Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Graduale Romanum 1908: a first look and request for help

Ta da! Here it is: the first-ever, universally available, completely free, beautifully scanned, Graduale Romanum 1908 -- on its hundredth anniversary.

Isn't it so exciting?

I'm personally partial to the later editions with rhythmic markings, but some people like this bare-bones version. In any case, it is a monument of civilization, an amazing achievement, the culmination of many years of study and work, and the fulfillment of the wish of Pius X.

By the way, this is the gift of Jeffrey Ostrowski of Chabanel Psalms. Thank him and his generosity--it was a big sacrifice for the good of all and the good of the faith--and also the CMAA which paid for this scan.

Now, you will note that something is missing: bookmarks. This obviously has to be bookmarked. It just has to be! I'm displaying it here without them so you can see how necessary they are.

Here's my request: is someone will to take this on? It is probably an afternoon's work but look at how it will open this book to the whole world. If you are interested, please say so in the comment box and download it. We can make arrangements for FTPing later.

Anyway, be joyful! It is up and live!

(Downloads crashed the server; will be back soon)

Dominican Altarboys' Manual

I am pleased to announce that, through the kindness of Fr. Paul Keller, O.P., we now have available on our sidebar under "Dominican Rite--Texts" at Dominican Liturgy a scan of the

Dominican Altarboys' Manual according to the Rite of the Order of Preachers: Compiled from the Dominican Ceremonial (New York: Province of St. Joseph, 1945).

This booklet presents very complete instructions and photos on how to serve the Dominican Rite Mass in the Low Mass, Missa Cantata, and Solemn Mass forms. Although there have been some accomodations to Roman practice (e.g., the manual gives the Roman, not the Dominican, order for lighting the altar candles), these do seem to represent the customs in force in the Eastern Dominican Province before the Council.

This text may be downloaded in PDF format, for printing or consultation on your computer, at Dominican Liturgy. This resource will be especially helpful for communities where the Extraordinary Use of the Roman Rite is celebrated, and there is a Dominican who fills in or regularly celebrates, should he decide use the traditional Mass proper to his Order--as, with his provincial's permission, he has the right to do. This download now allows all servers to be properly prepared for such a necessity.

Usus Antiquior now at Cambridge University

Long-time readers of the NLM will know that I am always particularly interested in hearing about Masses being offered with the more ancient Roman liturgical books within a university context.

As we enter Autumn and the academic term begins again, news came to me that Mass will be offered in the usus antiquior at Cambridge University on Saturday evenings (5:30pm) during Full Term, beginning Saturday, October 11th.

It is also worth noting the sung Mass is also offered according to the modern Roman liturgy in the Latin language every Sunday morning at 9:30am.

The announcement comes through the Fisher Society. One of their members kindly put together this information about the Fisher Society and the Catholic aspects of the history of Cambridge University.

The Church, and especially, the mendicants had had a crucial impact in the early history of Cambridge – Duns Scotus lived for some time in the Franciscan House of studies, and later St John Fisher, Chancellor of the University, catapulted the University to the forefront of humanism by persuading Erasmus of Rotterdam to teach here. Together with over 30 members of the University, John Fisher died as a martyr in the Protestant persecutions, and Cambridge became dominated by the Puritans. Only in the 19th century Catholics were once again allowed to matriculate, and Pope Leo XIII set up a chaplaincy for them. At the beginning, this community was very small, but today Fisher House has a Sunday Mass attendance of some 500 during term-time, in the last year over 15 converts were received, and over ten former students are currently preparing for ordination.

The latest important stage in its history was a successful fundraising campaign that will allow us to transform a multi-purpose hall that had to be rented out commercially during the week into a permanent and worthy church. The first step has already been undertaken with the commissioning of a splendid crucifix, a copy of the Cimabue’s cross for S. Domenico in Arezzo, executed in the Hamilton Kerr Institute, the University’s centre for the conservation of paintings, following exactly the original techniques (cf. NLM February 13, 2008).

Apart from preaching and catechising and the very active social life, the solemn celebration of the liturgy plays a great role in the work of the chaplaincy. Already since the 1980s there is a weekly Latin Mass with chant (the full ordinary and proper), and since about 2000 there have been occasional Masses in the Old Rite, beginning with an annual requiem for the legendary Alfred Gilbey, chaplain from 1932-1965. From humble and somewhat adventurous beginnings, it grew into a splendid High Mass celebrated in the chapel of Trinity College (this year on November 24) and was soon followed by a second annual High Mass for Vocations to the Priesthood, celebrated every May in St John’s College (cf. NLM May 10, 2006).

There has been much discussion about how best to apply Summorum Pontificum to the situation of Fisher House, and the present arrangements are somewhat experimental, in order to find out how to meet best the demands of the faithful.

Fisher House is situated in central Cambridge.

(Top Photo credit: Neil Baker)

Catholic Houses in Oxfordshire

One of the features of Catholicism in Oxfordshire, as in many parts of England, is the role of the Catholic gentry in sustaining the Church through the long years between the death of Queen Mary Tudor and the final lifting of the penal laws. Astonishingly, although the hierarchy was re-established in 1850, so we had bishops and dioceses, formal parishes were not set up until after the First World War. Until then, the sacramental life of the Church was maintained through 'mission' churches, some long established, others rapidly being built. Among the oldest, of course, were the chapels of private Catholic houses, many of which are happily still extant and still have the Blessed Sacrament reserved in them, with Masses said in them at least once a month.

Three Catholic houses in Oxfordshire have long had regular Traditional Masses said in them: Mapledurham, Hendred House, and Milton Manor. I have recently been involved in a Missa Cantata in the first and last of these.

Each of these houses, and its chapel, has a unique history. Mapledurham and Hendred House were Catholic houses from a very early stage; Milton Manor was bought by a Catholic family in the 17th Century.

Mapledurham was the home of Sir Richard Blount, the Warden of the Tower of London whose ill-treatment of St Philip Howard led to the latter's eventual death. St Philip's dying forgiveness of his gaoler seems to have a profound effect on him, however, and when his son married a Catholic, and became one himself, he apparently raised no objections. On the contrary, there followed a building campaign at Mapledurham to make it fit for a Catholic family determined to sit out the difficult time ahead: a secret chapel in the attics, and more than one ingenious hiding places for priests and the 'popish trash' (such as sacred vessels) sought by the Elizabethan authorities which could incriminate them.

The Blount family's fortunes were severely undermined by their maintenance of the faith, but their descendants are still there, in the form of John Eyston, whose mother was the last of the Blounts, and his family. Mr Eyston has done a superb job, over many years, of restoration, after a period of neglect, even retrieving and restoring important furniture which had been sold off years before.

One of the most unusual features of Mapledurham is the existence of the 'Bardolf aisle', a family chapel in the nearby medieval Anglican parish church. Since the Blounts, successors of the Bardolfs, and their own successors have been Catholic almost since the Reformation, this is a Catholic chapel in an Anglican church. The closest parallel to this is the ownership by the Dukes of Norfolk of what was originally the chancel of the Anglican parish church next to Arundel Castle. In both cases the ownership of these chapels was disputed in the 19th Century, but a court case between the Duke of Norfolk and the neighbouring vicar was decided in favour of the Duke, and these chapels remain in Catholic hands. The Bardolf aisle, unfortunately, is not in good repair, and is not publicly accessible; it has served, however, to preserve the Bardolf family monuments from vandalism by Protestant iconoclasts.

In Mapledurham House itself, the present chapel was built immediately after the Catholic Relief Act of 1791 (it was dedicated in 1797) which allowed public chapels 'without bell or steeple'. Naturally, it has neither. Indeed, it is extremely discreet, blending in with the rest of the building, with a subtle cross in the brickwork over the door. It has an entrance from the house, for the family, and a door directly to the outside. In this form it was the the de facto parish church of the area for many years.

The interior of the chapel is not lavish, but of the interesting late-18th C. 'gothick' style, light years, of couse, from the authentic gothic revival style championed by Pugin and others a generation later. The photographs were taken at a traditional Missa Cantata, which was sung by Fr John Saward on the feast of the Queenship of Our Lady (for this Mass see here).

Hendred House chapel is a restored 13th Century chapel, dedicated to St Amand, brought into use by the Catholic Eyston family (the family which inherited Mapledurham: there are now branches in each house). This was done rather rapidly when James II came to the throne. It was rededicated on Christmas Eve 1687. William of Orange's troops vandalised it and celebrated a mockery of the Mass as they marched through the area to impose the Protestant Ascendancy once more on the country.

It contains the walking stick of St John Fisher, acquired by inheritance from Fisher's successor as bishop, and other important historical artifacts.

It is not surprising, of course, that the local Catholic families should be related to each other. Also related to the Eystons is the Barrett (now Mockler-Barrett) family of Milton Manor. The house was bought by the Barrett family in 1763 and extensively remodelled, to include a charming chapel. This was before the Relief Act, and so the chapel is hidden inside the house; it was consecrated in 1771 by Bishop Challoner, a close friend of Bryan Barrett. Challoner was buried in the village church of St. Blaise, until in 1946 his remains were transferred to Westminster Cathedral. His vestments, missal and chalice are still kept in the Chapel, and are indeed still used.

I include photographs of the two most recent Masses there, one last Sunday (green vestments) and one in May this year (white). Both were celebrated by Fr Andrew Southwell of St Bede's, Clapham Park, London.

All three chapels are quite small; the largest, at Mapledurham, couldn't hold more than fifty or so people. They are, however, of great importance in the Catholic history of England.

For more on the history, I recommend a book written by a local historian, Tony Hadland, 'Thames Valley Papists'. It is available from the Mapledurham shop as hard copy, but it is also on his website. I would also encourage visitors to England to make time to see these houses, which may not be as spectacular as Blenheim Palace but are steeped in Catholic history. The families which live in them and maintain them also deserve our thanks and support, for what is a truly heroic dedication to the maintenance of our Catholic heritage on usually very limited means.

T.S. Eliot once said 'It is easier for the Church of England to become Catholic than for the Roman Church to become English.' How mistaken the first part has become clear as time has gone on. The suggestion of the second half has always been absurd. In these chapels, 'History is now, and England.'

Pictures: the top three are of Mapledurham; the middle three of the chapel of St Amand, at Hendred House; then there are two of the chapel at Milton Manor. The final picture, right, is of Bishop Challoner.

Prayer for the Beatification of Richard Challoner:
O God who made your servant Richard a true and faithful pastor of your little flock in England, raise him, we beseech you, to the altars of thy Church, that we who have been taught by his word and example may invoke his name in heaven, for the return of our country to belief in the Gospel, and to the unity of all Christians in the one Chruch of Jesus Christ. We ask this through the same Christ our Lord.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pictures from the Chant Camp

David Hughes of St. Mary's Norwalk is a great pioneer in a growing parish activity: a chant camp for kids, in which he teaches the basics of singing the Church's music. These pictures are very charming.

Important Follow-up: Byrd Propers CANCELLED

A short while ago, I wrote on these pages about the upcoming singing of the William Byrd setting of the Propers for the Votive Mass of the Blessed Sacrament at St. Peter's in Merchantville, NJ. This was to be done for the closing Mass (1962 Missal) of Forty Hours on Tuesday, October 21.

Alas, for non-musical, non-liturgical, and non-financial reasons far beyond my control, this endeavor has been shelved. In addition, the Mass will now be said in the new rite.

First Requiem in Usus Antiquior at Cathedral Church of Edinburgh

One of our readers sent in this series of videos of a Requiem mass in the Cathedral of Edinburgh, Scotland.

This was the first Mass in the usus antiquior there in 40 years the NLM is told, with the celebrant being the Cathedral's rector, Monsignor Reagan. This was his first Mass in the usus antiquior.

The Requiem was for the repose of David Gordon Allen D'Aldecamb.

All the videos may be seen here.

Gregorian Institute of Canada: Call for Papers

The NLM just received this which may be of some interest to our musically inclined readership.

Call for Papers


A conference organized by
The Gregorian Institute of Canada
August 13-16, 2009
McMaster University, Hamilton (Ontario, Canada)

Plenary speaker:

Joseph Dyer,
"Observations on the Origins of the Antiphonale Missarum"

Featured artists:
Schola Antiqua of Madrid (Spain), Juan Carlos Asensio, Director

Recent plainchant scholarship has focused on specialized topics such as the early dissemination of variants and palaeographical issues, while opening up new areas of research. These diverse approaches have had a significant impact on our understanding of plainchant cultures (old-Roman, Hispano-Wisigothic, Gregorian), as well as on palaeographical and performance practices. The revival of Gregorian chant in the nineteenth century has led to the relatively recent development of the so-called “Solesmes” tradition of performance, while other schools of performance evolved on the basis of contrasting approaches to musical style and palaeography.

This conference of the Gregorian Institute of Canada offers the opportunity to discuss the significance of recent scholarship and new approaches to plainchant as they relate to different traditions. Since the Gregorian Institute of Canada has focused from its inception on performance, the conference will provide a unique opportunity for scholars and performers from Canada and around the world to share and discuss their ideas, research and experiences.

The organizers therefore welcome proposals dealing with any aspect of tradition in Western plainchant, including but not limited to: music, analysis, palaeography, pedagogy, theory, and performance practice. The conference will also include workshops on approaches to performance practice in Western plainchant.

Please send a 250-word abstract to the following e-mail address: igc.gic@gmail.com, for review by the program committee. Proposals abstracts may be sent, and papers given, in either English or French.

Conference papers will be limited to 30 minutes, followed by a 10-minute discussion period.

Performance practice workshops will last 40 minutes.

The deadline for proposals is February 1, 2009

For further information, registration, and conference updates,
Please visit the Gregorian Institute of Canada website at www.gregorian.ca

Institute for Sacred Music website

We have waited a long time for this, but it is finally here: a web presence for the Institute of Sacred Music, Archdiocese of St. Louis. Click on the left and we can finally see the first posted versions of Fr. Weber's propers for Advent and Christmas (the posting of which had previously been caught in the thicket of copyright confusion sewn by ICEL and others). This is a wonderful beginning.

Msgr Gänswein on the Pope and the Liturgy

German weekly Die Zeit has an interview with Msgr. Georg Gänswein, the private Secretary of the Holy Father (hat-tip to the exsultet.net blog). Several interesting topics come up, but here are some excerpts regarding the liturgy in an NLM translation:

Of a different calibre are the interventions of Benedict in the liturgy of the universal Church - the gentle, but decidedly pursued renaissance of ecclesiastical forms, of which many Catholics seem to be ashamed since the reformist Second Vatican Council of the sixties. "Preconciliar" is the fighting word against the old, that which has to be overcome. It sounds like the word "premodern" in certain secular debates. Who is one of the two is as good as done. Pivotally "preconciliar ", i.e. to be overcome, was the venerable Mass with the face of the priest to God and the back to the people. By now, it is vice versa. Benedict is now rehabilitating the formal vocabulary of the traditional Mass, thought by the reformers to be overcome, wherever he can. This is not a matter of style anymore. Here everything is at stake.


"Anyone who knows him," replies Georg Gänswein, "knows him very much as someone who stands for continuity in the liturgy. It is a sort of dogma that the Second Vatican Council had brought ruptures. It can not be that a Vatican Council creates any ruptures. It is the Pope’s task to maintain the continuity of the Church and not to interrupt it. No, Pope Benedict has remained true to himself."

But does not the Catholic Church also have, albeit at a lower dose, the "Protestant problem" of the oblivion to form? On this very morning it could still be seen, in the middle of the Vatican, at Benedict's general audience. The Audience Hall could also be thought to be the town hall of Sindelfingen [a small German town, NLM]: no cross, no image, two abstract stained-glass windows and behind the Pope an enormous sculpture, reminiscent of the psychedelic record covers of the seventies.

Gänswein avoids reacting to the comment on the papal audience hall, but it is apparent that he is not precisely an ardent fan of it. "The hall was intended as a functional building for audiences. Five to ten thousand people could not be accommodated before."

Incidentally, the plans for the demolition of Vatican buildings of rich tradition in favour of the new hall went even further. "It was also intended to tear down the Palazzo del Sant'Offizio," Gänswein re-counts - one of the most precious palazzi there and the seat of the Congregation of the Faith, which his Pope directed as cardinal for so long. "The demolition was only prevented by the respect of then Pope Paul VI for Cardinal Ottaviani, the prefect of the Congregation of the Faith at that time."

"That there have been wrong developments within and outside the liturgy, in sacred art," Gänswein continues, "is clear for anyone who has healthy senses. But Pope Benedict is not an iconoclast, by his very nature he is not. He does not act with a bulldozer. He looks at the things and acts gently, but decidedly." Who for instance had expected that there would be a cut in the personnel policy under Benedict, found that he had been wrong.

But how will it go on - will Benedict XVI, who always stresses the continuity of the Church and its forms, stop at the corrections implemented so far, or are there more to follow?

"Where the continuity has not yet attained its goal, it will go on. Within the clergy there are of course some who do not like to see this. [But] Many who are younger than I am, are a lot more adamant there." He means: as regards corrections to the reforms of the sixties. If Catholic, if a priest, then do it right (“go the whole hog”)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Original, Constantinian Basilica of St. Peter's in Rome

As most of you will know, the Basilica of St. Peter's we have become so accustomed to seeing in Rome is not the original structure which stood on that spot. The original Constantinian basilica, dating from around the 4th century or so, was a Romanesque structure that stood on the spot above St. Peter's tomb. The St. Peter's we now know (and indeed, love) had construction begin in the year 1506, being completed finally in 1626.

Still, there is always something of sorrow -- for myself at least -- to think about the ancient basilica that we have lost. It was in the course of research for an NLM piece I am presently working on related to architecture that I came across these images again and determined to put them together here for a quick post that will show the ancient basilica.

Here, first is the exterior of the original basilica as it stood around 1450:

Here is a simple drawing which shows the original Romanesque basilica while the new basilica we now know and recognize was being constructed behind it:

Finally, here is the interior of the original basilica, as captured by Raphael. Do take note of the apse mosaic, the spiral pillars, the ciborium magnum and so forth.

You will notice other interesting features, such as the vigil lamps and candles, if you look closely.

Music "Ab Oriente"

The choir of Blessed Theodore Romzha Byzantine Catholic Theological Seminary in Uzhorod, Ukraine (Eparchy of Mukachevo*), is presently visiting the United States to perform at various Byzantine Catholic parishes. They sing liturgical selections and hymns in Church Slavonic, and in some instances provide the music for the Divine Liturgy. While admission is free, your "free will" offerings are greatly appreciated, and recordings are available for purchase. For the tour schedule, concert program, and more information, click here.

* The Eparchy of Mukachevo, while territorially in Ukraine, is part of the Ruthenian (not Ukrainian) Greek-Catholic Church.

Annales Ecclesiae Ucrainae: The Greek Deacon of the Papal Mass

The following piece was forwarded to me by John Sonnen. It was written on the blog Annales Ecclesiae Ucrainae by the Rev. Dr. Athanasius D. McVay, a Byzantine rite priest.

The article, The Greek Deacon of the Papal Rite of Mass, considers the role of the Eastern rite deacon both in the context of the solemn papal liturgy of the more ancient Roman use, as well as in present papal practice and concludes by asking some questions about that present practice.

I quote it in full, but before I do a quick note. In the first sentence, Fr. McVay speaks of the Pope as having his own "particular rite of Mass" which will likely raise some question marks or eyebrows. When he says this, he is no doubt merely speaking of the ceremonial particularities found in the Pope's celebration of the Roman rite in its solemn form as is particular to the Pope, just as we could likewise look at the ceremonial differences between a Solemn Mass in the Roman rite and a Solemn Pontifical Mass with its unique pontifical rites and ceremonies.

Without further ado, the article.

Friday, 26 September 2008
The Greek Deacon of the Papal Rite of Mass

by Rev. Dr. Athansius D. McVay

Today, few people are aware of the fact that the Pope has his own particular rite of Mass. Special ceremonies and liturgical customs are present at solemn papal liturgies which are not found in the ordinary rites of the Roman Church. The reason for these special ceremonies lies in the identity of the Bishop of Rome himself: besides being the principal hierarch of the Latin Church (thus, until recently bearing the title Patriarch of the West), the Pope is the Father and Head of the Universal Church. Symbolic of this universal headship is the presence at solemn papal functions of the Greek deacon.

As Bishop of Rome, the Pope follows the rites of the Roman Church. However, until 1969, on very solemn occasions, the papal mass followed a unique, codified ritual, which included ceremonies which were performed by specific functionaries of the Papal Court and Roman Curia. For instance, the Pope was assisted not merely by ordinary ministers but also by his closest collaborators, the cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, as they are officially entitled. The senior cardinal-bishop functioned as the principal assistant-priest, and two cardinal-deacons performed many of the diaconal and subdiaconal functions. In addition, curial priests ministered as ordinary deacons and subdeacons at the Mass. These were entitled the Apostolic Deacon and Apostolic Subdeacon, by way of the fact that the See of Rome is entitled the Apostolic See because of the succession of its bishops from the Apostles Peter and Paul.

Another unique feature of this special papal ritual was the participation of Oriental clergy: in addition to the Cardinal and Apostolic Deacons and Subdeacons, the ceremonial prescribed two Byzantine-rite clerics, entitled the Greek Deacon and the Greek Subdeacon. These deacons were typically ordained monks from the Italian Byzantine-rite monastery of Grottaferrata, near Tivoli. This monastic community is not “uniate” per se, because it has always been in union with the Pope of Rome. The principal liturgical function of the Greek Deacon and Subdeacon was to sing the epistle and gospel in Greek after they had been sung in Latin by the Apostolic deacons. At the conclusion of the epistles, both subdeacons kissed the feet of the Pope, and after the singing of the gospels, the Pope kissed both Latin and Greek texts.

In addition to the ministration of the Greek deacons, the Pope himself used certain vestments and sacred vessels which resembled those of the Byzantine Rite. Over his right hip he wore a subcintorium, which is similar to houa Byzantine prelate’s epigonation. The Eucharistic bread was also covered by an asterisk; a safeguard in the form of a star, which is placed over the Eucharistic bread at every Byzantine Eucharistic Liturgy. In addition, in common with the old Byzantine custom, the papal liturgies preserved the ancient usage of only two liturgical colours. Red and white were the colours of Roman senators and imperial court officials. The Bishop of Rome adopted these colours in his personal vesture as an insignia of the highest rank. While the Pope now dresses almost exclusively in white, pieces of his vesture are still red, typically his outer garments such as his hat, shoes, cloak and his mozzetta. When the civic capital of the Roman Empire moved to Byzantium (renamed Constantinople) the Byzantine rite maintained this pristine Roman colour scheme, as did the Pope of Old Rome, who continued to wear white liturgical vestments for joyous celebrations and red vestments for penitential occasions and for commemorations of the martyrs.

During the reforms of the Roman Rite following the Second Vatican Council, the solemn papal mass was abolished but some of its unique elements were retained in papal ceremonies. The custom which has received the most attention occurs at the funeral of the Pope himself, where, as a remnant of the ancient practice, the dead Pope continues to be vested in red, his traditional mourning colour. However, because the dual colour scheme has been abandoned, confusion has ensued as to who is to wear red at papal mourning. Traditionally, only those concelebrating or ministering with the Pope wore red. When the Pope died, only he was vested in red; the sacred ministers wore black or purple because they were not concelebrating with the dead Pope but with the Cardinal Dean. Benedict XVI has partially restored the ancient custom: he has returned to red papal mourning for the funerals of cardinals; the only funerals at which a Roman Pontiff assists (the single exception being Paul VI presiding at the funeral of the assasinated Italian politician Aldo Moro, in 1978).

In our day, the Greek deacon often (but not always) makes an appearance at solemn papal masses but, contrary to the former practice, he need no longer be a monk of Grottaferrata Abbey. Sometimes he is Greek, other times Russian, Ruthenian or Ukrainian etc. and proclaims the gospel in the liturgical language of his own Particular Church. Any signs of inequality between the Latin and Greek ministers have been suppressed. Due to the universal and superior mission of the head of the Roman Church, subsequent to the Council of Trent, the Roman Church began to consider its rite as being superior to other rites. Such a theological trend used to be reflected in the old papal liturgy during which the Latin deacon was accompanied by seven candle bearers whereas the Greek deacon was flanked only by two. Also, only the Latin deacon carried the gospel book and the Greek ministers sat farther away from the papal throne. These distinctions were not carried over into contemporary papal ceremony, in accordance with the solemn decree of Vatican II on the equal dignity of all rites. Today, both Latin and Byzantine deacons carry gospel books in procession and both are flanked by an equal number of candles. There have even been occasions where the Byzantine Deacon took precedence. An historical example happened at the opening of the Synod for Europe in 1999, when the Byzantine deacon alone proclaimed the Gospel in the Old Church Slavonic language (as seen in the photo above). The greatest innovation has been the proclamation of the gospel by a Greek Orthodox deacon, at a papal Mass where the Patriarch of Constantinople assisted at the Liturgy of the Word.

Despite examples of his presence at the most notable papal liturgies, the role of the Greek Deacon has been left virtually undefined since 1969. At each celebration, he is instructed to do different things because no one is quite certain as to what his role should be, other than singing the gospel. In order to help solve this conundrum, several key questions need to be answered: For example, what liturgical postures were prescribed (or assumed) by the Greek ministers at papal masses prior to and following the 1969 reforms and why? And further, what role should the Greek Deacon play in the procession or the incensing at the current liturgy?

Traditionally, the presence of Greek ministers at papal mass has emphasized the universal mission of the Pope but how can the Greek Deacon’s role be defined today, in accordance with ecumenical considerations and a current understanding of the role of the Roman Pontiff vis-à-vis the Eastern Catholic Churches and even the Orthodox Churches? Answers to these questions will emerge from further historical-liturgical study of the ceremonies of the papal rites. Such research will undoubtedly reveal the reasons for the Greek Deacon’s continued presence at these rites and lend to the dignity required in celebrating one of the principal Christian sacramental rituals.

Friday, September 26, 2008

More Liturgical News from Kenrick Seminary, St. Louis

The following note came into the NLM today from one of our very good friends there:

Kenrick School of Theology, Archdiocese of Saint Louis, celebrated Ember Friday High Mass (EF), with commemoration of the North American Martyrs today, September 26, 2008. The day previous, after Lauds, a practice took place for the chant. As part of their on-going formation in the EF, the seminarians received a handout for personal lectio divina containing commentaries on Ember Friday by Dom Gueranger and Pius Parsch, as well as an explanation of the Station Church, the Twelve Holy Apostles.

Since many of the students are making their first acquaintance with Latin and Gregorian chant, and there is a limited time available for practice, we are beginning very simply. First, introduce the students to the Gregorian psalm tones. Then move toward singing the fuller chants of the Graduale Romanum, and learning more of the Mass Ordinaries. The entire seminary sings all the chants, led by the Schola Cantorum. Our present project is to learn the Requiem Mass for All Souls Day (EF) High Mass on November 3, 2008.

Help the Toronto Oratory with Donations for Solemn Mass Costs

As was announced recently upon the NLM, the Toronto Oratory is making a significant liturgical step which should be important for Canada generally -- being in the most populous region of the country and one of the most influential as well. Namely, it is celebrating the first parish Solemn Mass in the usus antiquior outside of an FSSP apostolate, possibly within the country.

This is important not only from the perspective of the motu proprio, but also given the Oratory’s strong efforts to also help reform the reform, the presence of a new Archbishop, and particularly given that the Oratory hosts a seminary for seminarians studying philosophy in the region. As such, this development is the no doubt the first step of something extraordinarily important for the Church in this region.

Of course, as with all things done by the Toronto Oratory, they seek to do them with great excellence – and it has come to my attention that this has come with some costs that would be helpful to have defrayed.

Some of this has already happened, but in order to help further defer their costs a donation (or donations amounting to) a mere $500.00 is desireable. While it would not be much to an individual or to a few individuals, it would be of major significance to the Toronto Oratory.

Therefore, if there are those out there willing to donate more to help encourage these continued developments, might I encourage you accordingly?

As we sit here within the Ember days of September, perhaps such a donation might be one sacrifice you could make for the greater liturgical cause, and one which might be of great help in encouraging and advancing these developments.

In order to facilitate this, might I recommend you contact the NLM if you are interested in pursuing these and we will put you in contact with the proper individuals at the Toronto Oratory.

Al Naharot Bavel

On Sacred Music Television today, Super Flumina in Hebrew by Salamone Rossi. Incredible.

Chant Workshop, Wayland, Michigan

Another chant workshop in the works, this one scheduled for October 18, 2008, St. Therese Catholic Church, Mayland, Michigan, with Fr. Rob Johansen and Fr. David Grondz. The information provided says very clearly: "No previous knowledge of Chant required - This is truly for beginners!"

More information here.

I've recently been doing some thinking about what is going to be required in order that chant and other sacred music fully displace what I regard as a serious problem in our parishes today: the use of openly profane (old fashioned sense of that term) music in liturgy, such as that sometimes called "Praise and Worship" music or what is really just "American Idol" stylings brought into a sacred space. Most of the people participating in this have no idea that there might be something wrong here, something that is incompatible with the liturgy.

The most important factor has got to be to provide occasions such as this workshop that will cause existing Catholic musicians to come to love the chant, to come to know what it means to leave their egos at the door, to learn to use their talents not in service of their own fame but rather in the service of Christian prayer.

There is a genuine romance that is attached to singing the Church music but it is of a different sort than people seek in every other area of life. It involves giving of yourself completely to a higher cause. The reward is the same one which comes from committing your life to the faith itself. It means using your talents toward your salvation and the salvation of the world, and bringing a special kind of beauty into being, one that you can't experience on popular radio or television. These short workshops for beginners are the best way to go about inspiring existing musicians and inspiring new ones. This is absolutely critical.

There is no question that this change is going to require work. It will require musicians to humble themselves and be willing to learn, a process which requires that they first admit that they don't know all there is to know. There is an intellectual side to this--learning what sacred music is--and an artistic side too. But this first step of humility in the face of a vast tradition that must live is probably the hardest part.

I wish these priests all success!

September 14th in Brazil

A reader from Brazil sent in this image from September 14th there:

No further details were given.

Hoyos Preface to New Edition of Ceremonies of Roman Rite: Juridical Rights of Catholic Faithful to Usus Antiquior must be Respected; Train Seminarians

The following is a press release just in, pertaining to Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos comments upon the forthcoming release of a new edition of The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described edited by Dr. Alcuin Reid.

In addition, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos has included a preface to this new edition, which is also found below.

NLM comments follow.



Parish priests and bishops “must accept” the requests of Catholics who ask for the older (Latin) form of the Mass, a senior Vatican official has said. This is “the express will” of the Pope, “legally established,” which “must be respected by ecclesiastical superiors and local ordinaries [bishops] alike,” he insisted. Hoyos continued, stating that “all seminaries” should provide training in the old form of the Mass “as a matter of course.”

Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos ―the man charged with implementing Pope Benedict’s liberalisation of the Latin Mass and other rites as celebrated before the Second Vatican Council―made these remarks in a preface to the forthcoming edition of The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, the standard English manual on how to celebrate the older rites, released yesterday.

Hoyos commended the book―the fifteenth edition since it was first published by the English priest Dr Adrian Fortescue in 1917―edited by the London based “distinguished liturgical scholar” Dr Alcuin Reid as “a reliable tool for the preparation and celebration of the liturgical rites” that Pope Benedict has authoritatively decreed may now freely be used. The volume is due for publication by Continuum/Burns & Oates by the end of 2008.

Alcuin Reid, speaking from London, said: “The honour that the Cardinal has accorded this book underlines the importance of the older forms of the Mass and sacraments in Pope Benedict’s overall renewal of the liturgical life of the Catholic Church.” He continued, “We’re at a critical moment in the history of the liturgy, and taking away restrictions on the celebration of the older rites enables them to contribute to, and even re-inform the quality of, Catholic worship worldwide.”

Continuum’s London Publishing Director, Robin Baird-Smith, added: “We’re delighted that this title has returned to the Burns and Oates imprint, and to be publishing such an important volume at this time.”

Title: Adrian Fortescue, J.B. O’Connell & Alcuin Reid, The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described

UK & Europe: Book Link

USA: Book Link

From the new edition of the Ceremonies, here is Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos' preface:

It is a pleasure for me to present this fifteenth edition of Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, the first edition to appear since the Motu Proprio of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, Summorum Pontificum, dated 7th July 2007, definitively clarified that the rites according to the liturgical books in use in 1962 were never abrogated and that they truly constitute a treasure that belongs to the entire Catholic Church and should be widely available to all of Christ’s faithful. It is now clear that Catholics have a juridical right to the more ancient liturgical rites, and that parish priests and bishops must accept the petitions and the requests of the faithful who ask for it. This is the express will of the Supreme Pontiff, legally established in Summorum Pontificum in a manner that must be respected by ecclesiastical superiors and local ordinaries alike. [NLM Emphasis]

The Holy Father is pleased at the generous response of many priests to his initiative in learning once again the rites and ceremonies of the Sacrifice of the Mass and of the other sacraments according to the usus antiquior so that they may serve those people who desire them. I encourage priests to do so in a spirit of pastoral generosity and love for the liturgical heritage of the Roman Rite. Seminarians, as part of their formation in the liturgy of the Church, should also become familiar with this usage of the Roman Rite not only in order to serve the People of God who request this form of Catholic worship but also in order to have a deeper appreciation of the background of the liturgical books presently in force. Hence it follows that all seminaries should provide such training as a matter of course. [NLM Emphasis]

This book, a classic guide to the celebration of the Church’s ancient Gregorian Rite in the English-speaking world, will serve priests and seminarians of the twenty-first century – just as it served so many priests of the twentieth – in their pastoral mission, which now necessarily includes familiarity with and openness to the use of the older form of the sacred liturgy. I happily commend it to the clergy, seminarians and laity as a reliable tool for the preparation and celebration of the liturgical rites authoritatively granted by the Holy Father in Summorum Pontificum.

I congratulate the distinguished liturgical scholar, Dr. Alcuin Reid, for his care and precision in ensuring that this revised edition conforms to the latest authoritative decisions with regard to these liturgical rites. As Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his letter which accompanied Summorum Pontificum: “In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture.” The Gregorian Rite is today a living liturgical rite which will continue its progress without losing any of its riches handed on in tradition. For as the Holy Father continued, “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.” May this book assist the Church of today and of tomorrow in realising Pope Benedict’s vision.

Darío Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos
Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”
25 September 2008

There are a couple of interesting angles worth highlighting here.

The Legal/Juridical Angle, or the Angle of Obligation

One is the juridical angle. The Cardinal is making clear that, juridically, Catholics have a right to this particular expression of their liturgical inheritance and that pastors, ordinaries and superiors need to heed those rights as a form of obligation. This comes out in expressions as follows:

"...definitively clarified that the rites according to the liturgical books in use in 1962 were never abrogated."

"Catholics have a juridical right to the more ancient liturgical rites..."

"...legally established in Summorum Pontificum in a manner that must be respected by ecclesiastical superiors and local ordinaries alike."

"...should be widely available to all of Christ’s faithful"

This really intends to set out the legal rights and obligations that surround this matter -- though I think it must also be noted that this doesn't negate the need for the faithful to also be reasonable and sensible in their approach to these questions.

However, there is another important angle that the Cardinal is highlighting and this angle moves us beyond what we must merely do out of obligation, or because of "rights" and "duties", and into a deeper scope.

The Conversion of our Liturgical Heart and Mind Angle

This other angle is not about rights, duties or obligations, but really relates to a much deeper, more constructive and positive approach to the usus antiquior: namely, an appeal for the genuine pastoral care for the faithful on the one hand, and, even more importantly, an appeal for the cultivation of an inherent appreciation and valuing of our liturgical inheritance and tradition.

"The Holy Father is pleased at the generous response of many priests ... in learning once again the rites and ceremonies..."

"I encourage priests to do so in a spirit of pastoral generosity and love for the liturgical heritage of the Roman Rite."

"Seminarians, as part of their formation in the liturgy of the Church, should also become familiar with this usage of the Roman Rite not only in order to serve the People of God who request this form of Catholic worship but also in order to have a deeper appreciation of the background of the liturgical books presently in force."

In these cases then, we are speaking about a deeper response to the ancient Roman liturgy which goes beyond the surface response to law, and is inherently a type of conversion of heart and mind.

This, of course, would have a positive effect not only as regards the usus antiquior but also as regards our approach to the modern Roman liturgy and the reform of the reform.

Possible Change in the Liturgy (OF) Taking Shape [Update]

In July we mentioned a report about possible changes to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Liturgy. Among the changes mentioned was the sign of peace, which could be moved, it was said, from its present position to the time between the Prayer of the Faithful and the Offertory. In fact, Pope Benedict had already indicated in Sacramentum Caritatis that he would let the CDW study this possibility. We now have confirmation that this is actually happening, as we can see from the press briefing the President of the German Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, gave today after the conclusion of the Conference's Autumn plenary assembly (thanks to a reader for the tip). Here is my translation of the relevant passage (original here):

Question of the Moving of the Sign of Peace within Holy Mass

The Roman Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has asked all national Bishops' Conferences to give their view on a possible moving of the sign of peace within Holy Mass. At present the faithful exchange the sign of peace before Communion. A move to the place between the prayer of the faithful and the preparartion of the gifts has been put forward for discussion. The plenary assembly deems a shifting not useful for theological, liturgical and pastoral reasons and recommends therefore to refrain from a shifting. Instead, efforts should be continued to safeguard a dignified form of the sign of peace in litrugical practice.


The combox discussion has so far largely focussed on the merits of the change proposed by the CDW, which is of course entirely legitimate. However, in my mind this should also be seen in a larger context, which is why I am repeating here something I originally posted as a comment below:

I understand, and to a large extent share, many of the arguments that have been advanced here against a change of postition of the sign of peace; although there certainly also are non-negligible reasons for it.

However, what I find significant in this, and what has not yet been discussed in this thread, is that we are talking about a definite change in the Ordo Missae of the Ordinary Form - the first real change since its introduction with the reforms of the late 1960s, if I am not mistaken. Irrespective of the merits of this particular change, it shows that we have now reached a stage in which the so-called "reforms of Vatican II" (and we all know that that is an unjustified claim) are no longer considered sacrosanct (pun intended), but actual changes are being considered, and not in a purely academic way, but intended for actual implementation. What this shows us - and in so far I think it could be quite momentous and not to be underestimated - is that an actual reform of the reform is now no longer an unaccomplishable dream, but actually possible.

CNA on New Liturgical Consultors

I am glad to see that CNA has picked up on the appointment of new Consultors to the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff we mentioned Wednesday. Not only am I very pleased with the title they have chosen for their piece; they also add an interesting detail which I have highlighted at the end of their piece:

New appointments mark bold papal move for Liturgical reform

Vatican City, Sep 25, 2008 / 11:10 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI made a low profile but significant move in the direction of liturgical reform by completely renewing the roster of his liturgical advisors yesterday.

A hardly noticed brief note from the Vatican's Press office announced the appointment of new consultants for the office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff. It did not mention, however, the importance of the new appointees.

The new consultants include Monsignor Nicola Bux, professor at the Theological Faculty of Puglia (Southern Italy,) and author of several books on liturgy, especially on the Eucharist. Bux recently finish a new book "Pope Benedict’s Reform," printed by the Italian publishing house Piemme, scheduled to hit the shelves in December.

The list of news consultants includes Fr. Mauro Gagliardi, an expert in Dogmatic theology and professor at the Legionaries of Christ's Pontifical Athenaeum “Regina Apostolorum”; Opus Dei Spanish priest Juan José Silvestre Valor, professor at the Pontifical University of Santa Croce in Rome; Fr. Uwe Michael Lang, C.O., an official of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and author of the book "Turning Towards the Lord" -about the importance of facing "ad orientem" during Mass; and Fr. Paul C.F. Gunter, a Benedictine professor at the Pontifical Athenaeum Sant Anselmo in Rome and member of the editorial board of the forthcoming "Usus Antiquior," a quarterly journal dedicated to the Liturgy under the auspices of the Society of St. Catherine of Siena. The Society, which has an association with the English Province of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), promotes the intellectual and liturgical renewal of the Church.

Also relevant to the appointments is the fact that all former consultants, appointed when Archbishop Piero Marini led the office of Liturgical Celebrations, have been dismissed by not renewing their appointments.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Paul Jacobs: How can one be an artist and be a pessimist?

WETA radio in Washington, DC recently sat down for a short conversation with world-renowned organist Paul Jacobs, chairman of the organ department at the Juilliard School in Manhattan. In this short interview, Jacobs fearlessly discusses a number of subjects, including the need to adapt one's playing to the instrument at hand, and the infamous tendency of many organists to play in rather unimaginative fashion. Also discussed are his recent performance in Philadelphia of Samuel Barber's Prelude and Fugue in B Minor, newly-rediscovered by New York musicologist Barbara Heyman, as well as his famous marathon concerts of J.S. Bach and Olivier Messiaen--probably the two greatest composers to have written for the organ so far. Take a listen.

Ratisbon/Medici edition of the Graduale also coming

Thanks to the generosity of Matthew Williams, an 1871 edition of the old Graduale--before it was reformed under Pius X and Solesmes--will soon be online. I had entirely overlooked the merit of this project until Fr. Thompson pointed out that this was, after all, the Graduale of the Church for some 300 years, and it merits posting for scholarly interest. Recall too that the Ceacilians in Germany, and actually the United States too, were very reluctant to give up this edition of the Graduale and adopt the new Vatican edition that appeared in 1908. The polemics surrounding this issue make today's liturgy wars seem peaceful.

Anyway, it too will soon be online. Here are some fun pictures. And thank you Matthew (and also the CMAA, which is also in need of funds to pay for scanning).

More here.

EF parish in Florida

Email just arrived, but I see now that Fr. Z already posted it.

Bishop Dewane Gives First Church in Florida for Exclusive Use of the Latin Mass

His Excellency Bishop Frank Dewane announced today that the Diocese of Venice in Florida has purchased a church for the exclusive use of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

This will be the first church to be dedicated exclusively for the Latin Mass in Florida.

The church is situated on close to three acres of property and is located at 1900 Meadowood Street, Sarasota.

The property previously belonged to Holy Trinity Anglican Church.

Significant renovation will be necessary before doors can be opened, including a new roof, renovating the sanctuary and making the nave of the church larger. However it is hoped that the new church will be opened in the near future.

Juridically, the building will be erected as a chapel, and at a future date it will be raised to the status of a parish.

Also, the Open House is from 12-6PM this Saturday, September 27th at the Church at 1900 Meadowood in Sarasota.

Motu Proprio Conference to take Place in France

Via Le Forum Catholique and through the NLM's French Correspondent, Philippe Guy, we learn of this motu proprio conference to occur this weekend in France. The NLM will have representation there and will bring you what news and photos we can.

[The following is an NLM translation.]

First Liturgical Meeting: The Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum in France: Results and Prospects

One year after the promulgation of the Motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI wished to respond to the need to find "solutions so that the seamless garment of Christ is not torn". "No one is too many within the Church. Everyone, without exception, must be able to feel at home, and never rejected," he added, addressing the Assembly of Bishops of France to Lourdes.

It is in this spirit of unity that wish to work the many groups of faithful initiators of the meeting to be held Sunday, September 28 at 14:30 at the Palais des Congres de Versailles.

These faithful Catholics, mostly from the World Youth Day generation, independent of any association or religious community and respectful of their pastors, are deeply committed to the extraordinary form of the one Roman rite. They call for its wide and generous application in their parishes so that it will initiate a sincere reconciliation among all the faithful and they call upon all Catholics of good will to join them at this great event.

By their presence, we can testify that many families everywhere want to live their Catholic Faith, in union with the Holy Father, according to the rhythm of the extraordinary form of Roman rite.

Among the many speakers:

Fr. Michel Lelong, Whitefathers

Fr. Yvon Aybram, curé of Saint Cloud (Diocese of Nanterre) and episcopal vicar responsible for the implementation of the Motu proprio in the diocese of Nanterre

M. l'Abbé Claude Barthe, writer and liturgist

M. l'Abbé Dominique Schubert, curé of St. Germain l'Auxerrois (diocese of Paris)

Philippe Maxence, editor in chief of l'Homme Nouveau

Daniel Hamiche, journalist

Luc Perrin, professor at the Faculty of history of Strasbourg, specialist in the history of the Church

And the faithful from different dioceses.


To contact us: info@motuproprioiledefrance.com

Rood Screen at St Birinus

St Birinus' rood screen

As the prolific architectural historian and church-crawler G. H. Cook wrote, "In every church the chancel was separated from the nave by a rood screen, so named from the Rood, the figure of Christ crucified that was placed high above the screen." As the principal image of the Crucified One in the church, Symondson & Bucknall note that it formed the "visual centrepiece of every medieval parish church".

Eamon Duffy explains that the medieval English church used veils and screens to mark "boundaries between the people's part of the church and the holy of holies". The delineation of hierarchical space, an expression of "the separation of things celestial from things terrestrial", to quote Durandus, is ancient, and of course, it is utilised in the Temple of Solomon. 

St Birinus' Rood
This has been carried over into our Christian churches, but rather than to serve as a wall or a barrier, the Rood screen expresses the reconciliation of heaven and earth through the Cross, for it is by his Cross that Christ has "entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption" (Hebrews 9:12). So, the priest, acting in persona Christi, enters the Holy Place, the sanctuary, to offer the blood of Christ, shed once and for all on Calvary.

The Rood screen is thus a sacramental, i.e. a visual reminder of what happens in the Holy Mass; it points to the mystery of the Cross and Christ's saving death on Calvary through which we have access to God. As the author of the epistle to the Hebrews puts it, "Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf" (9:24). That, of course, is what happens during the Sacred Liturgy. Therefore, Sacrosanctum Concilium teaches that "in the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle" (para. 8). 

The Altar through the Screen
With this in mind, Duffy writes concerning the Rood screen that "the screen itself was both a barrier and no barrier. It was not a wall but rather a set of windows, a frame for the liturgical drama, solid only to waist-height, pierced by a door wide enough for ministers and choir to pass through and which the laity themselves might penetrate on certain occasions... This penetration was a two-way process: if the laity sometimes passed through the screen to the mystery, the mystery sometimes moved out to meet them." So it is, that God became man and died for our salvation so that man might have communion with God and share in his divine life.

This beautiful theology of the Cross and the Mass is well-expressed by the Rood screen, and it is a pleasure to see its revival in a small Catholic church in Oxfordshire. It is most unusual to have churches install Rood screens these days but the parish priest and people of St Birinus, Dorchester-on-Thames (near Oxford) have embarked on this labour of love and it is now, after several years, virtually complete.

Incidentally, this parish now celebrates both forms of the Roman rite, and times are available online.

Cook, The English Mediaeval Parish Church (London: Phoenix House, 1955 - 2nd ed.)
Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2005 - 2nd ed.)
Symondson & Bucknall, Sir Ninian Comper (Reading: Spire Books, 2006)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

1908 Graduale Coming soon!

Jeffrey Ostrowski of the Chabanel Psalms has done a magnificent thing. He has donated his personal and rare copy of the 1908 Graduale Romanum for scanning and posting online: the complete edition will soon become a high-quality reproduction for the whole world to obtain for free. Thank you Jeffrey! It is a wonderful gift to the world of sacred music and an extraordinarily generous thing to do. I really do hope that his name will always been remembered when the book is downloaded all over the world for singers and scholars.

It should be ready in a few weeks.

First impressions of Byrd propers

Our schola is now working on its second of the Byrd propers, these glorious jewels of the English renaissance that have been sadly neglected. There is the problem that sung propers in general somehow have gotten short shrift. Even preconciliar, they became Psalm tones for most parishes. Postconciliar, they were replaced by idle musicians who far preferred to consider their favorite hymn "another appropriate song" and so tossed the propers out completely.

It was so bad that the USCCB issued a now-defunct document called Music in Catholic Worship that evidence no awareness of propers at all. (Why, by the way, is it still up on the USCCB site with no notification of when it was written, how it came to be, or that it no longer has standing?) (ADDED NOTE: The link came down after this post, so Music in Catholic Worship survives only on the Wayback Machine.)

Adding to the neglect is the tendency to think of sung propers as chant-only musical moments. Singing them in polyphonic settings just hasn't been the thing. Other factors contributing to the neglect: English music has been generally bypassed in favor of the Continent, and also these polyphonic propers are too difficult for beginning choirs.

We've been working on two pieces from Byrd's Gradualia, to sing not as propers but as seasonal motets (we are a regular schola after all). So far we have tackled Confirma Hoc and Optimam Partem. This is a post of personal reflections on what seems to make Byrd's music different.

First, the music is indeed difficult and is only suitable for intermediate level scholas. We are doing three weeks of rehearsal to prepare one motet, which is a rather serious investment of time. The intervals are tricky and not always intuitive. Byrd has preserved the modal character of the chant so you have to have a real fix on the mechanics of the pitches. Entrances require a great deal of confidence. The ranges and voicings are demanding. To make it all seem natural and normal, much less effortless, requires special ability and time.

Second, the part writing is more voice dependent than music you get from Victoria or Palestrina or others. I've noticed that it is extremely difficult to rehearse this music in sections, for example. The cues for entrances and pitches come from other sections, and without those sections, the music makes little sense. No part is extraneous. Every note from every singer is part of the mechanical operation here, an essential gear. We might say that the music is vertically composed. So if not everyone is at rehearsal, there is probably not much reason to even pull the music out. This is different from other music of the period.

Third, this music is unusually stout in the sense that it holds up to vigorous singing. It's like an erector set made of hardened steel. You can sing with great forcefulness; indeed, the music nearly demands it. One might say that the music can be "man handled" in a way and otherwise sung with a fiery intensity. This is different from polyphony from the same period from others such as Palestrina and Guerrero, which sometimes seems brittle and easy broken when the fire is turned up on it or the sections become imbalanced.

Overall, I must say that I've been blown away by the symphonic genius of these pieces. There is a very high musical payoff that comes with learning them and singing them. We sang Confirma a few weeks back, and a number of people mentioned it afterward as a notable moment in the Mass. This is certainly not mood music. It makes a strong and lasting impression. Byrd believed in the propers, it is clear, and he thought they should stand out as text and as art. He has left us many masterpieces to make this possible.

Scholas: even if the time is not yet there, know that these jewels await.

For more on Byrd and his musical legacy, see A Byrd Celebration.

Also, please see this excellent post at Cantemus Domino on the the need for composers to follow Byrd's example.

New Consultors of the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Pontiff

The Holy Father today appointed several excellent new Consultors to the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff. Among them are two men well known to NLM readers and whose appointment especially is a cause for joy: Fr Uwe Michael Lang, Cong.Orat., Official of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and author of "Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer", and Msgr. Nicola Bux, frequent writer on liturgical questions, already a consultor of the CDF and a personal friend of the Pope. You can search the NLM archives for both to find further information; the image shows Msgr Bux and Fr Lang together with Archbishop Ranjith at the presentation of the Italian edition of Fr Lang's book.

The other newly named Consultors are: Fr Paul C.F. Gunter, O.S.B., of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute at the Pontifical Athenaeum of S. Anselmo and a member of the editorial board of the new academic journal Usus Antiquior; Fr Mauro Gagliardi, lecturer at the Pontifical Athenaeum "Regina Apostolorum" (Legionaries of Christ); and Fr Juan José Silvestre Valor, lecturer at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (Opus Dei).

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ember Days: Explanation and Two Proposals [UPDATED]

Beginning tomorrow, and then also Friday and Saturday, the liturgical calendar of the usus antiquior marks Ember Days.

I was brought to consider writing upon these forthcoming days by one NLM reader who informed me of his own project in this regard, including an article to soon be published in an upcoming edition of The Latin Mass Magazine.

What are Ember Days?

At four periods of the year, the traditional liturgical calendar of the Church marks ember days. These days are attached to the different natural seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter and were days of fast and abstinence -- and this was so up until the time of Pope Paul VI when they were not included in the times of mandatory fast and/or abstinence. (See the decree on Fast and Abstinence, Paenitemini of Feb. 17, 1966.)

The ember days occured at the beginning of the seasons and their purpose "was to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy." (Catholic Encyclopedia).

Historical Roots and Considerations

The Catholic Encyclopedia further considers their origins:

The immediate occasion was the practice of the heathens of Rome. The Romans were originally given to agriculture, and their native gods belonged to the same class. At the beginning of the time for seeding and harvesting religious ceremonies were performed to implore the help of their deities: in June for a bountiful harvest, in September for a rich vintage, and in December for the seeding... The Church, when converting heathen nations, has always tried to sanctify any practices which could be utilized for a good purpose. At first the Church in Rome had fasts in June, September, and December; the exact days were not fixed but were announced by the priests. The "Liber Pontificalis" ascribes to Pope Callistus (217-222) a law ordering the fast, but probably it is older. Leo the Great (440-461) considers it an Apostolic institution. When the fourth season was added cannot be ascertained, but Gelasius (492-496) speaks of all four. This pope also permitted the conferring of priesthood and deaconship on the Saturdays of ember week--these were formerly given only at Easter. Before Gelasius the ember days were known only in Rome, but after his time their observance spread. They were brought into England by St. Augustine; into Gaul and Germany by the Carlovingians. Spain adopted them with the Roman Liturgy in the eleventh century. They were introduced by St. Charles Borromeo into Milan. The Eastern Church does not know them. The present Roman Missal, in the formulary for the Ember days, retains in part the old practice of lessons from Scripture in addition to the ordinary two: for the Wednesdays three, for the Saturdays six, and seven for the Saturday in December. Some of these lessons contain promises of a bountiful harvest for those that serve God.

Archdale King comments accordingly in The Liturgy of the Roman Church:

Quattuor Tempora or Ember Days, were local institutions of the Church of Rome in the 5th century... They appear at first to have had no fixed date, and the Pope announced their celebration some time in advance.

Josef Jungmann also deals with the issue in his work, The Early Liturgy to the time of Gregory the Great:
These [the Ember seasons] are among the most ancient institutions of the Roman liturgy. We say quattuor tempora [the four times], but the most ancient sources of the Roman liturgy speak only of three such times. Three times a year a sort of retreat period was held... during the months of June, September and December one week was especially devoted to prayer and fasting. Wednesday and Friday were kept as days of fast, with the fasting continuing on Saturday. And then on Saturday evening a vigil was held in much the same way as the Easter vigil, with twelve lessons and with corresponding songs and prayers. This vigil service continued far into the night... These Ember weeks...were spaced three months apart, in the summer, in autumn and in winter...

Jungmann primarily attributes the ember days to be days of recollection and spiritual renewal, and secondarily days of thanksgiving for the harvest.

Two Proposals

Various sources then attribute the ember seasons as being of early origin within the Roman liturgical tradition, which brings us to a first proposal. Their loss from the modern liturgical calendar of the Roman church, very much like the loss of the ancient subdiaconate, is surely something that merits re-visitation by the Church, not merely for reasons of antiquity and tradition (though that is indeed a significant enough reason), but also because Ember Days bring the liturgical and natural seasons into further accord (which is advantageous in seeking to live out a liturgical life), they remind us of our dependency upon God for his abundant blessings and of the need for thanksgiving, and they further provide corporate opportunities for prayer and penance – something in great need of recovery within the Western church.

We are fortunate, however, that their memory and marking is at least maintained in the traditional calendar of the Church, though without the obligation for fast and abstinence. And herein lay the second proposal. While that obligation no longer canonically exists, it would seem meritorious if Catholics of the Latin rite, particularly those who follow the calendar of the more ancient Roman use, but even those who don’t, were to mark these Ember seasons by resuming what was formally obligatory now at least as a pious and devotional exercise; namely by personally resuming the tradition of observing fast and abstinence on these days and uniting it with the requisite spirit of prayer that should accompany such sacrificial acts.

[To give encouragement to each other, might I recommend the comments be used to speak of our support and/or plans in this regard, whether it was already planned, or in specific response to this proposal.]


Further to this topic, Professor Laszlo Dobszay submitted the following excerpt from his upcoming book on the renovation of the Roman rite on this topic:

The abolition of the Ember days was the “assasination” of a very early tradition. We learn from the sermons of Leo the Great how devotedly the Roman church kept this observance in the 5th century. “Et traditio decrevit, et consuetudo formavit” – said the “most liturgical” Pope. And: “ideo ipsa continentiae observantia quattuor est assignata temporibus, ut in idipsum totius anni redeunte decursu, cognosceremus nos indesinenter purificationibus indigere...”

Their roots go back to the Old Testament. Strictly speaking, they did not pertain to the liturgical year, but rather to the sanctification of civil life, and so they correspond explicitly even to the demands of modern times.

The difficulty with them was that they became primarily fasting days which could not be observed in the rush of working days. They defined the texts of the liturgical day, but they had but few links to the life of individuals or of Christian society. It was so especially since three of the four “Quattuor Temporum” weeks were integrated in solemn liturgical seasons (Advent, Lent, Pentecost), and only the three days in September retained the original feature: to mark the quarters of the year).

As much as the revitalisation of these days seems difficult today, with proper instruction and a good practice their meaning could be re-established. The four times three days are, as it were, the decima of the twelve months of the year. Adrift among various occupations, cares, frailties – and God’s benefits – the Church stops the flow of time and reflects in a religious way upon all that happens with and to us.

I think the solution would be to give back the half-liturgical character to these days. Though they have their proper liturgy, they should be related to our life by observances attached to the liturgy. We cannot change the fact that their liturgical material is seasonal in Advent, Lent, and Pentecost, and it is special only in September. But attached to the Mass there could be special devotions:

- on the four Ember Wednesdays a devotion of thanksgiving may close the day (“Exultate Deo adjutori nostro”);

- on Ember Fridays there would be devotions of satisfaction for the sins of the quarter year with the possibility of confessions all throughout the day; it should also be the day of optional expiatory fasting (“accepta tibi sint... nostri dona jejunii, quae expiando nos tua gratia dignos efficiant...”);

- the Ember Saturdays could be regarded as special days of Christian charity, of alms-giving (“esuriamus paululum, dilectissimi, et aliquantulum, quod juvandis possit prodesse pauperibus, nostrae consuetudini subtrahamus”).

If these devotions are attached to the evening Masses, the liturgy itself could acquire a special focus or emphasis in the life of our communities. For that it is also necessary, of course, that the sermon on the previous Sunday should explain (as those of Leo the Great did) the meaning of this observance.

News from Scotland

This past weekend, Una Voce Scotland held their annual general meeting. Dr. Alcuin Reid spoke at the event on the topic of "Summorum Pontificum - One Year On" and Msgr. Hugh Boyle celebrated Solemn Mass:

Source: Laus Crucis

Our "differing needs" are not all that matter

Elaine Rendler-McQueeney, music professor at George Mason University, is one of the most influential liturgical writers in this country – but not because she has written a great treatise or has inspired many students or manages liturgy in a great Church. Instead, she writes what is probably widely read but still inauspicious liturgical column in a publication called Today's Liturgy published by the Oregon Catholic Press.

It is received and read by music directors in as many as two-thirds of American parishes. The bulk of the publication consists of planning guides for music on Sundays. Musicians use this guide to pick their four hymns from OCP materials every week. It's remarkable to think how influential this magazine is, and yet most pastors know nothing about it. It comes in the mail and is just handed on to the specialists.

In any case, each page contains a little callout box with about 300 words of instruction for the day, a chatty little sermon written by Rendler-McQueeney. It is just long enough to get her point across but not too long such that it taxes the time of the director who does the hymn picking.

Rendler-McQueeney has a special talent for talking to parish musicians in way that connects directly their jobs. She is part theologian and part counselor, giving tips and reminders. That she is able to produce 52 columns each year dedicated to the week—same subject every time with a strict word limit—is an incredible feat in some ways. I really do marvel that she is able to do this. It must weigh on her personally, since she covers the same ground week after week and yet must write something compelling and helpful.

Most of what she writes is not objectionable in any way, and sometimes it is genuinely helpful. Sometimes, however, she offers opinions that are unsound and highly misleading – and it is these moments when she provides an insight into the sheer shallowness of a certain school of liturgical thinking, if it can be called that. Here is an example from her entry for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 25, 2009:

"You just have to love those Corinthians! They remind me so much of our Church today. They get into all kinds of liturgical intramurals, just like us. For example, in this time of transition in our Church, some are disappointed in the Church's implementation of Vatican II directives and bemoan the loss of Church tradition, particularly in music. Others perceive a trend toward the past and feel the Church has disappointed them. It's time for everyone to stand back and realize that it's a big, big Church, and people have differing needs. Live and let live. Let the Spirit lead. In the end, all that matters is how we've treated one another in Jesus's name anyway."

Well, how can I put this? How we've treated one another does matter, but is not all that matters. It also matters how we treat our time of community prayer at the liturgy and how we manage ourselves in the presence of the Holy Sacrifice. If God is truly present, how we manage ourselves at the liturgy is of utmost importance. To attempt to push that aside as something that doesn't matter, and to claim that interpersonal relationships are the only consideration, really amounts to a kind of pro-Jesus atheism. We end up behaving as if God has left us to our own devices and that no reality other than our "differing needs" exists at all.

As for the claim that some of us might be "disappointed" in the "loss of tradition" following Vatican II, I'm struck by the present tense of her claim, as if all of this happened last week. In fact, the span of time that separates this generation from the close of Vatican II is the same as that which separates the close of the Council from the age of speakeasies and flappers. In other words, it was long ago. Most Catholics today have never known anything but the reformed Mass and the unfortunate musical trends that washed into our parishes along with it.

But for some people who write in the way of Rendler-McQueeney, the past is the present. It was the defining event of their whole Catholic lives. It was a heady time of liturgical reconstruction when a certain take on ritual music swept all before it and came to dominate the Mass. That movement is now tired and aging, lacking in intellectual and artistic inspiration. In a sign of their increasingly reactionary posture, they assume that anyone who doesn't like their jingles is seething with anger about events that most Catholics in the pews never knew and never experienced. What they need to realize is that not everyone who is tired of "Table of Plenty" is longing to refight the liturgy wars. Mostly, they just find this music trite and are ready to move on.

It is also not the case that our "differing needs" are what should dictate what music is chosen for Mass. The music of the Mass is part of the structure of the Mass itself, not merely the refection of a community's values. It is indeed a "big, big Church" and that gives rise to a need not to get used to a infinite multiplicity of styles, so that each parish becomes a mini-Tower of Babel, but rather a universal musical language, one that has developed from the earliest centuries up to our own time, which is to say that all music in Mass needs to have the same grounding in the universal solemnity of chant.

So, no, it is not enough just to brush away the problem with the slogan "live and let live." Each liturgy must reflect a decisive choice. Even if that choice is to provide a sampling of all styles—chant, rock, jazz, rumba—there is still a total picture that emerges, and this diversity of styles yields nothing but incoherence. A painting or sonata or living room with all styles crammed in—something to meet all our "differing needs"—would not communicate anything but a sense of chaos and confusion. It suggests loss of belief in anything at all.

Moving on to her suggestion that many are disappointed in the Church because of the growing trend toward tradition, I've heard this many times. It is becoming a standard reflex among certain circles to bemoan what is happening under the Pope Benedict XVI, to the point that it has become a presumption that is taken for granted in all polite Catholic company. It's sort of like living in a community with a losing football team. Every time the topic comes up, everyone just sort of stands around gloomy faced and regretting the course of events.

The trouble is that it is not a reasonable expectation that the Catholic Church is going to cease once and for all to be like the Catholic Church, nor is this a desirable expectation. The excesses and departures from tradition have destabilized Catholic teaching and liturgy in massively destructive ways. That we are slowly entering into a period of recovery is something for which we should be deeply grateful. Indeed, it is an answer to prayer.

Those who feel "hurt" by such transitions toward stability need to reflect on what this feeling suggests about their own expectations. There comes a time when the Church should not "meet people where they are"; rather it falls to us to rise to the level that the Church is asking us to be. We must not trust that our subjective desires are what should prevail. We need to put aside those desires and look to universals. To quote St. Paul writing to the Corinthians: "Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor." To quote Rendler-McQueeney, sometimes we need just to "let the Spirit lead."

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