Liturgy in Collegeville: From the Archives – Part XXXII

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

March 10, 1966

Present were Fathers John, Emeric, Michael, Gerard, Simon, Brice, Kieran, Br. Gerard, Frs. Austin and Bruce.

Father John began the meeting with a question to clarify tenure of the Ad Hoc committee for Wednesday Lenten Masses. Committee was intended for remainder of Lent. All agreed this was their understanding (at least by tacit approval of Fr. John’s comments).

Comments on last Wednesday’s Mass were good. Number of students was about the same. The schola in the body of the church worked out well. It was agreed that the best procedure for recitations and singing would be to follow OPPS exactly as noted in the book. The reader was somewhat rushed, but this will be corrected in the future.

The guitar was again discussed and its merits and demerits were considered. There was general agreement that any instrument can be used in church; the only real condition should be that it is done well. Clifford Howell was quoted as saying, “If guitar, then it should be played by an expert.”

Concrete proposals were the following: in the lower chapel a suitable president’s chair be designed and constructed. Also two stools. Father Cloud, Fr. Roman, Br. Peter, or Br. David should be consulted. It was also suggested that in the Assumption chapel that the glass followers on the candles be removed. In the Abbey church there is need for a substantial stand for the reader at office and at Bible vigils. The present stand is not adequate. The committee was asked to think about it, talk about it, ask about it, that maybe soon we will have a good solution.

A seminarian should be consulted and perhaps incorporated into the Wednesday Ad Hoc committee.

March 21 will most likely follow the same schedule as Sunday, with 10:30 Mass and sermon by Fr. Abbot. It was recommended that Vespers be in English.

Revision of Sunday Vespers has also been proposed but this recommendation must wait until concrete suggestions are presented and worked out.

The need for more “fluidity” in the Sunday Mass, i.e., variation between Low Masses and High Masses was again discussed. There is no need that we sing everything every Sunday. It was agreed that there was no intention to freeze Sunday into one formula. “Occasional” deacon should perhaps mean at least once a month.

With regard to community discussion of things liturgical it was pointed out that the greater need here would be to explain the meaning behind some practices (e.g., a short homily at the discretion of the hebdomadary, use of one’s personal chalice, pauses at the orations, use or non-use of a bookstand) rather than cover ground and perhaps waste time on the stress on rubrics as such.

It was suggested that in the spirit of simplification and meaning, that the office of Sext and None be so arranged that the two beginnings and two conclusions be “amalgamated” into one. Fr. Gerard mentioned that one of the Congregational Committee’s suggestions was that antiphons be dropped throughout the office, but that to do so at the Benedictus and Magnificat would be an impoverishment. With regard to the Capitulum it would be better to have a much longer reading rather than the present single sentence.


Respectfully submitted,

Kieran P. Nolan, osb


  1. Interesting to see that they were familiar with the name and writings of English Jesuit Clifford Howell. Here was a man who campaigned all over the world in the 40s, 50s and 60s for liturgical change, the use of the vernacular, etc. In fact he was banned by some bishops from their dioceses because they found his views too uncomfortable, but his talks, articles, books, translations (e.g. Jungmann, Gelineau, and the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy) were tremendously influential.

    “Cliff” lived to see the fulfilment of his dreams, but, as is sometimes the way with liturgical pioneers, he was in the event not entirely happy with it. It has been said that what he really wanted was a new set of rubrics to substitute for the old.

    Since we are reminiscing, his funeral at Oscott College, Birmingham was notable for the fact that the seminarian deputed to be organist backed out at the very last minute. The seminary rector, Mgr Francis Thomas (later the Bishop of Northampton), threw off his vestments, jumped onto the organ bench, and played extremely well — in fact a lot better than the seminarian would have done. This was a surprise to many, who had no idea that he could even play.

  2. Liturgy was the main topic in ninth-grade religion at my high school. I took that class in 1964–65; consequently, my idea of a liturgy scholar writing for general audiences is Frederick McManus, Martin Hellriegel, or Clifford Howell.
    (My school was not far from St. John’s Abbey. Evidently “Cliff” Howell had developed a following in Minnesota.)
    Father Howell had the honor of getting me into trouble more than thirty years after his death, when I cited him here in support of the practice of kneeling at the Consecration. Father Anthony gently informed me that the consensus on whether the congregation has a part in this action has changed since the publication of “Of Sacraments and Sacrifice” in 1953. Darn.

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