Does the Ordinary Form Have a Distinctive Voice?

Jeffrey A. Tucker, managing editor of Sacred Music and a friendly and thoughtful dialogue partner, has responded at the Chant Café to my report of the CMAA Colloquium XXII in Salt Lake City.

Does the ordinary form of the Roman Rite have a distinctive voice from that of the extraordinary form? One one level, the answer seems obvious. You go to the extraordinary form (EF from hereon) and you hear Latin, chant, silence, and the rubrics, worked out over many centuries, yield a result that can be stunningly beautiful. Happen onto one of many EF Masses that has been instituted over the last ten years, and this is what you experience.

This is what some experience and the the result can be stunningly beautiful, as were the EF Masses at the Collquium. Others experience missae recitatae, with hymns.

The archetype of the ordinary form (OF from hereon) is very different. You hear the vernacular. There is popular music. The rubrics are loose. The atmosphere is casual. It can often be difficult to tell the difference between laxity, approved improvisation, parish tradition, and outright abuse. It all gets mixed up in what often ends up as a liturgical stew that, if observed from preconciliar point of view, would not look like the Roman Rite at all.

I concede the vernacular, popular music, and the casual atmosphere. I need some examples of loose rubrics. “[L]axity, approved improvisation, parish tradition, and outright abuse” are capable of varying interpretations, only one of which I would applaud if “improvisation” means judicious use of legitimate options in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and in the Order of Mass. Again, examples would help. Later in Mr. Tucker’s response he does write, “what I find to be regrettable aspects of the OF: its linearity, its lack of quiet prayers, its reductionism, and, above all, its overemphasis on choices and options” (see below).

So, from the point of view of real-world experience, the question [Does the Ordinary Form Have a Distinctive Voice?] is easy to answer. But at the Sacred Music Colloquium of the Church Music Association of America, we’ve all attempted to show another side to the OF. We adhere to the General Instruction and attempted to present the Mass in light of the larger historical experience of the Roman Rite. We use Mass propers, whether in Latin or English. The celebrant has said the Mass ad orientem, that is, not facing the people. The celebrant is not front-and-center; the sacrifice on the altar is the focus.

We employ silence. The Mass parts are chanted. The dialogues are chanted. The readings are chanted. Vestments are beautiful. We’ve used polyphonic ordinary settings. We do not neglect the Kyrie. The creed is sung. Optional prayers are eliminated as unnecessary innovations. Instead of the Responsorial Psalm, we have typically sung the Gradual chant from the Graduale Romanum. The use of hymns is generally restricted to the recessional. There are lots of other “smells and bells.

I gently question “We adhere to the General Instruction”: There is nothing unnecessary about the restoration of the Universal Prayer (Prayer of the Faithful). Maybe I missed them but I heard no English propers sung in Salt Lake City. The significance of “We do not neglect the Kyrie” is lost on me; Jeffrey, are you saying that Penitential Act A and C are “unnecessary innovations”? Is the responsorial psalm of the new missal an unnecessary innovation? I love smells and bells, used according to an order of progressive solemnity.

The result is something spectacular, something rarely if ever seen in the Catholic world. It is solemn and dignified. It is moving and spiritually fulfilling. Older Catholics who have attended these Masses say that it is easily recognizable as the Roman Rite that they knew from their childhood. Even sophisticated observers are unable to distinguish this OF from the EF. I had people insist to me that this was certainly the Tridentine Rite. Yes, it is missing the prayers at the foot of the altar, the last Gospel, and other pieces of the puzzle, but unless you are specially looking for those, you could easily mistake what you experience for the older form of Mass. ¶It is a beautiful thing to behold. ¶I’ve never really questioned this approach. It strikes me as an obvious proposition that the OF when done properly should look and feel like the EF of Catholic history.

And yet, some comments by one of our faculty do give me pause and cause me to wonder whether this is the whole of the answer to our liturgical problem. Paul Ford, author of the first English simple Gradual called By Flowing Waters, wrote on the blog PrayTell that we really went too far with this methodology. The OF does have a distinctive voice and all our efforts to dignify the celebration have managed to mute that voice.

“[A]ll our efforts to dignify the celebration have managed to mute that voice” is not my verdict. But rather than take a piecemeal approach, I’ll write about the distinctive voice and face of the Ordinary Form in a subsequent post.

Here is what he wrote:

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…. 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.

Professor Ford offers other comments along these lines. He wanted the congregation to sing the propers. He wanted to hear the prayer of the faithful. He wanted more integration between the sanctuary and the nave, and he desired more active participation from the people.

One can argue with his specifics, and the chaplain of the CMAA did so, defending ad orientem and the elimination of the sign of the peace by the people. These defenses were persuasive, in my view, and I remain unconvinced by the specifics that Paul Ford offered.

I will return to the defense of the Mass ad orientem is a separate post.

And yet that leaves the larger question. Is the only path through the reform of the reform to make the OF like the EF as much as possible? Maybe not. The OF certainly does have some merit on its own: the intelligibility of the readings, the openness and audibility of the some prayers, the unavoidable emphasis on deeper involvement of the people in the pews.

Had the postconciliar reforms been conducted with more caution, we might have ended up with all the benefits of reform without experiencing the radical remake that the rite of Paul VI ended up being.

A hearty yes to all this.

But that’s all water under the bridge at this point. The vernacular exists. The OF exists. The calendar was changed. So let us put the question a different way. Does the OF, as it exists in the liturgical books (as distinct from how it exists in the real world) have anything unique about it that needs to be protected from being absorbed by the history of the Roman Rite? I find this question intriguing and the answers not entirely settled.

In general, I think the answer is yes. The Of does offer some uniquely meritorious features that I would not want to see entirely go away. The vernacular is a gift, as Msgr. Schuler used to say. The wider range of readings is a good thing. I can even see that there is a point to the Responsorial Psalm when done well. To my mind, these must be considered against what I find to be regrettable aspects of the OF: its linearity, its lack of quiet prayers, its reductionism, and, above all, its overemphasis on choices and options.

I’ll write about the distinctive voice and face of the Ordinary Form in a subsequent post.

Nonetheless, Ford does raise interesting points. It is undeniable that, for example, polyphonic settings of the Mass ordinary, enjoy a happier existence in the EF than the OF framework (for distinct reasons). Even from the point of view of the liturgical books, the OF does seem to call forth a distinct treatment, and I do believe that Ford might be onto something here. The problem of the reform of the reform might not so easily be addressed with the one standard that the EF provides.

Thank you, Jeffrey, for these thoughtful observations.

Helpful comments anyone?

50 comments

  1. Unlike most church musicians and most everyone in CMAA my professional training is in systematic theology, not music. And my pastoral experience in the choir loft or “music ministry area” has been overshadowed by a lot of service in campus ministry, RCIA, hospital chaplaincy, and other pastoral spheres.

    While I have a deep respect for my sisters and brothers trained in music–from the conservatory to the garage chant schola–I lament the lack of wider vision in the perception of some–only some–of those who are music ministers. I certainly include some of my contemporary colleagues in this.

    As i see it, the point is to move away from the questions of style and distinctiveness of one form over, with, or against another. The 1970 Missal really has yet to take root, and much of the valid criticism of it can be attributed to growing pains. Or a clergy who have mostly not bothered to use the expanded corpus of Lectionary Scripture as the basis for sound preaching and spiritual reflection. The debate over the offertory prayers is a case in point. We could be engaging the wider sweep of salvation history in the Old and New Testaments. We could have propers better aligned to a coherent Sunday Lectionary cycle. Why are some focused on non-inspired texts? What about Amos? St Paul? The Bread of Life discourse?

    And for me, the bottom line is how does the liturgy assist the Church, the faithful, in adopting and embracing a fully evangelical mindset. We exist for no other reason than to lasso non-believers and inactive believers into the fold. Roman insistence on a “Euro-liturgy” is one main reason the Jesuits were pulled back from the evangelization of China in the 17th century. This was a tragedy we risk repeating in an age increasingly drifting into unbelief

    I realize my strong opinions make me persona non grata in CMAA and other reform2 circles. But at some point, the discussion is going to have to be widened beyond the rather peripheral arguments I see presented. When CMAA offers material on evangelization and Scripture and their interface with music, I’ll have a sense the discussion is going somewhere.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #2:
      Todd: “Unlike most church musicians and most everyone in CMAA my professional training is in systematic theology, not music. And my pastoral experience in the choir loft or “music ministry area” has been overshadowed by a lot of service in campus ministry, RCIA, hospital chaplaincy, and other pastoral spheres.

      Charles:”Todd, the flying of your credential colors here and elsewhere one is left to assume that one of two conclusions about competency to comment upon liturgy is implied and inferred.” What does the former qualification above ask the reader to do? If not to establish some sort of credible or perspective distance between CMAA and/or musicans, then what?

      Todd: “While I have a deep respect for my sisters and brothers trained in music–from the conservatory to the garage chant schola–I lament the lack of wider vision in the perception of some–only some–of those who are music ministers..

      Charles: “one of two conclusions about competency to comment upon liturgy is implied and inferred: 1. musicians, novice or veteran, are at best tunnel-visioned busybodies…

      This sort of stuff is exasperating. And I apologize for trying to find out how anyone’s rhetoric projecting their “world view” of how to comment coherently on the subject at hand has provoked my brother Todd to…well, I don’t know what sort of concession he wants, and which derails the discourse for all of us. So, I’ll withdraw. For the record, I unequivocally deny any intent to “push buttons” sensitive to him or anyone for that matter. I will take a page from Dr. Ford and say I find that charge injurious and I pray simply that today, and always “that we all may be one in Christ.”

  2. I can’t believe we’re still having this discussion after 42 years about the OF being somehow unsuitable for polyphonic music, and that the EF is the natural home for it. For years I attended the Pauline rite complete with Ambrosian and Gregorian chant, Mozart, Haydn, Bach, Buxtehude organ pieces, etc, plus the smells and bells. The Roman canon was said in Latin and sometimes EP 3 or 4 in English. The Prayer of the Faithful and the three lessons were always in English as were the collects. Today this old parish uses English Propers,but everything else has remained pretty much the same down through the years.
    The celebrant faced the people. The Great Doxology was accompanied by incense and extra lights. In my opinion, much more solemn and dignified than the Tridentine form ever was.

    We had all the “smells and bells”–actually more of the smells than I can ever remember we had in the EF rite, and very beautiful silk and damask vestments. Communion from the chalice/cup–no intinction and everybody stands for communion. If you want to kneel, provision is made for it.

    The masses were always well attended with people of all age groups and backgrounds. I think it beat anything I ever saw in the EF solemn, missa cantata or pontifical. With all those jerky movements, acolytes bowing and genuflecting all over the place, the bishop’s courtiers carrying all this stuff around wherever he went, and the bishop himself dressed up in that ridiculous gear, muttering away at the altar.

  3. Optional prayers are eliminated as unnecessary innovations.

    I presume this refers to the prayer of the faithful. And, if so, this attitude toward the common prayer of the baptized for the needs of the Church and the world. . . well, it just makes me sad. Vince died this week. But it is an unnecessary innovation that we pray for the repose of his soul at Mass? We are in an ongoing financial crisis. But it is an unnecessary innovation that we pray that our leaders would act wisely and compassionately in response to this? Olivia’s protracted illness continues. But it is an unnecessary innovation that we as a community be called to remember her in prayer?

    1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #4:
      I would tend to agree, however when using EP1, there are specific opportunities times to pray for and remember individual members of the community, both living and dead.

  4. Fritz, exactly, and thank you.

    I would think that, if nothing else, CMAA participants would want to pray for their parishes, their sponsors, their families, for the spread of chant all through the Church. A daily Mass for people on thirty-minute lunches: no prayers of the faithful makes sense. A community of a few hundred that’s effectively on a pilgrimage of music for a week? Inconceivable omission. Even if nobody died or went bankrupt.

    1. @Todd Flowerday-Comment #5
      I am a CMAA participant, and this was my reaction to Jeff’s earnest reflections:
      Excellent analysis and article, Jeffrey, and I concur with your conclusions (if I read them correctly) that a. the OF when practiced ala colloquium could be the tonic by which the Catholic culture reinforms and invigorates the flexible and often erratic manner in which it is celebrated; and b. that Paul’s concerns about elements that Fr. Pasley clarified over at PTB quite handily, nonetheless ought to be considered as to whether they should remain the normative (ie. responsorial psalm, universal prayer, exchange of peace, and so forth.) If we could simply get the USCCB to take notice of the debate….sigh

      Todd, the flying of your credential colors here and elsewhere one is left to assume that one of two conclusions about competency to comment upon liturgy is implied and inferred: 1. musicians, novice or veteran, are at best tunnel-visioned busybodies and at worst malinformed, misintentioned meddlers in these ivory tower-toned discussions; or 2. your opinions are pristinely perfected by your academic and experiential prowess. Frankly, bro’, that’s getting old and irritating. As you have publicly (not privileged information) acknowledged, when you and Tucker shared a microphone in the podcast years ago, both of you found a great amount of common ground, more than you both expected. And you certainly know my MO as a CMAA “participant.” I can’t speak to how many others with whom you’re familiar, but there are a lot who are just as attentive and open as I to proprieties in the OF.
      Fr. Pasley’s commentary in other threads here recently concisely explained (catechesis/rationale) why certain aspects of the OF were done thus and so, basically to illustrate options that are licit and sometimes ideal. I thought you were “down with keeping options alive.”?

  5. @Todd Flowerday-Comment #2

    I’m not sure if I agree that the bottom line of liturgical judgments is how it aids the faithful in adopting a life of evangelism because the Church exists to lasso people into the fold. I definitely agree that evangelism is a central component of all Christian lives and that has a close connection with the liturgy, but liturgy doesn’t seem like a means to some other end – especially if that end is occurring ‘outside’ of liturgy. If it is an act of thanksgiving and glorification rendered to God in his presence, I would think evangelism exists rather to draw the world into the liturgy as an eschatological end in itself.
    Guardini makes a similar observation that liturgy makes for a lousy school for morality in Spirit of the Liturgy (or at least its moral vision is not easily transferred to the rest of life) and ritual theorists (like Catherine Bell) I think may support that observation from the side of the social sciences. Ritual doesn’t seem to exist to communicate ideas or attitudes that could be communicated otherwise.

    Back to the EF/OF, it might be that the OF does have a distinctive voice in that, while more linear and containing fewer formal ritual gestures and movements, it nevertheless avoids by virtue of emphasis on communal participation the pre-VII low mass notion of merely fulfilling the rubrics. The horror stories of priests racing each other to get through the mass seems *mostly* a thing of the past. Now, it is lauded for its dignity and beauty. Further, the EF since the reform has adopted an almost reformed attitude toward intelligibility, even if an intelligibility of the latin (for the most part, I don’t know advocates of the EF who like it because its in a language they don’t know.)

    That being said, many OF celebrations haven’t quite avoided a pre-reform, low-mass attitude. Luckily, as has been pointed out, that seems readily correctable.

  6. It all gets mixed up in what often ends up as a liturgical stew that, if observed from preconciliar point of view, would not look like the Roman Rite at all.

    I am fascinated whenever I see this point made about changes in liturgy, prayers, clerical dress, attitudes, frequency of confession etc, etc comes up whether in real life or on blogs.
    1. The bishops in attendance at Vatican II decided that certain things needed to change to bring us closer to Christ.
    2. Someone complains that something has been changed since before Vatican II.
    3. If whatever is under discussion was changed either at Vatican II or in the years following within the spirit (Spirit?) of Vatican II, criticizing it for being different seems to me to somehow miss the point. You may argue that it shouldn’t have been changed, but that is a different argument.

  7. Given the fact that the OF Mass is the normative Mass in the vast majority of parishes, the question remains what is wrong with its celebration that has led so many to seek the “reform of the reform” and using the non-normative Mass, the Extraordinary Form as the template?
    I personally agree that the options that are available for the OF are there and anyone has a right to use them. I would oppose the elimination of the Universal Prayers, (although I think some get out of hand and are too preachy and to specific). The exchange of peace could be nuanced by better catechesis as to its purpose in the congregation. From what I can tell, very early in the 1970’s there was a lament from serious quarters of the Church that parishes were experiencing a loss of reverence due to a poor vernacular translation of the Mass, casual attitudes about the rites, outright manipulation of them and music that was more banal and secular rather than sacred and presented in a performance way with the choir moving to the front of the church, right next to the altar with its musical instruments becoming liturgical furniture in the sanctuary. Very quickly too, hymns replaced the Introit, “preparatory” and communion antiphons. I would really be interested in what most people experience in the Mass today in their parishes and what the quality is, ritually, participative and musically. Are we still 1970’s casual and improv? Are choirs facing the congregation and acting as they would on an entertainment stage or not? Do parishes invest in the music ministry and try to have one professional coordinate all the Masses or are there little kingdoms of competing musicians at different Masses each with their own style and genre? Perhaps consistency is what is needed and the universality of the EF in terms of style of music, what is sung and what is spoken, a low, medium and high Mass for the OF and each one having specifics of what should be sung or not sung, so that there isn’t always a hodgepodge. At least with the EF’s High or Sung Mass, nothing was left to the imagination, everyone knew what was chanted and what wasn’t and did it as prescribed not as they felt and so there wasn’t the imposing of one’s perspective on what the Mass should be, what was done and should be done is read or chant the black and do the red.

  8. “the flying of your credential colors …”

    Just giving perspective, a perspective that’s outside of the world of music for music’s sake.

    “Frankly, bro’, that’s getting old and irritating.”

    Of course it is. But no less so than the insistence on an unreformed and unresponsive 1962 Missal.

    You are right, there is a great deal of common ground. I think we have to get past the caricatures, that’s all. If you want me to be direct: I just don’t think CMAA and Jeffrey represent enough of a vision of what the Church is intended to be.

    “I would think evangelism exists rather to draw the world into the liturgy as an eschatological end in itself.”

    That would be a position worth exploring. But my sense would be that liturgy is made for people, not people for liturgy. That refinements such as organic development, even if sincerely advocated (and I’m not sure they always are) still take second chair to the worship of God and the sanctification of the faithful, including the Gospel-mandated mission of believers.

    There’s a sound theological and pastoral position well to the progressive side of what Jeffrey and CMAA present here. An honest discernment will include that consideration.

    I’m still convinced, from the conciliar and post-conciliar documents that the best “voice” of the 1970 Missal is not one of cultural style but one of evangelical outreach.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #10:
      But no less so than the insistence on an unreformed and unresponsive 1962 Missal.
      Last I checked, this post and combox thread offered (FINALLY) a really good dialogue between Jeffrey and Paul Ford et al as whether the OF has a distinctive voice. One might expect to hear saints and angels singing Hallelujahs and the rest of us going “And there was great rejoicing.”
      But one of the two of us still has to grind the axe about BlJ23’s Missal instead of staying on topic. You call for no caricature, but you resort somewhat predictably to whatever contradiction is on the rolodex. There’s a sound theological and pastoral position well to the progressive side of what Jeffrey and CMAA present here. An honest discernment will include that consideration.

      I’m still convinced, from the conciliar and post-conciliar documents that the best “voice” of the 1970 Missal is not one of cultural style but one of evangelical outreach.

    2. @Todd Flowerday – comment #10:

      Todd Flowerday – comment #10:
      But no less so than the insistence on an unreformed and unresponsive 1962 Missal.
      Last I checked, this post and combox thread offered (FINALLY) a really good dialogue between Jeffrey and Paul Ford et al as whether the OF has a distinctive voice. One might expect to hear saints and angels singing Hallelujahs and the rest of us going “And there was great rejoicing.” But one of the two of us still has to grind the axe about BlJ23′s Missal instead of staying on topic. You call for no caricature, but you resort somewhat predictably to whatever contradiction is on the rolodex.
      Why couldn’t you just have skipped down to this part:
      There’s a sound theological and pastoral position well to the progressive side of what Jeffrey and CMAA present here. An honest discernment will include that consideration. I’m still convinced, from the conciliar and post-conciliar documents that the best “voice” of the 1970 Missal is not one of cultural style but one of evangelical outreach.
      Well then, “Rejoice and be glad…yours is the Kingdom of God!”
      But just when we acknowledge thar’s room ’nuff in town for all of us, and truth be told, that the practical musicians who are also quite dedicated to the evangelical aspects that (gasp) actually draw and lasso converts and reverts to cross the Tiber and yet and still try to use the best of the fourth option because of demographic, political and yea even artistic concerns, we’re still told the R2 is disingenous and the TLM is deficient. Who here is really about “both/and” versus “either/or?”

      # 12 by Charles Culbreth on July 20, 2012 – 8:09 pm

  9. Hymns didnt “replace” the introit. Before the reform, Catholics didn’t know anything about introits. That was a versicle published in the altar missal that noone ever saw. The reform of the gathering rite made it clear that we are not simply individuals who showed up at Mass to fulfill an obligation by saying prayers, but an assembly of God’s priestly people who have come together to be the church at prayer. A church that begins its worship with silent and individual prayers and who become united in the singing of God’s praise. There are countless good and robust songs, hymns, and psalms that are suitable for this purpose of both traditional and contemporary composition.
    Why anyone would question the responsorial psalm is totally beyond my grasp. Our parish knows nearly a hundred psalm antiphons and many complete psalms. Led by the cantor, the assembly responds prayerfully to the First lesson. This is the prayer of the church, not the schola cantorum’s or the men’s choir.
    I am convinced that the reform has been so successful that it explains some decline in attendance but not for the cynical reasons advanced by the naysayers. Rather, the rite–especially where it includes prophetic teaching–makes clearer the meaning of worship in spirit and truth. The people get that there are disconnections or misconnections in the lives they lead throughout the week and the life that is celebrated in the sacred liturgy. Some can’t bear that dissonance and have opted out, not because of some banality in the rites but because it is too painful for them to respond to the call to holiness.
    I sincerely believe that the EF folks, as sincerely motivated as they no doubt are, are looking for an experience of worship that is so ethereal that it is nearly completely disconnected from daily life. They want beauty and brevity and incomprehensibility. I believe that most Catholics are looking for a connection with God’s kingdom that makes it possible for them to make more sense of the crazy world and culture of which they are a part.

    1. @Jack Feehily – comment #11:
      I think your characterization of EF folks is completely off the mark because your comment is pretty much a mirror image of comments I have seen from some traditionalists: that the OF is for those who do not wish to have a close and challenging relationship with God while the EF is – the OF is the one that hides the meaning of worship in spirit and truth while the EF makes it clearer.

      The problem with a lot of these discussions is that people on either side can’t seem to fathom that other people are different. I never found the OF challenging in any way – it’s way easier to tune out the Gospel message and go on auto pilot for me there, in my opinion. However, I don’t think that is true for other people, and think it wrong to assume that people attend the OF for “bad” reasons.

      There seems to be too much of a preoccupation with taging EF folks as somehow being intelectually or spiritually deficient because they don’t see in the OF what its advocates see.

  10. I see yet again more dichotomy than there should be. It is unfortunate that certain styles of less desirable music are actually accepted as a legitimate norm for the OF, and that better music is considered normative for the EF. There is nothing, nothing!, inherent in the OF by the operation of which faux folk music, et al. is the music which belongs to and characterises the OF. I’m wondering, likewise if the EF couldn’t be similarly ruined (though I would hate to see it) by musical settings of the propers and motets that were in a ‘sacro-pop style; the point being that tacky music is not a whit more inherent in the OF than in the EF, as long as the right and proper texts are used. There is no dichotomy between these two forms of the Roman rite. The problem is the people who seem to believe that the NO is their chemistry set.

    I’m not saying these things because I would like to see someone trash the EF. I’m saying them because I’m tired of people trashing the OF under the utterly erroneous understanding that it is basically an experimental pot pouri. I’m saying these things because I believe ardently that, in the mind of the fathers of the council, the same quality of music was envisioned (albeit in English and a genuinely modern style [as opposed to merely ‘contempory’ drivel]). Great numbers of people saw fit to ruin the NO because it was just exactly what they wanted to do at that time. If Vatican II hadn’t happened when it did, there is no reason to suppose that these same sorts of people wouldn’t have worked their horrors on the EF. True, the EF has all these presumably iron-clad rules and rubrics: but if certain sorts of persons wanted to, they could use guitars and combos with the propers in a so-called-contemporary style, just as they have all but destroyed the Mass of Paul VI. by doing this to it.

    Just for the record, I much prefer Paul VI’s mass, especially when it is celebrated by Anglican Use people.

  11. “Indeed that would be irritating… but wasn’t someone just saying something about getting past caricatures?”

    I think, Samuel, you’ve confused caricature with disagreement. When Charles puts these words into my mouth:

    “1. musicians, novice or veteran, are at best tunnel-visioned busybodies and at worst malinformed, misintentioned meddlers in these ivory tower-toned discussions; or 2. your opinions are pristinely perfected by your academic and experiential prowess.”

    He has exaggerated a position for the purpose of ridicule and scoring a rhetorical point.

    When I say the 1962 Missal is unreformed by Vatican II, I’m stating a fact.

    Each set of comments is likely to cause the grating of teeth in some corners. Charles knows me well enough to know what buttons to push. And I have no doubt that many traditionalists are bothered when a Church council is mentioned.

    Getting back to the topic, the distinctive “voice” of the liturgy should be Christ’s. And the unity of the Roman Rite isn’t dependent on the various ways music, architecture, preaching, art, and human culture present that voice. The desire for uniformity is a dead end.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #17:
      When I say the 1962 Missal is unreformed by Vatican II, I’m stating a fact.

      Except that you didn’t just call it “unreformed,” you also called it “unresponsive.” The first is technically true in some legal sense. The 2nd is not, which is seen in the different ways the liturgy is celebrated today than in 1962. The movement for the EF is nothing if not a “response” to the Vatican Council. Those of us who are involved work hard to assimilate what was good about the Council’s reforms and about the liturgical movement (though there’s obviously a lot of disagreement about where to draw these lines). Many of us have spent huge amounts of time studying and thinking about these issues. It’s not unresponsive… and that’s where its caricature for starters.

  12. To Todd’s last point:

    “Getting back to the topic, the distinctive “voice” of the liturgy should be Christ’s. And the unity of the Roman Rite isn’t dependent on the various ways music, architecture, preaching, art, and human culture present that voice. The desire for uniformity is a dead end.”

    I think everyone can agree that the distinctive voice of the liturgy should be Christ’s – EF and OF adherents alike. Working out what best express this voice is what is happening in this thread, and at most OF Masses. Perhaps that is a point we should understand.

    The Council invited the dialog and exploration. Did it intend the dialog to persist in real time within the context of the Mass as well as outside of it? If the dialog becomes contentious in threads like this, it stands to reason that it can become contentious at the Mass itself.

    Maybe this accounts for the discord many of us perceive when trying to pray and worship at an OF Mass. It is evident in the mixing of styles and obvious incongruity of elements: a rite and a representation of the heavenly banquet that is not yet worked out.

    Incongruity itself is not beautiful. But…it is a necessary part of working toward a solution. And there is a kind of intellectual beauty in that. I would venture to say that Todd has more tolerance for this incongruity because he recognizes that it has a higher purpose. It is a mirror of our ongoing, earthly struggle to tame the elements and work things out amongst ourselves. This point is a heady one, but one with considering.

    Those who find themselves at odds with what I propose is Todd’s position aren’t looking to solve all of these human problems within the context of the Mass. They’d prefer the Mass be something removed from earthly struggle. They seek a harmonious beauty that invites them, through its form alone, to participate in the heavenly banquet.

    Both points of view are valid.

  13. Arlene, I appreciate this response.

    The line, “Let all contention cease,” from Paul Benoit’s hymn is more a petition than a stated reality. It may be that not only do I have a tolerance for incongruity, but I have a realistic expectation of it, even in liturgy.

    “Both points of view are valid.”

    Agreed, in the sense that at different times in a person’s life, their need in liturgy may vary. There are times, yes, when I need a break from earthly struggles. But there are also times when God sees fit to use the liturgy to give me a kick in the butt, perhaps to go and proclaim the Gospel in my life.

    As long as a faith community is committed to good liturgy, an honest presentation and proclamation of the Scripture and the rites, I have no doubt that grace will provide the needed refuge or impetus as needed, even in the same community, even at the same moment.

    I recognize that some believers look to the tried-and-true to accomplish this. Some others look a little beyond. The Church needs both.

  14. The OF has great potential of many excellent distinctive voices because of its many options.

    However, in order to create a distinctive voice, one has to reduce those options to a predictable few, and shape them. (cf. Mahrt, The Musical Shape of the Liturgy). The following examples come from my favorite local parish

    The most effective option to create a beautifully shaped predictable Mass is a sung Eucharist Prayer every Sunday with sung responses by the people. This focuses attention on the essentials of the Mass rather than the diversity of the liturgical year and potential chaos.

    This option is further enhanced by Entrance, Communion and Recessional hymns that are well known, a shape understood by most USA Catholics.

    This local parish’s liturgy is further shaped by an option not available to most parishes. Its pastor is a scripture scholar who proclaims the Gospel from memory standing on the top step of the altar platform (followed by an excellent scriptural based homily). During the Gospel, the Book of the Gospels is held open (facing the priest) by the server standing in the midst of the large open space before altar (the space from where the homily will be preached which is the center of the congregation assembled on three sides). This is an extremely impressive statement (without music) of the shape and high point of the Liturgy of the Word.

    This Gospel shaped Liturgy of the Word is begun with the Entrance Hymn and ended with sung responses to the Prayers of the Faithful, the three readings are separated by music. This simple shape is heightened by never using the Confiteor and saying rather than singing the Gloria and Creed on Ordinary Sundays.

    This liturgy is an outstanding example of the noble simplicity of the Roman Rite.

    Now being a lover of the Byzantine Rite I would make it a little more ornate by singing the Creed and Lords Prayer to the same familiar and easily sung by the people polyphonic settings used in my local Orthodox Church, providing high point polyphonic responses by the people to both the Liturgy of the Word, and the Eucharist.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #21:

      Having answered the question Yes there are many possible excellent distinctive voices in the OF) let me question the question: Does the ordinary form of the Roman Rite have a distinctive voice from that of the extraordinary form?

      Having only“a” distinctive voice is not an advantage. The many ritual traditions both in the East and the West are multiple “distinctive voices,” an inherent part of the catholicity of the Church. The OF with its capacity to create “distinctive voices” for many local churches is a great gift to the catholicity of the Church.

      The implied contrast of the distinctive voice of the EF with a possible distinctive voice of the OF is about as helpful as talking about the distinctive voice of the Roman Rite in comparison to the distinctive voice of the Byzantine Rite. It is very subjective, a matter of differences in spirituality (the various good ways of living out Christian life).

      Spiritualities (“distinctive voices”) are vital to the catholicity of the Church; however they contain the great danger of spiritual pride and lack of charity, i.e. my spirituality is good or best for everyone and is superior to someone else’s spirituality (voice) or their lack of distinctive spirituality(voice) as common, run of the mill Catholics.

      The gift of Vatican II opened the possibility of many more spiritualities in the Church, especially spiritualities appropriate to our times and our cultures. Historically, the Holy Spirit has repeatedly created (usually from below and the periphery through movements and religious orders) spiritualities more appropriate to times and places.

      Much of the conflict around Vatican II is about competing spiritualities (old and new). Healthy competition improves the distinctiveness and attractiveness of spiritualities and the catholicity of Catholicism; unhealthy competition full of spiritual pride destroys love and threatens the catholicity and even unity of the Church.

      1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #26:

        Jack: The gift of Vatican II opened the possibility of many more spiritualities in the Church, especially spiritualities appropriate to our times and our cultures. Historically, the Holy Spirit has repeatedly created (usually from below and the periphery through movements and religious orders) spiritualities more appropriate to times and places.

        Thank you for pointing this out. I remember attending charismatic Masses when I was a junior or senior in high school. By that time I was already a few years into my ardent traditionalist phase. I dismissed the charismatics out of hand as ignorant rubes who got suckered into hearing a barely valid guitar Mass.

        It’s true that the priest who directed the ministry took great liberties with the Sacramentary. Sadly, my indignation about his rubrical indiscretions blinded me to his great gift of perceiving the emotional needs of his assembly. He knew exactly why his assembly came to his Masses. He knew many of them as a spiritual father through his twelve-step ministries. The good father must have shaped his Masses around the affective needs of individuals in recovery. His Masses contained liturgical dance, glossolalia, “profane instruments”, pretty much everything that an 18 year old with a two bit Latin education and a worn St. Joseph’s Daily Missal could disparage.

        I still have great difficulty with laypersons distributing the eucharist. I don’t know if I’ll ever bring myself to receive communion in the hand. If it weren’t for the Council broadly and especially the postconciliar liturgical liberalizations in particular, these and other practices which undoubtedly aided his assembly to recovery would not be possible. The practices which we “traditionalists” cringe at allowed the good father to stretch his hands from a stiff Tridentine orans and truly embrace his assembly liturgically.

  15. I wish I had more time to respond to this thoughtful post, but for now I’ll comment only on the notion of “popular music” as found in the OF.

    While certainly, there seems to be more “modern, pop-style” music making its way into liturgical celebrations (for good or for bad – that’s another thread), hymns are not really “popular” music, are they? At least not anymore?

    Not being a musicologist, and it being a long time since I read Dom Ruff’s tome on the history of sacred music, I’m not speaking as an expert. However, if hymns were at one time “popular” music, they are not now.

    I know of very few people in today’s age who would claim hymns as the “music of the people” in any context but worship.

    I suppose we sing hymns in some other limited contexts: the national anthem is something of a hymn but not really…

    So, hymns have become, almost exclusively, worship music, not “popular” music…I don’t hear them on the radio, people don’t sing them at social gatherings, or really, anywhere other than church.

    Even many liturgical “songs” (not hymns, properly speaking) sound more like “church music” than “popular music”. I suppose that has much to do with instrumentation, performative issues, etc.

    But, can we really claim that hymns are “popular” music? I don’t think so, but am open to discussion.

  16. Two brief (really) comments:
    One of my observations on the Sacred Music emphasis on beauty is that the beauty taken for granted is that of a classic world view — that OF COURSE beauty is Mozart and Bach and Hyden and Pergolisi. They ARE beautiful. But cultivating the classically beautiful in the interests of transcendence is perhaps more culturally restricted than necessary and or even historically naive. After all, Pergolisi and polyphany were once controversial church music. Whatever else it is, a truly Christian aesthetics is transformational, seeing the beauty of resurrection in a man whose suffering was so wretched, he no longer looked human. The beauty of Christian liturgy is in its transformative power, which is not restricted to classical Sacred Music. Evangelicals using Praise & Worship music also report a transporting transcendence in their worship.
    Second, I also disagree about liturgy being for the sake of bringing non-believers into the RC fold. It’s for its own sake (a la Guardini), but doing something for its own sake DOES change us, communicate to us that in doing this we encounter God’s love for us and are summoned to reflect on our love for each other; this is, after all, the ultimate be all and end all of human life — so it cannot be done for the sake of anything else.
    When we do that effectively, whether it’s a marvelous choir or the children’s slightly dissonant offerings, the “fruits” of our eucharistic celebrations should lead to an increase of faith, hope, and caritas among us, and for the world at large.

  17. Replacing introits by hymns counts as an “abuse”? Funny, my memory of worship in the 1950s suggests that this “abuse” was common. Maybe we should go back and start rooting out abuses in the pre Vatican II Church?

  18. I’m afraid that when Jeffrey Tucker asks whether the Ordinary Form has its own distinctive voice, I am tempted to reply “Does it matter?” or “Who cares?” The question also seems to be to ignore the fact that the Ordinary Form is supposed to be inculturated and in that respect not only is it different from the Extraordinary Form but it means that each and every manifestation of it will not be the same as any other. It is therefore legitimate to ask whether it is actually possible for the Ordinary Form to have its own distinctive “voice”, which once again makes Jeffrey’s question a non-question.

    Having said that, it is of course possible to make an Ordinary Form celebration resemble as closely as possible the Extraordinary Form (the Oratory Fathers in London are adept at doing this), but is that actually ignoring the purpose of the Ordinary Form and its inculturability.

    I would like to suggest that the implications of SC 1 are relevant to our discussion here.

    1. @Paul Inwood – comment #33:
      “it means that each and every manifestation of it (OF) will not be the same as any other …”
      Drawn to its conclusion we’d see this manifest itself in the self-selecting community that distorts the concept of rite. Don’t see this in the roadmap provided by the council fathers (SC).

  19. Two points, post-Vatican II inculturation may well be the elephant in the room that needs a “reform of the reform” as I would agree with Paul’s statements above and the fact that inculturation has made the Ordinary Form of the Mass so diverse that there is greater divergence from Ordinary Form Mass to Ordinary Form Mass, than compared to a Latin Mass in the Ordinary Form ad orientem and the Extraordinary Form Mass. Since when has inculturation become an “idol” that is above re-evaluation and reform? That re-evaluation and reform desperately needs discussion, visual examples and yes reform.

    In terms of hymns sung during the Mass prior to Vatican II, while this may have been the case in the Low Mass and perhaps even in the Sung Mass in local parishes, never was the Introit, Offertory and Communion antiphons substituted by these, they were either spoken by the priest (mandatory) and or sung by the choir in addition to any other hymns.

    1. The fact that the antiphons were still recited by the priest is one of those notional realities that was a perfection of liturgical legalism. It’s a 1% truth, in a sense – there is a some truth to it, but it’s at the margins of the substantive experience.

  20. But the point is that even in a low Mass the antiphons were always recited out loud even if there was a 4 hymn sandwich and in the sung Mass these were always chanted in addition to any hymns or motets. These additions were just that additions not replacements for the official introit and antiphons.

  21. Fr Allan

    And my point remains. I understood that, and my reaction is precisely what said previously. So long as the priest did X, it was done and efficacious, et cet. I understand the thinking behind that, and it’s wanting. (I am not talking validity; I am talking about the impoverished legalistic mindset behind it.)

  22. Paul Inwood : Having said that, it is of course possible to make an Ordinary Form celebration resemble as closely as possible the Extraordinary Form (the Oratory Fathers in London are adept at doing this), but is that actually ignoring the purpose of the Ordinary Form and its inculturability. I would like to suggest that the implications of SC 1 are relevant to our discussion here.

    I would say it isn’t ignoring the OF’s inculturability if by inculturation you mean celebrating Mass in a way that is relevant to – or influenced by – the culture in which it is being celebrated. Traditional or “Tridentine” style OF Masses would seem to be as much a type of inculturation as anything else, especially since the EF was a major part of Western culture.

  23. “The 2nd is not.”

    1570-1962: about as much of a response to the spiritual needs of believers and the world as dried ink. It’s why the “organic development” meme is laughable.

    “Don’t see this in the roadmap provided by the council fathers (SC).”

    The council bishops didn’t give a roadmap; they were the first splash of a very long swim.

  24. “The 2nd is not.”

    1570-1962: about as much of a response to the spiritual needs of believers and the world as dried ink.

    That’s from your VAST experience of EF celebrations, Todd?

    All these folks who attend the EF Masses around here because they think it’s a response to a spiritual need they have are just deluded?

  25. Samuel, no. It’s a simple reading of history and culture.

    No one denies that the unreformed Missal wasn’t and isn’t still of great appeal to many folks who attend and worship. But that doesn’t mean the rite is responsive to the needs of people, or the advent of significant cultural and artistic expressions in languages other than Latin.

    Unresponsive = unable, unwilling to reform according to the spiritual needs of the faithful.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #42:
      No one denies that the unreformed Missal wasn’t and isn’t still of great appeal to many folks who attend and worship. But that doesn’t mean the rite is responsive to the needs of people,

      You can only say the 1st and the 2nd together if the people in the first either aren’t people or if the appeal that it has doesn’t respond to a need. I don’t require you to admit that it responds to the needs of all people everywhere and at all times, that would be ridiculous. But it’s equally silly to make blanket statements

      Why is it so important to put it down in generalities instead of dealing with the actual situation? In an environment where many people in positions of authority in the Church still seek to limit the freedom of the people to worship according to the 1962 rites if they desire, it’s unkind to go around making blanket statements like that the 1962 rite “about as much of a response to the spiritual needs of believers and the world as dried ink.”

      It may not be response to the spiritual needs of all believers, but it clearly is a response to the needs of some of them… something you should be willing to admit, or at least not deny.

  26. Todd – if I may add another dimension to your well stated posts.

    Past weekend spent with the last college seminary class I was dean for – 25 year celebration at St. Vincent’s Parish in St. Louis staffed by Vincentians. Stayed at the rectory along with Vincentians from that class who now serve in Africa, Central America, and in the Soulard area of St. Louis.

    Interesting event on Saturday – the area was once very depressed; large federal housing projects, high unemployment, homeless, etc. Some of the neighborhood is going through gentrification. But, St. Vincent’s has a remarkable group of parishioners who live and practice the outreach of Vincent dePaul. Their parish accepts, welcomes, and incorporates the area folks in their liturgy – very social justice; very diverse, etc. Yet, only 10 blocks away is one of the largest churches in St. Louis; now staffed by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priests.

    Vincentians staff Hosea House across the street from this church (one of that class serves there). Since the only mission appears to be providing the TLM to folks in the archdiocese, the staff repeatedly and often call Hosea House and complain that “one of their people” is bothering them e.g. knocking at the door, sitting in the church, trying to sleep beside the church, etc. Vincentians also have an apartment complex three blocks away that will become a temporary place for the homeless this fall.

    My point – to reinforce your earlier comments about the EF/TLM as a *culture* but a *culture* that only is focused on its liturgy – no sense of mission; no reflection of the direction of Vatican II documents; a sense that folks are made for the liturgy rather than that liturgy is made for people. Reminds one of the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees.

    It is difficult to see the TLM/EF as just another *culture* today i.e. hispanic, vietnamese, african, etc. Need to make a more nuanced distinction.

  27. Samuel, it would be my contention that the 1962 does not serve the needs of the larger Church in either worship or in the prime activity of evangelization. The ossification of liturgy from 1570 onward was addressed by the world’s bishops in council.

    As to the response of the liturgical and spiritual needs, you may be wandering down a dangerous path there, my friend. Women religious might say inclusive language is a need. Including feminists amony non-vowed lay women, and they still outnumber worshipers in the 1962 Rite. Are you saying that is a proper response to need: the particular inculturation of liturgy to such spiritual testimony and numbers?

  28. As a first time visitor to your site, I feel as an outsider might feel in witnessing an impassioned and heartfelt family disagreement. Therefore, I am offering these observations with a certain hesitation, but in the knowledge that this discussion is an important one. After reading all your comments, I pulled my copy of Joseph Ratzinger’s Theological Highlights of Vatican II hoping for some insight into these discussions. In reading his observations from both the first session (First Debates on the Liturgy Schema) and the third session (The Problem of Divine Worship) it seemed to this member of the laity a good place for all parties to this debate to find some common ground/common purpose. I will not be tempted to paraphrase the words of this spirit filled journey, but I will say that you may be surprised by the insights. For those who would like to purchase a copy, it was reissued by the Paulist Press in 2009.

  29. Todd Flowerday : The ossification of liturgy from 1570 onward was addressed by the world’s bishops in council.

    Sure, but did the postconciliar liturgy that emerged 8 years later solve the problems in the 1962 missal?

    I think, mainly following Laszlo Dobszay, that a wonderful opportunity to solve the problem was lost, and instead of a reformed Roman liturgy we ended up with something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the Roman liturgy.

    This didn’t solve the problem: The historic and surprisingly ancient Roman liturgy isn’t going away, and its current manifestation (the 1962 missal) has only become more ossified in the last five decades.

    Meanwhile those of us who prefer that ancient liturgy, even in its admittedly problematic Tridentine form, to the nice-in-many-ways but mainly rootless 1970 liturgy, are probably just going to increase in number. And we are all *still* looking for a solution.

  30. Hi Ben,

    I’d be the last to suggest that the 1970 missal solved all the problems of the Roman liturgy. Only an uninformed few would suggest it was anything other than an interim effort.

    It’s a fascinating discussion to ponder what “Roman” liturgy is. Is it inextractable from Rome as one focal point of Western European culture and art? For a church with pretensions (and hopefully more) of universality, I sure hope so.

    The search for a “solution,” however we define it, will always be in process on this side of heaven. I suspect that my traditional sisters and brothers are just less comfortable with the mess of mortal existence than I am. I don’t think that even the “historic … ancient” Roman liturgy escapes human foibles, sins, politics, and the demonization of the other.

  31. Thanks Todd, you’re right: I should avoid closed phrases like “solve the problem” — there will be no definitive solution in this life.

    But my current thought is that in many ways the postconciliar liturgy ignores the problem entirely.

    The question of universality and the value of a “Roman” liturgy outside of a Western context is indeed fascinating — as is the question of whether it is desirable for entirely new liturgical traditions to come into being.

    Apart from those discussions, though, there remains the fact that, if Dobszay is right, the Church had an ill but living and deeply-rooted liturgical tradition in 1962 and has done little since then either to address its illness or to hand it on.

    We EF-lovers see this as a big problem, and one that’s in a different category from the basic messiness of human existence — i.e., it’s a discrete, understandable, serious, and fixable mistake. And the “fix” (i.e., taking the older liturgy seriously again at the normal parish level) need not be opposed to the continued existence and growth of the postconciliar liturgy.

  32. Hi Ben,

    I’m less familiar with Laszlo Dobszay’s positions on this. I admit I haven’t read the man.

    My sense is that the number one purpose of SC and the conciliar liturgical reform was active participation. It was assumed that by having the assembly engage directly and actively in worship, other elements, including the elements of a liturgical spirituality, and an outward-looking evangelical mindset would follow. An optimistic view, perhaps, and possibly not always justified in the modern age. But not wholly ineffective, either.

    The ways in which post-conciliar liturgy ignores the problem would be in matters many liberals as well as some conservatives have already criticized: Liturgiam Authenticam and the English translation of MR3.

    My sense is that the “fix” of the 1962 Missal lies less in the particulars of ars celebrandi and more in the intentionality of many traditional communities.

    If I were inclined to whine, I would say that the 1970 Missal bears the impossible burdens and expectations of making every Sunday and holy day Mass “high,” of multiple weekly funerals, weddings, and school Masses. While traditional parishes and oratories do much of this, and likely do it well, my suspicion is that they do it well because they want to do it well, and are committed to it. Such is not the case for most Catholics. Nor will it ever likely be.

    As for what 1970 has right that 1962 doesn’t: reformed rites in all the sacraments, an expanded Lectionary, and a trimming away of peripherals that, to many believers, obscure the centrality of Christ. I would also say that 1970 has corrected an exaggerated focus on Good Friday, bringing Holy Thursday, Easter, and Ascension into an appropriate refinement of the Paschal Mystery and its celebration/observance/connection in the liturgical life of the Church.

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