Tuesday, October 23, 2012

WOULD HAVE KEEPING THE DESIGNATIONS OF LOW, HIGH AND SOLEMN HIGH MASS AND WHAT IS REQURIED FOR ALL THREE SAVED US THE CRISIS IN LITURGICAL MUSIC TODAY AND WOULD THE RECOVERY OF THESE DESIGNATIONS STABILIZE THE LITURGY MAKING IT MORE IN CONTINUITY WITH ITS PREDECESSOR NOW CALLED THE EF?



The Extraordinary Form of the Mass has three basic styles of celebration:

1. The Low Mass (which allowed for vernacular hymns on Sundays in Pre-Vatican II times, but purely optional)

2. The High Mass or Missa Cantata (Sung Mass) which required the entire Mass to be sung including the official Introit, offertory and Communion antiphons--most pre-Vatican II parishes knew how to do this with simple Gregorian chant in Latin, those with good choirs did more complex sorts of chants allowed.

3. The Solemn high required deacon and sub-deacon, although priests could take these parts, but very few parishes celebrated this form of the Mass as it is complex.

After Vatican II and with the revised 1970 missal, these designations were dropped and choir directors and liturgy committees made things up as they went creating hybrids of the Mass, singing some parts some times and other parts at other times. Then they made the required norm the 4-hymn sandwich even if only some of the actual parts of the Mass were sung and they rid themselves altogether of the official Introit, Offertory and Communion antiphons.

But in most parishes well into the late 60's and the 1970's simply did a skewed version of the low Mass with four hymns and then insisted on the folk genre to the exclusion of traditional hymns either Catholic or Protestant.

The allowance of Protestant hymns is another example of the breach in the sung Mass as well, but usually a version of the low Mass with some of the Mass sung but not all as required in a true High or Sung Mass.

So, my recommendation is that if one has a low Mass, it is a low Mass, but maybe hymns can be sung a the beginning and end and at communion time and as the collection is taken but the spoken Introit, Offertory and Communion antiphons cannot be removed.

The High Mass is the Sung Mass, no hymns, but the Official Introit, all the priest's parts and other parts and a motet in addition to the Offertory antiphon as well the Communion Antiphon may be sung.

Then state clearly what instruments are to be admitted, starting with no instrumentation, then the organ and certain brass, string and woodwind instruments, out law guitar, banjo, tambourines and piano.

3 comments:

John Nolan said...

Musicam Sacram (1967), which is if you like the musical blueprint for the Novus Ordo does indeed retain the distinction between Missa Solemnis, Missa Cantata and Missa Lecta, although it does allow for 'graduated solemnity' and (alas!) the Low Mass 4-hymn sandwich. Interestingly, if you follow MS you can't have a spoken introductory rite followed by a sung Gloria, since the dialogue parts must be sung before anything else is.

By the time the NO came out in 1970 most parishes had abandoned the Missa Cantata in the rush to vernacularize everything five years previously. In many places there was a stand-off between choir directors who wanted to preserve the Church's musical heritage and clergy who wanted nothing to do with it. Usually the musicians lost.

A further problem with the new Missal and Lectionary was that many of the Propers had no musical (ie Gregorian) settings. The Gradual had been replaced by a 'Responsorial Psalm' (for which there is no real precedent) and the Alleluia and Tract which are essentially meditative had become 'Gospel acclamations' for the people to join in. It was fairly obvious at the time that the reformers didn't want Gregorian Chant and Paul VI even opined that its loss, though regrettable, was a price worth paying (Advent address 1969). A few years later he partially back-tracked and issued Iubilate Deo.

It was therefore necessary to re-arrange the chants of the Graduale Romanum to fit the NO, which eventually resulted in the revised GR of 1974. It has since been conceded that these are the Proper chants for the Sung Mass, the missal antiphons being for a spoken Mass only. It is not a particularly satisfactory state of affairs, and those who attend a sung OF Mass on Sundays or Holy Days would be advised to invest in the Solesmes Gregorian Missal, first published in 1990 and now re-published with the new translation.

Henry Edwards said...

As I understand it, Musicam Sacram is still the operative instruction for the normative rite, but is almost universally ignored.

John Nolan said...

Indeed it is, Henry, although like most of the documents issued in the 1960s it is ambiguous and even contradictory in places. It also marks the end of the 20th century attempts to regulate sacred music from the centre since it gives considerable leeway to local bishops' conferences.

About this time it was actually suggested that secular popular music forms could be introduced into the liturgy, which was immediately parodied by Tom Lehrer in the 'Vatican Rag'.