Thursday, August 31, 2006

Pope abolishes Christmas pop concert

From correrspondents in Vatican City
August 31, 2006
© The Australian

THE Pope has abolished the Vatican's traditional Christmas concert because he does not share his predecessor's taste for pop music and wants to avoid scandal, the Italian media reported today.

“Pope Ratzinger prefers Mozart and Bach to 'pop' music and thus, after 12 years, the traditional Vatican Christmas concert comes to an end,” the daily La Stampa said.

The annual charity concert, organised since its inception by the Prime Time Promotion events agency, will be transferred to Monaco beginning this year, the paper reported. More...

Music workshop in South Carolina

Members of the St. Cecilia Schola Cantorum will be conducting a workshop in Bluffton, South Carolina this Labor Day weekend. In honor of its patron's feast day on Sunday, September 3rd, St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church in Bluffton, South Carolina will be hosting the three-day workshop intended to introduce parishioners and visitors to Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony in accordance with the directives of the GIRM and centuries of Vatican legislation. The workshop will begin on Friday, September 1st at 5:30 pm, and will run all day Saturday. It will culminate in a Novus Ordo Mass at 9:00 am on Sunday morning, September 3rd. The workshop schola will be singing the Latin propers and ordinary from the Graduale Romanum and works of renaissance polyphony by Thomas Tallis and Josquin Des Prez. The workshop is open to all.

Two More Communio Items

Again courtesy of Richard Rice and, an index to the communion antiphons for the year. Also, here is a pdf file of the Versus Psalmorum et Canticorum of 1962, an exceedingly rare document that has somehow turned up online.

New Texts? Why buy now?

Maybe this announcement from GIA has been up for a while, but it does appear that the notice of a revised liturgical texts has caused some degree of buyer reticence:

For those contemplating the purchase of a new GIA hardbound hymnal, we first want you to know you will qualify for the above-mentioned supplement under the stated terms. Second, it is impossible to predict a date for the mandatory implementation of the revised liturgy, and the decision to invest in a hardbound hymnal for your parish is an important decision that only you can make. There is a lot for you to consider and whatever resource you currently use will certainly play a part in your decision.

Please keep in mind that the songs and hymns, which constitute the majority of all GIA’s hymnals, will still be perfectly viable for many years to come. The proposed changes will only involve a few phrases within the Order of Mass. To reiterate, GIA will provide a complimentary supplement that will satisfy all the requirements of the revised Order of Mass.

P.S. My new copy of Liturgical Rounds just came in the mail from GIA. It is just so wonderful, filled with many many charming pieces for kids' choirs, new choirs just starting to work with polyphony, or for established choirs who are looking for fun material for rehearsal or social events. Music by Tallis, Mozart, Josquin, and others, along with folk favorites, all arranged for singing in rounds.

The English Gradual

One way that contemporary music made huge strides in the early seventies was by free distribution of music. Parishes and musicians were thrilled to be able to acquire new and fresh music at no charge, so they didn't have to bug the pastor for a budget--and it must have been great to feel a sense of liberation from publishers and their ways. (Of course that was before the publishers got interested in CCM, and, well, you know the rest.)

In any case, today the tables have turned. Glorious music is available for choirs for free. Just click, print, and sing. Most people know about CPDL, which is amazing, among many other resources.

One of the most spectacular resources I've seen, that is also not very well known, is the online English Gradual. It is marked as Anglican Use but it corresponds exactly to the 1974 Graduale, so it can be used in every Catholic parish. In fact, I don't entirely understand why we haven't heard more about this.

This resource permits any choir to do English-language, Psalm-tone versions of all the Propers of the year. If your pastor worries about Latin or there are troubles with singing the full Gregorian settings, this is the answer.

It is also beautiful done. Please take a look.

This small image doesn't do it justice, but here is a sample of the communion antiphon for this weekend. It also strikes me that it gives a choir excellent practice in reading simple neumes:

With this Gradual only a click away, and all issues of Latin etc., out of the way, I don't see any reason why a choir couldn't get busy this weekend with singing the Mass as it should be. At least this provide an excellent first step.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

New, stricter Priestly Formation Program issued for U.S. Catholic seminaries - Catholic Online

I thought some readers would be interested in this story.

New, stricter Priestly Formation Program issued for U.S. Catholic seminaries - Catholic Online

For our British Readers...

From the Society of St. Catherine of Siena:

A Solemn High Mass will be offered at St. Etheldreda’s, Ely Place (off Holborn Circus, London EC1) at 6.30 pm on Saturday 2nd September to mark the beginning of our annual pilgrimage. Please do join us for the Mass if you can, you will be most welcome. Our thanks to Fr. Kit Cunningham ICE for so kindly allowing us to be at St. Etheldreda’s again, and to the Choir of Ely Place for once again singing the chant for us.

The pilgrimage this year is to Walsingham, for a special intention related to the future work of the Society. Prayers will, as always, also be offered for all associated with the Society, for our benefactors and Friends, and for our dead. It would be a kindness if you would offer a prayer for these intentions around these days even if you are not able to join us.

We will be going on to supper locally (and cheaply!) after Mass, so do join us if you can.

If anyone needs instructions on how to find Ely Place, please email me on (nearest tube station is Chancery Lane)

The changing needs of the Communio and Introit, new and old rites

A distinguished and experienced musician and liturgist (ok, I'll not be coy: it was William Mahrt) made a point concerning the new availability of Psalms that really struck me.

He pointed out that under the old rite, there was (or is) a large need for Psalm singing at the Introit simply for the practical reason of time. The choir sang the Introit twice plus the Gloria Patri but there also had to be many Psalms to cover the allotted time for the prayers to take place. [Coda, Mea Culpa: a commentator pointed out that this is incorrect; only one psalm verse is given in the Introit--which I should have known from having sung in an old-rite schola for several years. The error is mine and not Dr. Mahrt's, who was explaining that the time requirements seem to call for more than was provided, so the point stands.]

Meanwhile, at Communion, the time demands were not as intense. Fewer people went to communion, and the process was fast, so fewer Psalms were sung, perhaps only one or two, and then the antiphon was repeated, and, by that time, communion was over.

The music needs are reversed in the new rite.

The Introit is usually sung once. This is because when the Introit is used as a prelude (yes, it is permitted), it is not necessary to sing a long time. When it is used as a processional chant, well, it takes very little time for the priest and servers to walk from the back to the front of the church, so the complete Psalms are not necessary at all.

Meanwhile, Communion too is very different today. Almost everyone receives. The lines are long. Standing in lines is less efficient than kneeling at a rail, so that adds to the time. Many people receive under both kinds, which adds more time. In some parishes, there can be a need for 5 or even 10 minutes of music, even more. Even if you add silence, there can be a need to sing all the Psalms applied to the antiphon, which is why it is such an important development that they are being made available now.

In Catholic parishes today, the Communion antiphon might be sung 4 or 5 times, which is a wonderful thing to do: it creates a growing familiarity with the chant line, and the repeating antiphon instills a sense of timeliness while the beauty of the chant itself is prayerful and transcendent.

This point hadn't struck me before. It also explains why some of the most loathed of all the "contemporary" music of today is that which is sung at communion. It is repeated again and again, and then the instruments play the same tune, and then the singers start again. A song that might have been tolerable for one or two verses becomes unbearable, and during this intense part of the liturgy. This might partially account for the high level of resentment against this music.

This is also why it is so important for scholas to start to work on these antiphons as the first part of the Propers that they tackle. What was once a less important part of the sung Propers has become a hugely important part. Doing them can make a big difference in the liturgy. And they are all so incredible beautiful: like miniatures of the greatest symphonies, or extremely detailed paintings that cover a very small surface. Each is a masterpiece.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Prayer is the Occupation

It is intriguing to see how the mainstream media (e.g., the NYT) covers the cultural chasm between pre- and post-conciliar approaches to faith. They typically paint with far too broad a brush, and this story is a case in point. It blames the decline in the number of women in convents and the religious life generally on the very decision to ratify Vatican II. Nonetheless, the story is respectful and informative. There is also a delightful video (if you can get past the film trailer at the beginning).

HOLLYWOOD — Sister Mary Pia, wearing a threadbare habit, spoke from behind the bars of her gated parlor about the boundless power of prayer.

“Hollywood is the Babylon of the U.S.A.,” she said. “For people who need prayers, we have to be here.”

Just two long blocks from her monastery, you are in the thick of the electric lights of Hollywood Boulevard: among the dopers, the runaways, the surgically augmented, the homeless, the sex salesmen.

Sister Mary Pia, as pale and innocent as an uncooked loaf, prays for all of them, while knowing virtually nothing about them. There is nothing ironic about this, she believes: “One doesn’t need to be of it to know of it.”

Indeed, in her 56 years at the Monastery of the Angels, she has ventured out no more than a few dozen times to attend religious retreats or make preparations for dying loved ones. Rarely has she set a shoe onto the stained sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard.

Yet the signs of iniquity are everywhere. Police helicopters routinely hover over the cloister. There is the dull roar of the Hollywood Freeway. The head of the monastery’s statue of St. Martin de Porres has been stolen twice. Neighbors recently complained so loudly about the belfry’s morning chimes to prayer that the authorities forced the peals silent.

“I think we pricked their conscience,” she said of the neighbors. “Is 7 o’clock too early to get up?”

Sister Mary Pia is one of 21 Dominican nuns cloistered in this walled complex of stucco and steel. From a distance, the place looks more like a loading dock than a religious retreat.

They do no missionary work here, canvass no alleys, cook in no soup kitchen. Prayer is the occupation. Until recently there were 23 nuns, but Sister Mary the Pure Heart and Sister Mary Rose were sent to a convalescent home because there were not enough youthful and vigorous nuns to care for them.

The sisterhood is a dying way of life in America. Forty years ago, the United States had about 180,000 nuns. Today there are perhaps 70,000. Fewer than 6,000 are younger than 50. There are estimated to be about 5,000 cloistered, contemplative nuns, a piece of women’s history that may be on the way out.

Reasons for the collapse can be traced to the mid-1960’s: the flowering of the women’s movement, which broadened opportunities beyond secretary, housewife, nurse, teacher and nun. But the Roman Catholic Church unintentionally inflicted damage on itself when it ratified the Second Vatican Council.

“Basically it said that religious women were no more holy than lay women,” said Sister Patricia Wittberg, an associate professor of sociology at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis. “It was devastating.”

Still, the sisters of the Angels, frail and birdlike, go on with a vocation to which they sacrificed their youth: perhaps never to have known a man, never to have rowed the banks of the Seine, never to have taken a moonlight drive. High heels and self-adornment were given up after high school graduation.

As a young woman, Sister Mary Pia might have become an opera singer. Sister Mary St. Peter, 78, the daughter of a Protestant, thought of becoming a nurse. Sister Mary St. Pius was good at photography. They gave away these things, without regret, for something they say is incalculable.

The average age at the Monastery of the Angels is about 70. From this generation also came feminists like Betty Friedan and Bella Abzug. Hugh Hefner, too, is of their era, as was the centerfold pinup Bettie Page. This generation helped create the cultural chasm that divides America today.

“It’s a materialistic age,” said Sister Mary Pia, gray now, her eyes milky with years. “For young women, religion is far down on the list.”

Sister Mary Pia grew up in the Wilshire District of Los Angeles and joined the monastery at 17, despite the tears of her parents. Prayer, she said, had delivered her brother home from the South Pacific battlefields, and so, seeing the power in it, she dedicated her life to God. She became a novitiate in 1950, years before the birth of rock ’n’ roll.

“I’ve heard of Alex Presley,” she offered. “But I wouldn’t know his music.”

Sister Mary St. Peter gave over her life in 1947, six years before the founding of Playboy magazine. “I never heard of Hugh Hefner,” she said with a shrug in the cloister’s front garden.

Sister Mary St. Pius, who arrived in 1953 from a small town in the Mojave Desert, does not know the work of the political satirist Jon Stewart. But after a brief moment, she squealed: “Martha Stewart? Oh, yes!”

Asked about Father John Geoghan, the Boston priest and serial molester who was the catalyst of the sex scandal that rocked the Catholic Church, the sisters went blank-eyed.

When told about him, Sister Mary Pia’s eyes became flinty, flashing defiance. She said she believed that one of the last respectable prejudices in America was that against the Catholics, and that the news coverage of abusive priests had been excessive, almost joyful.

“You get a little tired of all the bad news,” she said. “The media,” she wrinkled her nose, as if catching a whiff of a bad onion. “They never write about the good things.”

The important thing, then, is that there are still old women in America with the charity to care about something more than themselves, about strangers, even if they do not know those strangers’ manias and motivations. But take a walk down the boulevard any evening, and one wonders whether their prayers are reaching the intended destination.

“That’s the meaning of faith,” Sister Mary Pia said.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Rule of St. Benedict and the NLM

In the comments box on the post, "What the world is waiting for", an interesting discussion has been triggered which looks at the greater breadth of issues we face in our Christian pilgrimage.

Thinking about this topic, I am struck by two thoughts.

One is that it would be beautiful if, as part of working for a new liturgical movement, that we should take the effort to read a bit of the Holy Rule of St. Benedict each day (it is freely available online as well), to gather together this Benedictine sense of the importance and excellence of liturgical worship through the Mass and the Office, the life of prayer and spiritual reading, and the acts of fraternity, hospitality and the life of the beatitudes.

What a foundation this would indeed be. There have been books as well written about adopting the Rule into the lay life; the life of family -- the domestic monastery. I believe one such is by Dwight Longenecker -- I haven't read it personally.

Another thought struck me in Stephen's post. Some of you may be familiar with Madonna House in my own province of Ontario, Canada, founded by the venerable Catherine Doherty. Madonna House combines the ideal of ora et labora with a mixture of the religious and lay life; East and West; active life and contemplative life, intellectual formation and the hard work of tilling the earth. Quite interesting and rich.

(A "Poustinia" at Madonnna House)

(St. Benedict's Acres at Madonna House)

What a wonderful expression that would be in the context as well as the classical Roman liturgy, not to mention the reform of the reform and Byzantine liturgy.

At any rate, I am in earnest about the Holy Rule of Benedict. I would implore people to pick it up and read a little bit each day.

I wonder indeed what fruits it might bear in our efforts to restore all things in Christ? To restore the sacred liturgy, the social teachings of the Church, our families, our parishes, etc.

It's an interesting thought.

The Rule of St. Benedict

Source for Chant Images

The progress in the Commmuion Psalm Project has stirred a great deal of interest in sources for chant online.

The single best source for nearly all chants is a site that has been up since 1994. The images are clean, clear, straight, good resolution--all from the Liber Usualis but arranged according to the new calendar

These should be bookmarked:

They can be copied and pasted into any word processing program, the translations added, and then used for Sunday programs and the like.

Note: the recordings are not great. The images are the payoff here.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

What the World is Waiting For

I have long said to friends, what the world is waiting for is a community within the Church which makes the Tridentine Mass its presupposition, not its message. A community which makes the Gospel its message and life, the preferential love for the poor, the engagement with the world, the invitation to consider the claims and life of the One who declared Himself to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

When the Tridentine Mass is seen to quietly but powerfully fuel such an 'Evangelical' movement, as its presupposition, not its focus, it will be a Kairos, a moment of grace. The Kerygma of the early Church was the Church's focus, fueled by the Mass, the Kerygma's very presupposition. When the order is sadly reversed, one is not far away from polemics, imbalance and the unseemly disfigurement of the Church's proclamation. Oxygen is the presupposition of Life, it does not swallow up all the spiritual and existential aspects of living itself. ---Stephen Hand

Durufle Mass setting on Radio France today

Thanks to a reader for pointing out that Radio France has an online streaming recording this Sunday of Maurice Durufle's Missa Cum Jubilo performed by the Orchestre du Puisaye and the men of the Saint Louis de Gonzague choir under the direction of Remi Gousseau.

(Click the link above and choose the red button that says "Ecoutez".)

While you are there, you may want to check out their archive as well.

Text of 1970 Ordo Missae in Latin

A reader has requested a copy of the ordo missae (1970) in Latin. Does anyone have an electronic copy of this or know of a site?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

CNS STORY: Lefebvrite bishop says no progress on reconciliation with Vatican

CNS STORY: Lefebvrite bishop says no progress on reconciliation with Vatican: "Lefebvrite bishop says no progress on reconciliation with Vatican

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- A year after his meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, the head of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, said there had been no substantial progress on reconciliation with the Vatican.

Bishop Fellay said that after the terms of a possible agreement were discussed by cardinals and Roman Curia officials in meetings last spring 'there's been no development' on the issue.

'I think probably the pope would like things to go quicker, and he's probably facing a lot of opposition from the cardinals, from within,' Bishop Fellay said Aug. 24.

'Right now, there's not much happening in either direction,' he said."

The Boston Spem Sing

Here are some photos.

Friday, August 25, 2006

An organist, composer and writer added to NLM contributors

Sacred music is one of the pillars of a genuine springtime for the liturgy, either in the Tridentine rite (perfecting the use of Gregorian, polyphony, and ensuring the presence of the Sunday Missa Cantata) and most certainly in the reform of the reform.

Evidently as well, sacred music is amongst the most popular topics on the NLM, generating some of the greatest numbers of comments, if not also the biggest debates.

To that end, I wanted to introduce a new contributor to the NLM whom is going to begin working on pieces for this site. That person is Mr. Michael Lawrence.

Mr. Lawrence attended the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University there he studied organ and trumpet under numerous teachers of international repute. During his time there he served as a part time sacristan at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Baltimore. It was here that he became a student of the liturgy and learned to appreciate the use of Latin in the sacred liturgy. He has worked as music director in several parishes, and in each of them he reinstituted the regular use of Gregorian chant.

Mr. Lawrence not only is an accomplished musician, he has also composed liturgical pieces such as a motet, O Sacrum Convivium which will soon be published by Cantica Nova.

He is a contributor to journal Sacred Music, where he is soon due to have another article published on the use of the organ in the Roman Rite.

He is currently active as a musician in Philadelphia and is also a parishioner at Mater Ecclesiae Roman Catholic in Berlin, NJ -- a very successful Tridentine rite parish.

Please welcome Michael Lawrence.

I know some of the pieces he is planning to work on, and I think you will be quite delighted.

Iconoclasm and Liturgy

The blog Catholic Church Conservation has a translation from the German of an essay by Martin Mosebach (author of the recently translated book The Heresy of Formlessness published by Ignatius Press) Iconoclasm and Liturgy.

I haven't had time to read it, but it looks of interest.

Liturgy wars in the East

Liturgical language wars continue as reported by The Mangalorean (originally by way of where "Catholic families have boycotted Sunday Masses since early July in a southern Indian parish to protest a language policy concerning liturgy."

This whole matter is virtually identical to a similiar controversy that erupted between Anglos and Hispanics in an American parish.

Further in the area of liturgy wars, The Indian Catholic (also via is reporting that the Syro-Malabar Church wants more independence from local Latin rite officials and wishes to preserve and foster its own historical liturgical customs: those of the Syro-Malabar church/rite.

Issues like this are interesting because it gets into an unfortunate tendency that can at times exist in the Latin rite, being the big brother of rites after all, which is it can at times push its own ritual traditions and forms on others. This is a common complaint of most all the Eastern Catholic Churches.

I have a theory about this, and it relates to the gradual loss of historical rites and uses in the Latin rite itself for reasons of a preferred "Romanitas" in regards the Roman rite, at the expense of, or tension with regards, the other liturgical rites and uses of the West. I believe, particularly after the Reformation (perhaps justifiably in that chaotic climate), while various rites and uses were still allowed, the seeds were planted for a kind of ideal of liturgical monogamy.

Communio Problems and Solutions

On Monday, I posted on the problem of finding a full setting of the Psalms attached to the Communion Antiphon. It's Friday now, and thanks to readers, and after some very frustrating troubleshooting (I now know more about embedded fonts in .doc to .pdf conversions than I ever sought to know), we now have a very nice solution, at least the beginnings of a solution, as posted on

See these three communions, applicable to the next three Sundays:

They were created by hand by Richard Rice, a blog commentator on NLM, using Meinrad fonts in .doc and then exported to .pdf, yielding outstanding quality for viewing and printing and even publishing. I see no reason why this can't continue week by week.

They will be listed in alphabetical order to accommodate both the new and old rites.

Again, so far as I know, there is no existing book that is accessible that prints these, and yet they ought to be used in commuions in every parish in which it is viable, as least if we want to fulfill what is the ideal as presented in the GIRM: "...the antiphon from the Roman Missal or the Psalm from the Roman Gradual as set to music there..."

86. While the priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion chant is begun. Its purpose is to express the communicants’ union in spirit by means of the unity of their voices, to show joy of heart, and to highlight more clearly the “communitarian” nature of the procession to receive Communion. The singing is continued for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful. If, however, there is to be a hymn after Communion, the Communion chant should be ended in a timely manner. Care should be taken that singers, too, can receive Communion with ease.

By the way, using the Communio attached to the rite itself solves the entire problem of singers receiving the sacrament. If you have a a half dozen singers, some can receive while others sing, and then they can switch out when the others return. This way, there is no break in the chant and no one feels pressure receive if they do not wish to.

That aside, I'm just thrilled to announce that these are finally going to be available to people. I would rather have Solesmes or someone else print them. But until they do, this is a great method.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

DVD of Pontifical Mass at St. Eugene, Paris, France

DVD Review: Messe Pontificale de la Sainte Cecile (Pontifical Mass of St. Cecilia). A Tridentine Mass celebrated on the 22nd of November, 2003, in the Parish of St. Eugene - St. Cecilia by Cardinal Medina Estevez

It is not a great secret that I've seen quite a number of liturgy videos in my day. At times I have stated the merits of this or of that video. At times as well I have been asked, what video is the best one in which to show the beauty of the classical Roman liturgy? Of course, that is a tough question to answer because there are many forms and styles in which the classical Roman liturgy can be ornamented, whether it be orchestral like liturgies, monastic liturgy, or typical parish Mass.

When I recently became aware of the DVD in question, I was quite interested in it for a few reasons. One was for the reason that it was a part of the CIEL 2003 conference held in Paris, France. Opening the written form of the 2003 proceedings (only recently printed) and seeing a photograph of the glorious liturgy held in the stunning parish of St. Eugene in France was enough to capture my attention. When I learnt that a DVD of this liturgy had been made, I felt that it could not be passed up.

I wasn't disappointed.

It was hard for me to imagine a video which would replace as my favourite the one recorded in Britain in 1986, at St. Mary of the Virgin parish, with all of its qualities, its setting, the music, the vestments, and everything else. But I will have to say in all honesty, it has been done. I have seen many Tridentine Mass videos, many reform of the reform videos, but that English video was always, for me, above and beyond the others. However, this video for certain rivals it, and possibly surpasses it.

The setting is nothing short of glorious. The colour and the detail in this well preserved parish church of St. Eugene is something else and reminds me of a church designed by AWN Pugin for its detail and decorum. Indeed, a parish church like this rivals in its colour and iconography the churches of the Christian East which are often thought to have "cornered the market" when it comes to this level of colour and beauty. The liturgy, while needing some prompting from the Master of Ceremonies (as it usually the case!) is well executed all said. The music may not be a professional recording, but it is also quite edifying indeed, and includes a male-female choir split, who sing Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony quite well.

For those of us in North America and the English speaking world generally, this DVD gives us a wonderful glimpse of the glories of Catholic liturgy and culture as it may have been through a Catholic Europe.

The DVD does come from France and so it is in European PAL format (rather than North American NTSC), however, I had no trouble whatsoever playing the DVD on my computer system's DVD drive. I should also imagine that a number of the newer DVD units may also not have any trouble.

Whether or not you speak French will be of little consequence in terms of the Pontifical liturgy itself -- one of the beauties of the universality of Latin rite. However, if you do manage to speak from French, the DVD also includes a version of the liturgy which has a commentary if you so desire it, as well as a section with Cardinal Medina Estevez outside of the liturgy.

The DVD is quite reasonably priced at 20 Euros (around $26 USD) and can be ordered from:

As it is true that a picture can say much more than words, I took the liberty of capturing some screen shots from the DVD of the liturgy. You should know that the video quality is much higher, of course, than the screen capture quality of the pictures you see here. This was a professionally recorded DVD which includes multiple camera angles and some very well placed cameras which add to the sense of the liturgy you will experience if you purchase this DVD -- which I would heartily recommend.

For now, however, enjoy these few photos, put up in no particular order.

To order this DVD, visit

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Papal Message: Liturgical Celebration Nourishes Hope

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 23, 2006 ( In a message relayed by the Vatican secretary of state, Benedict XVI assures the faithful that the liturgical celebration enables one to experience God's goodness, thus reinforcing Christian hope.

The message, signed by Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano and published today by the Vatican press office, is addressed to participants in the 57th Italian National Liturgical Week, being held in Varese through Friday.

The message, echoing No. 17 of the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est," states: "In the liturgy of the Church, in her prayer, in the living community of believers, we experience the love of God, we perceive his presence and, in this way, also learn to recognize it in our daily life."

The text adds that "the experience of the goodness of God in the liturgy becomes a renewal of the gift of hope."

"On freeing man's heart from daily anxieties," it continues, "the celebration of the liturgy gives new confidence; the moment of celebration communicates the joy of hoping for a better world, of living in the Church, of being loved by God and of being able to love again, of being forgiven and saved."

"For this reason, the believer must be helped to understand that to guard, revive and communicate hope he must again celebrate, contemplate Jesus, the Risen One," the message states. "Then prayer opens our life to God's plan, it leads us to be docile instruments in his hands to transform our way of living and, consequently, the history of our environment.

"Thus, the liturgical celebration embraces several aspects of existence: the world of emotions and relationships, shared frailty and weaknesses, the experience of work and rest, always proclaiming the primacy of the love of God."

Copyright 2006

The Rule and the Catechism

Book Notice:

The Rule of Saint Benedict, Roman Catholic Books, $16.95 USD
The Catechism of the Council of Trent, Roman Catholic Books, $39.95 USD

There is a growing appreciation on the part of both book buyers and booksellers for quality printings of classic texts. This is particularly the case for those books which are literary or spiritual classics, which are sure to remain in family libraries for some years to come, and which should hopefully be well used and well read.

Roman Catholic Books has done it again in this regard. The same publisher who recently brought a long overdue reprint of Papal Legislation on Sacred Music has also brought out similar attractive cloth bindings of the Catechism of the Council of Trent and The Rule of Saint Benedict.

I. The Rule of Saint Benedict

Aside from the sacred scriptures, there is probably not another single spiritual book in the Latin rite which has had as much perennial and widespread influence as the Rule of Saint Benedict. St. Benedict, founder of the Benedictine order of monks and father of Western monasticism, founded his monasteries on a rule which has proven down the centuries to be remarkable for its balance and prudence, so much so that what might seem like an unlikely spiritual classic, a rule for monks in monasteries, did in fact become as such. To this day, multiple editions of it exist, and to those who particularly find an affinity for Benedictine spirituality, it is simply known as “the rule”. It is here that is to be found the source of the famous Benedictine balance of ora et labora: work and pray.

This particular edition, republished by Roman Catholic Books, is an edition translated and edited by Abbot Justin McCann, OSB, and includes the full English and parallel Latin translation, made originally for the Lady Abbess of famed Stanbrook Abbey in England. A wonderful feature of this edition, besides its deep green cloth binding with gold gilt lettering on the spine and cover, is the inclusion in the margins of a cycle which separates the text in sections which could be thereby be read (as in monasteries) day by day throughout the year. Following this cycle, the text would be read completely three times per year. For one who wishes to make the Rule a part of their day to day spiritual life, this provides an excellent, quite manageable way to do so.

While some of the matters found in the Rule do relate specifically to those within a monastery, there are many treasures to be found herein, and laity have long made use of the rule as a sure guide in their own spiritual lives. There are reasons why some texts stand the test of time, and one which has contributed towards and guided so many saints for more than 1500 years surely cannot be absent from any Catholic home or library.

A beautiful edition and a beautiful and profound text.

II. The Catechism of the Council of Trent

While the Catechism of the Council of Trent is of significantly less vintage than the Rule, it is no less important a text, being an official summary of Catholic teaching written after the Council of Trent in the 16th century in response to the Protestant reformation. In fact, it has been said that upon the release of the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who was intimately involved in its creation, had stated that these two catechisms were to be understood as complimentary. Indeed, some may ask, if one has the present Catechism, then why have this one?

Answering this question is much like answering a question about why one might have two spiritual books rather than only one. Each Catechism was written within its own time period, with its own concerns of the day brought to the fore. Thus, while the modern Catechism does particularly well to bring up many issues that effect modern man, particularly in the domain of Catholic morality, our view of technology, and so forth, the Catechism of Trent has its own emphasis particularly in the domain of faith and dogma having been in part a response to the Protestant movement and claims, which attacked many doctrinal matters. Both texts are of course definitive guides for the Faith and Morals of the Church, but the two put together make for a powerful synthesis of Catholic doctrine.

As both Catechisms follow upon the method of explicating upon the ten commandments and the Creed they naturally have an affinity with one another. In consulting the catechism therefore, one would do very well to read from both and thus be enriched by the Magisterium past and present which forms a seamless garment and a hermeneutic of continuity.

Like The Rule of Saint Benedict, the Catechism is bound in a very sturdy cloth binding, a beautiful navy blue, with gilt lettering on the spine and cover. This is not only practical insofar as a reference volume is concerned, but is also a fitting binding to a book whose contents encompass the dogmatic truths of our Faith. It is a beautiful binding and it would be well worth replacing your paperback copy, if you own one, and replacing it with this fine edition.

We can be thankful for publishers like Roman Catholic Books who make these fine editions again availble in beautiful new bindings.

Link to products:

The Rule of Saint Benedict

The Catechism of the Council of Trent

That Byrd Festival

Here is the full program for the 9th Annual William Byrd Festival in Portland, Oregon (August 12-27, 2006) William Mahrt, president of the CMAA, is on the faculty, as is Sacred Music contributor Kerry McCarthy.

The program alone is worth keeping and printing. Particularly intriguing are these notes on Byrd's wonderful Masses for 3,4, and 5 voices.

The three Masses and the two books of Gradualia, published over fifteen years, were Byrd's major contribution to the Roman rite. This music is quite unlike his earlier Cantiones sacrae. It is resilient enough to be sung by a cast of dozens in a vast Gothic cathedral, but it was written for the intimate, even secretive atmosphere of domestic worship, to be performed by a small group of skilled amateurs (which included women, according to contemporary accounts) and heard by a relatively small congregation. Although such worship could be dangerous — even a capital offense in some cases — Byrd went further than merely providing music. There are many records of his participation in illegal services.

A Jesuit missionary describes a country house in Berkshire in 1586: "The gentleman was also a skilled musician, and had an organ and other musical instruments and choristers, male and female, members of his household. During these days it was just as if we were celebrating an uninterrupted Octave of some great feast. Mr. Byrd, the very famous English musician and organist, was among the company...."

In view of such events, it is astonishing that he was allowed to live as a free man, much less keep his office in the Chapel Royal and the benefices associated with it. Shortly after the Gunpowder Plot was uncovered in November 1605, an unfortunate traveller was arrested in a London pub in possession of “certain papistical books written by William Byrd, and dedicated to Lord Henry Howard, earl of Northampton”—an unmistakable reference to the first set of Gradualia. The man was thrown into Newgate, one of the most notorious prisons in England.

Byrd and his family suffered no such treatment, but court records show him involved in endless lawsuits, mostly over his right to own property, and paying heavy fines. The reputation he had built as a young man in London must have helped him through his later years.

Artists often claimed a sort of vocational immunity to the controversies of their age — John Taverner, implicated in the radical Oxford Protestant movement of the late 1520s, escaped a heresy trial with the plea that he was “but a musician” — but the simple act of creating religious art put them in the center of the fray. Byrd was talented and fortunate enough to continue his work, and to gain the esteem of nearly all his contemporaries.

Making a difference in small ways

Tomorrow is the day that the Wikipedia's entry on Gregorian Chant goes live on the front page. Some readers have very recently taken issue with the article's quick dismissal of Pope Gregory I's role. You can see the discussion here. As a result, the main proprietor of the entry has added footnotes reference the Catholic Encyclopedia's account of chant's origins. Watching this entry evolve has been fascinating in many ways, and serves as a corrective to anyone who would too quickly dismiss the method of this venue as pure madness.

Durandus: On the Alb

Durandus on the Alb is now up on the Lion and the Cardinal.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Gregorian Chant, stable release via Wikipedia

Note that the Wikipedia entry on Gregorian Chant appears Thursday (day after tomorrow) on the front page of this remarkable little site with 1.3 million plus entries. What this means, really, is that Gregorian Chant on Thursday will receive more attention than any article online in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, all news services, etc. combined. For non-believers, here is a primer on the reach of Wikipedia.

To me this entry alone is enough to dispell the popular impression that Wikipedia is nothing but a pile of junk. I ventured into the Wikipedia biz a few weeks ago, and found out quickly that I was way over my head. I made a couple of tiny changes in an entry and found them reversed in a matter of minutes, and for very good reasons. I then went into a discussion on my proposed additions and found myself faced with a crowd of severe experts who knew more about the subject in question and far more about the technology. Wikipedia may look like a free-for-all, but the reality is that if the iron law of oligarchy works anywhere it is here.

Older people face incredible challenges living in this age of technological leaps and bounds. I know brilliant people for whom email alone is baffling. Wikipedia is the sort of thing that pushes people over the edge. It seems like it could never ever work. And yet it does. It takes some serious reflection on the higher theory of social organization to understand why.

What can we say about the oldest and most stable form of living music being propagated in this venue that represents the bleeding edge of technological advance? Well, words fail.

If you have changes to make to this entry, you need to do it now, but prepare to climb a steep learning curve and face some very impressive editors. Another option would be spend some time improving this entry on the St. Louis Jesuits , which has only one author and could use a bit of work.

When you don't have time for a treatise

Here is a blogger who thinks that the debate over Catholic liturgical music can be encapsulated in a brief sound-clip comparison. Flame away at the post or at me for drawing attention to it, but there is truth here that will make the partisans of the silly very uncomfortable.

Monday, August 21, 2006

CD Review: Holy Liturgy According to the Rites of the Syriac Orthodox Church

For those that enjoy truly rare liturgica, of whatever sort, I wanted to mention a rarer sort of recording that you won't run into just anywhere. It is a recording which is sold by Gorgias Press, and is of the Syrian "Holy Liturgy", which is chanted in Aramaic, the language of Christ and His apostles.

When one listens to it, while you likely won't understand the Aramaic, you will be struck by the very arabic, middle-eastern flavour of the liturgical chants, including in some cases, the use of some middle-eastern instrumentation -- though mainly it is sung a cappella.

Very often when we think of the liturgical rites of the Church, we think of the two halves of the late Roman empire, the Roman West and the Byzantine East. But beyond the borders of Byzantium lay this whole other variety of traditional, ancient Christian worship. Indeed, it is very different sounding to our Western, even Byzantine, ears, and it may even be off-putting at first, so foreign can it sound.

Regardless of one's personal preference, it is representative of that more Oriental tradition within Christianity, and would help fill out any library of a liturgical audiophile.

Link to Product

Institute of Christ the King in Kansas City

Kansas City Star | 08/21/2006 | Loving hands revive Old St. Patrick’s

A story on the Institute of Christ the King parish.

Communion Trials

What music is right for communion? It seems to have finally dawned on many people that the advice (first put forward in Music in Catholic Worship of 1972, I think) that having the people sing is, well, rather awkward, even annoying. In most parishes, then, what you get is some organ or piano mood music or maybe a little piece sung by a choir.

But after many years, our choir finally mustered the courage to attempt the official Communion chant from the Graduale. Surprise! What the GIRM and tradition asks of us turns out to be what is most appropriate! The text is always right. The pieces are astonishing in their beauty, and they are not as difficult as other parts of the Gregorian repertoire.

They are, after all, antiphons, so they are meant to be sung several times so that the ear becomes accustomed to the sound, and the spirit is fed by a beautiful repetition. In some cases, when people are finished receiving communion or just feel so inclined, people will join in on them.

But what comes between the repeated antiphon? This is where the trials begin. The Church calls for a Psalm verse. Which one? The Gregorian Missal doesn't say. For that you have to go to the Graduale Romanum itself. But the Graduale doesn't actually print the text, must less the music. Of course experienced singers can use text alone and know how to manage it. But these days, parishes seem to lack people with such abilities. For both text, and text set to the right psalm tone, you have to go elsewhere.

Where? There are books available, one in Dutch (if you clicked that, you have surely landed in one of the most obscure spots on the whole of the web), and another from Solesmes that is long out of print that I can't seem to find. So what to do?

Now, this is where it gets crazy. You can go to this link , which I have from being a member of the Gregorian Yahoo email list. A member here has been posting Psalm verses for communions.

They are .png files, excellent scans, but the size of California. My process (probably flawed): download the right files, open them in Photoshop, edit them to take out all the top matter, convert them to .gif (to reduce size and increase manageability), import them into .doc and resize them again, and print to .pdf, so they can be sent to the person who will be singing them.

Whew! Now, as an example, this coming weekend, the Communion antiphon is the De Fructu. Here is the result of the crazed effort to have the right Psalm verses. If you use these antiphonally with the Communio of the day, you will have the perfect communion music.

But what a process! There surely has to be a better way. What I would love to see is for someone (please not I!) to do this for all 100 or so Communions in the new rite Sunday calendar, and make it available online in an easy link.

There are so many priorities but surely this ranks up at the top of the list. Until that time comes, if there is an easier way, I would love to know it.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

FSSP in Australia

Pictures from a tonsuring ceremony of an FSSP seminarian in Australia.

I can't help but positively note the presence of apparelled albs and amices, including on the acolytes and thurifer, not to mention the long surplices. Nice. Very nice.

CIEL Oxford, 2006

Good news or bad news depending upon your point of view. The CIEL 2006 residential package (ie. room and board) is now full to capacity!

There is, however, still room for those who wish to arrivate as "day delegates" or whom wish to make their own accomodations.

Registrees should receive their confirmations shortly, either by email and/or by normal mail.

If you're concerned you've slipped through the cracks, please email and we'll get you figured out.

Would that Spem Sings would become more fashionable

I'm intrigued to see this public singing of Spem in Alium (Thomas Tallis) in Boston, this Wednesday at St. Paul's Catholic Church. Short notice to learn a 40-voice motet. I can only imagine what will transpire. How I would love to see it.

In some many ways, the Spem is the crown jewel of Catholic polyphony, the piece that wraps up Tallis's whole life's work and closes the Golden Age of this style.

Several years ago, a member of our Schola in Alabama suggested that we hold a Spem Sing. I thought it was nuts. But in the meantime, other churches all over town are holding all sorts of public sings. The Baptists do their Messiah, the Lutherans and Prebyterians do the Brahms Requiem, the fundies do their "shaped note" thing, and etc.

But what do the Catholics do? Well, not much. So, within the last months, we've actually considered doing it, and we even have a tentative date of October 2007. The idea would be to pull in a special guest conductor and invite people from the region, rehearse one day and then sing it in liturgy the next day. We could have shirts: "I Sang the Spem."

In some way, it is crazy--crazy enough to work.

In any case, if you are in Boston, wonderful things surely await this Wednesday.

Here is the full score.
Practice, practice!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Teens on Rock Music in Church: Blech!

This is a fascinating article, from the site Faithstreams. It interviews Dr. Barbara Resch, who conducted a survey of nearly 500 teenagers from across the United States on the topic of the appropriateness of music for the church. The research and findings formed the basis of Dr. Resch's doctoral dissertation at Indiana University. The interview from 1999 summarizes her findings.


Q: As you prepared your survey, what results did you expect?

A: First, I expected that the music deemed appropriate would, like their church affiliations, be diverse. Second, knowing that the vast majority of teenagers enjoy listening to rock and pop music, I also expected that those styles would be identified as appropriate for church by their standards.

Q: What did you learn?

A: Surprisingly, neither of my predictions proved true. Across this diverse group of students there was clear agreement about the kind of music that was "right for church": it was

* choral music, not instrumental
* sung by a group of singers rather than a soloist
* characterized by a simple musical texture and understandable text.

Musical examples reminiscent of popular styles (rock, jazz, country) were overwhelmingly rejected as church music. The example rated most appropriate was a male choir singing a four-part version of Psalm 98 (The Lutheran Hymnal 667!). The piece considered least appropriate was the loud and rhythmic "Midnight Oil," performed by the Christian rock group Petra.

Q: Were there any common factors that influenced the responses?

A: Church background was an important predictor of the kind of music considered appropriate. The frequency with which a given style was heard also tended to be related.

For example, some settings of traditional choral music were considered appropriate by nearly everyone. Conversely, the examples of Christian rock and jazz were considered inappropriate by the great majority.

But it was also clear that students from nondenominational churches who heard contemporary Christian music in their churches considered that music more appropriate. Likewise, gospel choir music and popular styles were considered more fitting by students who attended Pentecostal churches.

The traditional choral sound was given its highest ratings by the Catholic and Lutheran students in the study.

Q: What does that information tell you?

A: What it says is that the kind of music that is heard in a church service seems to become the accepted norm for that context. Contrary to expectations, these representative teenagers do not bring to the church service their own musical preferences (e.g., rock and pop music) as the right music for that occasion.

Rather, they tend to accept as appropriate for that context the music that the church has already put in place, whatever that music may be. While they liked rock music and thought it was the right music for some times and places in their lives, they didn't believe that the church service was that time and place.

Several students wrote comments on their survey sheets indicating when and where each excerpt would be appropriate. Although all of the examples played were representative of the range of music heard in American churches today, the contexts with which the students associated various pieces were Sunday brunch, a movie soundtrack, "church services of the 40s," a campground, and an opera.

They apparently had clear opinions regarding the fittingness of musical styles for particular occasions, including that of the church service.

Q: Not all of the students who took the survey were churchgoers. How did they respond?

Nearly 12 percent of the respondents did not belong to or attend church. As might be expected, their responses were very diverse. One surprise was that their responses were not significantly different from the church members in their disapproval of rock music for church.

Interestingly, the unchurched students gave their lowest ranking of appropriateness to contemporary Christian music. Several wrote on their survey forms "This sounds like my parents' music!" ... The opinions of the church-going students were clearly influenced by their church settings. Lacking that context in which to form opinions, the unchurched teenagers were apparently influenced by the standards of popular culture, which would judge the sound of most contemporary Christian music to be neither contemporary nor popular.

For adolescents who keep current with popular music trends, much contemporary Christian music has a dated sound with a greater appeal to the "fortysomething" generation.

Read the full interview

Pursing the NLM in our Parishes and in Writing. Taking stock: what are people up to?

I received my copy of Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies in the mail yesterday.

As always an interesting journal. I was pleased to see that in the midst of the book reviews offered where three pieces written by contributors of this website, one being myself and the other two, Fr. Philip Sandstrom and Mr. Brian Butcher.

At least for myself this is encouraging to see. I hope that more people who read here are, or will consider taking an active role in this regard, that is writing, in helping build the new liturgical movement.

We've recently been speaking of the importance of pursuing this activity in our parishes, and it is also important that we do it in the intellectual fields as well.

Perhaps this would be again a good time to throw out the question:

Father's, what have you implemented in your parishes to help advance the reform of reform?

And what of those here in the lay or religious states?

Second, is anyone else pursuing writing in these sorts of journals on the issue of the liturgy, whether it be the promotion of the reform of the reform, or the classical rite? Is anyone considering it?

Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity

Thomas Aquinas' renaissance
College building its crown jewel

By John Scheibe,
August 1, 2006

Thomas Dillon started by asking himself this question:

"What kind of church would Father Serra have built if he'd had enough resources?"

Dillon believes that the early California missionary and friar might have commissioned a house of worship like the one now under construction in the hills above Santa Paula.

Scheduled to be completed by fall 2008 at a cost of $21 million, Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel at Thomas Aquinas College is one of the most extraordinary projects to come to Ventura County in a long time, said Ventura architect Larry Rasmussen, who is helping with the project.

The chapel isn't the only new building under construction at the college. Thomas Aquinas, which has called Ventura County home since the late 1970s, also is building a $7 million faculty building next to the chapel. The building will contain offices for faculty and administrators and is scheduled for completion in spring 2007.

From its cruciform floor plan to its long nave, its pillars, arches, vaulted ceiling and marble floors, the chapel exudes a classical feel.

With a capacity to seat some 700 worshippers, the chapel's design draws from numerous architectural styles, including early Christian, Italian Renaissance and California Mission influences.

To read the complete article, click here.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A note on civility...

In any debate, and certainly no less in liturgical debates, there are bound to be issues which fire people up. There will also be strong disagreements at times.

However, let me again lay out the ground rules for how our comments here should be:

1) Personal attacks should be avoided -- whether it be on the John Paul II, Bishop Trautman, David Haas, people commenting, etc. Intelligent critique of positions, statements is of course completely different than a personal attack, and are quite welcome.

2) Debate is welcome, but should maintain respect, and should be presented like you would present it in a formal debate or argument: reasoned and relatively dispassionate in other words.

3) We should not confuse critiquing with ranting either.

If you are feeling very angry about a particular comment, let me suggest that you type out your comment on your computer first and then walk away from it for a short time to settle down, re-read the post from the original commenter (or blog poster) again to see if you read all the details of their argument correctly. Re-read your own comments, and then use that opportunity to remove anything such as point #1 and #3 addresses, focusing instead on the approach delineated in #2 above.

This site has been noted for its lack of negativity, while still presenting critique, as well as for the attempts to keep disagreements and debates civil. This is a call to absolutely everyone: let's keep it that way. Let's keep things civil.

Te Deum laudamus!: Assumption 2006: Photo Post 1

The blog Te Deum laudamus has some very interesting photographs of the sacred liturgy as celebrated at Assumption Grotto in Detroit on the Feast of the Assumption of the BVM.

The liturgy is celebrated in accordance with the modern Roman missal.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Upcoming Mundelein conferences

Just a reminder to our readers in the Chicago region that there is an interesting couple of conferences coming up at the Liturgical Institute at the University of St. Mary of the Lake & Mundelein Seminary:

Pride of Place: Gregorian Chant in the Liturgy (Sept. 17th-19th)

Heaven on Earth: The Theology of Design and Catholic Church Building (Oct. 25-27)

Is Chant Just Too Hard for Regular Parishes?

Our little schola did work last week on the propers for this coming Sunday, but because I was absent, I hadn't seen the Introit until yesterday. I was amazed to find this seemingly impossible piece of music, which alarmed me to such an extent when first looking at it:

Here we have the exuberant text to Psalm 83, verse 10 and 11 ("Behold, O God our protector, and consider the face of your Anointed; for one day in your house is better than a thousand elsewhere..."). It is a difficult mode (IV), tricky Latin text, daring intervals, wide range, and enough rhythmic ambiguities to start a full-scale war among chant scholars.

The melismatic phrase on the fourth line really took me by surprise--it struck me as highly unusual for an Introit. Ah, but look at the text: Super Millia. Better than a thousand years. Of course we must have something of a musical exaggeration here. It is not only vast in length but vast in range, from rae up to doh and back again in a short space. This is great drama.

In any case, I found this chant incredibly difficult. And yet, the schola learned it, thanks to the aid of good pedagogy (Arlene Oost-Zinner led the session), persistence, and a love of the challenge that comes with singing this music.

Yes, learning something like this requires far more work than singing the greatest hits of 1972 every week, over and over again. But musicians love challenges.

It's one of the great tragedies of our time that musicians in Catholic parishes rarely face challenges, and so they don't enjoy the personally and spiritual satisfaction that comes with overcoming them, nor the sense of group comaraderie that comes with dealing with a chant like this. Why would any choir bother? Because the liturgy calls singers to undertake it. This repertoire helps the singers feel needed, and not expendable.

This is not the sort of chant a new choir can do in the first year or two, but it comes in time, and with such satisfying results.

Revision of Music in Catholic Worship

Todd at Catholic Sensibility says that he has inside information, some of which he is bound to keep secret, that the coming US Bishops' document on music is already a done deal, even though the "consultation" from interested groups isn't until October 9.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Durandus on Vestments, continued

Courtesy of The Lion and the Cardinal:

Of the AMICE

This is the second in a series of transcriptions from an English translation of the third book of the Rationale Divinorum Officiorum of Durandus, concerning the sacred vestments. Eventually I hope to have the entire book transcribed, available on a separate web page for public reference.

To read the piece, please click the link above.

What did John Paul II Teach about Liturgical Music?

The discussion and debate over liturgical music within the Catholic Church is growing ever more intense. An important consideration in this debate that has been overlooked concerns what Pope John Paul II taught concerning sacred music.

The most complete study on the subject is by Peter A. Kwasniewki, who teaches philsophy at the International Theological Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, Gaming, Austria (, where he also leads a Gregorian schola.

His article is: "John Paul II on Sacred Music" and it appeared in the Summer 2006 (Volume 133, Number 2) issue of Sacred Music. The editors of this journal have decided to make the entire issue available online in order that Professor Kwasniewski's study can reach the widest possible readership.

Here is the entire issue, which includes an article by NLM blog's editor Shawn Tribe.


  • John Paul II on Sacred Music | Peter A. Kwasniewski
  • Beyond Taste in Liturgical Music | Shawn Tribe
  • Offertories with Unusual Endings | William Mahrt

  • The Faithful Need to Know Chant | Synod of Bishops, XI Ordinary General Assembly
  • Liturgy is No Time for Popular Music | Francis Cardinal Arinze
  • Songs That Make a Difference? | David Hughes

  • Papal Legislation on Sacred Music: 95 A.D. to 1977, by Msgr. Robert F. Hayburn
  • Guillaume de Machaut and Reims, by Anne Walters Robertson
  • The Shape of the Liturgy, by Dom Gregory Dix
  • Looking Again at Liturgy, ed. Dom Alcuin Reid
  • Maundy Thursday | St. Peter’s Abbey, Solesmes
  • The Modern Rite, by Msgr. Klaus Gamber
  • Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer, by Uwe Michael Lang
  • Music by Nicholas Wilton

The forthcoming Fall issue includes a piece by Peter Phillips, director of the Tallis Scholars, along with articles by Michael Lawrence on the role of the organ in the Roman Rite, a thrilling piece by Joseph Mansfield on the Baroque Organs of Oaxaca, Mexico. I'm personally happy that the editor William Mahrt accepted my long (too long?) article called "The Mystery of the St. Louis Jesuits."

You can subscribe by joining the CMAA.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"Heresy of Formlessness" from Ignatius Press - Liturgy

Heresy of Formlessness

Many thanks to our readers for pointing out this new title from Ignatius Press. Here is the description:

"Sure to be the subject of much discussion, this new book takes a look at the post Vatican II approach to liturgy through the eyes of a man who says the Church has lost much and gained nothing through the promulgation of the “Novus Ordo” Mass. An accomplished novelist and writer, German author Martin Mosebach gives a plea for a return to the preconciliar Latin Rite, giving a persuasive and compelling argument against what he sees as a jarring break in tradition.
Yet there is another way to approach the Liturgy.

"In his foreword, Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., points out the difference between Mosebach’s approach and “those who, like myself, the Adoremus Society, and—I think I can assert this with confidence—Pope Benedict XVI, advocate a rereading and restructuring of the liturgical renewal intended by the Second Vatican Council, but in light of the Church’s two-thousand-year tradition.”

It is interesting that Ignatius has printed this book, given, as Fr. Fessio notes in the foreword, that they are very reform-of-the-reform minded, and this author is apparently calling for a return to the pre-conciliar rite.

Personally, I am of the school of "co-existence". At least for our time I believe this is the path we are on, with neither the dissolution or marginalization of the classical rite on the one hand, nor the abolishment of the modern Roman rite (or put another way, the universal return of the classical rite) on the other.

Should be an interesting read wherever one's thinking might fall. Kudos to Ignatius for bringing it to the table for discussion and debate.

BBC Music on Papal Music

My new issue of BBC Music arrived (what a wonderful magazine!) today, and I was surprised to read that their "News" section treats an issue alive in the Catholic Church today.

The headline: "Pope Pans Pop."

Pope Benedict XVI has called for an end to pop music in church. After attending a concert of sacred music by Palestrina and Domenico Bartolucci, former director of the Sistine Chapel Choir, the Pope opined that it is 'possible to modernise holy music, but it should not happen outside the traditional path of Gregorian chants or sacred polyphonic choral music.'

This news item, appearing in such a significant venue as this, is a further measure of the extent to which that speech had an impact.

A Liturgical Reading Plan

At times I have been asked the question, "I would like to learn more about the sacred liturgy, what should I read?" This question is usually driven by a variety of factors. For some, a growing awareness of what the Holy See has lately been referring to as the "shadows" which have entered the celebration of the Mass -- that is, liturgical abuses. That all is not what it should be. Some find themselves or their children bored at Mass, others find a general or particular dissatisfaction with the celebration of the liturgical rites. Others found themselves believing that the forms of the liturgy really didn't matter, so long as the Blessed Sacrament was there in the tabernacle, but then began to see otherwise. Others experienced the celebration of the classical Roman liturgy, or the modern Roman rite celebrated within a traditional ethos, and thus had an epiphany about the power and importance of good liturgy. Some may have come to realize the catechetical power of the liturgy (for good or for ill!), or others that the Mass is ultimately about man's worship of God, not his celebration of his own community.

Whatever brings them to this question, there is a fundamental recognition that the sacred liturgy really does matter, and not only in its most substantial form, the sacrifice, but even within its external forms which have the power to effect us interiorly, and bring forth these substantial spiritual realities. This is also brought up, however, in the light of our situation today. There are many claims out there about the liturgy. As such, I've determined to quickly put together a "liturgical reading plan" which seeks to address some of the basic issues of pertinence to the sacred liturgy, and which also are matters of debate, discussion and confusion today.



Obviously, a very good place to start in these questions is by reading the Catechism, both that of Trent and the modern Catechism, as well as Sacrosanctum Concilium. Beyond that:

Four Benefits of the Liturgy, by a Benedictine Monk

This book is only around 36 pages in length, but is probably about one of the most inspiring and informative overviews of the sacred liturgy I have come across. Without doubt, I would make it that top of the reading list for the beginner in particular, but for anyone generally.

Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer, Rev. Dr. Uwe-Michael Lang, Cong.Orat.

The issue of "ad orientem" and "versus populum" is one of the hot-button issues of today. What did the Council say? What was the practice of the early Church? These are all questions looked at by Fr. Lang. The matter of the direction of liturgical prayer is probably one of the most important liturgical questions today, over and above everything else, with only one exception: sacred music. It also gives pertinent insights into the orientation of the liturgy as first and foremost directed toward God: that is, of the primacy of worship.

The Organic Development of the Liturgy, Rev. Dr. Alcuin Reid

Another issue of great importance today is that of the place of tradition in the Church, including the liturgical tradition. This touches into the issue of adopting a hermeneutic of continuity rather than one of rupture, of being servants of the liturgy rather than that of masters over it, of neither being absolutely immobilistic nor novel in our approach to it. In short, what has been and is the nature of change and development within the liturgy and as mandated by the Council? This book analyzes the history of organic liturgical development.

Thomas Aquinas and the Liturgy, by Dr. David Berger

This might seem a surprising inclusion, given how specific a focus it seems to have. But within this book is a very potent look at the issue of the relationship of liturgy and doctrine, and the liturgy as the doctrine of the Faith expressed and lived. In short, the matter of "lex orandi" and "lex credendi". Indeed, it is taken from a specific study of this in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, but it represents something bigger, reaching as well back into the patristic age.

Liturgy, Participation and Sacred Music: Proceedings of the 2003 CIEL Colloquium

Today, one of the biggest things which one will hear spoken of is the Council's call for "full, active and conscious participation" of the laity in the sacred liturgy. It drives many initiatives, but often active participation has been confused with a kind of liturgical activism which is something else entirely. In this series of essays by a variety of ecclesiastics and professors, the origins of the idea of active participation are analyzed from St. Pius X, up through Pius XII, into the Council and finally in the post-conciliar papal clarifications. These essays emphasize that while external activity is part of this, that ultimately the interior dimension of this is what defines it and what is most important. This understanding alters our understanding of how "active participation" is manifest.

Reflections on the Spirituality of Gregorian Chant, by Dom Jacques Hourlier

The issue of sacred music is a crucial one today. While this particular book doesn't address all of the issues of the day with regards sacred music and what constitutes an appropriate development in sacred music, this book does lend itself to an appreciation for non-musical scholars of what makes Gregorian chant particularly suited to the Roman liturgy. This in turn bears fruit as insight into the character of sacred music for which Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony ought to serve as the template.


For those who have read, or will read, these basic topics to their satisfaction and whom wish to delve deeper into a look at the underlying issues of today, the following books would be of particular recommendation:

Looking again at the Question of the Liturgy with Cardinal Ratzinger: Proceedings of the 2001 Fontgambault Conference

An insightful series of essays taken from participants from both the classical and reform-of-the-reform school of thought, which analyzes the important question of "where do we go from here?" as well an analysis of where we are presently and how we got there.

Looking at the Liturgy: A Critique of its Contemporary Form, by Fr. Aidan Nichols, O.P.

A very interesting critical look at some of that which has driven our modern understanding of the liturgy, such as the influence of rationalism. It is a good introduction to the topic.

The Mass and Modernity, by Fr. Jonathan Robinson, Cong.Orat.

The Mass and Modernity is a very philosophically oriented book that takes off from some of the thoughts that are found in more abbreviated form in Fr. Nichols book, analyzing the development of approach toward the Faith from the Enlightenment on, and how that has effected our response to the Council and liturgical reform. It also draws out some ideas that, as moderns, become easy to fall into, but which aren't compatible with our Catholic Faith. This is all done in a context which does not deny the need to somehow speak to modern man.

Reform of the Reform? A Liturgical Debate, by Fr. Thomas Kocik

There is need today for there to be a coalition between those who seek to widen the availability of the classical Roman liturgy, and those who wish to reform the reform. Fr. Kocik's book presents a fictional debate between parties on each "side" of this question. This can help people who find themselves adhereing more to one or another school of thought to realize where each other are coming from, and that perhaps not so much divides them as some may think.

The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, by Msgr. Klaus Gamber

A classic study of the post-conciliar liturgical reform by a respected scholar.

There are many books out there that likely deserve to be on this list, most of which I have listed in my "Reading List" to the side. Some of these are not on this list because I have myself only had a chance as of yet to skim them, or I've read them so long ago as to have forgotten their specific contents. There are gaps as well in this list. I think of a book on sacred music which does more specifically address the broader issues of liturgical music past and present -- perhaps Laszlo Dobszay's book, "The Bugnini Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform" fits the bill. I think of the architectural issues of today, which Stephen Schloeder's book, "Architecture in Communion", may well address. As well, there is the matter of the sacrificial dimension of the liturgy, which "Altar and Sacrifice" (the 1997 CIEL Proceedings) is likely a good representative. There is the issue of mystery in the liturgy, which "Liturgy and the Sacred" (the 2002 CIEL Proceedings) did well address as I recall.

The list will evolve, and needs to be formalized, but I offer it as it is now for what it is worth, and for those interested.

Photo Service de L'Osservatore Romano

For those interested, there are some interesting (copyrighted) photos available to view from the Photo Service de L'Osservatore Romano, which includes quite a large selection of historical photographs of the Vatican.

Amongst those photos includes some liturgical pictures, including Pope Pius XI celebrating Mass in St. Peter's, a Byzantine Divine Liturgy, etc.

Very interesting to look at.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Answer is Before Thee

This link prints a press release from the National Association of Pastoral Musicians meeting in California. Several themes emerge:

  • Music should not be about the musicians but about assisting the congregation to worship.
  • Music for liturgy should speak in a universal voice
  • Choirs should not fear singing in languages other than English

This is all presented as if these were new problems that result from modern demands of diversity and multiculturalism, the ever-present problem of ego, and an odd inflexibility among singers.

But actually, these problems are not new, obviously, and they have been addressed through Church teaching concerning music appropriate for Mass. Sacred music, idealized in the chant tradition, is universal and beautiful. In every way, it takes us out of the confines of time and place and directs our spiritual attentions to the transcendence. Need we also mention that Latin is a language other than English?

But one mark of liturgical music seems to be lost on the commentators herein: holiness. In fact, one suspects that this aspect or goal of music had never occurred to either the journalist or the speakers.

For example, one speaker is quoted as saying: "It isn't about my way or your way, it's about our way. It's about solving problems, celebrating the other, honoring the other."

Well...that's not quite true, now, is it? It seems like the speakers need to reflect on what makes Church different from a homeowners' association meeting or a group therapy session.

Liturgical Institute at St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein

Another reader of the NLM has been considering studying for advanced liturgical degrees at the Mundelein Liturgical Institute in the Archdiocese of Chicago and was wondering if there is anyone who has direct contact or experience with it to comment on the quality of its programs?

Question on the Ordering of Churches from a Reader

One of our readers has asked me to throw out a general question to the blog readership.

This individual is wondering, what sort of documents exist out there that give a good, traditional guideline for the post-conciliar ordering and arrangement of our churches (in accordance with the present GIRM, liturgical law, etc) and which might prove an alternative resource to the USCCB recommendations in "Built of Living Stones".

To date, I've recommened Stephen Schloeder's excellent book, published by Ignatius Press, Architecture in Communion.

However, it would be nice if something more succinct might also be available.

As for Built of Living Stones, it is the USCCB document that thankfully superceded "Environment and Art in Catholic Worship", but still, the former is not without some critiquable points as well. To read on this, take a look at the following pieces:

One Step Forward: An Analysis of Built of Living Stones, Duncan Stroik, Sacred Architecture Journal.

Adoremus' coverage of the USCCB Debates

As always, I'd also like to point people over to my links in the sidebar, where I include a number of architects with their websites.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

FSSP Ordinations in Australia

Thanks to a reader for sending in the following pictures of the Ordination to the priesthood of the Rev'd Michael McCaffrey, FSSP, in St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Adelaide Australia. The celebrant was the Most Rev. Philip Wilson, Archbishop and Metropolitan.

Old chant manuscript

Someone pointed out to me an interesting vellum chant manuscript has come up on Ebay for the wealthy amongst us. As for the rest of us, it is interesting to look at:


Sancta Liturgia: Liturgical Resources At

A tip of the proverbial hat to Sancta Liturgia for their link to some interesting online liturgical resources at

This includes the following:

Liturgica Historica, 1918 by Edmund Bishop
History of the Roman Breviary, 1898 by Pierre Batiffol
Antiphonale Romanum, 1912
Vesperale Romanum, 1913
Office of Holy Week, 1687

Go and take a look.

Cathedral restoration in Georgia

One of our readers (see Southern Appeal) thought people might be interested in the following restoration in Georgia that has been going on. I agree.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Eastern Christianity

I feel as though I have neglected the Christian East these past months, and I would like to call on any of our Eastern Christian brethren who might like to submit a piece on Eastern spirituality, be it the liturgy, the monastic life, prayer or what not.

Pontifical Mass DVD recorded at the stunning French church of St. Eugene

As readers of the NLM are aware, I like to try and bring information and news to people of liturgical resources, including lesser known (to those of us in the new world at any rate) European resources -- mainly lesser known because of the language barrier. (And I must confess, when I see some of the liturgical literature available in French or German, for example, I sincerely wish these were being translated and published into English editions.)

I would like to encourage my European readers to keep funneling such resources, news stories, pictures of ordinations, etc. to me via email. You provide an invaluable resource by so doing.

Here is another such resource that might otherwise have slipped from our attention:

Pontifical Mass of Saint Cecilia

Some of you may be interested in this offering, from France, of a DVD of the classical liturgy, offered by His Eminence, Cardinal Medina Estevez, in the parish of St. Eugene in Paris, France (France at any rate, but I believe it was in Paris), on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of St. Pius X's motu proprio on sacred music.

I believe this liturgy was offered in conjunction with the 2003 CIEL Conference, Liturgy, Participation and Sacred Music.

I imagine the DVD is in European (i.e. PAL) format, however, most modern DVD players will play both PAL and NTSC. And certainly most DVD-ROM's on computer systems will.

I am hopeful to write a review for this product for those who are uncertain about purchasing as of yet.

Arinze Speaks at Christendom College on Benedict and the Liturgy

Christendom College's 17th annual Summer Institute was held this past Friday and Saturday at its Front Royal, Virginia, campus. The conference, entitled 'Pope Benedict XVI: A New Pontificate,' featured guest speakers Francis Cardinal Arinze, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, and others. Over four hundred people came to hear inspiring talks on various themes relating to the thoughts and writings of the newly elected pontiff.

Cardinal Arinze delivered the keynote address on the topic of 'Benedict XVI and the Spirit of the Liturgy,' which focused on the works of Joseph Ratzinger prior to his election to the papacy.

'It is well known that the sacred liturgy figures much in the theological writings and addresses of Pope Benedict XVI as a theologian, Bishop, and Cardinal. He sees the liturgy as at the heart of the life of the Church. He even says that the Church subsists as liturgy and in the liturgy,' began His Eminence, who is a personal friend of Pope Benedict XVI and the Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
He then delved into the thought of the Pope by explicating what His Holiness has taught about the essence of Christian Worship, the Holy Eucharist, the various liturgical rites and their modification, the function of music in the liturgy, and the relationship between dogmatic and liturgical theology.

"Christian liturgy is a liturgy of promise fulfilled, of a quest, the religious quest of human history, reaching its goal. And the high point is the Holy Eucharist," he explained. "And the Pope places a great value on traditional Eucharistic piety by extolling the tabernacle, adoration shown in genuflection and kneeling, proper vestments, and the like."

Cardinal Arinze explained that the Pope has much to say about the question of the formation of liturgical rites and of their change or reform.

"Real liturgy implies that God responds and reveals to us how we are to worship him. Liturgy cannot spring from our imagination, from our own creativity, for then it would remain just a cry in the dark or mere self-affirmation," he said. "The pope's authority regarding the liturgy is bound to the Tradition of Faith."

Regarding music in the liturgy, Cardinal Arinze said that Pope Benedict believes that the Church "must maintain high standards in liturgical music: universality, catholicity, beauty, attention to the Logos, music as prayer and as a gesture that glorifies God."

He concluded by explaining the relationship between sacramental and liturgical theology, and that these two theologies cannot be separated.

"Liturgy is not a science of norms and rubrics. It is not a type of juridical positivism. Liturgy is the adequate expression of the Sacraments in liturgical celebration, where development can take place according to the nature of the Sacraments, but not according to arbitrary rubrics," he concluded.


(Helen Hull Hitchcock of Adoremus also gave an address, which is summarized as follows.)

Helen Hull Hitchcock delivered an address entitled "Pope Benedict XVI and the Reform of the Reform" in which she stated that Pope Benedict is emphatic that the Council did not represent a rupture, but expressed continuity with the Church's history. There is no pre- or post- Conciliar Church, he writes, there is but one, unique Church that walks the path toward the Lord.

She continued by explaining that the Pope points out that "liturgy can only be liturgy to the extent that it is beyond the manipulation of those who celebrate it," and that the new books "occasionally show far too many signs of being drawn up by academics and reinforce the notion that a liturgical book can be made like any other book."

Although the Holy Father admits that creativity with the new Ordo Missae has often gone too far, there is often a greater difference between liturgies celebrated in different places according to the new books than there is between an old liturgy and a new liturgy when both are celebrated as they ought to be, in accordance with the prescribed liturgical texts, she explained.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Politics of Liturgical Music

Recently on CNS, the following article was posted: "Music ministers urged to focus on unity, not their own agendas"

At this conference David Haas was quoted as saying:

"We need to resist going down the black hole of anger regarding how we translate our texts, what we will sing, or which musical styles are most appropriate for our Masses..."

A few personal thoughts.

Indeed, anger, disrespect and genuine lack of charity should be avoided in any matter. At the same time, let us remember that these questions, such as what "musical styles" we use in Mass, are quite important -- important enough that Pope Benedict addressed that precise matter only recently.

As such, while we must avoid a lack of respect, we must not sacrifice the importance of these questions, nor the integrity of our responses to a kind of "false god" of relativism or indifferentism, merely for the sake of trying to appease. In so doing, we do not truly create a unity, nor real peace, and we sacrifice something of great importance in the process.

The real key is seeking to find what is acceptable "liberty" and what is not. That which preserves our tradition and also that which organically builds upon it in the way the Church would have it.

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