I spent the last week of June in Salt Lake City, in the shadow of the jewel-like Cathedral of the Madeleine, attending my first-ever colloquium (their twenty-second) of the Church Music Association of America.
Nearly 300 people from all over the country (and some from overseas) focused their attention and energies on preparing eucharistic liturgies in the ordinary and the extraordinary forms in days (over-)packed with the liturgy of the hours, chant rehearsals and seminars, breakout sessions, polyphony rehearsals, pre-liturgy lectures, and evening events. Even the young (20% of the attendees?) found it difficult to keep up! (And I thought an NPM Convention was busy!)
Audio and video files of the entire colloquium are beginning to be available here.
The faculty were top-flight. I spent five days with the Dutch choirmaster Wilko Brouwers in his seminar, “Style and Interpretation in Chant Performance.” An audio of the first 75 minutes is available here. Some videos of him from the recent past are posted on the web: phenomenal, and in the most gentle way. I (and my students, I trust) will be reaping the fruit of these days for many years to come.
The hospitality of the Madeleine Choir School and of the Cathedral was Benedictine in its warmth and thoroughness.
I was completely caught off guard by the Tuesday pre-Mass lecture of Gregory Glenn, director of liturgy and music at the Cathedral of the Madeleine since 1990 and, since 1996, pastoral administrator of the Madeleine Choir School, a role that includes teaching daily, upper-grade courses in Theology. Of his 5000 words, Glenn spent 1000 explaining the motto of the school, Caritas Christi urget nos, “The love of Christ compels us.”
I also welcome you to the cathedral that is the home for the People of St. Mary Magdalene – she who was the first witness of the Lord’s resurrection, the loyal friend of Jesus who remained beneath his cross while others fled in fear and shame, and, if we may be so bold to say, the Apostle to the Apostles. Our patroness has hounded heaven on behalf of this local diocese and in particular for this school and cathedral church placed under her care. In gratitude for her patronage, we seek to be faithful witnesses of the Lord risen in glory, to not abandon him when he suffers today in the hungry, the stranger, the sick or the imprisoned, and to be loyal friends of the God who in Jesus of Nazareth became small for us. The Choir School’s motto is taken from the communion antiphon for the Solemnity of St. Mary Magdalene as found in the Roman Missal: Caritas Christi urget nos.
We are gathered here this week in the house of St. Mary Magdalene because all of us are deeply passionate about the liturgy. And for good reason: in the liturgy, we are privileged to join the great prayer of Jesus Christ and his body the Church, addressed to the Father who is rich in mercy, and united in the commerce of their love in the Holy Spirit. We join our Savior’s prayer of thanksgiving, sacrifice, remembrance, and intercession for the many needs of the church and the world. It is in this sense that we can firmly assert just why we are so passionate about the liturgy: the liturgy will save the world.
Our current age has such great need. The young people who are gathered at this colloquium with us this week may rightly question what my generation has left to them: those of us who have gone before them have tried and failed in many ways to shape a just and fair society; we are rapidly consuming and poisoning the vast natural resources of our planet; we are seemingly powerless to fix the problem of famine and hunger for a billion fellow human beings, and standing by while the gap between the rich and the poor of the world continues to grow . . .
These three paragraphs of his first eighteen may convey a sense of Glenn’s breathtaking passion for liturgy that does justice, liturgy that saves the world. I was under the spell of this talk for the rest of my week.
This CMAA Colloquium was the perfect venue for experiencing the reform of the reform at its most exemplary. Readers of this blog will know that I am not convinced that the ordinary form of the Mass can be enriched (let alone needs to be enriched) by the extraordinary form in ecclesiology, sacramental theology, or pneumatology, although the latter can contribute to the former its ars celebrandi and its standard of musical composition and music making.
Morning Prayer and Compline were sung in the extraordinary form in Latin or in English. The English translation seemed to be an adapted Douay-Rheims and was pointed in ways that could have better honored the accentual cadences of the English language by a judicious use of the permissions, July 8 and December 12, 1912, of the Sacred Congregation for Rites, in the case of verses which terminate on monosyllables, for abrupt mediations in psalm tones. I’d be happy to collaborate in the production of Morning Prayer and Compline in the ordinary form in Latin or in English for future colloquia.
The eucharistic liturgies at the colloquium demonstrated the ordinary form under the heaviest influence of the extraordinary form, perhaps out of respect for the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter members and parishioners in attendance—the mutual enrichment of Summorum Pontificum seemed to flow in only one direction. All Masses were celebrated ad orientem. We knelt for communion and received on the tongue (it felt forbidden to stand for communion [even by those with knee replacements] or to want to receive communion in the hand). In the ordinary form Masses there was no prayer of the faithful on Tuesday or Thursday; additionally—perhaps except on Sunday, at the regular parish Mass, but I was not there—there was no exchange of the greeting of peace and there was no communion under both kinds. The ICEL missal chants were unevenly attempted. More specifically:
Tuesday, June 26
Mass: Votive Mass, St. John Baptist, Ordinary Form
The assembly sang the Mass responses and the recessional, “Ut Queant Laxis.”
Wednesday, June 27 (I didn’t attend)
Mass: Requiem Mass, Extraordinary Form Missa Cantata
The assembly sang the Mass responses, Kyrie, the Dies Irae, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei.
Thursday, June 28
Mass: Ordinary Form, Latin: Feast of St. Irenaeus
The assembly sang the Mass responses, Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei.
Rev. Guy Nicholls, Birmingham Oratory, sang beautifully and preached a splendid homily.
Friday, June 29
Mass: Sts. Peter and Paul, Extraordinary Form, Class I
The assembly sang the Mass responses, Credo I, and the hymn, “The Son of Man,” a fine new text composed by Kathleen Pluth and sung to the tune, NEWMAN, by Richard Perry.
Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth preached a splendid homily and swept me up to heaven with his singing of the Preface to the tonus solemnior. My heart-stopping moment was during the singing of the Kyrie from the Messe Solennelle Op. 16 (1906) by Louis Vierne.
Saturday, June 30
Mass: Votive BVM, Ordinary Form
The assembly sang the Mass responses and the Ordinary chants from Mass IX; a woman sang the first reading.
Sunday, July 1 (I didn’t attend)
Mass: 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Ordinary Form
I believe that the assembly sang the Mass responses.
The 280-page Colloquium book was painstakingly prepared and beautifully printed with all the music sung at the liturgies. When I saw all the chants printed out, I looked forward to singing them, especially the ordinaries and the communions. As you can see (above), the assembly didn’t get to sing most of them. I wanted more chanting by the congregation at the ordinary form Masses, especially the communion antiphons, and of the ordinary at Masses in either form—when we did, it was glorious. (I also wish we had sung the ICEL chants from the new missal at the ordinary form Masses.)
After Colloquium XXII, I remain unconvinced that the ordinary form of the Mass can be (or needs to be) enriched by the extraordinary form in ecclesiology, sacramental theology, or pneumatology.
Although the extraordinary form’s ars celebrandi and its standard of musical composition and music making were august, I am not convinced that we need to celebrate the ordinary form ad orientem. The wise presider gets himself out of the way by directing his attention to the assembly, to the word, to what he is doing, and to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
GIRM 69 tells us that “[i]t is desirable that there usually be [the Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful] in Masses celebrated with the people, [because i]n the Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful, the people respond in some sense to the Word of God which they have received in faith and, exercising the office of their baptismal Priesthood, offer prayers to God for the salvation of all.” There were 300+ people at the ordinary form Masses of the Colloquium.
There was no singing of the eucharistic prayer by the concelebrants even though GIRM 218 says, “It is a praiseworthy practice for the parts that are to be said by all the concelebrants together and for which musical notation is provided in the Missal to be sung.”
Finally the Rite of Peace does not appear optional in GIRM 82.
Please God, I plan to attend Colloquium XXIII, to be held again (I believe) in Salt Lake City; and I recommend it to members of the NPM and the readers of Pray Tell. I hope that soon the publications of the CMAA will be exhibited at NPM conventions and that some of the faculty of the colloquium will be invited to present at NPM conventions and vice versa.
(My personal guidelines in this report were: “Seek the good and praise it” and “Raise pertinent issues in a evenhanded way.” Correct me clearly but gently if I have not lived up to my standards.)