Sunday, August 31, 2008

How to deal with the hymn police

This morning an email arrived from a choir director in Canada who reports making progress in her parish with a small schola of ten people. They are nearly rid of silly hymns and sing-songy Mass parts and have replaced them with simple chant-like settings.

But now she worries that a crack down is coming and suspects that the tool will be the regulation that concerns the Catholic Book of Worship. Unless it is in there, says the Conference of Canadian Catholic Bishop, it becomes suspect, and the burden of proof falls on the choir.

Part of the move to come up with a list of approved music is all about hymns. Hymns have been the hot-button issue ever since they came to dominate Mass, and the propers and ordinary chants were largely left aside. If you have complete freedom of choice for hymns at a hymn-dominated liturgy, you are going to end up with something like the current malaise, which is a disunited Catholic world in which going from parish to parish is like traveling up and down the FM radio dial.

So of course there is an ongoing struggle to push for approved music as a means for stopping the ongoing jukebox approach to Catholic music. Many people favor the idea of an approved list but then struggle with what should or should not be included in the list.

I’m personally very skeptical of these moves to create a white list. The process is certain to be captured by the biggest market players, the existing cartel of Catholic music publishers who own the copyrights and can spread their royalty checks around enough to buy influence with the committees making the picks. The process itself invites petty corruption of the most absurd sort, but it can also do lots of damage, freezing artistic creativity and further entrenching the existing problem.

You only have to ask yourself what is more likely to be on the list of approved music: Catholic hits from the 1570s or the 1970s?

But let’s say that the people who favor the crack down actually get their way with an approved list that will end up pleasing no one. What is the choral conductor to do? Think of it as an opportunity to do what you should have already, namely stop relying on hymns and sing as much of the liturgy itself, while allowing either silence or organ solos or traditional motets to fill the rest.

In other words, the best way to avoid this problem is to use music for the propers and ordinary from music that is embedded as part of the Mass itself, thereby surrendering your sense of discretion over hymnody and avoiding the problem completely.

For a choir just starting out, I would suggest that you choose a very easy English and Latin ordinary setting and use Psalm tone propers in Latin or English. The "Anglican Use Gradual" is a wonderful source here and is free online. The language of these propers are antiquated but dignified. Anyone can sing them.

Remember that the translations here are not a problem since there is no officially approved translation of the sung propers. The propers that appear in the Missal are for spoken Masses, not sung Masses. As for the music, the tones in the AUG are the foundational tones of the Roman Rite and unquestionably sound.

For the Psalm, go to Chabanel Psalms and use a setting there. The ones we favor are simple Psalm-tone settings that are unmetered.

The same is true for ordinary settings. For English, you can use something like this or this.

For Latin, you can have your choice of 18 settings that are part of the Graduale Romanum, which is the music book of the Roman Rite. There is no music committee on the planet that can legitimately deny that all the music in this book is approved.

Be sure to read the Frequently Asked Questions on Sacred Music, several times, so that you have a fix on what is what, and are in a position to make all the arguments.

Finally, the music in the Parish Book of Chant is all some 1000 plus years old, at least, and all of which is as much part of our liturgical structure and history as the prayers themselves.

By making this music the foundation of what is sung week to week, you avoid the whole problem of bullying committees and white-lists of music that is at best incidental rather than central to the Mass in any case.

From the pastoral point of view, it very much helps that most all of this music is free, so that parishioners are not being charged for music editions. The pastor will appreciate this fact very much, and will be inclined to look more skeptically on some interloping chancery official who demands that the parish should shell out the big bucks to well-heeled publishers.

Report on Gregorian Institute of Canada Colloquium

Here is a very informative post on the recent colloquium on chant sponsored by the Gregorian Institute of Canada:

Pardon the length of this post - I thought that this may be of interest to some readers of this forum.

Last weekend I attended the colloquium of the Gregorian Institute of Canada, a non-denominational organization dedicated to chant study and performance in Canada. The theme of the colloquium was the centenary of the Vatican edition of the Graduale Romanum. The key presenter was Dom Richard Gagne, OSB, former choirmaster at Solesmes (1996-2004) and current choirmaster at his home abbey of St-Benoit-du-lac.

This was the third annual colloquium of the GIC and the first one I attended. My impression is that previous colloquia had more of a practical element, but at this one there was only minimal time allotted to singing. The reason for this was simple: throughout the colloquium the participants attended the hours and Mass at the monastic oratory. We were asked not to participate in singing along with the monks, as they have a well established chant rhythm and if the colloquium participants (who well outnumbered the monks) were to chant along with them this would likely throw them off and disturb the rhythm of their prayer. The request seemed to me quite sensible and there was much to be learned simply by listening to the monks and participating interiorly in the prayer. The participants were, however, given the opportunity to sing the ordinary at Mass in alternation with the monks, and at the Sunday Mass the monastic choir "sat out" the offertory chant and allowed us sing it instead.

The majority of the participants (80% or more) were francophone and the colloquium was conducted almost entirely in French. Happily, most of the English speaking participants knew enough French to follow the presentations.

The colloquium opened with a very interesting presentation by Jean-Pierre Noiseux (director of the accomplished Schola St-Gregoire in Montreal and one of the main organizers of the colloquium), on the subject of the history of the Vatican edition. Noiseaux pointed out that it is surely the melodies from the Vatican edition that each of us would have first heard and sparked our interest in chant. Whatever its shortcomings, the Vatican edition is of monumental importance in the history of chant study and practice.

Dom Gagne's presentation on gregorian rhythm, spread out over two days and entitled "Le Rythme verbal de dom Pothier et Le Nombre Musicale de dom Mocquereau", was certainly a highlight of the colloquium. Dom Gagne gave us a detailed explanation of Dom Pothier's teaching on chant rhythm. I had not been aware that Dom Pothier's rhythmic approach is reflected in the Vatican edition, which indicates the rhythm by a system of blank spaces of various sizes between the neumes (1/2 space, 1/4 space, full space, etc.) and by bar-line division. All of the subsequent editions based on the Vatican edition, including the 1974 Graduale, retain the exact spacing between the neumes of the original - this is considered an integral part of the Vatican edition which must be reproduced in any official version.

Dom Gagne then took us through the central points of Mocqereau's theory on which the classical Solesmes method is based. He concluded by giving us a brief explanation of the "new Solesmes" approach (essentially that which is outlined in Dom Jean Claire's unsigned preface to the Liber Hymnarius) using an example from the new Antiphonale Monasticum. This represents something of a synthesis in continuity with the theories that went before, a return of sorts to dom Pothier's verbal rhythm taking into account recent scholarship.

Interdisciplinary scholar Antoine Oullette gave an interesting presentation on the diversity of interpretations of Gregorian chant in the 20th century, with musical samples from a number of recordings. The workshop participants found some of these interpretations rather bizarre and others strangely pleasing. Although this diversity is evidently of great interest and value from a musicological perspective, Ouelette conceded at the end of his presentation that for regular liturgical use, it would be difficult to replace the Solesmes method.

On Saturday evening we attended a splendid concert at a church with wonderful acoustics in a nearby town. Three chant choirs took us through a tour of the melodies of the Vatican edition. The event was well attended and the choirs were excellent.

Here it is worth noting some observations on chant practice at St-Benoit-du-lac. The monks sing Lauds and Vespers almost entirely in Latin (the readings from scripture are in French) with light organ accompaniment. They do not appear to use the new monastic Antiphonale; I could not tell whether they were using the Psalterium Monasticum or some other books. Compline is chanted mostly in French, without organ accompaniment, to adapted Gregorian melodies. Matins are chanted in French, unaccompanied and recto tono. (I did not manage to attend other minor hours.)

At Mass at St. Benoit everything is chanted. The introit, gradual, alleluia, offertory, and communion are the proper chants from the Graduale. A large number of the faithful assist at Mass at the monastery and it is probably for this reason that the ordinary is Kyrie XVI, Gloria VIII, and Sanctus/Agnus XVIII, apparently every week. The responses, Eucharistic prayer etc. are chanted in French. The chant is in the style of the recent Solesmes recordings - a light tone of voice, high in pitch. The approach that the choir under Dom Gagne takes to the propers is really not that much of a departure from classical Solesmes, with some nuances. (Dom Gagne mentioned during his presentation his admiration for the Solesmes recordings from the 1950s under Dom Gajard, which he prefers to the recordings from the 1930s under the same choirmaster--he characterized the latter as "true Solesmes".)

At the practical workshops we rehearsed the offertory we were to sing at the Sunday Mass, under J.P. Noiseux's direction. I felt that I learned quite a bit about effective chant performance from these brief sessions. This was my first introduction to singing from the St-Gall notation and I admit that this particular aspect left me somewhat confused (at one point some folks were questioning whether a mark on the page was a rhythmic indication or just a speck of dust from the photocopier).

Noiseux told us that 10 people singing chant in perfect unison will have a fuller sound than a hesitant group of 40. At the end of the day, I would have to say that our group did not achieve this unison. I came away from the weekend persuaded by the possibilities for beauty offered by a nuanced approach to chant rhythm--and also as convinced as ever of the value of the Solesmes method for achieving a consistent result with limited rehearsal time.

The Gregorian Institute is a promising initiative for Canada, and I am grateful for having had the opportunity to attend this event.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Summary of the Budapest Liturgical Conference

I am hoping to give a more detailed presentation of the recent liturgical conference in Budapest, Hungary, inclusive of photo posts of some of the liturgies not yet spoken of, and summaries of the papers given, but first, a general summary of the event seems worthwhile.

Prelatial Presence

The conference was opened by His Eminence, László Cardinal Paskai, Archbishop emeritus of Esztergom-Budapest while the opening address was given by the Apostolic Nuncio to Hungary, Archbishop Juliusz Janusz. The conference was also closed by the Apostolic Nuncio to Austria, Archbishop Edmond Farhat.


(The opening addresses)


What can be seen within this prelatial presence is the fact that liturgical conferences proposing a reform of the reform, or which look at the value of the usus antiquior, have become quite mainstream events in ecclesial life. Indeed, it seems not a stretch to suggest that they are very much in the heart and centre of the present pontificate. In that sense, one can rightly say that this activity is actively fostered and encouraged by the Church as represented by the thought of the Roman pontiff.


(The Final Mass, offered by Archbishop Farhat)


Some interesting comments came during the opening address from Archbishop Julius Janusz, who commented upon the celebration of opening vespers according to the 1962 Breviarium Romanum, which was done in Latin, chant and polyphony. He noted how impressed he was with them and how familiar this was to him. He particularly noted how impressed he was with the number of youth involved in the vespers that evening and their involvement in the singing of the chants. This spurred a recollection on his part on how he recalled simple people in Africa who likewise made the chant their own -- further contradicting the notion that chant is somehow elitist or Eurocentric. He concluded by noting his gratitude to the Holy Father for granting freedom to the ancient liturgy and noted his own personal appreciation for the Holy Father's testimony on the importance of dignity within liturgical worship.

Papers Delivered

The conference included a number of speakers that are quite familiar to the liturgical conference circuit, such as Dr. Lauren Pristas, Dr. Alcuin Reid, and so forth. We will look more at their work in a future article. Additionally however, there were a number of new, young and upcoming scholars, particularly one's from Hungary of course, who presented some quite intriguing papers, including Dr. Zoltán Rihmer, who looked at the aspect of liturgical law in his paper Law and liturgy: The perils and prospects of a difficult relationship and Dr. Miklós István Földváry who spoke upon the topic of The variants of the Roman rite: Their legitimacy and revival.

Overall, the quality of the papers were excellent and considered so by all that I spoke with. In short, it was a significant liturgical conference.

(As a footnote, the core venue for the papers was also of some significance, being located in the same building as, and right beside, the rooms of the classical composer, Franz Liszt.)


(The Round Table portion of the Conference)


Conference Liturgies

The conference included both the ancient and modern uses of the Roman liturgy as part of its program. Both Mass and the public celebration of Vespers formed a part of the day to day liturgical life of the conference and its participants.


(Mass in the Modern Roman Use, celebrated with the "Benedictine Arrangement" in place, by His Excellency, Bishop Nándor Bosák, bishop of Debrecen-Nyíregyháza. This was made more signficant for the Church in Hungary by the fact that this same bishop is the Chairman of the Liturgy Committee of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference)


(A Missa Cantata in the Ancient Form of the Roman Liturgy, offered in the parish church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by Fr. Ervin Kovács)


(Solemn Pontifical Mass in the Ancient Use of the Roman rite at the parish church of St. Teresa of Avila)


A notable feature of these liturgies was the sacred music and the excellence and fullness to which it was done. Part of this was of course because of the excellent work of the Schola Hungarica and Church Music Association of Hungary, but it was also in part due to the exuberance with which the Hungarian people have embraced the chant in both its Latin form and in a Hungarian form which I am told fits quite well linguistically into the Gregorian pattern.

Another notable aspect was the presence of many young Hungarians, particularly in their teenage years and early 20's who where noticeably involved in spirit and prayer in the sacred mysteries going on around them. Neither these, nor the faithful generally, were half-willing or lukewarm participants.

Moreover, history was made with the final Solemn Pontifical Mass celebrated by the Nuncio to Austria, which was generally thought to be the first Pontifical Mass according to the ancient use since the conciliar times. There was a palpable sense of excitement from the Hungarians about this.



The New Liturgical Movement in Hungary

It must be said that between the devotion of the Hungarian people, and particularly the youth, their ardent interest in the Church's treasury of sacred music, their evident love of tradition, and with new young liturgical scholars now on the rise, the new liturgical movement in Hungary is quite likely to become a force to be watched in the next decade if they continue on this course.

Many of the English-speaking participants came away with a palpable sense of what these events meant for the life of the new liturgical movement within Hungary and perhaps central and Eastern Europe generally. In many regards, it was not only an excellent liturgical conference, it was also a historic and ground-breaking event for the new liturgical movement in this part of the world.

Friday, August 29, 2008

ICEL Policy on Global Computer Networks

Okay, what we have here is ICEL's clear policy on global computer networks, which doesn't appear on ICEL's website but does now appear here. As you can see, this is far from the public-domain ideal of, for example, the Book of Common Prayer or other liturgical materials, but it is a step in the right direction. Perhaps there will come a day when the Mass texts will be published as non-proprietary, so that they can be published and promoted without restriction and without a fee being owed to anyone.

Use of ICEL Materials on Global Computer Networks

ICEL texts and translations that have been approved by the Conferences of Bishops, have received the recognition of the Holy See, and have subsequently been promulgated for use on the date established by the Conferences of Bishops may be reproduced in a non-commercial site (“Site”) on the global computer network commonly known as the internet without obtaining written or oral permission, subject to the following conditions:

  1. there must be no fee charged to access the Site or any of the ICEL translations, texts, or music, thereon;
  2. The appropriate ICEL copyright acknowledgment must appear on the first and last pages and/or frames within the Site displaying the ICEL translation or text (see www.icelweb.org and click on “copyright policies“);
  3. The ICEL translations and texts must be followed exactly;
  4. These policies do not grant a license to publish texts in any other form or any other right in ICEL’s name and marks, and the Site may not display the ICEL translations or texts or otherwise use the ICEL name in any way that implies affiliation with, or sponsorship or endorsement by, ICEL;
  5. ICEL reserves the right to terminate or modify its permission to use its translations and texts;
  6. ICEL reserves the right to take action against any party that fails to conform to these policies, infringes any of its intellectual property rights, or otherwise violates applicable law.

Let Him Deny Himself and Follow Me

This communion chant comes up this weekend in the ordinary form, and I had the impulse to blog about it because it is so special and yet I see that I have already done this. "It is a beautiful tune in a very short space, covering a very wide range, and with some interesting modulations and tensions. Most of all what we find here is an unmistakable forward motion that befits the text: If a man wish to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow...." Etc. All true.

Special Issue on the Graduale Romanum

The Summer issue of Sacred Music is dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Graduale Romanum. Some very insightful articles here -- educational and challenging.

Enjoy the full issue online for free download:

Seminarians at the North American College Learn Chant

In a week or so, seminarians at the Pontifical North American College in Rome will enjoy opening a delivery of many boxes from the United States filled with the Parish Book of Chant, a resource for Latin chant with English translations, including an Ordo for the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Roman Rite, plus a tutorial and pronunciation guide. I've known many priests who studied here, and they can't but be jealous of what awaits the new class of seminarians. Congratulations to the North American!

Of all the parishes, cathedrals, and seminaries that have adopted this book, this one piece of news strikes me as the most hopeful I've heard yet. The men will be prepared for the future.

One amusing comment was offered to me from a pastor who really wants it in his parish. He dared not get it because he somehow knew that there was no way he could prevent people from inadvertently taking it home with them. He figured his stock would last about a month. That's something one doesn't have to worry about with missalletes.

Sunday Vespers in the Universal Catholic Tongue

Here is a neat thing: Sunday Vespers, Latin/Chinese

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Spirit of Summorum

In the past year, you might have noticed a big change in the Catholic world, one that might be summed up in the phrase "Everything old is new again."

Don't throw the pa-ast away
You might need it some rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again

Part of this can be seen in new printings of old books, newly founded Gregorian scholas to sing old music, a new influx of seminarians studying for an old priesthood, new Churches being built in the style of very old ones, and so on. I'm looking at the orders of The Parish Book of Chant, for example, and seeing it go right to the top.

Much of this energy is due to Summorum Pontificum, which liberalized the older form of Mass that was so central to Catholic life for so long -- until one day the door to the past was artificially shut to us and locked. Indeed much of the current Catholic renaissance in all areas is due to the Spirit of Summorum, which amounts to opening this door again, looking anew at what came before as a source of strength and wisdom.

Now, this might at first seem strange that this would be something new to our generation, since the very essence of the Catholic life is its long memory. And yet in modern times, we've all been subjected to the claim that the "Spirit of Vatican II" was all about repudiating the past. The phrase appeared as a justification for every manner of behavior, teaching, or liturgical innovation that violated the sense of the older faith.

It was real sleight of hand at work. It's true that every Church council and every administrative decision has not only a letter but also a spirit, and that is true in the secular as well as ecclesiastical world. But how can it be that that spirit could actually contradict the letter such that what is being defended runs completely contrary to the law itself? That's a sure sign that what we are talking about is not a true but a false spirit.

Everyone knows the more obvious specifics. Vatican II said Gregorian chant should assume primary place but instead we got pop tunes more suitable for a children's playground than Mass. We were told that nothing would change about the liturgy unless it was absolutely necessary, and instead with got liturgical revolution. With it came an upending of doctrine, morals, and the faith itself, with the inevitable draining of monasteries, convents, and seminaries.

If you were going to describe this false spirit correctly, the last word one would use is "liberal." In fact, the spirit that was foisted upon us was illiberal in the extreme. It banned liturgical forms of the past. It sought to ban music of the past. It sought to ban our holy cards, our art, our architecture, our established prayers, our lay organizations, and our very way of life as Catholics. Change was in the air, but what was it all about? The only thing we knew for sure is that the past was off limits. And this was enforced.

The "Spirit of Vatican II" then became an excuse for mandatory heterodoxy, for undermining the true intent and contradicting the letter and the purpose of the reform. This Council that sought authenticate liberalization was ironically used by people invoking its spirit as a means for closing off all history and tradition, interdicting the past. A kind of autocratic and despotic censorship of all treasured things came into effect. This ill-liberal attitude shut it off the Catholic a source of its very name life, that is, its traditions.

What then happened? Sometimes it seemed as if the faith was perilously in danger. Cardinal Newman explains why: "No one can really respect religion, and insult its forms. Granting that the forms are not immediately from God, still long use has made them divine to us; for the spirit of religion has so penetrated and quickened them, that to destroy them is, in respect to the multitude of men, to unsettle and dislodge the religious principle itself."

This came home to me in a big way when I was first signed up to teach CCD for a parish in a town to which I had newly moved. The director of religious education gave me an exam concerning my understanding of the faith. This exam was a snap for me, having learned mainly from the Catechism of the Council of Trent and the Baltimore Catechism. Imagine my astonishment when the results came back that I had gotten wrong nearly every single answer in a 100-question exam. Even guessing at answers I would have gotten more correct.

Then I suddenly figured it out. I wasn't being examined on what I knew about Catholic teaching. I was being examined to make sure that I had properly updated my views on all matters Catholic, which meant of course that if I gave a traditional answer, I would necessarily miss every question. I asked for a chance to take it again, which I did. This time, it was a snap. I answered in the way that the proponents of the "Spirit of Vatican II" people would have me to answer. The result was that I passed with honors.

My experience in this regard was not isolated. This was not a radical parish. In fact, the parish had a reputation for conservatism. It's just that the DRE latched onto the wrong materials, an easy mistake. The test was a convention and part of an ethos. To be a true Catholic in those days was to turn your back decisively on all that came before. If you believed what everyone used to believed you failed. Such was the "liberal" spirit; it was censorious toward all that we thought was true, all the forms that had been known, and often mandated that we believe and do the opposite.

What Summorum represents, then, is far larger than what first appears. Summorum not only has a letter but also a spirit and that spirit is liberation, the liberty to love what came before. This is not only about the 1962 Missal. It is about a worldview and a civilization. What was holy then is holy now. I know that plenty of problems still exist and the claims about the "Spirit of Vatican II" haven't been put to rest completely. But we seemed to have turned the corner, such that all old things seem new again.

A Recommended Catholic Publication

Often people ask what Catholic publication is a good one to subscribe to. These days, with the internet, a print publication has to be pretty darn good to justify writing that check. I would say that Sacred Music is a great one but I also grant that this publication is a what people call a niche interest, and I accept this claim as a leap of faith, since I personally can't imagine why everyone is not interested in the relationships between, e.g., 17th century French polyphony and its chant predecessors.

Anyway, there is such a thing as a broader interest, I grant, and here my recommended publication is The Wanderer. It was founded as a German-language newspaper in 1867 and continues today as a vibrant, diverse, and fascinating publication that provides detailed coverage of the English-speaking Church and Church matters the world over. It will keep you informed with some of the best news coverage and commentary around.

In terms of commentary, the most consistently outstanding offering here is a weekly column by Fr. Zuhlsdorf. His long commentary is up to the minute with the Church year, and his learned homiletics never fail to provide fantastic insight into the season, the readings, the music, and the cultural moment. This column alone is a good enough reason to subscribe. I have no idea how he has time to write this long column each week, given all his other activities. Also, I write a column in here, which they generously run each week, but I'm embarrassed to be in print next to such quality material as Fr. Z provides.

Now, let's talk about controversies of the past that have led people to variously rally around or eschew this publication. In the 1980s, during the liturgy wars, The Wanderer took a position in favor of the old Indult for the "Tridentine Mass" as well as solemnly celebrated Novus Ordo Mass. It was passionately against the trends of the time of traditionalists to gravitate toward independent groups as well as the persistent claims that there is no salvation outside the traditional Mass.

This stand caused tremendous friction and rancor, and led to two opposing claims about the paper. The left predictably said that it was reactionary and neo-medieval and authoritarian, while the right claimed that the paper was selling out to the Vatican's unwillingness to defend tradition. I know that all of this seems like ancient history with Summorum Pontificum. But I might point out that The Wanderer stood its ground long for reconciling old and new long before this became the prevailing law.

Now, some people I've mentioned this paper to have had other responses. One is to say "oh, isn't that the right-wing political paper?" While it's true that it contains some political commentary as well as Catholic news and the like, its politics are by no means conventionally right wing. For example, it editorialized fiercely against the Iraq war and has for many years, and has been extremely tough on the Bush administration's centralizing tendencies on security issues. On matters of war and peace, its positions have not been easy to categorize. The same is true on matters of economics: on this topic I've agreed and disagreed (sometimes sharply) with the editors and writers.

On matters of culture and morality, however, you can expect a strong conservative bent in line with Church teaching. I think this is what gives rise to another comment I've sometimes heard about The Wanderer: it is too depressing. Specifically, the paper was way ahead of everyone else on the sex scandals in the Church. Ten years ago, they were running article after article for years exposing all the worst of what you didn't want to know, and didn't want to read. In some ways, this was an editorial disaster for the paper, but you have to admire their decision to print what was true in light of Catholic teaching, regardless of the consequences. This is precisely what makes for good and responsible Catholic journalism.

That said, I grant that in the past the paper's had a gloomy outlook that seemed to reflect the gloominess of the times. But, as we often say at NLM, the times really are changing, and the Wanderer is changing with them. I detect none of the pessimism of the past here. Now, under Benedict XVI, the paper has a new outlook and it is forward looking and exuberant, finding wonderful trends to report on everywhere, from newly restored to Churches to excellent young seminarians to solid decisions on Bishops coming from the Vatican.

What's nice is that you get the accumulated wisdom of institutional memory here, so readers benefit from the broad perspective and clear-headed analysis of current trends. For my part, I've come to love reading it every week. You can subscribe here—and I surely don't need to add that my endorsement here was neither solicited nor compensated.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Recordings from Mater Ecclesiae's Assumption Mass

Special thanks to a friend of Mater Ecclesiae for putting together a recording of the various pieces of music at this year's Assumption Mass. I have picked out a few which I thought were particularly worthy of being highlighted, and they are as follows:

--Kyrie et Gloria from Monteverdi's Missa della Cappella

--
Credo III, with an anonymous 16th century Guatemalan setting of the Et incarnatus
Discussion on chant accompaniment will not be allowed on this thread.

--Mozart's Venite populi

--Mozart Church Sonata #1 in E-flat (These are not done so often; perhaps a revival is in order.)

--Palestrina/Bassano: Pulchra es amica mea
Bassano was sometime Maestro di Cappella at San Marco in Venice. He added the string parts to this already existing Palestrina motet. This arrangement gives some idea of the tempi at which Renaissance polyphony was conceived--not that it must necessarily be done that way all the time.

--Timothy McDonnell's Sing We of the Blessed Mother (text written by G.B. Timms)


How does Mater Ecclesiae manage to pull off something as amazing as this? From the standpoint of financial resources, it is an unremarkable parish. Every year, they take a collection for the Assumption Mass, others make gifts in varying amounts of $1,000, or $500, etc. Others take out ads for the Assumption booklet. Many from outside the parish join in this assistance. In short, Mater Ecclesiae gets this done not because some miracle dropped out of the sky, but because the pastor and the parishioners have made it a priority. This is something to keep in mind the next time someone says that they wish they had good music but they "just don't have enough money." In most cases this is nothing more than an excuse. Kudos to Mater Ecclesiae for their dedication to good liturgy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pictures from Mater Ecclesiae's Assumption Mass




Mater Ecclesiae has posted pictures from this year's Assumption Mass on the parish website. Go here and here. (Note: the bishop above is Bishop-Elect Herbert Brevard, who will soon be ordained bishop and take possession of the Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.)

Offertory Verses for Your Schola

It's a great day when a treasure arrives in your inbox completely unannounced. So I hadn't even known that Richard Rice was working on a printable booklet of offertory verses that can be used in the new and old forms of the Roman Rite. Otherwise, you can only get them from the Offertoriale Triplex. Here they are all clean and beautiful and ready to sing this Sunday. The format is in a printable booklet. It's yet another great gift to the faith, courtesy of Richard and made available through the Church Music Association of America.

Everyone in the EF community knows about the Offertory. The OF community, however, can be forgiven for thinking that the offertory is the intermission. In fact, it has an antiphon, which can be found in the Graduale Romanum. Here are the Psalms that go with the antiphon.

Please consider a financial gift to the CMAA and joining their work. It is more than worth your support, given all that this institution is doing to support sacred music. There is no other source of funding.

Monday, August 25, 2008

More on Dominican Mass in the Northwest

As I mentioned in an announcement some time ago, Fr. Anthony-M. Patalano, O.P., Pastor of Holy Rosary, Portland, celebrated Dominican Rite Low Mass at St. Francis Xavier Mission in Toledo, Washington, on August 18th. Attendance was about 90 at the small rural mission. Fr. Anthony gave a short presentation on the distinctive characteristics of the Dominican Rite Low Mass and how it differs from the Extraordinary Use in the Roman Rite. The 18th in our 1961 calendar would have been a ferial of the 12th Sunday after the Octave of Trinity with the Memorial of St. Agapitus, but as you can see by the vestments, Fr. Anthony celebrated a Votive Mass, I believe of Our Lady.

The three servers had already had experience with the Extraordinary Use of the Roman Rite and did not need much time time to learn the rudiments of serving Dominican Mass. While in some ways very similar to the Roman Rite, it is easy for servers familiar with that rite to "trip up," as, for example, at the Offertory (we prepare the chalice before Mass and do not respond to the Orate Fratres) and in the movements (servers do not genuflect except on entering and leaving an altar where the Sacrament is reserved, making instead a deep bow when passing before the altar), and so on. Considering the short training period, I am told that the servers present did very well.

Here is a picture that was sent to me of the church:


Through the kindness of one in attendance, here are some photographs of the Mass. In the first photo you can see Fr. Anthony with his amice-covered capuce uncovering the chalice at the center of the altar. The two servers are at the left getting the wine and water. They will bring it to him and he will prepare the chalice and recover it. Then he will uncover his head and say the prayer Actiones Nostras quietly before descending for the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. There is an "extra" server kneeling before the altar. Although it was not a normal practice for us to have "extra" servers at the altar (sanctuary boys are another matter), it was a common Roman Practice and I served as one myself on occasion in the 1960s in my diocesan parish in New York.

Here we see Fr. Anthony preaching.

We now jump ahead to the Sanctus. You will notice that the senior server has gone behind the altar to light the Sanctus Candles. A more common positioning of these candles ( and easier to light if the altar is attached to the wall) would be at the ends of the altar. And it is legitimate for the junior server to light that on his own side. But this practice is certainly legitimate. At private Mass there is normally only one Sanctus Candle (and one server) but at a Mass celebrated for the people, like the use of two servers, use of two candles is common.

The Consecration of the Host. Note the two lighted candles. You will notice that we do not bow over the altar during the consecration, but make a head bow, like that prescribed for the Ordinary Use of the Roman Rite.

Sorry about the quality of the next photo. We are now at the Last Gospel, as you can see the servers have returned to their places after the dialogue. I notice that they are not following the old Dominican custom of snuffing the altar candles during the Last Gospel. This was the practice in the Western Province, but not in the Eastern Province. I am sure practice varied around the world. Some lay people found it "disrespectful," so it was often dropped. There was considerable resistance when we were forced to adopt the Roman practice of the Last Gospel in the 1600s. Before that priests returned to the sacristy reciting from memory the Canticle Benedicite Omnia Opera Domini (Dan. 3: 57-88), which may still be done. Recitation of John's Prologue after Mass began as a similar devotional recitation on the way to the sacristry. The canticle was common in some places, the prologue in others. The Tridentine Reform happened to canonize the Prologue. I have previously posted on Dominicans and the Last Gospel.

Finally, a photograph showing the recitation of the Leonine Prayers after Mass. As readers know these were added by Pope Leo XIII (and St. Pius X) and are not part of Mass. They are a kind of "oratio imperata" (a mandated prayer) to follow the Mass. And, of course, there is nothing particularly Dominican about them. Nonetheless, they are very commonly recited at Dominican Rite Low Masses I have attended.

In addition: I have also received news that Blessed Sacrament Dominican Parish in Seattle WA, the recent site of a very successful Centennial Dominican Solemn Mass, will be including the Dominican Rite Mass as a regular part of their schedule. I will let you know the frequency and times as soon as I get a report.

Thanks to Mr. Scott Powell for these photos. It is my understanding that Dominican Rite Mass will be celebrated at St. Francis Xavier Mission with some regularity in the future. Watch their website for announcements.

Get Thee to Virginia!

St. John the Beloved Church in McLean, Virginia will again host a two-day workshop in Gregorian Chant on October 17 and 18. This event, which will provide a valuable introduction for novices as well as continued skill-building and education for experienced singers, is intended for all who are active or interested in this ancient music of the Roman Catholic Church.

The workshop will be directed by Scott Turkington, a renowned chant instructor and music director in Stamford, Connecticut, and author of The Gregorian Chant Master Class. Last year’s workshop in McLean was highly successful, with over 100 enthusiastic people from six states and eight dioceses participating. Registration closed earlier after the workshop filled far advance.

One participant suggested that all American bishops and priests be told about this workshop so that they will know what is going on in the Catholic Church.

The fee of $90 for this 2008 Workshop will include extensive instruction in singing chant and reading Gregorian (square note) notation; the new Parish Book of Chant; a lecture on the spirituality of Gregorian chant by the pastor, Rev. Franklyn M. McAfee; a lecture on papal legislation and church documents related to liturgical music by Rev. Paul F. deLadurantaye, Director of Liturgy for the Diocese of Arlington; a concert by David B. Lang of organ works based on chant melodies; two receptions; a catered lunch on Saturday; and free childcare.

The Workshop will culminate at High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at 6:45 p.m., with participants singing what they have learned. A reception for participants will follow the Mass.

Interested persons may register online and print the brochure and full schedule, or may register by mail. Go here. Registration closes on September 30 or whenever the workshop is full.

Dr. Alcuin Reid's Forthcoming Work: Continuity or Rupture? A Study of The Liturgical Reform of the Second Vatican Council

Many NLM readers will be interested in the fact that recently, Dr. Alcuin Reid was awarded with the “Society of St Catherine of Siena and CIEL UK Research Fellowship in Liturgical Theology” which will facilitate the writing of his second major liturgical work which will be titled, Continuity or Rupture? A Study of The Liturgical Reform of the Second Vatican Council.

The book is intended to pick up where his first work, The Organic Development of the Liturgy, left off and is expected to be published in 2011.

Here is the official announcement from the Society of St. Catherine of Siena website:

Second Fellow: Dr. Alcuin Reid

It has recently become possible for the Society to co-sponsor with CIEL UK a second Research Fellowship in Liturgical Theology for the academic years 2008-2010. The announcement was made during the CIEL UK 2008 Conference held at the London Oratory, Brompton on 31st May, at at which the recipient delivered the main paper on "The Liturgical Reforms of Benedict XVI." Dr. Alcuin Reid gained a PhD from King’s College, University of London in 2002 for a thesis on twentieth century liturgical reform. He has spoken internationally on liturgical topics, written extensively on the Sacred Liturgy and edited and published a number of books, including Looking Again at the Question of the Liturgy with Cardinal Ratzinger (2003) and The Monastic Diurnal (2004). The second edition of his principal work, The Organic Development of the Liturgy (Ignatius Press, 2005), carries a preface by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.

Dr. Reid’s latest edition of Adrian Fortescue’s book, The Early Papacy, was published by Ignatius Press in April 2008. He is currently working on the fifteenth revised edition of Fortescue and O’Connell’s Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, which is due for publication by January 2009.

Dr. Reid has been awarded the Society of St. Catherine of Siena and CIEL UK Research Fellowship in Liturgical Theology in order to facilitate the writing of his second major liturgical work, Continuity or Rupture? A Study of the Liturgical Reform of the Second Vatican Council. The book will be published in the Society’s book series, Studies in Fundamental Liturgy (T & T Clark/Continuum).


Just as a reminder as well about liturgical things to look forward to in the next couple of years, both Dr. Alcuin Reid and Dr. Laurence Hemming (of the Society of St. Catherine of Siena) are also involved in the establishment of a new scholarly liturgical journal focused upon the ancient Roman liturgy, Usus Antiquior.

Please recall they are interested to hear from people who might want to subscribe, and perhaps more importantly they are in need of donors and benefactors. Please do send them a donation. We should recall that 5000 people even sending in a mere $10.00 each make a signficant impact and can help ensure this important initiative becomes a reality.

Those who are interested in signing up to show their interest, or to make a donation (by Paypal, or alternatively, by mailing a cheque), please visit the journal's website.

ICEL policy on proposed Order of Mass texts

Those of you who have followed the controversy with ICEL's copyright/royalty policies will be interested to know that we now have a solution. ICEL has agreed to not charge any royalties on free downloads of music, providing the source is acknowledged. That is very very great news.

In effect, this puts ICEL's texts in the category of a creative commons, non-commercial attribution license. This means that the English-speaking Church can look forward to free music in the future, at long last. This will mean so much to financially strapped parishes and cathedrals. It means that when the new texts are promulgated, they won't have to spend many thousands of dollars more simply to have music to sing. This is a wonderful thing, and much credit goes to ICEL and to the Bishops with whom they worked on agreeing to this solution.

There is still the matter of final approval, however. The texts are still not finally ready for release, and it might even be years before they are. Until that happens, ICEL has requested that the music available here be taken down until all publishers are given the go ahead to make music available in all forms. They will be made available again when that announcement is made.

In the meantime, we are considering a solution that would offer music without the ICEL texts underneath. While it is disappointing that we can't offer these now, it is a great day for the Church that the ICEL texts will be available without royalty charges in this manner. This, in the long run, will have enormously beneficial results.

Index to Polyphonic Propers

With all the talk of polyphonic propers, I had forgotten to mention that the Recovering Choir Director has assembled a complete list of all polyphonic propers that are currently available for free download from CPDL.org. It is a very handy tool, available here.

While you are there, you can get a polyphonic T-shirt. I snagged the Byrd one right now, so as to continue to feed my current obsession that I've inflicted on suffering NLM readers for weeks. It is understandable if someone, who might be more focused on the Continent, would prefer a Guerrero or Morales shirt.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ranjith: We Have to Muster the Courage to Correct Course [Updated]

You have read about the Pontifical Mass which H.E. Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, celebrated for this year's Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Maria Vesperbild, Bavaria (if you haven't, go here).

After Mass, Msgr. Ranjith gave an interview to the excellent German Catholic newspaper, Die Tagespost. He has some very intersting things to say about inculturation, which I hope to translate later. For now, here is a part about the result of the postconciliar liturgical reforms. This is quite significant in that the No. 2 of the Congregation for Divine Worship, handpicked by the Holy Father, openly acknowledges that in matters liturgical there is need for a course correction after the postconciliar liturgical reform.

Die Tagespost: In what way has the postconciliar liturgical reform contributed to a spiritual renewal?

Msgr. Ranjith: The use of the vernacular has let many people understand the mystery of the Eucharist more deeply and has procured a more intense relationship with the texts of Scripture. The active participation of the faithful has been encouraged. However, this must not mean that Mass is to be entirely dialogue-oriented. Mass must have moments of silence, of inwardness and personal prayer. Where there is ceaseless talking, man cannot be deeply penetrated by mystery. We are not to talk uninterruptedly before God, but to also let Him speak. The liturgical renewal has been affected, however, by the experimental arbitrariness with which Mass today is being freely performed as "do-it-yourself liturgy". The spirit of the liturgy has, in a manner of speaking, been abducted. What has happened cannot now be undone anymore. The fact is that our churches have become emptier. Of course there are also other factors: the unbridled consumerist behaviour, secularism, an excessive image of man. We have to muster the courage to correct course, because not everything which happened after the reform of the liturgy was according to the intention of the Council. Why should we drag along ballast which the Council did not want at all?


UPDATE

I have now translated the entire interview:

Die Tagespost: Asia is considered in Europe as the continent of contemplation, mysticism and spiritual depth. What can the Universal Church learn from the Church in Asia?

Msgr. Ranjith: The Universal Church can learn much from the Church in Asia. The prerequisite for this is inculturation correctly understood, that is the successful integration of certain parts of Asian culture into living Christianity. I am speaking here specifically of inculturation properly understood, because inculturation has partly been completely misunderstood in Asia, not least by those who talk about inculturation. We must therefore not deceive ourselves about what is really Asian. With regard to Western ideologies, schools of thought, the influence of secularism and horizontal perspectives, which do not truly liberate man, there can be no talk at all of Asian spirituality and Asian values. Only if we go back to the roots and talk authentically about Asian values and the Asian way of life, we can contribute to the Universal Church. Anything else would be but smoke and mirrors. In order to avoid a superficial view of inculturation we must distinguish between what is truly Asian and what belongs to the Asian religions. Many religious practices have developed from everyday life. To confuse the two would only be the breeding ground of a syncretistic theology and of a destruction of the Roman Catholic way of life. Therefore, we must first effect a kind of demythologisation and see what is behind the various religious attitudes. Only then can it be discerned what is truly Asian.

DT: Where do you see examples of unsuccessful Christian inculturation in Asia?

MR: It is, for instance, Asian through and through to respect religious symbols, for example priestly attire and religious garb. In no Buddhist temple will you find monks not in a monk's habit. The Hindusanyasis have their identity signs, which distinguish them from the others in the temple or on the road. This attitude is neither typically Buddhist nor typically Hindu, it is Asian. The Asians want to point with these symbols to the reality behind the outwardly visible reality. They consider, for example, priestly or religious garb as a distinction which makes the person concerned stand out from the mass because of his personal ideal. If priests and religious appear in Western civilian clothes and do not reveal their state, then this has nothing to do with inculturation, but with a pseudo-Asian look, which in fact is rather European. Therefore, it is very regrettable that priests and religious in many countries of Asia do not wear clothing corresponding to their state anymore. One of the congregations known worldwide, which has successfully designed a religious habit modelled after the local style of dress, is the Congregation of the Missionaris of Charity (the Sisters of Mother Teresa). They are an example of successful Christian inculturation, because every child on the street can immediately identify them.

DT: What standards apply to successful inculturation?

MR: The synodal text "Ecclesia in Asia" expressly states that Christ was Asian. The roots of Christianity and Jewish culture, which Jesus encountered in Jerusalem, were Asian. Of course, Christianity has spread in the West thorugh Greco-Roman thought. St. Paul and others were a kind of door opener in this. Unfortunately, the vicissitudes of history made impossible an early spread of Christianity in Asia. There was simply not enough "input" into the Asian way of thinking. In Asia, regarding Christianity, the image of a religion imported by the colonialists still predominates. But that is not true. Christianity came to Asia long before the colonial powers. In India, for example, we have the strong tradition of the St. Thomas Christians. Who wants to transfer Christianity to the Asian way of life must show humility before the mystery of God. Only a believing person can succeed. This is not a question of theological or philosophical competence. The simple, devout man in the street may often be at an advantage, because he approaches the mystery of God unprejudicedly
and is completely pervaded by the Christian message. The vox populi plays an important role for the inculturation. Only with deeply religious people who pray is successful inculturation possible. Theologians often forget that we can discover the true value of the message of Jesus only on our knees. We see this in the manner in which Paul evangelised. He was a man of God, who loved God and totally dedicated his life to Christ and lived in constant contact with Him. Only people like this can ve the standard for Christian inculturation. Otherwise, Christianity will not get beyond the book cover. And unfortunately one has to say that there is at present no serious theological thinking in Asia. We have a great potpourri of ideas: a bit of liberation theology from Latin America, a bit of Western theology, some of the philosophical currents of the Western universities - everything is being tried impetuously. Therefore, there is a kind of isolation, because of which one is no longer open to the mystery of the ways of God. Theology is only considered as a kind of human event. The openness to the light of God is missing. The sense of the deep mystical union with God is missing, as well as the ability to understand the faith of ordinary people. But it is precisely these characteristics a theologian needs.

DT: From Asia one also hears voices which say that the debate on the Tridentine liturgy is typically European and has nothing to do with the concerns of the people in mission areas. How do you see this?

MR: Well, these are individual opinions that cannot be generalized for the Catholic Church. That the whole of Asia should reject the Tridentine Mass is inconceivable. One must also beware of generalisations such as "the old Mass does not fit for Asia". It is precisely the extraordinary rite liturgy which reflects some Asian values in all their depth. Above all the aspect of Redemption and the vertical perspective of human life, the deeply personalised relationship between God and the priest and God and the community are more clearly expressed in the old liturgy than in the Novus ordo. The Novus ordo by contrast stresses more the horizontal perspective. That does not mean that the Novus ordo itself stands for a horizontal perspective, but rather its interpretation by different liturgical schools, which regard the Mass more as a community experience. If established ways of thinking are called into question, however, some react discomfitedly. Holy Mass is not only a memorial of the Last Supper, but also the Sacrifice of Christ and the Mystery of our Salvation. Without Good Friday, the Last Supper has no meaning. The Cross is the marvelous sign of God's love, and only in relation to the Cross is true community at all possible. Here is the real starting point for the evangelisation of Asia.

DT: In what way has the postconciliar liturgical reform contributed to a spiritual renewal?

MR: The use of the vernacular has let many people understand the mystery of the Eucharist more deeply and has procured a more intense relationship with the texts of Scripture. The active participation of the faithful has been encouraged. However, this must not mean that Mass is to be entirely dialogue-oriented. Mass must have moments of silence, of inwardness and personal prayer. Where there is ceaseless talking, man cannot be deeply penetrated by mystery. We are not to talk uninterruptedly before God, but to also let Him speak. The liturgical renewal has been affected, however, by the experimental arbitrariness with which Mass today is being freely performed as "do-it-yourself liturgy". The spirit of the liturgy has, in a manner of speaking, been abducted. What has happened cannot now be undone anymore. The fact is that our churches have become emptier. Of course there are also other factors: the unbridled consumerist behaviour, secularism, an excessive image of man. We have to muster the courage to correct course, because not everything which happened after the reform of the liturgy was according to the intention of the Council. Why should we drag along ballast which the Council did not want at all?

DT: In Germany, it is ever more requently that Holy Masses are being replaced by celebrations of the Word of God led by lay people, although enough priests are available. In return, in many places priests, in the course of mergers of parishes, have to concelebrate more frequently, so that even less Masses are celebrated. Does the Church have to rethink the practice of concelebration?

MR: This is less a question of concelebration than a question of the understanding of the Mass and the image of the priest. The priest accomplishes in the Eucharist what others cannot do. As alter Christus, he is not the main person, but the Lord. Concelebrations should be restricted to special occasions. A concelebration which stands for a depersonalisation of the celebration of Mass is therefore just as wrong as the notion that one could obligate a priest to concelebrate regularly, or close churches in several villages and concentrate the Mass in one place, although enough celebrants are available.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Cutting Edge: Polyphonic Propers

Most of us aren't anywhere near doing this yet, but very experienced choirs face a huge wealth of magnificent propers in polyphonic settings that can be sung as a replacement for the chant. What's wonderful here is the addition into the Mass of these intervals of great color and beautiful during processions and contemplative portions of the Mass, while the people continue to sing the ordinary.

Of course this is impractical for any regular schola in a regular parish. But when it is possible, it is glorious. I'm so blessed to have experienced this for the first time at the Byrd Festival as the masterful Cantores in Ecclesia sang the polyphonic propers written by William Byrd.

I'm so delighted to be able to offer you a sample in the form of the following MP3s recorded on the spot (by an NLMer) during a Pontifical Mass for the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary 2008. The recordings come complete with crying babies and slamming kneelers, the usual parish racket amidst splendid beauty, that mix we all truly and seriously love.

Here we go:

Gaudeamus

Propter veritatem

Assumpta est Maria


Optimam partem

I would dearly love to have a complete set of Cantores singing the entire cycle!

Lingua Latina in Civitate Vaticana


The German/Austrian/Swiss public television network for cultural programming broadcasts, 3sat, today has a theme day on the Roman Empire. As part of this programming, its daily cultural magazine "Kulturzeit" was broadcast entirely in Latin (the pronunciation was meant to be the restored classical one, i.e. æ = "ay", but you can heavily hear the German in the consonants; also, since many of the speakers don't really know Latin, they make pauses in strange places, and often stress the wrong words.) I will spare you the typically Euro-leftist political parts (but if you really want to, you can watch the entire programme here). But the part that was most interesting to NLM readers was the segment about Latin in the Vatican. They even visited Ss. Trinità dei Pellegrini, the Roman personal parish for the extraordinary form entrusted to the FSSP, and briefly talked to Fr Kramer. I am quite happy about this part. They start by saying that at Ss. Trinità "mos antiquus retinetur", the old way is being retained ("mos maiorum", the way of the forebears, being an extremely positive term in Latin). When they describe the usus antiquior, they say "celebrat unum cum laicis ad orientem versus", he celebrates together with the laypeople turned towards the East; of course, they have to add "ut hi vultum eius non conspiciant", so that they cannot see his face, but still, the concept is there, and even mentioned first. They then say that there are some who disapprove of the Tridentine Mass, because it "almost does not permit the faithful to actively participate" ("fideles ... missa actuose partecipere vix possint"), but end by saying that according to Fr Kramer nothing of the sort is to be seen at Ss. Trinità: "Non modo nonnulli ibi vinculo matrimonii iungi Latina lingua utentes volunt, sed etiam baptismata tridentina mox dabuntur Latine." - "Not only are there some who want to marry there using the Latin language, also Tridentine Baptisms will soon be conferred in Latin."

See the video about Latin in the Vatican "Habemus Latinum" here: http://www.3sat.de/mediathek/?obj=9256; if you want to go directly to the part about Ss. Trinità, go to 5:21.

(By the way, the German subtitles depart quite liberally from the Latin, which is odd, since it was translated from the German.)

Si quæris miracula


The excellent Italian blog "Cantual Antonianum" has published a while ago the popular responsory for the feast of St Anthony of Padua "Si quæris", as it is sung in the Basilica of the Saint in Padua every Tuesday. Here it is (click to enlarge):


The English translation (also courtesy of Cantuale Antonianum):

If, then, thou seekest miracles, Death, error, all calamities, The leprosy and demons flee, The sick, by him made whole, arise.
Ant: The sea withdraws and fetters break, And withered limbs he doth restore, While treasures lost are found again, When young or old his help implore.
All dangers vanish from our path, Our direst needs do quickly flee: Let those who know repeat the theme: Let Paduans praise St. Anthony.
Ant: The sea withdraws and fetters break, And withered limbs he doth restore, While treasures lost are found again, When young or old his help implore.
To the Father, Son let glory be, And Holy Ghost eternally.
Ant: The sea withdraws and fetters break, And withered limbs he doth restore, While treasures lost are found again, When young or old his help implore.

Friday, August 22, 2008

FAQ on Sacred Music: New Edition

This new edition of Frequently Asked Questions on Sacred Music includes a discussion of Sing to the Lord, and also the world's shortest explanation of chant notation ("The C clef marks do, the F clef marks fa, and the whole- and half-steps up and down the scale follow accordingly. The staff has four lines in¬stead of five, which reflects the vocal range of most chant.").

Please feel free to print, pass around, sell on street corners, put on window shields in parking lots, or drop from helicopters during well-attended liturgy meetings.

Support Sacred Music

Please read this message from Scott Turkington concerning support for sacred music.

NPM Carefully editing Pius XII

The August/September issue of Pastoral Music, published by the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, is dedicated to liturgical ensembles. The pictures of musicians in various parish settings tell the story.

The cover has a flute player in a jeans jacket playing next to two cellists in front of a youth choir. Page 14 has a guitar player with a conga player. Page 17 has two guitar players and a conga player. Page 18 features a guitar player. Page 22 has three bongo players. Page 24 has two flute players with a recorder player in front of a youth choir. Page 26 has a cellist and a violinist. Page 27 has a string bass player plucking his instrument. Page 28 has two guitar players with singers crowded around microphones. Page 31 has a pianist with a clarinetist, two flute players, a violist, and a trumpet player. Page 33 shows another flute player. Page 34 has two guitar players. Page 38 has two guitar players with a recorder player and two singers. Page 52 has a cantor in the "touchdown" position.

Now at last we come to page 59, which has an op-ed sized article called "Interior As Well As Exterior" by….Pius XII! It's an excerpt from Mediator Dei (1947), and it includes the pull quote: "Let the full harmonious singing of our people rise to heaven like the busting of a thunderous sea."

As much as I appreciate learning from Pastoral Music that there was a Pope that came before Paul VI, there are a number of issues this raises. The first is the good point that the call for active participation is not a unique contribution of Vatican II. It's good to be reminded of that.

On the downside, the excerpt they publish provides no paragraph numberings other than to mention in a note that these are excerpts. Not even the full paragraphs are included. On the contrary, the selections are judicious and agenda driven. Moreover, the cherry-picked quotations here have no ellipses. In fact, the casual reader could be easily led to believe that what appears in Pastoral Music is what appeared in 1947.

So, for example, the reader has no idea what precisely that Pius XII wants to bust like a thunderous sea.

The editors completely cut the section that explains this, which includes the last section of they paragraph 105 that the article claims to quote: "This can be done in more than one way, when, for instance, the whole congregation, in accordance with the rules of the liturgy, either answer the priest in an orderly and fitting manner, or sing hymns suitable to the different parts of the Mass, or do both, or finally in high Masses when they answer the prayers of the minister of Jesus Christ and also sing the liturgical chant."

The Pope goes on to explain that the dialogue Mass in no way replaces the High Mass, and that even if people do not know Latin, they still benefit from singing it:

106. These methods of participation in the Mass are to be approved and recommended when they are in complete agreement with the precepts of the Church and the rubrics of the liturgy. Their chief aim is to foster and promote the people's piety and intimate union with Christ and His visible minister and to arouse those internal sentiments and dispositions which should make our hearts become like to that of the High Priest of the New Testament. However, though they show also in an outward manner that the very nature of the sacrifice, as offered by the Mediator between God and men, must be regarded as the act of the whole Mystical Body of Christ, still they are by no means necessary to constitute it a public act or to give it a social character. And besides, a "dialogue" Mass of this kind cannot replace the high Mass, which, as a matter of fact, though it should be offered with only the sacred ministers present, possesses its own special dignity due to the impressive character of its ritual and the magnificence of its ceremonies. The splendor and grandeur of a high Mass, however, are very much increased if, as the Church desires, the people are present in great numbers and with devotion.

107. It is to be observed, also, that they have strayed from the path of truth and right reason who, led away by false opinions, make so much of these accidentals as to presume to assert that without them the Mass cannot fulfill its appointed end.

108. Many of the faithful are unable to use the Roman missal even though it is written in the vernacular; nor are all capable of understanding correctly the liturgical rites and formulas. So varied and diverse are men's talents and characters that it is impossible for all to be moved and attracted to the same extent by community prayers, hymns and liturgical services. Moreover, the needs and inclinations of all are not the same, nor are they always constant in the same individual. Who, then, would say, on account of such a prejudice, that all these Christians cannot participate in the Mass nor share its fruits? On the contrary, they can adopt some other method which proves easier for certain people; for instance, they can lovingly meditate on the mysteries of Jesus Christ or perform other exercises of piety or recite prayers which, though they differ from the sacred rites, are still essentially in harmony with them.

He further clarifies a great error in understanding that was prevalent then and now:

114. They, therefore, err from the path of truth who do not want to have Masses celebrated unless the faithful communicate; and those are still more in error who, in holding that it is altogether necessary for the faithful to receive holy communion as well as the priest, put forward the captious argument that here there is question not of a sacrifice merely, but of a sacrifice and a supper of brotherly union, and consider the general communion of all present as the culminating point of the whole celebration.

As for Gregorian chant, let the Pope speak:
191. As regards music, let the clear and guiding norms of the Apostolic See be scrupulously observed. Gregorian chant, which the Roman Church considers her own as handed down from antiquity and kept under her close tutelage, is proposed to the faithful as belonging to them also. In certain parts of the liturgy the Church definitely prescribes it; it makes the celebration of the sacred mysteries not only more dignified and solemn but helps very much to increase the faith and devotion of the congregation. For this reason, Our predecessors of immortal memory, Pius X and Pius XI, decree - and We are happy to confirm with Our authority the norms laid down by them - that in seminaries and religious institutes, Gregorian chant be diligently and zealously promoted, and moreover that the old Scholae Cantorum be restored, at least in the principal churches. This has already been done with happy results in not a few places.

192. Besides, "so that the faithful take a more active part in divine worship, let Gregorian chant be restored to popular use in the parts proper to the people. Indeed it is very necessary that the faithful attend the sacred ceremonies not as if they were outsiders or mute onlookers, but let them fully appreciate the beauty of the liturgy and take part in the sacred ceremonies, alternating their voices with the priest and the choir, according to the prescribed norms. If, please God, this is done, it will not happen that the congregation hardly ever or only in a low murmur answer the prayers in Latin or in the vernacular." A congregation that is devoutly present at the sacrifice, in which our Savior together with His children redeemed with His sacred blood sings the nuptial hymn of His immense love, cannot keep silent, for "song befits the lover" and, as the ancient saying has it, "he who sings well prays twice." Thus the Church militant, faithful as well as clergy, joins in the hymns of the Church triumphant and with the choirs of angels, and, all together, sing a wondrous and eternal hymn of praise to the most Holy Trinity in keeping with words of the preface, "with whom our voices, too, thou wouldst bid to be admitted."

And what of modern music?
193. It cannot be said that modem music and singing should be entirely excluded from Catholic worship. For, if they are not profane nor unbecoming to the sacredness of the place and function, and do not spring from a desire of achieving extraordinary and unusual effects, then our churches must admit them since they can contribute in no small way to the splendor of the sacred ceremonies, can lift the mind to higher things and foster true devotion of soul.

And, finally, the following little passage did not make the cut:

195. … Nevertheless, in keeping with the duty of Our office, We cannot help deploring and condemning those works of art, recently introduced by some, which seem to be a distortion and perversion of true art and which at times openly shock Christian taste, modesty and devotion, and shamefully offend the true religious sense. These must be entirely excluded and banished from our churches, like "anything else that is not in keeping with the sanctity of the place."

Pastoral Music has been making progress lately, with special issue on chant and other signs of a new openness to the changed times. But this sort of editorial manipulation really has no place in materials that are distributed with the stated goal of helping Church musicians do what the Church intends.

"Benedictine" Altar Arrangement in Chile

Last Sunday, the Bishop of San Bernardo (Chile), Msgr. Juan Ignacio González Errázuriz, ordained five priests for his diocese (thanks to a Chilean reader for this tip). The Pontifical Mass featured an excellent example of the "Benedictine" altar arrangement (the meaning and importance of which was recently again explained by Shawn), as well as other exemplary elements of liturgical tradition. It should be mentioned that Msgr. González is a member of Opus Dei, which is famous for its impeccable liturgy and its hermeneutic of continuity avant la lettre - Sancte Josephe Maria, ora pro nobis.

The altar with large Cross and seven candles (click on pictures to enlarge them):


The Bishop received with a Crucifix and holy water:


Everyone wearing cassocks and vesting amices:


Six torchbearers:


The Bishop with a very nice mitre and crosier, and wearing the pontifical dalmatic:




Instituted lectors reading the lessons:




The newly ordained vested in quite decent chasubles:



Lastly, for those interested in such things, while reading a bit about the Bishop on the diocesan website, I found that he has also a very well-done episcopal coat-of-arms; the crosses and roses, as well as the motto, alluding to St. Josemaría:

An alternative to the ubiquitous Halloween recital

Last spring, I planned an organ recital that I thought would be really fantastic. The problem was that I had gotten in over my head and, for a number of reasons, some of which were related to burnout, found myself unprepared as the recital neared and having to cancel it.

I have not failed to reflect on this, and I have come up with a program for this Fall (exact date--sometime between October 31 and November 9--to be announced later) which should be much more manageable, and dare I say more enjoyable, to prepare for. This lineup is based on an All Saints/All Souls theme: I suppose you could call it the high art version of the all-too-common “Halloween concert.” (I have nothing against Halloween as such, but the things people do to mark it really can be gauche. Sometimes it seems as if no one could possibly outdo the cheesiness of some of the October organ concert programs I've read about over the years.)

In any case, I thought it would be worth sharing this idea with the other musicians out there.

Henry Walford-Davies: Solemn Melody

J.S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543

Bach: Alle menschen muessen sterben (from the Neumeister Choraele)

improvisation on the Dies Irae

Olivier Messiaen: Le Banquet Celeste

Messiaen: Transports de joie

Hymn: O Quanta Qualia (assuming there are enough people there to make the singing of it thrilling)

Calvin Hampton: In Paradisum

Marcel Dupre: Cortege et Litanie

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Vespers (Usus Antiquior) from St. Stephen's Basilica, Budapest

With the celebration of Vespers this evening in Budapest, in the beautiful Basilica of St. Stephen, the Budapest liturgical conference hosted by the St. Augustine Liturgical Atelier was officially commenced.

Here are a few images of the Cathedral-Basilica itself, which is quite impressive and boasts the relic of the right hand of St. Stephen.





The Vespers themselves were celebrated at the throne by Cardinal Laszlo Paskai, the former Archbishop of Esztergom with the Apostolic Nuncio of Hungary in attendance. He wore a magnificant cope for the occasion. The schola was that of the Basilica itself, which sung both chant and polyphony to great acclaim. They were indeed quite excellent.

For those who have not experienced the opportunity to participate in chanted Vespers from the 1962 Breviarium Romanum, I must encourage you to do so. No matter how often I do it, I always come away from it enriched and uplifted.

Here are a few images from the Vespers service itself:













Vespers was followed by the first lecture delivered, which we shall speak more on soon.

Funeral of Bishop Wilhelm Egger [Update]

Perhaps you have read that H.E. Msgr. Wilhelm Emil Egger OFMCap, the Bishop of Bozen and Brixen in South Tyrol, who just recently hosted the Holy Father's summer holidays, has died unexpectedly. Today, his funeral Mass was celebrated in the Cathedral of Brixen; main celebrant was the Pope's representative, Card. Angelo Scola, the Patriarch of Venice. Msgr. Egger was a noted biblical scholar, head of the Bishops' committee for the new translation of the Bible into German according to the norms of liturgiam authenticam, and Special Secretary of the upcoming Bishops' Synod on the Word of God.

While not everything in this footage might be as we could wish for liturgically, not only is this an interesting event because of the person of the deceased; it also permits us a view at the Cathedral which inspired the Holy Father's recent words on the revelatory power of beauty in art and music. And lastly, it is perhaps not in every part of the world that you see cardinals, bishops and priests in black Roman chasubles in droves, peacefully mixed with violet and Gothic ones (presumably because they didn't have enough of the same).



(In case you should wonder, the Capuchin walking directly behind the hearse is Msgr. Egger's twin brother.)

UPDATE

The diocese of Bozen-Brixen has now released some images of the requiem (follow the link to see larger versions):

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