Only approved texts for psalms and canticles!

Won’t reveal what diocese or publishing house this reports comes from. But the diocesan censors there are banning metrical settings of the Benedictus and Magnificat from new congregational resources. Only the official (prose) text from here on out.

So much for helping parishioners sing the Liturgy of the Hours in the unbelievable wide diversity of pastoral situations and available musical resources.

There’s more.

Up until now the U.S. General Instruction for the Roman Missal, as approved by the Holy See, permitted any text to be used for the Responsorial Psalm when the musical setting called for it. No more – at least not if your bishop doesn’t approve. Said diocesan officials are requiring that a notice state that it is up to the local ordinary to permit the use of psalm versions differing from the lectionary.

Don’t know if you can still replace the Gloria with “O Happy Day” – forgot to ask.

23 comments

  1. Regarding the Responsorial Psalm, GIRM 61 states that for the U.S., other than the psalms provided in the Lectionary, Roman Gradual and Simple Gradual, that “an antiphon and Psalm from another collection of the psalms and antiphons, including psalms arranged in metrical form, providing that they have been approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop” [my emphases].

    This would seem to be the basis for the diocese’s actions (in the name of the bishop, I would assume). When you say, “up until now,” do you mean “up until the 2002 GIRM?” Or am I misreading the GIRM on this point (or missing your point)? It might not be the most generous idea to limit other settings, but it looks like the diocese is working within their rights.

    1. Jonathan – yes, you’re correct. Up until now, publishers such as LitPress (St. Cloud diocese) or WLP and GIA (Chicago) or OCP (Portland) have pretty much had their psalm paraphrases and metrical psalms approved without further ado by the Diocesan Bishop – meaning the bishop of the diocese in which the publishing house is – especially since Sing to the Lord and the US GIRM speak approvingly of psalm paraphrases. In fact, the conference or the publishers’ bishops have always had the right not to approve these, as does the bishop in the diocese where the publication is used. So the change isn’t in the policy, technically, but in its implementaiton.
      awr

      1. Fr Anthony… I’d be curious to know what the real attitude towards such settings is being expressed in SttL… it really seems to stress that the “Psalm from the Lectionary should, as a rule, be used”, while noting that paraphrases and metrical settings can be used …if necessary and if approved by the Diocesan Bishop.

  2. Are such settings of the canticles banned entirely, or only from those sections of hymnals that present the order of the Daily Office (where such metric settings have often been found, e.g., in the hymnals of a certain publishing house whose name I won’t mention but whose initials are GIA)? In other words, can they be included as hymns?

    I, for one, have found a metrical setting of the Mangificat to be quite useful as a hymn at Eucharist (specifically at the Preparation of the Altar and Oblations) on the Feast of St Mary the Virgin (i.e., the Assumption of Our Lady).

    1. One would assume that the current practice of allowing these metrical psalms for other parts of the liturgy (like the Entrance, Offertory, Communion chants) would be permissible at least until such time as the Conference or the individual bishop provides a list of texts approved for these parts of the liturgy. Otherwise, the model that Fr. Ahtnony mentioned in the comment at 8:04 would hold. Metrical psalms are provided as an option for all of these settings. That is, unless they are expressly forbidden (not the case here; this only applies to what is allowed for the text of the Responsorial Psalm).

  3. I’m all for having to follow an authorized text … as long as the clergy (including the bishops) also are required to observed the same rule.

    Over the years—especially the last few years of increasing liturgical purity—I have noted with regularity that, be it priest- or bishop-celebrant, the text of the Sacramentary is rarely followed to the letter. Now, there are of course sections of the text where the rubrics clearly say ‘in these or similar words,’ but I’m referencing those portions of the liturgy, particularly the Eucharistic Prayers, where no variation is permitted.

    Perhaps as the Roman Missal is introduced this coming Advent we could install a large gong—cf., The Gong Show—and there could be a panel of judges. And, when the celebrant doesn’t follow the rules—no variations in the following five paragraphs, please—well, you get the picture.

    If truly this is THE opportunity for liturgical renewal that it is being held out to be (though I am always somewhat skeptical of be all/end all solutions) and that the laity should must follow obediently and without question, it is only logical that those who are championing the Roman Missal’s implementation should themselves stick to the script.

    1. “we could install a large gong—cf., The Gong Show—and there could be a panel of judges. And, when the celebrant doesn’t follow the rules—no variations in the following five paragraphs, please—well, you get the picture”

      Ah yes, that really would be the finest “worship in spirit and in truth” we could manage. The fondest vision of the Council Fathers come true. And perhaps there could be a button that would immediately electronically relay the said offence to the Congregation for Divine Mercy and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

      “it is only logical that those who are championing the Roman Missal’s implementation should themselves stick to the script”

      Too late. Archbishop Di Noia and Bishop Roche (and others) have for years been celebrating public Masses with texts (some of which will never be approved because they’ve been changed so many times) unapproved for use as yet, so it will be interesting to see what they do when confonted with priests who use other “unapproved texts” (1973, say, or 1998) after the First Sunday of Advent.

  4. As pointed out by Jonathan Shea, it’s horses for courses. It’s one thing to insist on Scripture only for the Responsorial Psalm – correctly, as it is an integral part of the Liturgy of the Word. It’s another to proscribe scripturally-inspired hymns and other texts used elsewhere in the liturgy. Are we really going to lose ‘All people, that on earth do dwell’ and ‘The Lord’s my Shepherd’?

  5. Anthony: Your source says this decision has been made by “diocesan censors” but someone who’s somewhat higher up the food chain has already canonised doing things the way people are accustomed (be it the Tridentine Rite, the 1973 translation of the Missal, metrical settings of Gospel canticles, liturgical dance or indeed anything pretty much except Allan McDonald’s gem of English translation, the Maryknoll Missal) when he recently said:

    What was sacred for prior generations, remains sacred and great for us as well, and cannot be suddenly prohibited altogether or even judged harmful.

    (Is it true Liturgiam Authenticam says something about not allowing things like “The Lord’s my shepherd” (Crimond) in place of the Responsorial Psalm?)

  6. The rare LOH in local parishes usually has very few musicians (e.g. cantor and accompanist) and very little music (e.g. opening hymn and closing hymn). This Low Office is very inferior in quantity and quality to those provided by the local Orthodox parish.

    The reform of the LOH, aimed at the private recitation of priests, has been a failure in the parishes.

    However, DivineOffice.org has done a good job of modeling the LOH as a recited office for families and small groups. They share the text in various ways among 3-6 persons rather than modeling a leader & congregation.

    On festive occasions, DivineOffice.org models a chanted office, giving parishes some idea of what a dedicated group of 3 to 6 singers might do. They are superior to anything I have experienced in a Roman Rite parish, and use the official text.

    The LOH as a parish office is a lost cause. When I share scripture and my music collection with small groups at my home, the basic model is an Anglican service of interweaved readings, hymns and prayers best exemplified by the Service of Nine Lesson and Carols rather than the Roman model of psalmody or the Byzantine model of liturgical poetry.

    One of the reasons I do not sing in the parish choir is that I do not believe in devoting extensive amounts of practice time to an annual one evening concert (e.g. Christmas). A far better use of that time would be to do live what I do at home with recorded music. Spread the repertory over many services. Call them Bible Services.

    SC 35#4) Bible services should be encouraged, especially on the vigils of the more solemn feasts, on some weekdays in Advent and Lent, and on Sundays and feast days. They are particularly to be commended in places where no priest is available Note this is not in the section of SC on the Divine Office.

    Have bible services led by laity; advertise to the public; bypass liturgical bureaucracies!

    1. What’s the basis for your claims:

      The reform of the LOH . . . has been a failure in the parishes … The LOH as a parish office is a lost cause ?

      Are you talking about particular parishes? Parishes generally? All parishes?

      Or are you only talking about (to quote you) “anything I have experienced.”

      (The thing is, I know of several parishes where it works just fine.)

      1. I think this statement is true. I know many parishes that celebrate Morning Prayer before the celebration of Eucharist. I would bet most don’t know that they are praying the Liturgy of the Hours. The morning prayer takes about 15-20 minutes. It is extremely rare to find a parish that celebrates Evening Prayer. The LOH as the prayer of the entire Church is one reform yet to happen.

  7. Mike Burns :
    I think this statement is true. I know many parishes that celebrate Morning Prayer before the celebration of Eucharist. I would bet most don’t know that they are praying the Liturgy of the Hours. The morning prayer takes about 15-20 minutes. It is extremely rare to find a parish that celebrates Evening Prayer. The LOH as the prayer of the entire Church is one reform yet to happen.

    Just to clarify: it is the case now, as it has always been, that the Liturgy of the Hours (or Divine Office) IS (to quote you, Mike) “the prayer of the entire Church” no matter who, or how many celebrate it (or don’t).

    Each person (or group) that calebrates/recites it does so on behalf of all of us: it IS “the prayer of the entire Church.”

    As for it being “extremely rare to find a parish that celebrates Evening Prayer” I’m afraid I don’t get the relevance: while many Religious and priests who celebrate Vespers do so while paid help is getting their dinner ready in another part of the monastery/rectory, parishes are mostly composed of lay people who, at nearly all ages, are busy doing all kinds of stuff at that time of day; trotting off to church to celebrate Vespers daily would be the second-last thing people would want (an unannounced visit from the Pastor being the LAST!) – but that Office, at that hour, is still (to quote you) “the prayer of the entire Church.”

    1. Your immediate move to talking about the LOH as something religious and priests do in another part of the monastery or rectory is exactly the problem. When I said the LOH is the prayer of the entire Church I did not mean that it is solely the work of religious and clergy. The reform desired to make it the prayer of the entire Church. So those so called paid lay folk you refer to need to be there as well. Liturgy is not a private function. Liturgy is the celebration of the whole body of Christ.

  8. Which approved texts? The psalms in the LOH are not the same translations as the psalms in the Lectionary. Enough already.

    My parish celebrates the Liturgy of the Hours – Morning Prayer. We know it,we know what we are doing. We manage to chant (the approved text) of the Benedictus, though it does go better when there are more among us musically inclined than not.

    I do not think it is a “lost cause”…even in Roman Rite parishes.

    What could make it happen:

    1. For the priests to invite those who already pray the LOH in their parish to join them in praying it publicly and regularly. (I would bet from my own experience there are some people praying the office in all but the very smallest of parishes, but will admit I don’t truly know, as data is not the plural of anecdote, even in things liturgical)
    2. For the parish to offer regular instruction in the LOH, so those who come can join in comfortably and those who wish/must join their voice in individual celebration can do so. No Father, I understand you are swamped, I don’t mean you. Ask some of those lay people in point 1 to do it.
    3. For those who do celebrate the LOH on their own to request its public celebration on suitable occasion, such as during the Triduum, even if their priests have not so offered.
    4. Invest in a dozen or so copies of the one volume version of the LOH to have on hand.

    I’ve been praying the LOH, individually and in common, for almost 30 years. It’s an incredible treasure, I’m not giving up on it easily.

  9. In my former parish we had both Morning Prayer, three psalms and three lessons, and a Roman and Byzantine style vespers followed by benediction. These were all based upon a “bible vigil”, part Anglican, part Byzantine, and
    using Gelineau and Ronald Knox psalms. All with lots of incense.

    MP had a Sarum touch to it. It ended in the baptistery with incensing the font, a sung paschal gospel, and Asperges rite followed by the kyrie or Trisagion, and Gloria.

    The last I saw, these were all well attended to. Byzantine and Anglican features always seem to pack the the house. The Roman LOH alone doesn’t seem to do the trick.

  10. What we need is a directory for parishes which have the LOH on a regular basis much as there exist several directories for Latin Masses. Evidently the LA Archdiocese is beginning such a directory. Send this link to your bishop or diocesan liturgy office and request they do the same for your diocese.

    http://www.archdiocese.la/directories/hours/index.php

    With one possible exception I am not aware of any parish in our diocese that regularly has the LOH such as Sunday Matins among the Greek Orthodox or Saturday Vespers among the Russian Orthodox. There used to be Sunday EF Vespers in a parish that has a Sunday EF Mass. That parish does not have a website.

    Several parishes have Vespers during Advent and/or Lent, but not every year and not every week. Several parishes do morning prayer during the Triduum.

    If we did a comprehensive inventory of parishes, I suspect that less than one percent have the LOH on a weekly basis, especially if one excluded parishes run by religious orders which are obliged to the choral recitation of the Office.

    If we did a comprehensive inventory of parishes, I suspect that the majority will have not done the LOH even once in the past year.

    Diocesan and national inventories of LOH use would reveal the magnitude of the “problem” as well as help people who have found solutions to network with each other and people who are seeking solutions.

  11. “Diocesan and national inventories of LOH use would reveal the magnitude of the “problem” as well as help people who have found solutions to network with each other and people who are seeking solutions.”

    This is a good suggestion! At least in my archdiocese I know of a handful of parishes that celebrate the LOH daily or at the very least weekly, slightly more than 1%, but not much more than that.

    1. The Roman LOH has a future as personal prayer, family and group prayer. More people are discovering it, and the aids on the internet will bring even more. However, as a daily parish stand alone service of 20-30 minutes it has stiff competition from weekday Masses. Even as priest numbers decline, a local parish lists four nearby parish weekday Masses when he is absent. The most likely place for the Roman LOH in the parish may be by adding Vespers before Saturday Vigil Mass, and Matins before Sunday Mass. That may happen if it becomes more popular as personal, family and group prayer which is where I would promote it.

      I agree with Dunstan Harding that the Anglican and Byzantine traditions have much to offer in construction of an appealing 45 to 60 min service that would fulfill the SC call for weekly (but not daily) Bible Services and that could become a key element (with Weekend Liturgy) in parish faith formation

      The Little Rock Scripture Study (with large group lecture) and Generations of Faith (with meal) are popular 90 minute once a week faith formation exercises that include small group discussion. A 45 Bible Service followed by a 45 minute small group discussion perhaps with refreshments would fit very well into these popular parish models.

      I like the Little Rock Scripture Study model of daily scripture study, weekly small group discussion, and weekly large group event all accompanied by prayer. The daily study and small groups meetings in homes can be integrated with the Roman LOH which works well with a lectio divina approach to Scripture study.

      However the video or lecture of the Little Rock model needs to be replaced by a Bible Service which uses the heritage of Anglican, Byzantine and Roman traditions to combine various scripture readings with the hymns, poetry and prayers that are traditional ways of interpreting scripture.

      Scripture study and para-liturgical services should be the heart of parish religious education.

  12. Good! Publishers and their artists should stick to the official liturgical texts.

    Fr. Ruff, stop complaining and act like a monk!

  13. Fr Ruff is a model monk — do you not know that monasticism means not servility but the freedom that comes form hearing the Word of God?

  14. I am sorry to see any reduction of what is available to the people of God in terms of the metrical canticles. However, it is also important to say that, in the materials provided by several (at least) of the church publishers in the USA, it has been harder to find the PROSE text of the Benedictus and Magnificat. It would be better for all concerned if we could have some parity, I think.

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