Guest article by Jeff Ostrowski
* Campion Missal & Hymnal
In this fourth installment of my six-part series, I will discuss "Manuscripts of Gregorian Chant & the Roman Canon." Apropos of my introductory statements, I must confess that, of all the features in the Campion Missal, this special component will do the most to engender love for the holy Mass. You see, for the first time in history, the Campion Missal includes full color reproductions of ancient manuscripts (containing, among other things, the Roman Canon) placed right alongside the English translation of the Tridentine Mass. Catholics who have the Mass prayers memorized in Latin can pray directly from these ancient codices, and all can marvel at the astonishing antiquity of the Latin Mass.
Before going further, let me point out that this topic is truly vast; far too immense for a single blog entry. As a matter of fact, I will not even have space to treat the Gregorian manuscripts, although their fascinating history remains a frequent topic at the Corpus Christi Watershed blog. For those unaware, there are thousands of pages containing ancient Mass texts extant, and it would be difficult to imagine any other object more deserving of examination than these captivating relics. In the following article, then, I will merely give some basic information which, hopefully, will kindle a desire for further investigation.
The Roman Canon is a sacred prayer of unthinkable antiquity which, as Fr. Fortescue noted, "No medieval bishop dared to touch." Without further ado, let us examine some examples (the Campion Missal & Hymnal contains more than a dozen full color pages of manuscripts like these).
One of the oldest manuscripts with the Roman Canon is called the Gelasian Sacramentary. The copy in the Campion Missal was created circa 800 AD. The oldest extant copy of the Gelasian Sacramentary comes from the 7th century (or beginning of the 8th century). Here is a small excerpt from this manuscript:
Using the Latin (with English translation) given below, it is relatively easy to "decipher" the Gelasian Sacramentary, in spite of its frequent use of abbreviation.
Below is the same section of the Mass, this time in a manuscript from around 983 AD.
By now, the reader has probably noticed the little "X" symbol used for our Lord. When I was little, somebody told me that one should not use "Xmas" because it "crosses out Christ." Those who are familiar with the history of the "Chi Rho," as were the scribes who created these manuscripts, realize how nonsensical that statement is.
By special permission of the Royal Irish Academy, the Campion Missal & Hymnal contains high resolution images from the Stowe Missal, which was written circa 750 AD (or earlier). Here is same section of the Mass as it appears in the Stowe Missal, a wonderfully rare Irish relic:
To hear how the Roman Canon sounds, feel free to download this audio file, a special recording of the beginning of the Canon prayed by Bishop René H. Gracida. His Excellency's voice becomes somewhat louder whenever the music gets louder because unless I am mistaken the rubrics specify that the Celebrant must "be able to hear himself." In any event, here is yet another version of that same section of the Mass (see above), this time in a manuscript from 1439 AD:
And here is that same section of the Mass in a book from 1487 AD:
Finally, here is the same section, this time in a manuscript from the middle of the 16th century:
We hope that many publishers will quickly follow our lead by including ancient manuscripts in publications for Catholic congregations, placing them alongside the English translations. The inspiration for this came from Dr. Peter Wagner's teacher, Fr. Michael Hermesdorff of Trier, who was the first to place adiastematic neumes above medieval box notation in practical editions. Both 19th century Graduals by Hermesdorff (1883-1885) were uploaded for all to enjoy [url] by Corpus Christi Watershed back in 2008. Speaking of printing the full Latin and English texts, many readers might not realize this was required by the Church (at least for priests' Altar Missals) by the document Inter Oecumenici, Sacred Congregation of Rites (September 26, 1964). Section 57 reads: "Missals to be used in the liturgy, however, shall contain besides the vernacular version the Latin text as well."
Another reason we hope other publishers will take up this idea: the manuscripts are such incredible works of art! For instance, presented below is the Preface (historically the beginning of the Canon) in a manuscript dated around 1300 AD. It is worth noting that many of the ancient manuscripts put much more emphasis on the Preface ("Vere Dignum") than the Sanctus, contrary to what one might expect.
Here is a translation for the above manuscript:
Even by the brief excerpts presented above, it is obvious that the Roman Canon is a most precious heirloom of the Catholic Church. I cannot help but think a most jarring change must have occurred when the Novus Ordo Mass was promulgated, since all of a sudden the Roman Canon de facto disappeared, to be replaced by the Second Eucharistic Prayer (which, tragically, so many priests chose because of its brevity). Increasingly, the notion is being challenged that such sweeping changes: (a) ended up bearing the desired fruit; and (b) were desired by a majority of Catholics. I think of the famous passage written in the 1950s by Bishop Charrière, who was bishop of Fribourg, Switzerland (the location where the Solemn Mass pictures were taken for the Campion Missal & Hymnal):
In one word, on this point as on the others, we realize that, from many sides, more or less substantial changes are requested from Rome. But those who are pleased with today's situation, those who do live the Liturgy as given by the Roman Church, are not complaining and do not say anything. Don't we also have to give large consideration to the majority who are content? Isn't their number as great, maybe greater, than the number of those who complain? We are being told of a desire, which then tends to become widespread, for a substantial modification of the Liturgy. What is really universal is the desire to see the faithful always participating in the Mass to a greater extent and to see the priests always living from their liturgical prayer. But as for how this better participation of the faithful and priests can be achieved, we do not believe that those who speak the more loudly, those who somehow impatiently keep asking for endless changes, do represent the majority. A general survey of all the bishops would perhaps let us know the thoughts of those who do not say anything but who are content to see the Liturgy kept in its present form.
Then, too, the wholesale abandonment of the Latin must have also been a great cross to many, as may be gleaned from this document quoted by Dom Alcuin Reid:
"We utterly repudiate the subversive efforts that are being made to discredit the use of the Latin Liturgy, a precious heritage . . . We strongly resent the implication that we and our children are not sufficiently intelligent to understand the simple Latin of the Mass . . ." — Manifesto of the Catholic Laity (1943)
I was quite moved and honored earlier today to receive a message from a liturgist whom I admire greatly. Having read the first three articles about the Campion Missal, he wrote, "No other resource that actually and fully implements Tra le Sollecitudini has been published in any part of the world, in any language until the Campion missal. It has taken 110 years exactly to create a resource that finally enables the principles of Pope St. Pius X to be implemented at the parish level."
Only time will tell if his analysis is correct, but what a Grace that would be! I do believe my Confirmation Saint, Pope Pius X, would be very much in support of this new publication for the laity containing full color reproductions of ancient manuscripts. In particular, I think Pope Pius would be pleased with the ancient Gregorian manuscripts, which (sadly) I did not have space to explore in this article. While still Cardinal Sarto, Pope Pius X even took took part in the "rebel" Gregorian Congress of Arezzo, which was all about restoring the ancient Gregorian codices!
To conclude, I would like to reiterate that the beautiful ancient manuscripts were a major inspiration to us, for reasons explained in the third installment of this series. In your charity, please consider helping us "spread the word" about this new publication. Thank you for your support and prayers!
* Campion Missal & Hymnal
Part 1 of this series can be found here. Part 2 can be found here. Part 3 can be found here.