1969. This sub-series is a behind-the-scenes look at liturgy in Collegeville during and immediately after the Second Vatican Council.

Next entry in the Calendar of Events:

August 20, 1962: The new wing of the Liturgical Press Building is nearing completion. The basement will be for storage while the first floor will house offices and display areas.

September 15, 1963: Change in the Monastic Horarium.

  • 4:55 – Rising
  • 5:15 – Lauds, Prime, Tierce [sic], Sext, None.
    • The Conventual Mass will be offered as the rubrics demand. The Clerics and Novices will receive at this Mass.
  • 5:45 – Meditation for the Clerics and Novices.
  • 6:30 – Breakfast.
    • The Brothers will have their morning office and Holy Mass in their own chapel at the same time.
    • Private Masses for the Fathers will follow the end of choir recitation.
  • Father Godfrey Diekmann, editor of Worship, celebrates the Silver Jubilee of Editorship of Worship.
  • At 10:45 he offers Holy Mass with the assistance of a Deacon and two acolytes.
  • Father Gerald Sloyan, a friend of Father, delivers the festive sermon.

Next record from the Liturgy Committee:

Minutes of the Liturgy Committee

Sept. 16, 1963

Present at the meeting were Fathers John, Daniel, Godfrey, Michael, Gerard, Camillus, Leon, Fr. Adam, and Bro. Gerard.

Father John opened the meeting with the announcement that Father Abbot had appointed Fr. Wenceslaus secretary of the committee.

Reactions to the Mass of Sunday, 15, were discussed first. Noticeable mistakes were pointed out: the clerics (some of them) had begun marching into choir too soon, the celebrant had begun the prayers of the Mass while some of the community were still marching in, there was one ciborium too few for the distribution of communion.

It was suggested that the communion cloths be arranged after the Pater Noster. It was also suggested that the community make their way to the choir stalls individually, that is, not in procession, because a procession should either be that of the whole people of God, including the students, or should consist only of the celebrant and ministers.

The possibility of setting up communion stations at the side aisles was one of the matters of discussion. Father Camillus was asked to instruct ushers to see to it that people receive communion at empty tables. Also it was suggested that clerics and brothers stand at communion.

Chief matter of discussion was the form for the “solemnized” Low Mass on Sunday, Sept. 22. The reason for this form of Mass would be more participation on the part of more members of our St. John’s community, esp. the students.

The Mass was arranged as follows:

  • Entrance hymn – taken from Our Parish Prays and Sings, the only book to be used at Mass by our student congregation;
  • Kyrie and all short responses – to be answered by all in Greek and Latin respectively;
  • Gloria –to be recited in English by all after begun by the leader;
  • Epistle- to be read by a student
  • Alleluia- to be sung by a chanter, then by all;
  • Gospel – to be read by a deacon;
  • Apostles’ Creed – to be begun by a leader, then recited by all;
  • Offertory petitions – to be sung by the deacon and to be answered by all;
  • Sanctus XVIII – to be sung in Latin by all, with the celebrant waiting until the conclusion of the Sanctus before beginning the “Te igitur…” (Father Godfrey insisted that the people sing the Sanctus in Latin so that they could join in the Eucharistic prayer);
  • Our Father – to be begun by the leader, then recited by all;
  • Agnus Dei and Domine non sum dignus – to be recited by all in Latin;
  • Communion antiphon and the final hymn- to be sung by all.

Father Wenceslaus and Fr. Adam said that possibly a commentator should be used at this Mass.

Father Godfrey suggested that for the recitation of the Gloria, Creed, and Pater Noster in English, the phrasing in Our Parish Prays and Sings should be followed.



  1. While I realize most people’s interest will be with the experiments in transforming Eucharistic celebration at St. John’s, I confess I was stopped dead in my tracks by the glimpse we get of how the Liturgy of the Hours was celebrated in the early 60s. First of all, I have to presume that praying Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext and None IN A HALF HOUR between 5:15 AM and 5:45 AM means that these offices were recited (rather than sung); I also presume that the Office for clerics and novices was recited in Latin, as opposed to the Office recited by the brothers (in English according to “The Short Breviary”?). Since the celebration of the Office seems to mark Benedictine identity, did any question why the clerics/novices should be separated from the brothers for the Office? Did any question the yoking of Lauds with the minor hours in the light of what the Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours would term “the truth of the hours” (i.e., that these liturgies would be celebrated at the appropriate time of time of day)? When did the community celebrate Vigils? Did they yoke Vespers and Compline and at what time(s) were they celebrated? Were laity invited to share in praying the Office as they now are at St. John’s? I hope some of the senior members of the community would be able to recall their practices for the Office at that time and would be willing to share them with us, so that we can get a picture of the on-going changes in the monastic Horarium.

    1. @Fr. Jan Michael Joncas – comment #1:
      That also piqued my interest, because this was before some of the changes in the religious life occasioned by the Council, most notably a revisiting of certain distinctions between monks. I am curious how the changes did happen and how these paralleled such developments.

  2. I look forward to answers from those in the know, but I believe early-morning Offices have often been spoken, or chanted on one note, by monastic communities. Vigils (sometimes called Matins) of the next day could be said anytime after Compline, and sometimes immediately afterward. Vespers could be as early as 2 p.m.

    No surprise that the revisions of monastic and Roman offices in the 60s and 70s emphasized the need to pray the various hours at their intended time of day.

    I can’t imagine Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, and None happening within half an hour unless some conflation happened: perhaps the psalms of the little hours were recited as one big block, somehow?

    And I wonder whether this change in the monastic horarium was intended to be permanent or just for the date mentioned.

  3. I too was puzzled by how all those offices could be done in 30 minutes. My guess was that there was some error in the recording of the minutes and the time allotted was actually longer. Unless the community had a large number of former high school Policy Debaters

    I was also fascinated by the “‘solemnized’ Low Mass.” From what I can tell, the things that were sung were:
    *an opening hymn
    *the alleluia (replacing the gradual?)
    *the prayer of the faithful (“offertory petitions”)
    *Sanctus (I wonder exactly why Fr. Godfrey “insisted” on its being sung in Latin — was his insistence on the Latin, the singing, or both? How was this related to the participation of the faithful? Was saying it in English, as was done with the Gloria, not sufficient? not yet allowed?)
    *communion antiphon
    *final hymn

    I don’t know if the list is exhaustive (was anything sung during the offertory? Were the “offertory petitions” perhaps sung as the gifts were prepared?), but it is interesting to see what was and was not sung. Why not the Gloria or Kyrie? At least some settings of the latter are simple enough to make participation easy. Same for the Agnus Dei.

    It is also interesting that the Apostles Creed was used. I’ve got to say that one of the provisions of RM3 that I am not a big fan of is the option of using the Apostle’s Creed at Mass. It has no historical precedent and it is simply a local (Western) creed and not an ecumenical text of the Church. But (surprise, surprise) I was not consulted.

    I’ve got to say that I am loving these posts. I often wonder about how the reforms unfolded “on the ground.” I wish there were more film evidence of these early post-conciliar liturgies.

  4. Why would the Agnus Dei be recited? If folks could sing Sanctus XVIII, I fail to believe they couldn’t sing Agnus Dei XVIII.

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