Liturgy in Collegeville: From the Archives – Part VII

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.


The next record from the Liturgy Committee:

Minutes of the Liturgy Committee

October 15, 1963

Present were Fathers John, Daniel, Michael, Gerard, Aelred, Camillus, Wenceslaus, Leon, Fr. Adam, and Bro. Gerard.

Father John opened the meeting by stating Father Abbot’s view of the opus Dei committee; the latter will discuss the place of the opus Dei in our monastic life and will complement the liturgy committee.

As to the papers being prepared to serve as discussion material for a community gathering on Oct. 22, Father Aelred, who had been put in charge of these papers by the liturgy committee, said that the finished product would be one paper of two pages dealing with direct and indirect participation; by situating the problem in the context of the sing of participation, the paper would deal with such topics as Eucharistic participation, etc. On the question of direct and indirect participation Father Michael restated the principle that the High Mass is the highest liturgical form; however, even though there can be no doubt about this principle, yet as Father Loew commented in Worship, indirect participation is often more meaningful than direct participation because it is in the vernacular.

The committee discussed the possibility of singing the Gloria in English at solemnized Low Mass on Sundays, but Father Aelred pointed out that most liturgists feel that there is too much emphasis on the entrance ceremony if the Gloria is sung, and hence the readings come too short. His alternative suggestion was that during the Gloria we sing a doxology, which is the equivalent of the Gloria, since it is never convincing to recite a Gloria. When Father Camillus arrived, after having been detained earlier in the evening, he thought that the singing of a doxology would be undesirable at the present because the students are used to reciting it now, and every change provokes a barrage of questions that lead to time-consuming answers.

The committee agreed on the following proposals to be suggested to Father Abbot: 1. The community should sit at the Epistle, since this is the proper posture for listening to the Epistle, and remain seated until the priest goes to the Gospel side; at this time they should stand in order to have the proper liturgical posture in which to receive the priest’s greeting. 2. The celebrant should enter the sanctuary to begin Mass only at the end of the last response to the Office of Terce. 3. The Gospel should be sung from the throne at the end of Matins, and when it is to be read by the Prior or Subprior, it could be read from a designated position in front of the altar.

The question of having our acolytes wear their hoods on top of their surplices when they serve during liturgical functions found the committee somewhat divided, with the majority of the members not in favor of adopting this practice. One major reason against adopting this practice was that our hoods do not lend themselves to being worn over the surplice; further, if the acolytes were to wear them, so should the celebrant; lastly, since there is no such thing as a “Benedictine Mass,” neither should there be the practice of wearing the hood to distinguish the “Benedictine” acolytes form other acolytes.



    1. @Adam Wood – comment #1:
      I wonder what the local community (students) thought about a sung vs. recited Gloria at the beginning of Mass. Were they asked, I wonder? Or did the wisdom of “most liturgists” and this committee prevail?

      Find out in the next installment!

  1. It is interesting to me that well into the 80s it was common wisdom among liturgists that the Entrance Rite was the “cluttered vestibule” of the liturgy. The adaptations of the Sacramentary that accompanied the 1998 translation seemed to reflect this view (e.g. making the penitential rite and the Gloria alternatives).

    I, for one, never really bought it. Undisciplined celebrants can certainly make the beginning of Mass too chatty, but I think that the entrance rite is only improved the more of it is sung (in fact, I tend to prefer the sung EF pattern of seamless transition from Introit to Kyrie to Gloria to salutation to collect i to what we have now because there is more singing and less talk [that’s about the only thing I prefer about the EF, though]). I’ve recently begun singing form C of the penitential rite and so far haven’t heard any complaints that, combined with the sung Gloria, it “overloads” the beginning of Mass.

  2. The perception of clutter may also be driven by a lack of quality. We probably never had a better repertoire than the years just prior to MR3.

    But I think one can look more carefully at the purpose of all the possible sung pieces in the Entrance Rite and ask questions. Did ancient Churches sing a psalm and add a doxology, and was that practice inverted: a single verse of a psalm and an extended expression of Trinitarian praise? In restoring an extended song of praise for the first music at Mass, does that render the Gloria, at times, a mere repetition?

    After escaping from pastors more “streamlined” than “liturgical” my parishes have sung the Gloria every Sunday since 1995. In my present parish, the practice is to sing all of an entrance song or hymn. With a Gloria, that doesn’t overload, although I’m sure incoming students really wonder about it–it’s not the practice in Iowa parishes to sing more than 2 verses and to recite a Gloria.

  3. A strong case can be made that the entrance rite is indeed “cluttered” if we want to facilitate the worship of the faithful rather than just make sure all the traditional stuff is packed in. The Gloria clearly contains verses that are not only penitential but actually praise God for his mercy. I submit there is a serious problem with the penitential act when it is perceived as a substitute for the sacrament of penance complete with absolution. And why should the people be made to sing four or more verses of a hymn. I am not suggesting a hymn that ends as the priest arrives at the chair, but it is music to accompany a procession. Music directors speak of textual integrity as if the length of the prayer makes it more effective. I have occasionally begun a Holyday Mass with the Gloria so as to include it without unduly prolonging a rite that is going on during a time when families are usually at home having supper. We get a lot of kids for Holyday Masses when we move things along a little. I’m not talking about rushing.

    1. @Fr. Jack Feehily – comment #5:
      ” And why should the people be made to sing four or more verses of a hymn(?)”

      Good topic for another thread, perhaps. But quite often hymn writers, poets, song lyricists write single works with a coherent beginning, middle and end. I think there are times to trim, perhaps with a work like St Francis’ Canticle of Brother Sun. But only perhaps. The first choice would be to sing the whole thing, and trim as a matter of discernment. More often, it’s a big shift to consider singing a third verse. Would a homilist end his preaching after paragraph #2? How often does that happen?

  4. I find that the entrance rites go very smoothly if the introit is chanted as a responsorial, the presider and people chant the opening and penitential rites, and then move to the Kyrie and Gloria. Otherwise you just have a constant variation of singing then speaking then singing then speaking all within a very short time, it’s like hitting the gas and then the break over and over.

Leave a Reply

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