Liturgy in Collegeville: From the Archives – Part XXIV

Pray Tell continues its series on the liturgical history of Collegeville. The sub-series “From the Archives” reprints some of the Liturgy Committee meeting minutes from 1963 to 1969. This sub-series is a behind-the-scenes look at liturgy in Collegeville during and immediately after the Second Vatican Council.

The next record from the Liturgy Committee:

Minutes of the Liturgy Committee

September 14, 1964

Present were Fathers John, Daniel, Emeric, Michael, Aelred, Brice, Wenceslaus, Leon, Fr. Mederic and Brother Gerard.

After opening the meeting with prayer Fr. John stated that the primary reason for this meeting was the need to adopt suitable action in response to a letter received from Archabbot Rembert, the coordinator of a committee to bring together the liturgical ideas of the American Cassinese and Swiss-American Congregations. We have been asked to submit suggestions along with a poll of the whole community regarding the Divine Office in the vernacular. A questionnaire was discussed and a list of six questions was decided upon.

Discussing the questionnaire, Frs. Daniel and Michael suggested a question dealing with experimentation in choral recitation. Fr. Emeric pointed out the serious need for a careful choosing of the best possible English translation of the Psalms. Fr. Mederic inquired about the possibility of some revision of the present Office, to which Fr. Wenceslaus replied that everything now is provisional because we are probably heading toward a common breviary, the revised Roman breviary, not expected to appear for some time. Fr. Daniel asked whether Fr. Abbot could select a group to experiment with choral Office independently of the main choir. It was noted that some such thing is being done elsewhere, but no conclusive answer was given.

Results of the poll will be correlated with those of other Abbeys and discussed by Archabbot Rembert’s committee which includes Fr. Godfrey (replaced, during his stay in Rome, by Fr. Aelred), Very Rev. Maur Burbach, Fr. Arnold Tkacik, Fr. Aidan Kavanaugh and Very Rev. Damasus Winzen.

Next to be discussed was the Sunday Community Mass. It was suggested by several that beginning Sunday, Sept. 20, the congregation begin to recite the approved English parts of the Mass, with the exception of dialog responses and the Sanctus. Dialog remains in Latin because the celebrant may not use the vernacular until the official change. The Sanctus will be sung in English in preference to its being recited, thus solemnizing the beginning of the Eucharistic prayer. Fr. Leon will see to the insertion of official text leaflets into Our Parish Prays and Sings.

Fr. Aelred objected to the sung Prayer of the Faithful because 1) presently it is unintelligible, 2) singing renders it undue solemnity and 3) this type of prayer is more naturally recited. The committee agreed to having the Prayer read on Thursday (opening day of the school year) and next Sunday.

Fr. Michael remarked that moves to sing Epistles and Gospels in the vernacular according to some inflected form ought to be protested. Such singing detracts from the nature of proclamation required by the sacred texts.

Fr. Brice suggested that hymns and antiphons at Sunday Mass be more regular and less varied to alleviate the problems of the student body faced with learning a new combination each week. He then agreed to handle the choosing of music and any necessary practice and direction for the Sunday Mass.

Fr. John alerted the chaplains to look ahead for feasts when a full community celebration is desirable.

Fr. Leon suggested that something be done to make the “kneeling out” practice more meaningful and less cluttered. Nothing was decided.

Fr. Michael asked about the possibility of having group discussion concerning the practical implementation of the English ritual. The matter will be looked into.

2 comments

  1. Fr. Aelred objected to the sung Prayer of the Faithful because 1) presently it is unintelligible, 2) singing renders it undue solemnity and 3) this type of prayer is more naturally recited.

    Alas, too often the Prayer of the Faithful still suffers from being sung. Aelred was right all those years ago, but the lessons have not been learned and nothing has changed.

    I would add to his list 4) chanting often actively prevents people from absorbing the text of the intentions, even when it is intelligible; 5) the sung form often results in wall-to-wall singing (the seamless garment syndrome) with none of the silent pauses to pray about each intention which this Prayer demands.

    It would be good to have a serious discussion about which parts of the rite actually benefit from music and which do better without it, and about the dynamics and contrasts inherent in the rite which are so often contradicted or nullified by the over-use or incorrect use of music. When I have time, I’ll start a new thread.

  2. I think the problem with most sung intercessions is the same as the problem with most spoken intercessions – they’re almost always too wordy and long. People can’t absorb the text and pray for it if they’re long and confusing.

    If one chanted:
    “Let us pray for the Church…”
    Pause
    “We pray to the Lord, R. Kyrie Eleison, or Lord hear our prayer”

    “For those who serve in public office..”
    Pause
    “We pray…”

    “Let us pray for the poor….”
    Pause
    “We pray…”

    “Let us pray for those affected by war or disease…”
    Pause
    “We pray…”

    “Let us pray for those who have died…,”
    Pause
    “We pray…”

    They could be sung, be understood and prayed by all present, and would truly be universal. The short introductions can be changed frequently (the first could be “Let us pray for the Pope and our Bishop” the next week and “Let us pray for all Bishops” the next).

    I was at a daily Mass the other day and WAS paying attention and had NO EARTHLY IDEA what two of nine intercessions meant. I didn’t make the response since I had no clue what it was exactly that I was praying for.

    Whenever unnamed special intentions come up I’m also very wary… I knew two people, when I was very young, who told me what their special intentions were (I was an altar server and pretty much lived at the church). One was a very nice woman who was terminally ill and didn’t want most people to know. The other was a man who was praying for the death of his neighbor (“I just hate that guy”) – no joke. Since then I usually silently preface any prayers for unnamed special intentions with “Lord hear our prayer.. [inaudibly] if it is Your will.”

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