Monday, October 05, 2009

Guidelines for the Publication of Liturgical Books

A colleague of mine ran across this document, published April 23, 2009: "Guidelines for the Publication of Liturgical Books." The author is the Committee on Divine Worship, USCCB. I'm not sure what gave rise to it or its implications or import generally, so I would welcome enlightenment.

What is required of Missal publishers seems generally sensible. What is required of aids in the pews seems to have more significance. The document seems to reign in publishers to some extent, particularly in the use of terms. The term "presider" is forbidden as a replacement for celebrant. There would seem to be no more "gathering song"; the term "entrance chant" stands in its place.

So far so good. But the required methodology seems a bit inconsistent. There is no discussion about whether the proper chant at the entrance should be from the Missal (generally applicable to spoken Masses) or the Graduale Romanum (which is the authoritative music book of the Roman Rite).

These are not always the same; in fact, they differ 1/3 of the time. And why is there a requirement to put in the entrance antiphon but the offertory chant and the communion chant seem to have been dropped here?

And as for the Responsorial Psalm, I know that the GIRM seems to encourage its use but the real Psalm from the Graduale Romanum remains an option - one might even say that it has a higher liturgical place. Why, then, must the Responsorial Psalm be printed but the Graduale Psalm not printed?

And it seems like a bit of burden to require that every conceivable option in the ordinary form be mentioned. This could be good in that it could reign in publishers with agendas. But what if a parish only wants to use the Roman Canon, for example? I know many priests who have this preference for their parishes. Is the USCCB saying that it is violation of the rule to print a worship aid that only includes the Roman Canon but not Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV? It is all a bit puzzling.

I'm drawn to the idea that music must be printed for the Sanctus and Agnus, assuming that the Missal chants are to be printed here, but I wonder about the broader implications of forcing these into the vernacular as versus the Latin, if indeed that is what takes place here.

I guess my fundamental question concerns what gave rise to this document. Or is this just legislation for legislation's sake?

You be the judge.

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