Monday, March 23, 2009

The New 15th Edition of The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described

The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described (Fifteenth Edition: Revised and Updated in the light of Pope Benedict XVI's Summorum Pontificum)

by Adrian Fortescue, J.B. O'Connell & Alcuin Reid
2009, 496 pp., Sewn hardcover
Burns and Oates / Continuum, ISBN: 9780860124627

The NLM is pleased to report to our readers that the new 15th edition of The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, published by Burns and Oates/Continuum and Dr. Alcuin Reid -- author of The Organic Development of the Liturgy -- has now been released and is available for general purchase.

Now some who own the 14th edition, published in 2003, might ask why they should consider making a purchase of this new edition? There are a variety of reasons in point of fact.

First, this 15th edition is "Revised and updated in the light of Pope Benedict XVI's Summorum Pontificum", which alone should be a good reason for any parish priest, seminarian, Master of Ceremonies, senior altar server, or other interested party to acquire it.

As well, this new edition now contains an additional chapter which has not heretofore appeared in any previous edition of The Ceremonies. This chapter is upon the topic of The Music of the Solemn and Sung Mass.

This new chapter is subdivided into the following sections: "Music and the Sacred Liturgy", "The Sung Texts", "The Music of the Sacred Ministers at Solemn Mass", and "The Use of Musical Instruments."

This will no doubt be of great interest to musicians, scholas and clerics alike and further helps to emphasize the truth that "the sung liturgy is the norm for the Roman Rite...", itself further contributing to the "great effort [which] is today put into preparing celebrations of the usus antiquior so that solemn and sung Masses are celebrated as often as possible." (p. 169) A most worthy and important task, and one I was particularly edified to see raised.

In addition to this new section, one can also look forward to new and revised explanations throughout the course of the text, coming in response to various questions and clarifications. To summarize:
Questions which have arisen -- what the rubrics actually require by way of bows, what a priest does when he must offer Mass without a server, whether a layman should act as MC at pontifical ceremonies, whether an antimensium may be used, where prelates in choir should walk in procession, where the pectoral cross is worn and when the cappa magna is used -- have been researched and clarified. The section on ecclesiastical rank has been rewritten in the light of the prevailing legislation. New descriptions of ceremonial actions which readers thought would be helpful -- such as the manner in which the sacred ministers go to and from the sedilia -- have been included, as have other paragraphs elucidating matters, the appreciation of which when this book was originally in print one may reasonably have presumed. Of course, corrections have been made...

(From the Introduction, p. 19-20)

As you can see then, there is a great deal within the volume that any priest, seminarian or Master of Ceremonies should not like be without, and the value of this volume, working in the light of Summorum Pontificum, can also not be under-estimated in terms of its value.

I would be remiss to not mention the general look and feel of the text as well as its physical construction. The saying that books are not to be judged by their covers may be generally true, but with regard to reference volumes such as The Ceremonies it is an extremely pertinent part of the equation.

The first thing that struck me about the volume when I pulled it from its packaging was the overall quality of the binding, which is a sturdy and handsome blue sewn hardcover with a crisp white interior paper -- that it is also protected by a handsome dustjacket is an additional bonus. Further, the text includes a sewn-in marker ribbon which will certainly prove useful. Accordingly, it is well setup for the continuous and long-standing use for which the contents of the book are intended, and which only seems appropriate given its subject matter: the sacred liturgy.

By far, this volume is to be considered the standard and most up to date English language reference to the rites and ceremonies of the 1962 liturgical books that is in print. In the post-motu proprio era, it most certainly belongs not only in the hands of those already mentioned, but in all seminary libraries, Catholic institutions, and all parishes where the usus antiquior is or may be celebrated, serving as a standard reference and guide.

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