NPM in Detroit, Thursday

Did you know that Morning Prayer at NPM is entirely in Latin, sung to Gregorian chant? But only one monk ever shows up, so they hold it in his hotel room. The Alternative Morning Prayer is in the convention hall, and over a thousand show up for that one. It’s in English.

Does NPM give Gregorian chant “pride of place” as Holy Mother Church taught at the Second Vatican Council? No, would be the obvious answer. Not much is in Latin at all. “Lauda Sion,” the Corpus Christi sequence, was sung in Latin during Communion at Mass last night, but the music (very solid, BTW) was by Michael Joncas. The choir sang “Christus vincit” in Latin before the closing hymn, “To Jesus Christ, our sovereign king.” But Ordinarium or Proprium Missae in Latin Gregorian chant? Nope.

At Morning Prayer the opening verse, “Lord, open my lips,” is in different settings each day, none of them based on Latin chant. About the only chant here is the Lord’s Prayer, in the eminently usable English setting by Robert J. Snow.

But wait. Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, the US bishops’ document on liturgical music, says this at no. 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 particpate 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.”

NPM is following this advice – one almost wants to say, to the letter. Suppose the planners of a future NPM convention Mass programmed the entire Ordinary and much of the Proper in Latin chant, and used Latin for some of the presidential texts. It would be a sudden lurch, and it would feel like someone is pushing an agenda on everyone. One can hardly understate the depth of ill will and hurt feelings which would result. “But it’s the Church’s agenda,” someone will glibly object. Well, yes and no. “Building up the Church in unity and peace” is the Church’s agenda.

The music at NPM liturgies is a grab bag. Some (but not much) chant, quite a bit of so-called traditional hymnody and service music, and lots of contemporary music, sometimes in languages other than English. The music draws on the liturgy and the Bible and it reflects the people gathered. The music helps everyone to celebrate the sacred mysteries, to unite themselves to the Lord and each other in song.

NPM has a chant section. They asked me to start this a few years ago. Across NPM, interest in chant seems to be quite strong. Nobody is anti-chant, at least not publicly. Every speaker affirms and treasures chant. The chant section has lots of ideas: more breakouts on chant, many aspects and many levels of difficulty. Perhaps an optional early Mass entirely chanted, a mix of English (and other vernaculars) and Latin. Perhaps an optional Vespers entirely chanted, also a mix of vernacular and Latin. Perhaps there could be some sort of English chant “backdrop” to the plenum liturgies – a common Deus in adiutorium or other elements of the Ordinary of the Liturgy of the Hours. We’re thinking about lots of things.

But you can be sure that NPM will follow the full range of the Church’s teachings and directives in all this. I think only a few zealots will be disappointed.



  1. Interesting juxtaposition that the Latin Liturgy Association is having their convention, also in Detroit, this coming weekend. I’d be going, if not for already having tickets to Fr. Corapi’s appearance in Cincinnati on Saturday.

  2. “Nobody is anti-chant, at least not publicly. Every speaker affirms and treasures chant.”

    This is great. The culture of Catholic music is shifting. Sometimes I wonder, however, if the focus on Gregorian chant, which certainly represents the ideal, is a bit of a distraction from the more immediate and more precise priority, and the clear intermediate step, which is to focus on the propers of the Mass as the source text for music at the entrance, offertory, and communion. In some ways, the issue of Latin and the particular tune one uses is not as central as the issue of whether we are singing the Mass or merely singing songs at Mass. Even “Sing to the Lord” seems a bit cloudy on this topic. It is a consciousness that is dawning gradually.

    1. “The culture of Catholic music is shifting.”

      Growing up I had a little exposure to chant, but it was done poorly. My views on sacred/liturgical music began to shift when I entered religious life. I wrestled with it because I didn’t like those “stuffy hymns” and preferred the contemporary music of my college days. Overtime, as I matured in community and relationships, I began to see the beauty in chant, hymnody, etc. As I have reflected on this over the years I realized the bad taste I had for chant or other styles of music was beacuse of how poorly it was done. All hymns were dirges in my parish and chant . . . well I won’t say what I am thinking.

      In the end, my time at St. John’s, studying with Fr. Anthony, opened the mind of this music educator and liturgist to the beauty of chant and reinforced my love for many types of music. I firmly believe that we need many styles of music to aid people in prayer. Recently, I have even begun to introduce some of the introits to my tiny little schola of 4. They struggle alot, but in the end find it really rewarding.
      As I look back to my days teaching high school I realize they too were interested in chant and learning some of the history of our community. They saw the value in a good balance in our sung prayer. So maybe there is a shift and I can’t wait to see how younger generations will incorporate our rich treasury of music into the liturgy while composing new styles and experiment with form. Oh the possibilities of praise!

    2. If there’s a shift, it began decades ago. When the big battles were still organ versus guitar, a number of contemporary composers were arranging chant pieces on their recordings. Not big sellers for the publishers, to be sure. But more in common with the Church’s plainsong heritage than organists and their anthems and four-part choirs.

      I think an exclusive focus on the propers is misplaced energy. Enough music is used at Entrance and Communion based on Scripture, and the situation for biblically-based texts there is certainly improved over the Low Mass vernacular hymns.

      The bottom line for most of us is to continue to get the people singing. A new set of propers every week seems suspiciously like the “Song of the Week” paradigm we had too much of in the late 60’s and 70’s. In a monastery, or an intentional musical community, these will probably work well enough, especially if the assembly sings them. I’ll confess I use the texts to suggest musical choices I program for my parishes–and have done so for years. But I think hymns and songs are superior for most parish settings.

      If the Church were wise enough to produce “seasonal” propers, possibly a refrain with variable suggested psalms week to week, then I think we’d have some movement. But choir-performance pieces bookmarking the liturgy? That’s just more singing-at-Mass. It doesn’t further an active Gospel life in the laity, and it cements a performance mindset we did well to rid ourselves of after the Council.

      1. The Church does have a collection of seasonal sets of chant Mass propers: the Graduale Simplex.

        [A comment I now see was already made below]

  3. “Sing to the Lord” references “all things being equal” when discussing the important place given to Gregorian chant but recommends the use of Latin in the liturgy without qualification per V2 itself. It seems that “all things being equal” suggests the Constitution on the Liturgy’s mandate that polyphony be preserved in our liturgies (#116). The NPM, being experts in ecclesiastical music, would be better served if they were immersed in liturgical Latin because “Sing TTL” says that “care should be taken to foster the role of Latin in the Liturgy, particularly in liturgical
    song without any qualification similar to “all things being equal”. STTL explains that pastors should ensure “that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them’.. (the people) should be able to sing these parts of the Mass proper to them, at least according to the simpler melodies” STTL 61.
    Additionally, at multicultural gathers, something common today, “…it is most appropriate to celebrate the Liturgy in Latin …selections of Gregorian chant should be sung” at such gatherings, whenever possible” STTL 62. There is no qualification here that “other things (must be) equal”.

    Lastly, it is important to recognize that “other things being equal” in STTL is based on V2’s SC 116 which is itself modified by a directive that other kinds of music be in accord with the spirit of the Roman Mass.

  4. I do wonder about STTL’s undocumented riff on “ceteris paribus.” The usual scientific use of the phrase means something like: the principle applies even under changing conditions. To spell it out, we would say that chant has pride of place even if the conditions of time and place provide little or no opportunity to sing it (no schola, no understanding, no talent, there’s no time, etc.). In other words, using the traditional implications of that formulation, we would say that ceteris paribus constitutes a strengthening of the chant mandate, not an opportunity to list a series of excuses not to sing it.

    1. I hate to disagree with you, Jeffrey, but in linguistics the phrase has the meaning of “provided that all other variables remain constant”. I checked with an econ Ph.D. friend of mine and v.p. at Chase, who told me that that’s what it means in econ, too. As a Latinist I can affirm that such is also the natural meaning of the phrase, though I am unaware of its existence in antiquity.

      Quibus rebus dictis, I agree with Mr. Goldsmith that effectively removing Gregorian chant, not only the complicated Lenten tracts but also the humblest “et cum spiritu tuo” can’t be what was envisioned by ceteris paribus. Gregorian chant was abandoned even where had made inroads during the Liturgical Movement. Can that be what was desired? I will grant that Gregorian chant is not the way to go in mission territories or perhaps parochial school masses, but in parishes where the congregation consists of 40th generation Catholics? Pope Paul VI, who promulgated Sac. Conc., distributed a pamphlet that he thought contained the bare minimum of Latin chant. How many parishes can boast of having parishoners who know those pieces? I would also remind everyone that although there is a qualification about Gregorian Chant, there is no such qualification at parag. 54, which directs that the Christian faithful be able to say or sing in Latin the parts of the mass that pertain to them. If congregations could do so, I don’t think that ceteris paribus could justifiably be invoked so liberally.

      1. Yes, you are right in the precise way you stated it but the point is that in ceteris paribus models, you change one thing and not others in order to illustrate the pervasiveness of a principle (demand curves slop downwards to the right, e.g.). It does NOT mean that under chaotic conditions of relentless change that demand curves do NOT slope downwards. It means that even if it appears otherwise, the principle still applies: demand curves slope downwards to the right. The whole reason that we do CP experiments is to find the principle amidst variables that are otherwise too difficult to follow. So it is with chant. Even if conditions are confusing and unsuitable, chant retains first place.

  5. Somehow I don’t think it’s a good faith implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium to argue that “all things being equal” would basically cancel out the chant “pride of place” language to justify that probably 99% of American Catholics have never heard, or even know of the existence of, chant propers at mass, and probably a still rather high although somewhat lesser percentage never hear chants of the ordinary. Basically, liturgical liberals have eliminated the use of chant, and therefore there is no taste or knowledge of it, and then they can say it’s pastoral not to use it. I’m not a chant purist by any means, and certainly have no objections to a few good old Protestant hymns at mass (I’m not so keen on the contemporary stuff), but until I started participating in a monthly chant mass last year, I had no idea the chant propers existed. This is part of the liturgical tradition of the Latin rite, and Latin rite Catholics should know and at least be aware of this tradition. It is not necessarily the case that the chant propers should always be used, but surely they should be used at least once in a while in every parish so that people are acquainted with the tradition. And an effort to use English translations of the propers, with either the Gregorian melodies, or Anglican chant, or other similar sources, should also be used along with the Latin Gregorian melodies to help people appreciate them and not simply write chant off as just that old Latin stuff.

  6. What are we really talking about when we say the Propers?

    Yes, there is a verse, but it is usually a verse from a psalm, and it is usually meant to be sung with that psalm or portion of that psalm.

    If the psalm or portion of a psalm is the important thing, then it is relatively easily to do psalms using psalm tones. Do we really need to do the more elaborate psalm verse that it seems many think of as the Proper?

    From a relatively small number of interviews, it seems that most people’s knowledge of the psalms is restricted to the gradual psalm with response. Most people seem to appreciate them.

    However there are some people who are not particularly impressed by the psalms just as there are some who are very much impressed.

    It seems we ought to have more thinking about role of the psalms in the Mass and Divine Office, and research into how the psalms are perceived before we do a lot about the Propers.

  7. It’s overly simplistic to view this as singing chant or not singing chant. The chants themselves have pride of or principle (“principem”) place, but additionally as Pope Pius X wrote, “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.” Hence, the Church holds polyphony in high esteem because of its connection to chant. Sacrosanctum Concilium says of composers, “Let them produce compositions which have the qualities proper to genuine sacred music.” The more relevant, complex question is if modern composers are taking this to heart. How much of the music at NPM, if not chant itself, approaches its movement, inspiration and savor? It seems to me the correct path is not to pick and choose the instructions we like to the exclusion of others, but to take into account the sum total. Often things that we assume counteract each other (singing chant vs. congregation’s participation) can go hand in hand. The Church has provided musicians the best of both worlds… the room to be creative while working with specific criteria. I’m not sure if we’ve taken advantage of the opportunity to really create beautiful music, or done well meeting the established criteria.

  8. I would not suggest a “sudden lurch” to Latin and propers at a parish. I agree that the Church’s agenda should not be implemented in an ill-considered and imprudent fashion.

    On the other hand, this is an ideal that should be kept in mind. If a parish is doing nothing to implement some chant at some level, then approval and “interest” seems little more than lip service.

    I think a more relevant question is: “What is NPM doing so that chant WILL have more of a place in the liturgy in 5, 10, or 20 years?” From what I see, not that much.

  9. Todd,

    Might I suggest there are other options for the propers than what you mention – (1) sung by the choir alone to the exclusion of the people singing, and (2) different every week?

    (1) Propers can be sung as complimentary to the parts sung by the people. A short introit, for example, could either precede or follow the opening hymn, one to accompany the procession, the other the incensing of the altar. Ditto for the offertory and communion.

    (2) The Chuch *has* produced “seasonal propers” – the Graduale simplex, and the English version “By Flowing Waters.” These were conceived as involving the people. BFW is being used quite successfully in a number of places. (I take it you already know this.)

    I agree that “choir-performances pieces bookmarking the liturgy” is not a good model, but then how are hymn bookmarks any better? We’ve convinced ourselves that people singing hymns means active participation, but it’s still “singing-at-mass.” How is one really participating in the liturgy by singing texts which are not part of the liturgy?

    “The bottom line for most of us is to continue to get the people singing.” I’m just afraid it never gets beyond this baseline. Shouldn’t we be concerned about what it is they’re singing?

    1. Hymns, if they are based on the Word of God, and sung by the community as the rubrics suggest and provide, are an improvement over performance music. Singing the liturgy takes place more deeply, more profoundly, when people sing not only the texts of the Mass, but the important and core texts: the Psalms, the Gospel Acclamation, the Eucharistic acclamations, and so forth.

      I can’t speak for your parish or your personal experiences, but in a lot of other places, I’d say that congregational repertoire has done quite well in moving from pre-conciliar catechetical hymns to psalm and Scripture settings over the past fifty years. And we didn’t get (or need) any help from reform2 people to find our way there.

      So when I hear about a cross-wired Benedictus replacing the Mystery of Faith at a significant event, maybe it’s hard for me and others to wonder if the concert-at-Mass meme has gotten beyond square one, too.

      Now, if you want to get specific about particular music, issues, or problems in either camp, I think we might make more progress. For the time being, count me a doubter on performance music at Mass, even if it is the “proper” wording.

  10. Jeffrey said “ceteris paribus. The usual scientific use of the phrase means something like: the principle applies even under changing conditions.”

    With respect, this is precisely what it doesn’t mean. It means that if the usual conditions do not obtain, then the principle can be varied.

    Charles said: “but surely they should be used at least once in a while in every parish so that people are acquainted with the tradition.”

    I think it would be difficult to use this as a pastoral justfication. It’s a bit like saying let’s use Old English so that people know where their language is coming from, given that the propers have not been part of the tradition in most places for over a generation now. There has to be a more compelling reason for perpetuating the use of a musical form which was designed for a liturgy which is quite different in character from the one we have now. The challenge for us is to find ways of integrating chant into that different style of liturgy, and but it is fairly certain that attempting to use it in the same way as in the previous style won’t be very successful.

    At the GIA showcase in Detroit today, one of the pieces sung was a contemplative setting of the Lamb of God in English by a ‘contemporary’ composer, which included in the texture the Gregorian Chant Agnus XVIII in Latin. It was not totally successful, but it did point the way to new and imaginative uses of chant in liturgical music, even in ‘contemporary’ music.

    1. Umm, Paul, you are wrong. I don’t know how else to say it. You are indisputably wrong – and you have it exactly backwards. Again, in the scientific literature, “all else remaining equal” simply means that you specify that the principle applies under unchanged or changed conditions.

      1. I’m not talking about usage in the scientific community. I’m talking about what this means in an ecclesial/canonical context.

    2. So a millenium and a half rich liturgical tradition of music, a music of great spirituality, transcendence, scriptural basis and theological depth, has so little value that there is no justification for ensuring that people are exposed to and learn to appreciate this tradition? I think the pastoral value of exposing people to the faith-building great tradition of the Latin Rite is obvious. The reason why no one even knows about chant now is because social engineering “pastoral” liturgists deliberately threw it out, against the express wishes of the Vatican II Council. I think it takes some chutzpah for the same people who have tried to eliminate something of great value in the tradition, now to claim that “pastorally” we can’t reintroduce chant, even occasionally, because it has been unknown for several decades and it wouldn’t be “pastoral”. If people can be manipulated to not know chant, they can also learn to appreciate chant. And I believe that pastorally they should have that exposure. And why is it only the Latin rite that must toss out its age old liturgical traditions? No one ever tells Eastern rites that they must toss out their chant and musical traditions and “get with the times” pastorally.

      1. Charles, an excellent point. There seems to be a double standard by which we Latins are nearly encouraged to lose our liturgical identity while other traditions are
        cherished. Obedience to the council seems to be
        somewhat selective.

    3. Paul,

      I’m not aware of V2 exhorting Catholics to learn and use Old English in the liturgy. The compelling reason you seem to be searching for to use more Latin is obedience to the council. Gregorian chant, according to the council, is especially suited to our Roman liturgy and thus should not be different in character from what we have now. If it is, it is not the Gregorian forms that should be suppressed.
      The Eastern Church provides an example that may be helpful. The Maronites had been heavily Latinized for generations. After Vatican II they did a great deal of work to rediscover the ancient chants of their tradition. These elements have successfully been reintroduced after generations of absence in obedience to Vatican II. We can do the same.

  11. Mr. Inwood and Mr. Flowerday – thanks for your comments. At Easter our large urban parish music director began to use the choir or selected cantors to sing latin propers before the entrance procession; while communion begins; and right before the final prayer. We use printed liturgy sheets every weekend – the proper may be named but is not printed; there has been no liturgical explanation to the folks in the pew; it is disruptive to suddenly hear the choir singing something that can not be clearly understood. It basically just adds to the overall music since we sing hymns at the entrance, preparation, communion (2), post communion (at times), and recessional. It becomes overwhelming and is lost in the total picture – it feels more like an attempt to cross our t’s and dot our i’s. It is a good example of picking out one “minor” note rather than focusing on the overall liturgical principles. Given that our pastor was hoping to be a new auxiliary bishop, it was his attempt at reform of the reform. BTW – his ambition succeeded.

    We need to be much more creative in using chant, bringing propers back, etc. and we need to at least try to explain to the folks in the pews why we are doing this. It is rude to just do it.

  12. “There has to be a more compelling reason for perpetuating the use of a musical form which was designed for a liturgy which is quite different in character from the one we have now.”

    The recent motu proprio has made it clear that the “liturgy which is quite different in character” is to be considered as one of two forms of the Roman Rite mass. Not two masses, but two forms of one mass. Obviously some people are having trouble accepting this teaching, perhaps because of other agendas they may have for the Church and her teaching.

    For me, the “compelling reason” for “perpetuating” Gregorian chant (sounds like some kind of crime) lies in the very real need for us to connect with past ages, saints, relatives and ideas that have not become irrelevant, but are needed more than ever.

    As a American Indian (Ho-Chunk Tribe of Nebraska) I often use the Ho-Chunk language in private prayer and in prayer with my family, even though I “understand” precious little. There is a part of me that understands enough to make it fruitful prayer. Most Indians that I know don’t mind listening to even long prayers in a language not immediately accessible to their conscious mind because they recognize the important link between language and culture. And most actively seek to learn more in order to make their conscious mind more fruitful.

    To deny Catholics access to this part of their birthright for yet another generation seems as cruel as boarding schools trying to keep Indians from speaking their ancestral tongues.

  13. Perhaps the real animus is not toward the language (Latin) but toward the culture that the language communicates (Catholic culture, with all its warts and wonderfulness).

  14. Todd,

    I’m not sure why you still think I approve of a performance model when I gave specific examples of how the propers (sometimes sung by a choir alone, but not necessarily) could be integrated into a parish liturgy – unless you think anytime the choir sings = “performance.” And I do not think there is justification for saying (as you seem to suggest) that the people singing is always and everywhere preferable to the choir singing.

    I did not intend to critique any particular program out there, or to impose a single model on everyone, but simply to propose other options. These options are often not considered on account of what I believe to be an absolutizing of “getting the people to sing,” so much so that it’s considered more important THAT they sing than pay attention to WHAT they’re singing. We’ve all seen liturgical decisions made exclusively on the basis of “but the people know it / will sing it” which I think simply perpetuates a short-sighted and ultimately self-defeating model for liturgical song.

    I couldn’t agree with you more when you say “Singing the liturgy takes place more deeply, more profoundly, when people sing not only the texts of the Mass, but the important and core texts: the Psalms, the Gospel Acclamation, the Eucharistic acclamations, and so forth.” Nothing I’ve said contradicts this; on the contrary, I believe it complements it very well.

    Seems like we’re talking on different wavelengths here, but I thought I’d give it a…

  15. I think it’s important to distinguish between the “Novus Ordo”, which I was talking about, and the Extra-ordinary Form; between the plainchant Propers, which I was talking about, and other pieces of Latin chant; between Latin in a reformed liturgy, which I was talking about, and the use of Latin in general.

    Some of those posting above are answering points that I was not making. I am not condemning the use of Latin in the reformed liturgy — far from it; nor am I condemning the use of chant in the liturgy — far from it; nor am I condemning the Extra-ordinary Form, which is fine for those who want it. What I am saying is that using chant Propers and the Latin repertoire in what is now a much more participatory form of liturgy requires a lot more thought and discernment than before.

    You can’t simply drop pieces of chant (or indeed polyphony) into their former slots and assume that they will work in what is now a different context. You have to be much more subtle than that.

  16. It seems many of us, at least some of the time, have difficulty getting beyond the hearing of absolute prescriptions. In a way, it’s what many of us have gotten used to, from a pastor who fires us or a colleague because he prefers no music, to choristers and parishioners who refuse to engage sacred music for reasons not entirely rational.

    Sometimes, we can respond in turn with a certain irrationality: the blanket condemnation of people or music. Or sometimes we hear the condemnation when it’s not truly there. At times, the internet seems to amplify these aspects of speech and hearing.

    These kinds of discussions net the long comment strains, but let’s be honest: they don’t move us anywhere in terms of either an improved sacred music or in the pastoral concerns of sanctifying the faithful. On that score, both the CMAA Colloquium and the NPM convention are one-up on us. People will walk away from Detroit and Pittsburgh and the uptick in many parishes will be a reality. Me, I’m gong to walk away in a few minutes from here and cut the lawn.

    Let’s realize that for most of us here, our conduct of music ministry is a bit more subtle. Thank God for that.

  17. Back to AWR’s original post. In both cases, the lone monk in his hotel room and the thousand at NPM, the most important question is the one posed by St. Theresa of Avila. (See Rowan Williams’ bio for the original context.) “When we say a prayer, are we supposed to think about what the words mean?” Had the Latin text and chant notation been supplied to the the thousand, how many would have been able to think about what the words meant? How many would even have come? IMHO, these questions get at the pastoral crux: Are we really lifting hearts and minds to God? Or are we just doing something, be it chanting an approved text or singing feel-good, socially conscious songs, that is supposed to enable us to pray but does not?

  18. Interesting to recall that SC was written with the Extraordinary Form in mind. I don’t think we can imagine that the NO is to be regarded differently when examining chant, music, & participation. It is one Roman rite with two forms. Think of the Liturgy of St. Basil and the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom: one Byzantine rite with two forms. Similarly, we have the EF and the OF.

  19. @Paul Inwood

    Paul said: “I’m not talking about usage [of ceteris paribus] in the scientific community. I’m talking about what this means in an ecclesial/canonical context.”

    Could you please tell me why you believe that “ceteris paribus” has a different definition in an ecclesial/canonical context than when it is used conventionally in other scientific and legal contexts?

    For example, ecclesial documentation and law also conventionally and frequently uses the term “mutatis mutandis”. Is this also to have a different meaning in an ecclesial context than it does in other conventional contexts?

  20. There’s always the option of looking at what the US bishops think it means! Since the term seems to be so disputed, it’s rather useful that SttL 73 is so clear about the ecclesial meaning as understood by the US bishops.

  21. I actually have no real problem with SttL’s interpretation of the term. I can’t see Paul Inwood’s interpretation of it supported therein though. I also don’t see your claims above as being justified by it either, Fr. Ruff.

    I spent some time this afternoon researching other places where “ceteris paribus” has been used in ecclesial and canonical contexts, and there are several. It will be very enlightening to compare these with the infamous use in SC 116. Like “mutatis mutandis”, “ceteris paribus” seems to retain its conventional meaning. But that will be a blog post.

    The question to Paul still stands.

  22. Let me use my fairly large South Florida parish as an example of how effective the turn to popular and ethnic music has been in the U.S. Our pastor has asked the music director to put together a program to get people to sing. Why? you ask. It’s not that Catholics can’t sing, to paraphrase Tim Day, it’s that they won’t sing. You may trot out a few examples of good singing parishes, but they are the exceptions that prove the rule, I believe. I say this because, as a church musician of many years experience, with a wife who hates to be forced to sing, I believe that most parishioners are frankly embarrassed by the music they have been asked to sing. This is especially true for men who could care less how “pretty” a song is. For those who believe that chant is not “pastoral” (code these days for appeasing interests) should listen when Snow’s (a wonderful man and brilliant musicologist, btw) adaptation of the Lord’s prayer is sung at Mass. People understand that it is PART of the Mass and not to be ignored. Maybe all the musicians at NPM sing out, but their charges back home are not. Day’s book came out in the early 90s and not much has changed.

  23. The Propers of the Mass can and must be restored. I am just flabbergasted that people are not more upset that texts of the Mass, which is a unified action of prayer, have been systematically removed in practice by the printers of missalettes. Who gave them this power? The OCP version never has the Sunday Propers printed. If they did, then when they choir sings a Byrd setting or one by a modern composer, they would have a ready translation before them to contemplate while they hear the music. Now few choirs can manage a complete set of propers every week, so someone should come up with a set of Propers for the 3-year cycle set to simple but elegant melodies. Paul Ford’s By Flowing Waters provides us with the simplex melodies, but these should only be used when the set text cannot be sung or during the week. What an opportunity there is for a talented musician or collection of composers to serve his/their Church. Hymns can stay for their proper devotional use, but please don’t poke holes in the Mass!

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