Saturday, 26 December 2009

Happy Christmas!

To our readers, may you have a very blessed and holy Christmas and Christmas season!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Photo of the Day: what's happening

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

The Nativity of Our Lord - Solemn Proclamation - sing it at Christmas Mass

The New Liturgical Movement have posted a revised English version [] of the Christmas Proclamation, and commenters have posted a link to the more simple version prepared by the great Father Samuel Weber.[]


Sunday, 6 December 2009

Laetabundus - the Christmas Sequence

Courtesy of Richard Rice and New Liturgical Movement - chant the Christmas Sequence: Laetabundus

Pope Benedict XVI chooses to celebrate Mass Ad Orientem (on a freestanding altar)

In another example to the whole Church, the Holy Father has recently chosen to celebrate Mass (in the Ordinary Form) ad orientem in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.  Importantly, in the newly restored Chapel the altar is detached from the wall - is free-standing - allowing for Mass to be celebrated facing the people or facing liturgical East.  Accordingly, the Holy Father's choice is significant.

See New Liturgical Movement for more.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Pope Benedict XVI meets with artists in the Sistine Chapel and addresses them on Beauty

Image: courtesy Felici Fotographia

Below is the address of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, to artists delivered in the Sistine Chapel during an event sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of John Paul II's Letter to Artists of April 4, 1999, and also on the 45th anniversary of Paul VI's address to artists of May 7, 1964.

Dear Cardinals,

Brother Bishops and Priests,

Distinguished Artists,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With great joy I welcome you to this solemn place, so rich in art and in history. I cordially greet each and every one of you and I thank you for accepting my invitation. At this gathering I wish to express and renew the Church’s friendship with the world of art, a friendship that has been strengthened over time; indeed Christianity from its earliest days has recognized the value of the arts and has made wise use of their varied language to express her unvarying message of salvation. This friendship must be continually promoted and supported so that it may be authentic and fruitful, adapted to different historical periods and attentive to social and cultural variations. Indeed, this is the reason for our meeting here today. I am deeply grateful to Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture and of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church, and likewise to his officials, for promoting and organizing this meeting, and I thank him for the words he has just addressed to me. I greet the Cardinals, the Bishops, the priests and the various distinguished personalities present. I also thank the Sistine Chapel Choir for their contribution to this gathering. Today’s event is focused on you, dear and illustrious artists, from different countries, cultures and religions, some of you perhaps remote from the practice of religion, but interested nevertheless in maintaining communication with the Catholic Church, in not reducing the horizons of existence to mere material realities, to a reductive and trivializing vision. You represent the varied world of the arts and so, through you, I would like to convey to all artists my invitation to friendship, dialogue and cooperation.

Some significant anniversaries occur around this time. It is ten years since the Letter to Artists by my venerable Predecessor, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II. For the first time, on the eve of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the Pope, who was an artist himself, wrote a Letter to artists, combining the solemnity of a pontifical document with the friendly tone of a conversation among all who, as we read in the initial salutation, "are passionately dedicated to the search for new ‘epiphanies’ of beauty". Twenty-five years ago the same Pope proclaimed Blessed Fra Angelico the patron of artists, presenting him as a model of perfect harmony between faith and art. I also recall how on 7 May 1964, forty-five years ago, in this very place, an historic event took place, at the express wish of Pope Paul VI, to confirm the friendship between the Church and the arts. The words that he spoke on that occasion resound once more today under the vault of the Sistine Chapel and touch our hearts and our minds. "We need you," he said. "We need your collaboration in order to carry out our ministry, which consists, as you know, in preaching and rendering accessible and comprehensible to the minds and hearts of our people the things of the spirit, the invisible, the ineffable, the things of God himself. And in this activity … you are masters. It is your task, your mission, and your art consists in grasping treasures from the heavenly realm of the spirit and clothing them in words, colours, forms – making them accessible." So great was Paul VI’s esteem for artists that he was moved to use daring expressions. "And if we were deprived of your assistance," he added, "our ministry would become faltering and uncertain, and a special effort would be needed, one might say, to make it artistic, even prophetic. In order to scale the heights of lyrical expression of intuitive beauty, priesthood would have to coincide with art." On that occasion Paul VI made a commitment to "re-establish the friendship between the Church and artists", and he invited artists to make a similar, shared commitment, analyzing seriously and objectively the factors that disturbed this relationship, and assuming individual responsibility, courageously and passionately, for a newer and deeper journey in mutual acquaintance and dialogue in order to arrive at an authentic "renaissance" of art in the context of a new humanism.

That historic encounter, as I mentioned, took place here in this sanctuary of faith and human creativity. So it is not by chance that we come together in this place, esteemed for its architecture and its symbolism, and above all for the frescoes that make it unique, from the masterpieces of Perugino and Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Rosselli, Luca Signorelli and others, to the Genesis scenes and the Last Judgement of Michelangelo Buonarroti, who has given us here one of the most extraordinary creations in the entire history of art. The universal language of music has often been heard here, thanks to the genius of great musicians who have placed their art at the service of the liturgy, assisting the spirit in its ascent towards God. At the same time, the Sistine Chapel is remarkably vibrant with history, since it is the solemn and austere setting of events that mark the history of the Church and of mankind. Here as you know, the College of Cardinals elects the Pope; here it was that I myself, with trepidation but also with absolute trust in the Lord, experienced the privileged moment of my election as Successor of the Apostle Peter.
Dear friends, let us allow these frescoes to speak to us today, drawing us towards the ultimate goal of human history. The Last Judgement, which you see behind me, reminds us that human history is movement and ascent, a continuing tension towards fullness, towards human happiness, towards a horizon that always transcends the present moment even as the two coincide. Yet the dramatic scene portrayed in this fresco also places before our eyes the risk of man’s definitive fall, a risk that threatens to engulf him whenever he allows himself to be led astray by the forces of evil. So the fresco issues a strong prophetic cry against evil, against every form of injustice. For believers, though, the Risen Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. For his faithful followers, he is the Door through which we are brought to that "face-to-face" vision of God from which limitless, full and definitive happiness flows. Thus Michelangelo presents to our gaze the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End of history, and he invites us to walk the path of life with joy, courage and hope. The dramatic beauty of Michelangelo’s painting, its colours and forms, becomes a proclamation of hope, an invitation to raise our gaze to the ultimate horizon. The profound bond between beauty and hope was the essential content of the evocative Message that Paul VI addressed to artists at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council on 8 December 1965: "To all of you," he proclaimed solemnly, "the Church of the Council declares through our lips: if you are friends of true art, you are our friends!" And he added: "This world in which we live needs beauty in order not to sink into despair. Beauty, like truth, brings joy to the human heart, and is that precious fruit which resists the erosion of time, which unites generations and enables them to be one in admiration. And all this through the work of your hands . . . Remember that you are the custodians of beauty in the world."

Unfortunately, the present time is marked, not only by negative elements in the social and economic sphere, but also by a weakening of hope, by a certain lack of confidence in human relationships, which gives rise to increasing signs of resignation, aggression and despair. The world in which we live runs the risk of being altered beyond recognition because of unwise human actions which, instead of cultivating its beauty, unscrupulously exploit its resources for the advantage of a few and not infrequently disfigure the marvels of nature. What is capable of restoring enthusiasm and confidence, what can encourage the human spirit to rediscover its path, to raise its eyes to the horizon, to dream of a life worthy of its vocation – if not beauty? Dear friends, as artists you know well that the experience of beauty, beauty that is authentic, not merely transient or artificial, is by no means a supplementary or secondary factor in our search for meaning and happiness; the experience of beauty does not remove us from reality, on the contrary, it leads to a direct encounter with the daily reality of our lives, liberating it from darkness, transfiguring it, making it radiant and beautiful.

Indeed, an essential function of genuine beauty, as emphasized by Plato, is that it gives man a healthy "shock", it draws him out of himself, wrenches him away from resignation and from being content with the humdrum – it even makes him suffer, piercing him like a dart, but in so doing it "reawakens" him, opening afresh the eyes of his heart and mind, giving him wings, carrying him aloft. Dostoevsky’s words that I am about to quote are bold and paradoxical, but they invite reflection. He says this: "Man can live without science, he can live without bread, but without beauty he could no longer live, because there would no longer be anything to do to the world. The whole secret is here, the whole of history is here." The painter Georges Braque echoes this sentiment: "Art is meant to disturb, science reassures." Beauty pulls us up short, but in so doing it reminds us of our final destiny, it sets us back on our path, fills us with new hope, gives us the courage to live to the full the unique gift of life. The quest for beauty that I am describing here is clearly not about escaping into the irrational or into mere aestheticism.

Too often, though, the beauty that is thrust upon us is illusory and deceitful, superficial and blinding, leaving the onlooker dazed; instead of bringing him out of himself and opening him up to horizons of true freedom as it draws him aloft, it imprisons him within himself and further enslaves him, depriving him of hope and joy. It is a seductive but hypocritical beauty that rekindles desire, the will to power, to possess, and to dominate others, it is a beauty which soon turns into its opposite, taking on the guise of indecency, transgression or gratuitous provocation. Authentic beauty, however, unlocks the yearning of the human heart, the profound desire to know, to love, to go towards the Other, to reach for the Beyond. If we acknowledge that beauty touches us intimately, that it wounds us, that it opens our eyes, then we rediscover the joy of seeing, of being able to grasp the profound meaning of our existence, the Mystery of which we are part; from this Mystery we can draw fullness, happiness, the passion to engage with it every day. In this regard, Pope John Paul II, in his Letter to Artists, quotes the following verse from a Polish poet, Cyprian Norwid: "Beauty is to enthuse us for work, and work is to raise us up" (no. 3). And later he adds: "In so far as it seeks the beautiful, fruit of an imagination which rises above the everyday, art is by its nature a kind of appeal to the mystery. Even when they explore the darkest depths of the soul or the most unsettling aspects of evil, the artist gives voice in a way to the universal desire for redemption" (no. 10). And in conclusion he states: "Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence" (no. 16).

These ideas impel us to take a further step in our reflection. Beauty, whether that of the natural universe or that expressed in art, precisely because it opens up and broadens the horizons of human awareness, pointing us beyond ourselves, bringing us face to face with the abyss of Infinity, can become a path towards the transcendent, towards the ultimate Mystery, towards God. Art, in all its forms, at the point where it encounters the great questions of our existence, the fundamental themes that give life its meaning, can take on a religious quality, thereby turning into a path of profound inner reflection and spirituality. This close proximity, this harmony between the journey of faith and the artist’s path is attested by countless artworks that are based upon the personalities, the stories, the symbols of that immense deposit of "figures" – in the broad sense – namely the Bible, the Sacred Scriptures. The great biblical narratives, themes, images and parables have inspired innumerable masterpieces in every sector of the arts, just as they have spoken to the hearts of believers in every generation through the works of craftsmanship and folk art, that are no less eloquent and evocative.

In this regard, one may speak of a via pulchritudinis, a path of beauty which is at the same time an artistic and aesthetic journey, a journey of faith, of theological enquiry. The theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar begins his great work entitled The Glory of the Lord – a Theological Aesthetics with these telling observations: "Beauty is the word with which we shall begin. Beauty is the last word that the thinking intellect dares to speak, because it simply forms a halo, an untouchable crown around the double constellation of the true and the good and their inseparable relation to one another." He then adds: "Beauty is the disinterested one, without which the ancient world refused to understand itself, a word which both imperceptibly and yet unmistakably has bid farewell to our new world, a world of interests, leaving it to its own avarice and sadness. It is no longer loved or fostered even by religion." And he concludes: "We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past – whether he admits it or not – can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love." The way of beauty leads us, then, to grasp the Whole in the fragment, the Infinite in the finite, God in the history of humanity. Simone Weil wrote in this regard: "In all that awakens within us the pure and authentic sentiment of beauty, there, truly, is the presence of God. There is a kind of incarnation of God in the world, of which beauty is the sign. Beauty is the experimental proof that incarnation is possible. For this reason all art of the first order is, by its nature, religious." Hermann Hesse makes the point even more graphically: "Art means: revealing God in everything that exists." Echoing the words of Pope Paul VI, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II restated the Church’s desire to renew dialogue and cooperation with artists: "In order to communicate the message entrusted to her by Christ, the Church needs art" (no. 12); but he immediately went on to ask: "Does art need the Church?" – thereby inviting artists to rediscover a source of fresh and well-founded inspiration in religious experience, in Christian revelation and in the "great codex" that is the Bible.

Dear artists, as I draw to a conclusion, I too would like to make a cordial, friendly and impassioned appeal to you, as did my Predecessor. You are the custodians of beauty: thanks to your talent, you have the opportunity to speak to the heart of humanity, to touch individual and collective sensibilities, to call forth dreams and hopes, to broaden the horizons of knowledge and of human engagement. Be grateful, then, for the gifts you have received and be fully conscious of your great responsibility to communicate beauty, to communicate in and through beauty! Through your art, you yourselves are to be heralds and witnesses of hope for humanity! And do not be afraid to approach the first and last source of beauty, to enter into dialogue with believers, with those who, like yourselves, consider that they are pilgrims in this world and in history towards infinite Beauty! Faith takes nothing away from your genius or your art: on the contrary, it exalts them and nourishes them, it encourages them to cross the threshold and to contemplate with fascination and emotion the ultimate and definitive goal, the sun that does not set, the sun that illumines this present moment and makes it beautiful.
Saint Augustine, who fell in love with beauty and sang its praises, wrote these words as he reflected on man’s ultimate destiny, commenting almost ante litteram on the Judgement scene before your eyes today: "Therefore we are to see a certain vision, my brethren, that no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived: a vision surpassing all earthly beauty, whether it be that of gold and silver, woods and fields, sea and sky, sun and moon, or stars and angels. The reason is this: it is the source of all other beauty" (In 1 Ioannis, 4:5). My wish for all of you, dear artists, is that you may carry this vision in your eyes, in your hands, and in your heart, that it may bring you joy and continue to inspire your fine works. From my heart I bless you and, like Paul VI, I greet you with a single word: arrivederci!

Source: Vatican News Service

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Wish you were here

"Sometimes even the Ordinary becomes Extraordinary, as I experienced last night. I actively participated in the most beautiful Mass it has ever been my privilege to attend, completely by chance (well, except for that whole bit about guidance from the Holy Spirit!) because only the night before in this city I am visiting I learned of what I thought would be a concert. It's a parish of 700 families, but they had a special Mass in honor of All Souls day. What made it so exceptional?

Arriving an hour before Mass began I found more than 150 young seminarians, cassock and surplice, seated quietly, filling the front dozen or so pews on the right hand side. Then the people began to dribble in. Families, mostly, with an enormous abundance of children. They kept coming until the 1500 seats in the church were filled.

Meanwhile the instrumentalists were tuning up, surprisingly quietly, in the loft as the choir made its way into position. An altar boy, perhaps four and a half feet tall, entered to light candlesticks that towered far more than twice his height.

Precisely at 7:30 the entry procession began. Led by the Cross bearer flanked by two candle bearers, it entered at a doorway to the left of the sanctuary, wended itself to the back of the church and up the main aisle. Included in the procession were the celebrant, eight fellow priests including his deacon and subdeacon, and the newest Bishop-elect in the United States (and most likely the world) all vested in black. They were led by forty-five altar boys, the censor and boat bearer, book bearer, master of ceremonies, all of whom made their obeisance to the altar with a precision that equals any military branch of the Church Militant. Throughout the procession and arrival at the altar, the choir and orchestra intoned the Requiem of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which indeed was the music of the entire Mass.

The Mass itself was a Novus Ordo Mass, celebrated ad Orientam. It was never rushed or hurried, but followed the music which was quite evidently never accompaniment, but instead was the actual prayer of the Mass. The people were active and attentive throughout. Even the children remained docile, taken up by the awesome majesty present in the church. The time of the sermon was used as a time of teaching, a reminder that the fear of death and reluctance to accept it is a characteristic of mankind that we need not maintain as God's saved people.

Perhaps the greatest vision of the evening was the consecration. As the church bell tolled, the celebrant, facing the East, elevated the host while the eight priests and the bishop looked on. They in turn were surrounded by the altar boys, the last row of which included 6 candle bearers, who knelt immobile for the duration. It was an image of massed members of our Church all looking earnestly in the direction of God, present through the miracle of our Eucharist.

At the proper time the congregation made its way to the communion rail where we knelt to receive the Body on our tongues, presented by three priests and altar boys with patens. We then returned to our places to await the end of the Mass, our blessing and dismissal, and the exit procession. And we all stayed.

While I am not often given to crying at a Mass, this night was an exception. There was beauty, majesty, and glory in the air - right along with the incense. And there was a reminder of the fact that a Mass, be it Ordinary or Extraordinary Form, can elevate us just as Christ willed when He told His disciples to do this in His memory."

- by priorstf at [] recounting All Soul's 2009 at St. Agnes Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA (their long history of dignified and proper Masses continues.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Can women chant at Mass?

The short answers are:

In the Extraordinary Form, yes (no surprise there), but they are not to form part of a choir of clerics (a "clerical choir") situated in the sanctuary (inside the altar rails).  So, the choir should be placed outside of the sanctuary (and, typically being composed of men and women and usually often do not wear any particular vestments or robes).  The Church's norms from early in the 20th century that suggested the answer was "no", were actually saying "yes, provided..." (as above). 

In the Ordinary Form, the same answers should apply.

Grab a look at Jeffrey Tucker's recent article getting to the bottom of this here

How to do the Offertory Chants?

This is one way: the more complicated, but authentic.

This exceedingly rare book appeared in 1935 to provide the complete offertory verses for the Offertory chant in the Roman Rite of Mass.

Note that these are not Psalm tones but thoroughly composed chants that add a beautiful dimension to the chant at this point in Mass.

It is a much-valued addition to the CMAA's liturgical library, applicable to the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms.

Buy it here and/or download it for free from here []

Thursday, 8 October 2009

What were they thinking? Time to restore Sanctuaries

YOU know the feeling.  You chance upon a beautiful church; usually revivalist Gothic.  With bated breath you stop.  Approach expectantly, hoping, and enter with trepedation.  Only to find...

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Chironomy: conducting Gregorian Chant

"Chironomy, like all conducting, is nothing more or less than the visual, the manual reproduction of the essential skeleton of the music, with the purpose of inducing the singers to execute it according to the
ideas the conductor wishes to express."
Read this to learn how to go about conducting your schola:

Jeffrey Tucker of the New Liturgical Movement says it: "has written the best, perhaps even the only, complete tutorial in conducting chant according to the Solesmes method, which is known as chironomy. This guide was first published in 1955 by the Gregorian Institute of America, and is republished in 2009 by the Church Music Association of America. It is no substitute for a live lesson but it is the best tutorial in print."

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Holy Communion on the tongue whilst kneeling: mandatory

At least that's now the case in the Cathedral of Lima, Peru.

To receive holy communion at the Cathedral-Basilica of Lima, Perú, the faithful must now kneel in addition to receiving only on the tongue. For that purpose, two kneelers are now put before the steps of the high altar at the moment of Communion, just like in Papal Masses.

In his sermon on September 20, 2009 in the Cathedral, Juan Luis Cardinal Cipriani Thorne, Archbishop of Lima, made the following statement:

"The most respectful way of receiving the Eucharist is kneeling and on the tongue. We must recover a sense of respect and reverence due to the Eucharist, because the love to Jesus is the center of our Christian lives. Our souls are at stake."

The Archbishop -- who has tried to make Lima a "Eucharistic City" -- also exhorted his flock to adore the Eucharistic Lord in the more than 70 adoration chapels in the city.
Of course, we should remember it's also the universal law throughout the Church already.  It's only indults (exceptions) that permit local bishops to allow faithful to receive any other way. 

The spurious argument that "but just because we receive in the hand and standing doesn't mean we express any lesser respect and reverence to the Eucharist" sort of misses the point: 40 or so years of this practice has played a part in lessening belief in the Real Presence, but not making it abundantly clear to all at all times, what we believe is happening and what the Eucharist really is.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

An Orthodox approach to Liturgy

It’s been said many a time: the Orthodox were less than impressed with the Catholic Church’s liturgical reform as it was implemented after Vatican II. Today’s reflection from Robert Moynihan on ZENIT highlights this yet again.

Commenting on the Holy Father’s meeting with Russian Orthodox Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev (in anticipation of significant developments in Catholic-Russian Orthodox relations) Moynihan notes:

...On Sept. 18, inside Castel Gandolfo, the Pope's summer palace about 30 miles outside Rome, a Russian Orthodox Archbishop named Hilarion Alfeyev, 43 (a scholar, theologian, expert on the liturgy, composer and lover of music), met with Benedict XVI, 82 (also a scholar, theologian, expert on the liturgy and lover of music), for almost two hours, according to informed sources. (There are as yet no "official" sources about this meeting -- the Holy See has still not released an official communiqué about the meeting.)

...What is occurring in Hilarion's visit to Rome, then, may have ramifications not only for the overcoming of the "Great Schism," but also for the cultural, religious and political future of Russia, and of Europe as a whole.

It is especially significant, in this context, that Hilarion, Kirill's "Foreign Minister," has some of the same deep interests as Benedict XVI: the liturgy, and music.

"As a 15-year-old boy I first entered the sanctuary of the Lord, the Holy of Holies of the Orthodox Church," Hilarion once wrote about the Orthodox liturgy. "But it was only after my entrance into the altar that the 'theourgia,' the mystery, and 'feast of faith' began, which continues to this very day.

"After my ordination, I saw my destiny and main calling in serving the Divine Liturgy. Indeed, everything else, such as sermons, pastoral care and theological scholarship were centered around the main focal point of my life -- the liturgy."


These words seem to echo the feelings and experiences of Benedict XVI, who has written that the liturgies of Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday in Bavaria when he was a child were formative for his entire being, and that his writing on the liturgy (one of his books is entitled "Feast of Faith") is the most important to him of all his scholarly endeavors.

"Orthodox divine services are a priceless treasure that we must carefully guard," Hilarion has written. "I have had the opportunity to be present at both Protestant and Catholic services, which were, with rare exceptions, quite disappointing Since the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, services in some Catholic churches have become little different from Protestant ones."

Again, these words of Hilarion seem to echo Benedict XVI's own concerns. The Pope has made it clear that he wishes to reform the Catholic Church's liturgy, and preserve what was contained in the old liturgy and now risks being lost.

Hilarion has cited the Orthodox St. John of Kronstadt approvingly. St. John of Kronstadt wrote: "The Church and its divine services are an embodiment and realization of everything in Christianity... It is the divine wisdom, accessible to simple, loving hearts."

These words echo words written by Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, who often said that the liturgy is a "school" for the simple Christian, imparting the deep truths of the faith even to the unlearned through its prayers, gestures and hymns.

Hilarion in recent years has become known for his musical compositions, especially for Christmas and for Good Friday, celebrating the birth and the Passion of Jesus Christ. These works have been performed in Moscow and in the West, in Rome in March 2007 and in Washington DC in December 2007.

Closer relations between Rome and Moscow, then, could have profound implications also for the cultural and liturgical life of the Church in the West. There could be a renewal of Christian art and culture, as well as of faith.

Note Archbishop Hilarion's age: 43.

Monday, 21 September 2009

A picture: what do you say?

High Mass in Germany after the war:

Image courtesy: CathCon and St Louis Catholic

Some poignant observations of a "Reform" Carried Out

Some commentators to Jeffrey Tucker's post below give a clear insight into the "reform" as carried out in some parishes.  Here are selected comments below; surely, we saw much of this in Australia too...

I was around during the liturgical upheavel of the 1970's, I remember vividly the first NOvus Ordo Mass on Palm Sunday 1970, and the disapointment of the people, as we had been told that the adjustments to the Old Rite made in the years between 1965 and 1970 would be the final changes, that THIS was the Liturgy that the Council Fathers wanted. THen came the Novus Ordo with the outlawing of Latin, the disapperacne of Chant, the enforced break-up of choirs, vestments, statues, communion rails, altars and of whole sanctuaries. Communion by laypeople, standing, even on the hand, followed. Professional liturgists and singers tried to force us to learn a new liturgy and new songs, but to no avail: catholics remained from then on forever silent. Kumbaya and HOsanna-hey-sanna just could not replace Et cum spiritu tuoa and Tantum Ergo in our hearts and upon our lips. I was 16 when the demise began - at least, when it hit my parish - and have seen thousands upon thousands leave the Church as a result of it. Troughout the world the same story can be told. It was the professionals against the parish preists and the lay faithful then too. Don't beleive the official version of the post-conciliar era. THe victors always write the official history to suit themselves.

Albertus, your account is pretty much as I remember things but the Novus Ordo actually was introduced on the First Sunday of Advent 1969 and not on Palm Sunday.

Many of the things you describe took place before the Novus Ordo came on the scene. From the first changes on the First Sunday of Lent 1965 until the Novus Ordo came there was a period of great disruptiom (to which you allude). The EF, as used in most churches on the Sunday before the Novus Ordo came in was, in fact, barely recognisable.

One major change that came on that same Advent Sunday was the replacement of the provisional english translation by the less accurate and more banal ICEL translation. One week we all said "And with your spirit" while the next week we said, "And also with you."
David M. O'Rourke

Thank you for this excellent article. The myth that you describe well is holding back many priests and parishes from improvements to liturgical music that would greatly help the life of prayer of the people.
Another factor I have found is that the " ching, ching-a-ching" Church music of the seventies is an embarrassment to the young people it is mistakenly intended to attract.
Fr Tim Finigan

I am an old geezerette and I remember when the Mass was changed, the paper missals on the pew, the awful empty feeling in my heart. I was planning to become Catholic but walked away after that. I finally joined the Church about 15 years later and tried to live with the bland liturgy and music.

Now I am thrilled to be able to attend a TLM once in a while, and the parish and choir I belong to now sings some traditional Latin hymns and some chant.

I will be attending the pilgrimage and Gregorian chant workshop in DC. I have no doubt that it will be one of the highlights of my life.

Indeed, the Novus Ordo was supposed to be introduced on the first Sunday of Advent 1969, but the Vatican allowed Ordinaries to delay this introduction until as late as Palm Sunday 1970, which was the case in my diocese. Before that date, Our parish ahd introduced only the strictly necesary minimum of mandated adjustments to the Old Rite. I remember Palm Sunday explicitly, because, for the first time something else was sung instead of Pueri Hebraeorum during the Palm procession: it was Hey sanna ho sanna (or something like that) our of Jesus Christ Super Star. I remember the horror and shock as the professional liturgists tried to practise this song with the faithful a half hour before the start of Mass. I remember also, that, perhaps in that same year or a year later, our beloved old augustianian priest, who for years regularly helped to distributed Holy Communion at the Sunday Masses, dressed in soutane, surplice and stola, went to the Tabernacle, but was pushed away by a woman in street clothes: the first lay person whom i ever saw at the High Altar, at the Tabernacle. She helped the pastor distribute Holy Communion whilst the old augustinian priest, humiliated, went back to the sacristy. We never saw him again. THe pastor later took up the strange habit of walking around the church during the homily with a microphone in hand, and of inviting random people to stand or sit around the Altar during the Canon. THe choir was disbanded, as only the faithful were supposed to sing: which meant, only the pair of professional liturgists with guitars and Jesus Christ superstar repertoire. THis was the most traumatic year of my life.

TO escape the Novus Ordo i entered the next year a traditional seminary where the Old Rite, with altar, communion rail, and chant, was still intact. I have schewed the New Rite ever since.

As for the eastern rites, most of them have a liturgical language too! old Church Slavonic, Byzantine Greek, Gheez, Coptic, Syriac. etcetera are not immediately understandable by the Russian, Greek, Ethipian, Egyptian and Arab faithful.

Excellent post. Thank you. This reminds me of something.

I'll never forget the time I attended (on behalf of a Catholic organization I worked for) a Catholic conference on preaching back around 2002. The organizers had arranged for a professional Catholic musician to give a talk and to provide entertainment before one of the evening banquet meals. She held (as far as I know, still does) an influential position at one of the big Catholic music publishers.

A colleague and I were astonished when, as pre-dinner entertainment, this woman (probably in her late 50's or so) sat at a piano and proceeded to play for the attendees brief snippets of older, more traditional English hymns (some of which are among my personal favorites). But why did she play them--to render a respectful nod to them? Absolutely not. She was outright mocking them. I wish I were kidding. She actually played bars from (e.g. "Faith of Our Fathers" I think was among them) wonderful old hymns and literally laughed at them. She was doing what she thought was comedy! The mere sound of the old hymns was, for her, a source of immediate and spontaneous laughter. She would say, "Remember this one?" play few bars, and giggle knowingly. The organizers were mostly clerics in their 60' or older. The audience was expected to laugh right along with her, as they took this stroll down memory lane from their childhoods. The mood was one of, "Gee, aren't we glad we can look back at those overly-naive, unenlightened days when we actually took such music seriously? We were kids--we didn't know better. Now, we have music of the people. Now, we can remember and laugh at those stodgy bygone days."

My heart absolutely sank as I realized this highly-placed member of the Catholic music publishing business was actually publicly mocking beloved old hymns that are actually singable and theologically robust. And my personal experience is that these hymns are making a come back, and that generally speaking, people sing them with more gusto and relish than the folk and pop-influenced drivel coming out of the 70's and 80's that her publishing business crams into their publications. It was an experience I won't forget. I felt like I was among a group of people who were completely clueless about the authentic, popular attractiveness of more traditional musical forms. It was a group hermetically sealed-off from the opinions and attitudes of anyone who doesn't think like them. [And in light of my comments, I want to acknowledge that although I enjoy the older hymns, I completely agree that chant and chant-inspired music is the best musical form for the liturgy.]

Switching gears, I would like to comment that I seriously question whether the take-over of the Catholic music publishing business in the late 60's and 70's by the folk/guitar/tambourine crowd was truly a reflection of the preferences of a majority of Catholics at the time. [And I would like to say I don't have anything against good folk music; but I don't want it at Mass. Besides, that stuff is not good folk music anyway.]

I suspect that only a minority of Catholics truly preferred this contemporary folksy style of hymn music. But, those caught up in the juvenile, hippie spirit of the times gained control of the professional liturgical music industry and proceeded to force their musical tastes upon everyone in the name of "the people."
Scott Johnston

Scott, you might be right that she was playing to an audience that shared her views, but lots of these performers do this in order to instruct people of the proper attitude to have toward the past. I've seen this with theology lectures when a person will mock confession behind a screen or the rosary or whatever. It's a way of broadcasting the "correct" disdain that one is supposed to have in order to be part of the in group.
jeffrey tucker

A modern-day myth: Liturgical Music and the Elites vs the People

Jeffrey Tucker of the New Liturgical Movement has another one of his excellent insight pieces that are well worth a read: about the myth and the reality of Liturgical Music - the "people vs elites" mentality and explaining how we have got to where most of us are in parish life.  Some extracts:

The most exciting, vibrant, and young movement in Catholic Church music today involves the revival of Gregorian chant, and also the old and new music that flows from its stylistic sensibility and texts. Workshops around the country are growing larger. Sales of chant books are booming, to the point that distributors can hardly keep them in stock. Membership in chant-support organizations is growing. Discover this energy is as easy as typing a few search terms.

I'll only mention one program taking place in late September at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C...Already one week before, more than 160 people have signed up to attend. This includes mostly young people, but also many middle-aged people seeking to upgrade their skills.

It's all just thrilling, and so much so that there's hardly any time to reflect on the meaning of this shift. However, let us do so now. There are things about this revival and energy that utterly smash the prevailing interpretive paradigm of the modern history of Catholic Church music.

The story goes like this. In preconciliar times, Catholics knelt passively at Mass and didn't sing a note. The celebrant was a disembodied actor who faced the altar and did all the work, speaking in a language that no one knew. To the extent there was music, it was sung by trained professionals who sang from strange books and stuck only to the masters for the rare High Mass. People were complacent and obedient but the entire machinery was stilted and stale and uninspired.

Sounds like the beginning of dystopian novel, doesn't it? Well, that's the conventional view, and I've read it again and again. Only last night I read this tale yet again in a new book on the topic (I'll refrain from mentioning the title pending a full review later.)

Ok, now comes the great tale of the revolution. The sixties were a time of rethinking and heightened consciousness. There were civil-rights struggles, men on the moon, fresh faces in the White House and the Vatican, and a new generation determined to bring life to this static world. They brought their guitars and folk music and the people's language to the cause of Catholic worship. Sure, the professionals didn't like it but to heck with them: the voice of the people rose up in song and wove the glorious ideals of the protest movement into the fabric of Catholic liturgical life...

So I can't really weigh the relationship between fact and fiction in the above scenario. I do know that it is probably impossible to generalize the experience of Catholics at Mass before or after the Council. Then as now, a heterogeneity in quality prevail: some music was probably dreadful and some was great. The scenario as sketched above, however, just seems too clean and neat to me.

But the real danger of accepting this tale at face value is that it makes one completely blind to the reality of the current moment. In fact, if one follows the mainstream music publications or liturgy publications from the old-line publishers out there, one slowly begins to discern the presence of an appalling blindness about today's realities. The Pilgrimage I mention above should be big news. But I can promise you that it will received no attention at all in any of the usual venues. This is not so censorship at work but denial: what is happening today doesn't fit into the easy categories that have become dogma: the professionals vs. the people, static vs. active, silence vs. participation, English vs. Latin.

Those who are now throwing themselves into learning and singing Gregorian chant are overwhelming non-professionals. They are volunteers who are starting scholas in their parishes. They meet and sing on their own time. They earnestly learn to read neumes, pronounce the Latin, and discover the essential musical structure of the Roman Rite in hopes of making a contribution. Most of them are either not paid or are paid very little. They aren't coming to these workshops and programs thanks to anyone's expense account. They are paying their own money for tuition, materials, and hotel. This are doing this because they love it and believe it in.

Who are the professionals and the academically-trained Catholic musicians today? They are heading the well-funded organizations and managing the large publishers. They constitute the establishment that knows hardly anything at all about Gregorian chant. In fact, their livelihoods are financially linked up with the promotion of pop styles and industrial-style delivery systems. Contrast with the unfunded and truly grass-roots efforts of the chant movement around the country.

And are they doing this because they want to make the liturgy more static? It's ridiculous. They are doing it because they would like to see the Roman Rite come back to life with artistic forms that are native to it. Can we state the terribly obvious here? Mass with four song written in 1970s and 1980s is dreadfully boring today. It is energy-draining experience to listen to dreck.

Surely there are very few people in the world who are inspired by the 1,323rd playing of fill-in-the-blank. Singing a Gloria or Sanctus from the ancient books, however, can be an incredibly thrilling and spiritually uplifting experience. Or how about a Gregorian hymn like Ave Maria following communion? Few experiences are as invigorating as that.

And are these people coming to these events in order to get people to shut up and be silent during Mass? So far as I can tell, the impulse is the exact opposite. It is enervating in the extreme to see the absurd scene of praise teams banging and strumming away while people sit in pews with long faces and periodically look at their watches. This goes on in parishes all over the country every week. Compare to the truly meaningful experience of a gathered people who have actually work time and work into learning a great piece of chant that they sing together every week.

Finally, it very well may be true that the Latin vs. English issue was a rallying point back in the 60s but today there are many editions of chant in English that are readily accessible and free for the download. They are best rendered in light actual knowledge of the Gregorian tradition. I don't see praise bands dipping into this repertoire. Nor is it necessary to learn to give a speech like Cicero in order to understand and sing the basic chants of the Mass, which the Church has repeatedly said should be known by every Catholic in the pew. I'm sorry but the campaign against Latin increasingly looks not only anti-intellectual but even anti-Catholic.

It would be nice to see some acknowledgment in old-line publications and venues of the truth of what is actually happening at the grass roots. But so long as the old intellectual paradigms remain, they can't see that the ground is shifting beneath their feet. It very well maybe true that today there is a tension between the people and the trained elites but the what each side is seeking is the reverse of the tale we've heard a thousand times.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Liturgical Music: Turning the clock back...with guitars and popular songs...

From an interview with Ennio Morricone: Ennio Morricone: Faith Always Present In My Music

Composer Talks About the Spirituality Behind His Work

By Edward Pentin

ROME, SEPT. 10, 2009 ( You may not recognize his name, but you will almost certainly be familiar with his music.

Maestro Ennio Morricone is widely regarded as one of Hollywood's finest film score composers. Best known for the memorable and moody soundtracks to the "Spaghetti Westerns" of the 1960s, such as "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," "A Fistful of Dollars," and "Once Upon a Time in the West," to many Catholics he is perhaps best loved for his moving score in "The Mission," a 1986 film about Jesuit missionaries in 18th-century South America.

But his contribution to the movie industry extends far beyond his most famous works, having scored around 450 films and worked with Hollywood’s leading directors, from Sergio Leone and Bernardo Bertolucci to Brian De Palma and Roman Polanski...

We turn to the subject of another keen musician: Pope Benedict XVI. Morricone says he has a "very good opinion" of the Holy Father. "He seems to me to be a very high minded Pope, a man of great culture and also great strength," he says. He is particularly complimentary about Benedict XVI's efforts to reform the liturgy -- a subject about which Morricone feels very strongly.

"Today the Church has made a big mistake, turning the clock back 500 years with guitars and popular songs," he argues. "I don't like it at all. Gregorian Chant is a vital and important tradition of the Church and to waste this by having kids mix religious words with profane, Western songs is hugely grave, hugely grave."

He says it's turning the clock back because the same thing happened before the Council of Trent when singers mixed profanity with sacred music. "He [the Pope] is doing well to correct it," he says. "He should correct it with much more firmness. Some churches have taken heed [of his corrections], but others haven't."

Don't know the first thing about Gregorian Chant? But want to learn?

Well have a look at this Classic text: Goodchild []

As New Liturgical describe it:
It's like the fast track to chant, just a few early chapters on the basics and then you plunge right into the repertory, and all the main settings and hymns are here, one by one, in Solesmes-style notation. It has translations. It even has study questions! Fr. Samuel Weber is the one who told me about this. He remembers it fondly.

I've thought for a long time that a book like this needs to be written. Well, it's already been done. If I were founding a schola today, or teaching middle school kids chant, this is the book I would use. No question

How do we sing Gregorian Chant in English at Mass? Like this: the Introit (Entrance Chant). Do it next Sunday...

Our last post outlined the various resources available to re-enchant Holy Mass, by employing the authentic Liturgical music of the Roman Rite.

A particular focus was the Propers in Latin and in English.

Now something that shows us what this can sounds like if done in English.

Obviously, the (Latin) Gregorian Chant from the Graduale Romanum is the standard for us. 

But we all know that sometimes the "situation" regrettably - suggests that Latin is a no go.  So, an alternative needs to be employed if we are to even approach the ideal of the sacred liturgical chant (rather than caving-in to some poor substitute).

So, for those situations...

New Liturgical Movement today highlights another resource (which we will add to our last post) for Gregorian Chant adapted into English from Fr Samuel F Weber OSB.

Fr Weber is of the Institute of Sacred Music in St. Louis (no to be confused with the St Louis Jesuits, please).  The rendention in the video involves the singing of Proper Chants commissione for the 2009 Sacred Music Colloquium in Chicago, USA. 

But whatever chant resource is used, the principle of executing it in English in the Liturgical context is the same.

This video shows you how it’s done.

This is the Introit beginning with a psalm verse from Psalm 26, the Introit Antiphon and the additional psalm verses:

Ps. Unto Thee will I cry O Lord
O my God be not Thou silent to me
Lest if Thou be silent to me
I become like them that go down into the pit.

The Lord is the strength of His people
And the protector of the salvation of His anointed
Save, O Lord, Thy people
And bless Thine inheritance
And rule them forever

As NLM note:

“Here is how it sounds and feels within its liturgical context. Aside from this chant being a clear expression of the principle of a reform or development in continuity, it is worthwhile noting how immediately and effectively it contributes toward setting the proper tone of the liturgy as an act of communal divine worship. It also demonstrates how, as Fr. Weber would say, the chant can sound when it grows out of an English text.

Anyone who is interested may receive these Propers by sending an email to Father Weber at the Institute of Sacred Music within the Archdiocese of Saint Louis: There is no charge for them."

Sunday, 6 September 2009

What to sing at Mass? How to re-enchant Holy Mass: a practical Liturgical Music programme - resources and guidance

We know the principles, reasoning, theories and Church teaching on liturgical music and how it should be presented for use in the Ordinary Form of the Mass in continuity with the Church’s Tradition and the wishes of the Second Vatican Council.

Websites like New Liturgical Movement help us a great deal in giving us this information and alerting us to resources. We won’t repeat that here.

But there is probably a need to have these resources in one place with a basic explanation of the options available and how they can be employed in an ordinary parish setting with limited resources to re-enchant Holy Mass and provide the transcendence, reverence and sense of the sacred that fosters active participation. And, of course, this requires that we SING THE MASS, and not merely to sing AT Mass.

Here is the theory and the practice of how it might be done:

1. The Priest should sing the Priest-Celebrant’s Chant from the Missal: The Vatican’s document Musicam Sacram of 1967 retains the degrees of solemnity (low Mass, Sung Mass and Solemn (or High) Mass) and makes it clear that a Sung Mass (a Missa Cantata) is to be preferred especially on Sundays and feast days. It notes that there are different “degrees” of solemnity that can be employed. The “first degree” of solemnity calls for the singing of:

a. In the entrance rites: the greeting of the priest together with the reply of the people; the prayer.

b. In the Liturgy of the Word: the acclamations at the Gospel.

c. In the Liturgy of the Eucharistic: the prayer over the offerings; the preface with its dialogue and the Sanctus; the final doxology of the Canon, the Lord's Prayer with its introduction and embolism; the Pax Domini; the prayer after the Communion; the formulas of dismissal.

In practice, this should be the first step and adds greatly to solemnity. It focuses on singing the important prayers and dialogues between Priest-Celebrant and the congregation. In practice, if you are starting a programme of re-enchantment perhaps not all these parts would be sung at first, but the ideal and ultimate aim is clear enough. It is very effective in increasing solemnity and reverence and requires little more than a Priest and the Congregation who can learn the few unchanging parts (“And also with you”, “Amen” etc) that are the same for each Mass.

This alone will do more for the active participation of the people than singing a few poor quality hymns that are extraneous to the Mass.

2. The People should sing the Ordinary of the Mass: This is key. Musicam Sacram calls it the “second degree” of solemnity and involves the singing of the Ordinary of the Mass (the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei and the Creed). Musicam Sacram also adds the Prayers of the Faithful. It should be noted:

a. whether the Mass is in Latin or the vernacular, the Ordinary can still be sung in Latin to the authentic Gregorian Melodies (you know: “Latin is to be retained in the Latin Rite”; “Gregorian Chant has pride of place in the Roman Rite and is specially suited to and proper to the Roman Rite”; “the people should know how to say and sung in Latin the parts of the Ordinary” etc). The Gregorian settings of the Ordinary can be found in the Kyriale and the Graduale Romanum for the Ordinary Form, in the Gregorian Missal for the Ordinary Form (available for free download here: [ ]) and in the Kyriale and Graduale Romanum for the Extraordinary Form available for free download here [].

b. The Missa de Angelis (Mass VIII) is often most remembered by the older people in the congregation given that in many places it was used ad nauseam before the Council. Useful as that can be, it is prudent to avoid falling into the same trap as we progress forward to realising the ideal; so, only use de Angelis when absolutely necessary. If you were to teach even one new Gregorian Mass to a congregation, there are better alternatives. For example, Mass XI – Orbis Factor is suggested for use on Sundays throughout the year. Note that:

i. This does not necessary preclude using other Masses (eg Mass XI - Cum Iubilo (traditionally assigned to Marian feasts) which must surely be the most beautiful of them all), although you probably would not choose the Requiem Mass setting XVIII in any other circumstances;

ii. Whilst all the parts of one particular Gregorian setting are usually sung, there is freedom to mix and match (eg Kyrie from Orbis Factor, Gloria and Sanctus from de Angelis, Angus from Orbis Factor).

c. Singing the Creed can be quite a task for most parishes given its length and the fact that one usually hears it in Latin not in the vernacular. When sung, it is usually the Credo III that is used, although Credo I is magnificently Gregorian being of the XIth century).

d. If simpler settings of the Ordinary are needed, some can be found in Jubilate Deo, Pope Paul VI’s 1974 official collection of the core/essential/minimum Catholic repertoire of Gregorian Chant that the People are expected to know). The Pope sent it to every bishop in the world, having had it prepared “to make it easier for Christians to achieve unity and spiritual harmony with their brothers and with the living tradition of the past. Hence it is that those who are trying to improve the quality of congregational singing cannot refuse Gregorian chant the place which is due to it”. See here [] and here [ ].

e. Further versions of the Ordinary are set out in the Kyriale Simplex – a sort of simplified Graduale for use in smaller churches – although despite its official status the Kyriale Simplex is largely overlooked in practice because the seasonal propers it uses (rather than daily propers) are an invention that is not in continuity with Tradition and many of the Ordinaries are largely taken from chants used in the Divine Office rather than the Mass. Nevertheless the singing of any Ordinary from the Simplex is better than nothing).

f. If you are in circumstances were part or all the Ordinary simply must be sung in English, at least use English adaptations that are as close as possible to the authentic Gregorian melodies. How do you tell? Compare the Ordinary from the Graduale Romanum against the English version. English adaptations have been variously set, but some good examples are:

i. Those from the Meinrad Kyriale of Father Columba Kelly available here []

ii. the host of settings made available through Musica Sacra, the website of the Church Music Association of America available here []. Note that if you are going to teach congregations the English adaptations, you need to bear in mind the changes to the English translation of the Roman Missal that will come into effect in 2010/2011. This problem would be avoided – as it also has been - by using the official Greek/Latin ordinary instead.

g. Whilst it really is preferable to sing all of the Ordinary in Greek/Latin, an intermediate step might be to sing the simpler texts in Greek/Latin and the others in the vernacular, changing this week to week until all can be sung in Greek/Latin. A common programme is Week 1: Greek Kyrie, English Gloria, English Sanctus, Latin Agnus Dei; Week 2: English Kyrie, English Gloria, Latin Sanctus, Latin Agnus Dei, and so on. Keep at least one or two of the 4 texts in Greek/Latin.

h. Ideally do not omit the Dismissal “Ite Missa est”: the fact that the melody of the Ite Missa Est matches the melody of Kyrie in the authentic Gregorian settings of the Ordinary really helps to “bookend” the Liturgical music of the Mass appropriately

3. The Choir/Schola Cantorum should sing the Propers of the Mass: To “sing the Mass” means to sing the text of the Mass and not merely to sing (hymns) at Mass. The Propers are the parts of the text of the Mass and, being unique to each Mass and therefore changing with each Mass, are said to be “proper” to that Mass. They have generally been the most neglected, even forgotten, aspects of liturgical music since the Council.

The Propers comprise the Introit (Entrance Chant), the Gradual (or maybe the Responsorial Psalm), the Alleluia (or Tract in the penitential seasons), the Offertory Chant and the Communion Chant.

The Propers:

a. Should ideally be sung in Latin to the authentic and official Gregorian chant melodies contained in the Graduale Romanum. They are also in the Gregorian Missal, the publication of the Abbey of Solmes which extracts the proper chants from the Graduale Romanum for Sundays and Major feasts and the Ordinaries). The Gregorian Missal is available for free download here [].

b. Sometimes the lack of time or the complexity of individual proper chants forces you to look for a simpler substitute for the more difficult chants. In general, the Introit and Communio can always be sung to the authentic chants from the Graduale Romanum, but the Gradual, Alleluia/Tract and Offertory are usually more difficult and highly melismatic chants. The following are options:

i. Simpler versions of the authentic Latin Gregorian chants of the Gradual and the Alleluia/Tract can be found in Chant Abrege: the 1926 publication from the Abbey of Solesmes (the same people who bring you the Graduale Roman and Gregorian Missal). This is available for free download here []

ii. Similarly, simplified versions of these longer proper chants have been prepared by Richard Rice and are available for free download here []. Although this collection has been prepared for use in the Extraordinary Form, it is useful for the Ordinary Form to the extent that the propers are common to both forms. This collection provides simplified versions of the Gradual, Alleluia, and Tract for Sundays, and other solemnities. The melodies of the Gradual and Alleluia verses have been replaced with the corresponding Psalm tone for the Introit of the Mass. (Other collections have used the simple tones of the Divine Office, but Richard Rice believes this seems a better solution in the context of Mass.) He says that because the endings of these tones seem overly curt and frequently sound incomplete, he has retained the authentic melody for the ends of verses, with the return of the full choir marked with an asterisk, as in the Liber Usalis (assuming the verse is sung by a cantor or two, which is certainly not required).

iii. Even more simple/abridged versions of the Graduals and Alleluia/Tract for each Sunday can be found in the 1954 Liber Brevior available for free download here []. The Liber Brevior is a reduced but extremely comprehensive version of the larger Liber Usualis used for the Extraordinary Form (see below). However, as such, you need to check that the proper given in the Liber Brevior actually matches the proper assigned to the day in the Ordinary Form.

iv. The verses for the Communion chants are available in Latin in the Communio publication available from Musica Sacra or for weekly download here [] or with the Latin Antiphon coupled with English verses publication available for free download here []

v. A useful resource is a list of the propers in the Ordinary Form, available for free download here []

c. If you have to sing the Propers in English, then, finally after more than 40 years after the Council multiple resources in English are becoming available. The better ones are:

i. A preferred resource is Bruce E Ford’s American Gradual downloadable for free here []. This is preferred because it is an English adaptation of the authentic Gregorian melodies from the Graduale Romanum. A wonderful piece of work.

ii. The Anglican Use Gradual downloadable for free here [], sets each of the proper chants to simple Psalm tones. Don’t be concerned about the “Anglican” reference as this refers to the form of Catholic Rite of Mass which was granted by the Vatican under a Pastoral Provision given to former Episcopolians (American Anglicans) to use when they converted to Catholicism. Importantly, as there is no official English translation of the sung propers, these texts are fine to use

iii. Father Columba Kelly’s propers in English available for free download here []

iv.Some simple Propers from Fr Samuel F Weber (these are "seasonal" however) available for free download here []

d. Where the Responsorial Psalm has to be sung in preference to the more traditional Gradual, then the Chabanel Psalms are widely regarded as very good. They are available here []

e. If you are fortunate enough to have the resources to sing polyphonic work (Masses, motets etc), many scores are available for free download at places like the Choral Public Domain Library here [] Choral Treasure here []. See Choral Net too for general resources including guidance on singing  here []

4. The Singing of the propers is critical to the recovery of Gregorian Chant as the Second Vatican Council wished. It also constitutes the third degree of solemnity indicated by Musicam Sacram which states that singing the following belongs to the third degree: (a) the chants at the Entrance and Communion processions; the chants after the Lesson or Epistle; the Alleluia before the Gospel; the chant at the Offertory; and the readings of Sacred Scripture.

5. The chanting of readings can be done in accordance with the Common Tones set out in the Graduale Romanum and adapted to English

6. The hymns should be sound melodies and sound texts and sung in addition to the chant if required (more about that later).

In closing this should also mention The Parish Book of Chant is also a fantastic resource and is able to be purchased here []

Of course if you are singing the Extraordinary Form, all you need for everything is the Liber Usalis, available for free download here [] and the 1961 Graduale Romanum is available here []

If you need verses to go with the Offertory Chants for Sundays and Solemnities, they are available here for free download here [] adapted from the Offertoriale Triplex. This collection provides verses for the Offertory chants of the Mass for the Sundays and Solemnities of the Church Year, and is intended to supplement the Offertory chants as given in the Liber usualis or Graduale Romanum. It follows the arrangement for the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. However, post-Conciliar neglect (benign or otherwise) ensured that the selection and arrangement of Offertory chants are virtually the same for the Ordinary Form. The volume contains an index of titles to aid cross reference.

Hope this is helpful.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Usus Antiquior: a journal dedicated to the development of the Roman Rite: get on to it.

We are pleased to draw readers' attention to the new journal Usus Antiquior whose first issue will be in January 2010.

The Journal describes itself as:

"...committed to the study and promotion of the historical, philosophical, theological and pastoral aspects of the Roman rite as developed in tradition. Because the different forms of the Roman rite 'can be mutually enriching', Usus Antiquior also seeks to make a positive contribution to the discussion of questions pertinent to the liturgical life of the Catholic Church in our day."

New Liturgical conducted an interview with the editors here.

The Journal is now open to subscriptions at quite reasonable rates (especially for students).

The content of the first Volume is listed as:
Editorial: Laurence Paul Hemming

László Dobszay: ‘The Graduale Parvum’

Manfred Hauke: ‘Klaus Gamber, Liturgist’

Stefan Heid: ‘The Attitude and Orientation of Prayer in the Early Christian Era’

Aidan Nichols OP: ‘A Theological Perspective on Church Music’

Susan Frank Parsons: ‘The Moral Lessons of the Octaves’

Athansius Schneider: ‘The Ancient Norm of the Holy Fathers (“pristina sanctorum Patrum norma”) As a Criterion for an Authentic Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy’

Matthieu Smyth: ‘The Anaphora of the So-Called ‘Apostolic Tradition’ and the Roman Eucharistic Prayer’, with a Preface by Paul Bradshaw.

Daniel Van Slyke: ‘Despicere mundum et terrena: a Spiritual and Liturgical Motif in the Missale Romanun’

Michael John Zielinski OSB Oliv.: ‘The Culture and Heritage Of The Classical Roman Rite’
Get on to it. See the Publisher's website here and subscribe.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Why Ad Orientem and Communion on the Tongue are the norm: the canonical view

Via New Liturgical Movement, a explanation of Canon Law that shows how in the Roman Rite, the normative way to:

- celebrate Holy Mass is by facing Ad Orientem (not facing the people)
- receive Holy Communion, is on the tongue (not in the hand)

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The "Reform of the Reform": it's coming (eventually)

Photo: Orbis Catholicus (JPSonnen)

Reputable Vaticanista Andrea Tornielli of the Italian daily Il Giornale reports that Card Canizare Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation of the Divine Worship has put proposals to the Holy Father in April covering an emphasis on a greater sacrednss in the Rite, the recovery of a sense of Eucharistic adoration, use of the Latin in the liturgy of the Mass, communion on the tongue, and ad orientem posture (at least for the Eucharistic Prayer).

Roma: Il documento è stato consegnato nelle mani di Benedetto XVI la mattina del 4 aprile scorso dal cardinale spagnolo Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefetto della Congregazione per il Culto Divino. È l’esito di una votazione riservata, avvenuta il 12 marzo, nel corso della riunione «plenaria» del dicastero che si occupa di liturgia e rappresenta il primo passo concreto verso quella «riforma della riforma» più volte auspicata da Papa Ratzinger. Quasi all’unanimità i cardinali e vescovi membri della Congregazione hanno votato in favore di una maggiore sacralità del rito, di un recupero del senso dell’adorazione eucaristica, di un recupero della lingua latina nella celebrazione e del rifacimento delle parti introduttive del messale per porre un freno ad abusi, sperimentazioni selvagge e inopportune creatività. Si sono anche detti favorevoli a ribadire che il modo usuale di ricevere la comunione secondo le norme non è sulla mano, ma in bocca. C’è, è vero, un indulto che permette, su richiesta degli episcopati, di distribuire l’ostia anche sul palmo della mano, ma questo deve rimanere un fatto straordinario. Il «ministro della liturgia» di Papa Ratzinger, Cañizares, sta anche facendo studiare la possibilità di recuperare l’orientamento verso Oriente del celebrante almeno al momento della consacrazione eucaristica, come accadeva di prassi prima della riforma, quando sia i fedeli che il prete guardavano verso la Croce e il sacerdote dava dunque le spalle all’assemblea. Chi conosce il cardinale Cañizares, soprannominato «il piccolo Ratzinger» prima del suo trasferimento a Roma, sa che è intenzionato a portare avanti con decisione il progetto, a partire proprio da quanto stabilito dal Concilio Vaticano II nella costituzione liturgica Sacrosanctum Concilium, che è stata in realtà superata dalla riforma post-conciliare entrata in vigore alla fine degli anni Sessanta. Il porporato, intervistato dal mensile 30Giorni, nei mesi scorsi aveva detto a questo proposito: «A volte si è cambiato per il semplice gusto di cambiare rispetto a un passato percepito come tutto negativo e superato. A volte si è concepita la riforma come una rottura e non come uno sviluppo organico della Tradizione».Per questo le «propositiones» votate dai cardinali e vescovi alla plenaria di marzo prevedono un ritorno al senso del sacro e all’adorazione, ma anche un recupero delle celebrazioni in latino nelle diocesi, almeno durante le principali solennità, così come la pubblicazione di messali bilingui - una richiesta, questa fatta a suo tempo da Paolo VI - con il testo latino a fronte.Le proposte della Congregazione che Cañizares ha portato al Papa, ottenendone l’approvazione, sono perfettamente in linea con l’idea più volte espressa da Jopseph Ratzinger quando ancora era cardinale, come attestano i brani inediti sulla liturgia anticipati ieri dal Giornale, che saranno pubblicati nel libro Davanti al Protagonista (Cantagalli), presentato in anteprima al Meeting di Rimini. Con un nota bene significativa: per l’attuazione della «riforma della riforma» ci vorranno molti anni. Il Papa è convinto che non serva a nulla fare passi affrettati, né calare semplicemente direttive dall’alto, con il rischio che poi rimangano lettera morta. Lo stile di Ratzinger è quello del confronto e soprattutto dell’esempio. Come dimostra il fatto che, da più di un anno, chiunque vada a fare la comunione dal Papa, si deve genuflettere sull’inginocchiatoio appositamente preparato dai cerimonieri.

This gave way to supposed denials from Assitant Director of the Vatican Press Office, Fr Ciro Benedettini, which amount to nothing of the sort, he merely saying that "so far there are no institutional proposals for amendment of the books currently in use." That is to say, nothing official, nothing that requires amending the books and nothing yet. But implicitly recognising that what is afoot requires nothing to change in the books but much to change in attitudes and enforcemet/encouragement on the part of those involved in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy.

And on his blog, Tornielli says as much in response to a commentator:

Mi scusi Luisa, se ho risposto sull’altro thread, ma mi sembrava di aver letto lì quelle domande. Ora, lei mi chiede della smentita della Sala Stampa. Beh, se si legge bene, si vedrà che non è una vera smentita a ciò che ho scritto. Non ho mai affermato che esiste un testo già approvato per la riforma della riforma, ma ho scritto che sono state avanzate delle proposte, che queste proposte sono state mostrate al Papa, che la Congregazione del Culto ci sta lavorando. Ho scritto anche che è un lavoro lungo, che ci vorranno anni, che l’intenzione non è quella di procedere facendo calare le indicazioni dall’alto, ma di coinvolgere gli episcopati… etc. Ora, temo che la smentita sia stata provocata dal dibattito che si è scatenato dopo i miei articoli e che ha fatto considerare imminente la promulgazione di nuove norme ancora ben al di là da venire.

Interesting, hot on the heels of the Bishop Slattery of Oaklahoma, USA who has announced that he will celebrate his Masses in his Cathedral ad orientem from now on.