Frustration abounds

Publishers especially are groaning at incompetence and poor management of the missal translation process. Our hearts go out to them. See the comments of WLP’s Jerry Galipeau here. Jerry, and everyone at WLP and GIA and OCP and LitPress and CathPub and all the rest – you’re in our prayers.

Here’s a choice quotation from Jerry:

What in heaven’s name is going on here? Years and years of consultation with English-speaking bishops and their conferences around the world have occurred. The amount of money paid to translators, to other experts, and to those who facilitate the process of translation, as well as the money spent on travel and lodging for all the various meetings related to the translation, certainly must be in the millions. After all of this careful work, after all of the meetings of Catholic bishops during which the nuances of word meaning and grammar and syntax were hammered out over hours and hours of meetings, how is it that over ten thousand changes to the approved texts were made in these final months? This is extremely frustrating. Unfortunately, I think that people are just so tired of the whole thing that little protest will be heard. Might the bishops consider insisting on a new process to approve what amounts to a new translation?


  1. Well, Paddypower still has Arinze at the top of the list of who will be the next Pope with odds of 2:1.

    However over at
    Arinze isn’t even one of the top ten on the other two lists for comparison.

    However, Oscar Maradiaga of Honduras, #2 at Paddypower is on all three lists. Probably not a good idea to criticize him. At 68, he could be Pope for a long time!

    Anura Guruge thinks that with the sex abuse scandal the next Pope will have to be a Vatican Outsider.

    He also notes that Paddypower had Arinze as its top pick for the 2005 conclave at 3.1.

  2. “…musical repertoire has for practical purposes largely been controlled by the publishers of liturgical music … it has rather reinforced the perception that …music is exclusively part of the creative element in liturgy rather than part of that which is ‘given’ -Msgr. Wadsworth, Aug. 2010

    A long overdue corrective is in order to facilitate the peoples’ full & active participation in the full liturgy of the Church. We need to take the liturgy from the ecclesiastical professional and give the liturgy back to the people. Does he really believe that the people are so tied to hymns like Gather Us In that we would not be just as happy or even happier with a chanted Entrance with the Gloria Minor refrain? Do they presume that the people go to Mass for the music now? No one can really think that – I mean not really.

      1. The best argument I’ve heard against Gather Us In was made by a hymnology expert, a non-Catholic Christian. He’s a Calvinist in fact. He said that there is no reason Gather Us In would be out of place as the entrance hymn of an interfaith convention. It could be easily sung by someone who doesn’t believe in God. A Ba’hai could sing this hymn without embarassment. (He went on and on.) And this is one of the most popular hymns in the Catholic Church!

        He was making a general argument that we need to do a better job of analyzing hymns on their theological merit.

      2. Greg,

        I guess that just proves the point that we (all) need to do a better job of analyzing hymns for their theological content.

      3. Then who is the “you” or the “your” of the text? I’m pretty sure it’s talking to God! Stanza 3 is clearly eucharistic, about bread and wine. I don’t know many atheists who believe in the sacrament of Holy Communion.

        I think that Kathy, and her uinformed Calvinist friend, should analyse – or just read – the text they’re attacking.

        It’s not a great text, it’s pretty clumsy. But Ba’hai? Interfaith? Absurd.


      4. Fr. Ruff is quite right – if one looks at the text, who else could YOU be? call to us now, and we shall awaken… we are the old who yearn for your face… and who is it that gathers us? It is GOD who calls us, who gathers us. The composer made an attempt at inclusive language – and for 1982, not bad. The text also references Jeremiah. Also, it was written originally for the Advent season. So you are quite correct – we ALL need work on our hymn analyzing.

      5. I just plain don’t like Gather Us In because of its anthropocentric nature. It’s purpose is not to give praise to God, but to demand things from God as if he must comply to our requests:

        “Gather us, give us, nourish us, hold us, make us…”

        Compare that to, say, Holy God, We Praise Thy Name:

        “Holy God, we praise thy name. Lord of all, we bow before thee.”

        Clearly this one is about giving adoration to God. The majority of these new songs like Gather Us In do not focus on anything but the congregation and how we feel, think, and relate to others. IMO, that’s their biggest weakness.

  3. It doesn’t fit his ideology or his agenda. And we rarely see any documentation or even facts; just opinion.

    1. I’m told by people who were there (I wasn’t) that people pretty much in charge of the translation process have said this publicly. The number is true – I know it is.

  4. Jeffrey, I was told from the most reliable source that 10,000 is a very conservative estimate. Have you done a comparison between the 2008 and last Friday’s texts for the eucharistic prayers? Changes are not only in texts, but in the rubrics as well. Someone please tell me the difference between a “bow” and a “bend.” Most of us have only seen a tiny fraction of the texts. I am sure we can count on many comparisons between the now so-called “2008 Missal” and the text we received on Friday. Someone will eventually count the changes. Is that really the point?

    1. +JMJ+

      My point is, if you’re going to flat-out say that Card. Arinze lied two years ago, then you’d sure better be in the truth-telling business about the translation.

      1. +OMG+

        How does this follow? If Arinze lied, he lied. It doesn’t matter what the credentials of any subsequent author or commentator might be or might not be!

      2. To claim that Arinze LIED would be to say that he was aware, two years ago, of what was going to happen two years later. The fact is, he may well have been telling the truth insofar as he knew it. The situation changed and his once true statements became inaccurate because of decisions that were not in his hands. Is this an implausible idea?

    2. I take it that changes to the rubrics means the english translation thereof and not changes to the order of mass in the typica?

  5. I notice that Andrew Wadsworth is challenging musicians to set the Entrance and Communion Antiphons to music. He is obviously unaware that liturgists around the world know, from those who originally compiled the 1969 Missal, that these antiphons were not retained in order to be sung as they stand, but (a) to placate those who wished to continue singing prolix pieces of chant at these points in the rite and (b) to remind everyone else that they ought to be singing something at these points — but not these actual texts.

    All this is very well-documented, and when Jim Moroney belatedly discovered it, I suspect that this is the reason why the work done by ICEL in translating the antiphons for the new Missal was taken away from the bishops’s conferences. The translators had done their work with music in mind, and the CDWDS had agreed to relax LA principles so that this could be accomplished (which of course implies that the Congregation, too, did not know the history of the antiphons).

    Perhaps someone will tell Andrew Wadsworth that his challenge to musicians is not solidly-founded.

    1. Paul, the opinion of those who compiled the 1969 missal is of less value than the decrees implementing the missal, ie MS and more recent directives on this. It is more likely that the antiphons were retained because their work would not have been approved without them. We know what the practice in Rome is where the proper chants are used regularly in papal Masses and we know what the GIRM says. The chants are the first preference from MS to our own day.

      1. John,

        (1) MS appeared in 1967, two years before the 1969 Missal. It is not a document about implementing the 1969 Missal but the 1962 Missal. Please get that straight.

        (2) Your opinion on the likely reason for retaining the antiphons has no foundation in historical fact. It may be what you’d like to think, but the words of Pierre Jounel and others who worked on the 1969 Missal carry rather more weight.

        (3) GIRM 1969 was written as the Praenotanda to an already-compiled Missal. The Missal was not compiled in such as way as to comply with GIRM. Cart before horse, and all that.

  6. Thanks for this input, Paul. What I’d like to know from reform2 folks is what’s considered primary:

    – Is it the antiphon-plus-verse format rather than a metered hymn? If so, that’s been a strong direction for contemporary composers since the late 60’s.

    – Is it the given text of the propers? In which case are we talking about an accurate rendition of the Scripture? Because that would be a refined rubric not currently reserved for a lot of musical moments in the Roman Rite. Are there plans to render the propers in some metered form? And that, of course, sidesteps whether the propers, as they are now constituted, are ideal for a three-year Lectionary cycle.

    – And for those who proudly restore the propers as a brief concert for the choir or schola, how do you justify yourself by GIRM 48, which, while putting the propers as a first choice, also place the dialogue of assembly and choir as first–way above choir alone?

    Let’s be clear: according to the GIRM, any soloist or choir who performs the proper without the assembly is at least as far from the ideal of the Roman Rite as the four-hymn sandwich.

  7. “how do you justify yourself by GIRM 48, which, while putting the propers as a first choice, also place the dialogue of assembly and choir as first–way above choir alone?”

    In parishes that employ the propers, the Gloria minor is often sung too, something consistent week to week. Also, the sung parts of the Mass are not only the propers but also the ordinaries. Nowhere does the GIRM say that the whole congregation must sing every part of the Mass every time-we can mix it up. We also can witness the practice in Rome.

    1. Except for the Creed, most US parishes are singing the Ordinary at most Sunday Masses. Mine does it at daily Masses. So let’s stick to the point of controversy: the propers.

      GIRM 48, the same piece that puts the propers at the top of the list, also puts a dialogue between choir and people at the top of the list. If Msgr Marini approves choir-only propers on a regular basis, I’d take him to task for it without hesitation. A friend of mine took his choir to Rome and was urged not to sing the Psalm after the first reading. I wouldn’t look to Rome for good liturgical example.

      John, also attend, please, to reading comprehension. The Roman Rite doesn’t expect the assembly will sing everything all the time. And I certainly didn’t say it either. If you want to be a serious part of a liturgy discussion, you’re going to have to engage the red-n-black.

      So I repeat my question: how can reform2 advocates of the propers justify utilizing the fourth choice of GIRM 48 on a regular basis: choir alone on the entrance chant?

      1. +JMJ+

        Perhaps a solution to the GIRM 48 problem is found in Paul Inwood’s (or was it someone else?) critique of its history and translation. The document was poorly cobbled together and these inconsistencies or tensions are an unfortunate result of that.

        I’d love it if the entrance antiphon were chanted by the choir and the congregation chanted the verses to a simple tone. I would also be content with my participation (as a member of the congregation) not necessarily including singing at that time.

      2. Jeffrey, I’ve heard other people speak of the “inconsistencies” of GIRM 48. But I don’t see any here. The Church lists options for who sings the entrance chant, followed by options for what is to be sung. Ever practical, Rome acknowledges it can’t legislate with a high bar and expect compliance. So options are given.

        Rome spent years revising the GIRM. They were very particular about what lay people should and shouldn’t do. “Cobbled together” might describe Psalm 108 or even Eucharistic Prayer I, but probably not this document.

        I remain deeply curious by the selective rubricism practiced by reform2. Do they “do the red” or do they do as they please?

      3. Todd, no one says that the propers have to be sung by the choir alone. I don’t see any hypocrisy from those you call the Reform2 crowd in this. The GIRM does give room to parishes with different levels of expertise for the singing of the proper.

        And Todd, if your meaning was misunderstood, welcome aboard. The last thing I would want to do is cause offense. so that I can stay out of trouble.

      4. So I repeat my question: how can reform2 advocates of the propers justify utilizing the fourth choice of GIRM 48 on a regular basis: choir alone on the entrance chant?

        Easy, I don’t read either of them as legally binding preference lists. There’s lots of things I don’t agree with Jeffery Tucker (or your strawman “reform2” advocate) [Not that I’d call myself in favor of a “reform of the reform” though, the term seems to me to take the reformed rite as the a priori basis for future reforms, which I think is mistaken.]

        I think there should be a preference for the propers because they’re inherently part of the rite and it’s good liturgy and the tradition of the Church to not replace them with other music, not because they come first on a list. Therefore, I don’t tie myself in any legal knot when I advocate for sung propers even if that means having them be sung by the choir.

        However, the psalm tones are simple, and while the melismatic part of the introit (for example) won’t be picked up by the people, those who have any musical ability at all will pick up the verse and the minor Gloria as John Finn has pointed out.

  8. In regard to the Propers, the situation appears to be more complex than

    “the antiphons which accompany the Entrance, the Offertory and the Communion processions. These proper texts are usually replaced by hymns or songs that have little relationship to the texts proposed by the Missal or the Graduale Romanum”

    Are not the antiphons (for the most part) from the EF? They do not bear much relationship to the scripture readings of the OF. Do they have a relationship to Scripture readings of the EF?

    Usually the antiphons are from a psalm. Maybe the whole psalm, or substantial portions of the psalm is what is important, and the antiphon is merely a key to unlock a certain aspect of the often complex psalms?

    Since for all practical purposes the Divine Office with its psalms has disappeared from parish life and is not likely to be restored, maybe it’s the psalms rather the antiphons that should be sung or chanted at Mass. Maybe we should rethink which psalms go with the OF scripture readings?

    I noticed the recent post “Faith Alive Christian Resources and the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship are currently working on a Psalter which will include multiple settings of each psalm. The most fitting of those settings will be included in a new hymnal for the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church (and beyond) with each of the 150 psalms represented.” I presume these psalms are paraphrases. Maybe we should consider something like this?

  9. Are not the antiphons (for the most part) from the EF? They do not bear much relationship to the scripture readings of the OF. Do they have a relationship to Scripture readings of the EF?

    Each form of the Mass has its own schema of propers which are related to the readings (and preface, etc.) of the day for that form.

    1. In planning, I always check to see what the antiphons are. Often it is a stretch to connect them with the scriptures. Also, a lack of prayers for the three year cycle and only 7 prefaces (I am describing Ordinary Time here) does not do muc to unify the entirety.

  10. So, what is the factual history of propers? Does anyone have a brief historical outline? Per this blog so far, we have comments that range from post VII and the 1969 missal and the ICEL recognition that propers in latin were originally spoken not sung and thus were no longer emphasized; we have had comments that “propers” fit more with monastic communities and not our everyday parish life; and yet some of us are being told that this new MR3 will re-emphasize propers that are sung. We also have GIRM guides that seem to contradict themselves – emphasize the total community participation with propers vs. small choir; etc.

    Sorry, we have had a poor experience recently in which the music director has had a small choir sing propers in latin with a cantor trying to get the church to sing along? There has been no education; they are not printed in the weekend liturgy guides; they seem to be inserted before the entrance; preparation; and communion followed by hymns. Not a very wholesome experience. Also, during daily mass depending on the celebrant and their age, we have presiders who say the antiphon/propers. Wonder also – are propers connected to our 3 year lectionary cycle or do they just add more scripture? Are they ready now for just one year – so what happens during years 2 & 3?

    Just wondering, Fr. Anthony. You have provided some excellent educational resources to date. Was hoping you had another in your idea bag.

  11. Well, the Catholic Encyclopedia says that the Introit, Offertory and Communion were originally whole psalms. So it sounds that the psalm was the important thing, not the antiphon. Although these were all later than the Gradual, they seemed to come very early being mentioned by Augustine.

    When I interviewed Bible Study students in our parish, I asked them about the psalms.

    The one thing that almost everybody knew and liked was the psalm verses and response between the first two readings.

    Beyond that most people did not know much about the psalms except for a few people who were very much into bible study. Some of these also knew and used the Liturgy of the Hours.

    So it sounds to me that if we want to be traditional, not just legalistic, we should substitute psalms more often where we now use three hymns.

    Seems to me that it would be better to pick the psalms for their appropriateness to the OF Readings or even because they are musically good. A lot of the Latin Propers seem to be there just because they were in the EF.

    It doesn’t sound like the antiphons themselves are that important during ordinary time since often they are just the beginning of the psalm.

    Would seem to be a good idea to integrate greater use of the psalms with bible study of the psalms.

    I would like to hear more about the history. Taft always said you have to know the history first, even though it doesn’t determine pastoral practice.

  12. I found this wonderful quote from an article on Liturgical Music by William T. Flynn in the Oxford History of Christian Worship page 775:

    “For example from the 4th century to the early 5th century, the new melodic style of singing the Eucharistic psalm (described above) caused some church figures (most notably Athanasius) to outlaw the practice. However the style was welcomed in Milan by Ambrose and grudgingly accepted by Augustine. In his famous reflection on the new style, Augustine confessed that he was prone to be moved more by the melody than the words of the scriptural texts that were sung and therefore sometimes considered it would be safer if the church adopted Athanasius’s practice of having the ‘reader of the psalm’ inflect it so little that it was closer to speaking than to singing. Nevertheless in the end he accepted the style because of its ability to ‘elevate weaker souls to devotion’”

    When the Church Fathers disagree, we can expect this argument to continue until the Second Coming! Athanius’s practice is often echoed in instructions to readers in the Orthodox Church.

    Also found this interesting quote (p.771):

    “As Joseph Dyer has argued, a group of clerics specifically assigned to sing at papal liturgies was founded during the second half of the 7th century. According to James McKinnon this group, the Roman schola cantorum, was responsible in large part for creating the entire Proper of the Roman Mass.”

  13. Jack is correct that the Introit, Offertory and Communion chants were originally whole psalms with antiphons. As the antiphons became longer and more complex, the psalm verses dropped away.

    The nub of the problem is

    (a) that the antiphons of the Missal are not the only thing that may be sung. The antiphons of the Graduale Romanum or the Graduale Simplex are approved alternatives.

    Therefore it is ridiculous to cling to the actual texts of the Missal antiphons as if they were in some way Holy Writ. Other texts can be used, and have been used.

    (b) the Missal antiphons do not accord in any way with the three-year Lectionary cycle that we now follow. One year in three they might tie in, but often in no year at all. They are derived from a Missal with a totally different one-year Lectionary.

    The Solesmes 1974 Graduale Romanum antiphons attempted to do something about this, but with very mixed degrees of success. The reason they failed is primarily because the monks restricted themselves to using existing pieces of chant in the mediaeval repertoire that were the closest things they could find to what they were looking for. If they had gone down the road of producing new Latin compositions in the same chant style as the old ones, they would have been closer to succeeding.

    I refer once again to what Pierre Jounel and others said about the antiphons, cited above: the Missal compilers never envisaged that these exact texts would be sung. They are there to remind us to do something more sensible, while at the same time appeasing the chant fraternity who want to continue using old chants with a reformed liturgy.

    1. Thanks Paul for the history, especially the view that the Gregorian materials point out the way for how use the old to serve the new (so that people we could continue the chant tradition) but did not answer the larger challenges posed by the New Lectionary.

      The question of the Propers is really several questions. Do we want to continue the oldest tradition of psalms at these points (but not necessarily sung with chant settings)? Do we want to have simple chant settings of the psalms within the capacity of the people? Do we want to have settings where a response is sung by the people? Do we want to continue the antiphons sung by the choir or cantor (perhaps in Latin) with the psalms texts chanted by the people (perhaps in English).

      Seems like there are a lot of possibilities and the solutions may be different for different situations.

      While entrance hymns (some psalm based) seem good compliments to recessional hymns, there are occasions (Advent, Lent, Funerals) where a ‘lower key’ psalm chant, perhaps even with antiphon might be a meditative rather than a festive beginning.

      Hymns during the Offertory collection are a real problem, holding the book and passing the basket. Constant hymn singing at Communion time is not attractive

  14. Thanks, Paul. Sorry for my lack of knowledge about the history of the antiphons.

    Sorry if I got us off track from the original topic but it appears to my unqualified eye that some are highlighting antiphons, chanting them, etc. and “higher”; “more elevated original latin” as key components of this MR3? Yet, to me, it appears that this is based on assumptions that are unproven and untested. It also assumes that this massive change will help elevate communities/parishes; yet many of the components such as antiphons, chants and when/how to use; etc. seem to have a confusing and contradictory messages. Mr. Flowerday raised one issue where we have competing guidelines – e.g. total church singing vs. inserting antiphons, etc.

  15. Bill, to be fair, I don’t see GIRM 48 as offering “competing guidelines.” In fact, the first preference for participation is a dialogue between choir and assembly. I would assume the practical application with that is an antiphon sung by all, with verses rendered as needed by the choir. Or conceivably where the antiphon is musically difficult, the people could chant the psalm as is done in the Liturgy of the Hours, leaving the advanced piece to the choir.

    Amazingly, the folks at Chant Cafe reject that model and delete my commentary when I offer it. GIRM 48 offers options–practical options. To some people, this is perceived as confusion. It all seems clear to me in a Roman sort of way.

  16. Greg Smith :

    What’s up with +JMJ+ ???

    It means “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.” It’s a rather old school practice (but a lovely one). I’ve seen some old reruns of Bishop Fulton Sheen’s show from the 50’s, and when using a blackboard for illustration purposes he would always write “JMJ” at the top before proceeding.

  17. Re: Gather Us In

    The Calvinist who said that Gather Us In lacks specifically Christian content must have missed this verse:

    “Give us to drink the wine of compassion,
    Give us to eat the bread that is you;
    Nourish us well and teach us to fashion,
    lives that are holy and hearts that are true.”

    How could Bahais, or anybody except Christians, sing about “the bread that is you”? It’s not terribly surprising that a Calvinist would miss the reference.

    Personally, I don’t care for this song, but claiming that it isn’t Christian misses the mark.

  18. I do hope that the issue of the Propers (sung texts in the GR vs spoken in the MR) will be resolved some day. The big problem of the 3-year lectionary cycle is the frequent misaligning of the Propers to the readings. When singing the EF, I find that the Propers are very closely related to all the other texts AND to the texts of the Office for that day. They are NOT just random psalms, but texts (such as Puer natus est or Judica me or Oculi me) that customize the Mass to the day very well. Whatever the reform of the 60s gave us, it took away the beautiful inter-connectivity of all these antiphons and people just dropped in devotional songs. A loss IMO.

    Gather Us In? Besides not aging well, the song’s text is just too congregation-centered for my taste. Some here have pointed to verses that few parishes ever get to.

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