Saturday, November 10, 2012


Gabriel Fauré composed his Requiem in D minor, Op. 48, between 1887 and 1890. I wonder if he thought it would be sung at Mass in 2012 in Macon, Georgia? I wonder if Bishop Annibale Bugnini would have thought so too? God acts in mysterious ways!

Many, many thanks to Nelda Chapman director of the combined choirs, Harold McManus organist and to our combined choirs and soloists. (Nelda is Methodist and Harold is Southern Baptist--post Vatican II ecumenism at work in the highest, which was also quite common with our Catholic choirs in pre-Vatican II times in the South--in the south we owe a great debt of gratitude to our Protestant brothers and sisters in the music ministry who kept our grand tradition of chant and fine sacred music alive and very well at that!

As you view the video which Mr. Stacy Lumley compressed for the digital format, please note that there are some mistakes but inscrutable to most except those who may be anal retentive.

I don't have a biretta. My parochial vicar does, my permanent deacon doesn't. I have an antipathy toward them and can see why these were so easily discarded along with the maniple. But if someone were to give me one, I would wear it.

The major mistake that should not have happened and threw me into major discombobulation around the time following the Pater Noster is that I had warned the deacon acting in the sub deacon capacity not to forget to take the ciboria from the credence table to the altar when the chalice was placed on the altar at the Offertory. HE ALONG WITH THE PAROCHIAL VICAR ACTING AS DEACON FORGOT!!!! I didn't notice it until after the Pater Noster as the congregation would have received the Most Holy Eucharist from hosts consecrated as this Requiem. So I had to tell the subdeacon to go and get the hosts from the tabernacle. Now in the tabernacle was a veiled traditional ciborium and a modern bowl like one. Of course he brings the bowl-like one which throws me even further. Can you tell? Obviously the "chalice" looking ciborium is a symbol of the chalice and that even the consecrated Host alone is the Body and Blood of Christ which we symbolically "eat and drink" for those who are liturgical fundamentalists and literalists but more importantly we "receive" which is the point of the Church and of Holy Communion.

The final major error and this is because I failed to practice is the conclusion. I knew the deacon was to chant "Requiescant in Pace" but I got discombobulated with the reverse order of the dismissal and blessing in the EF Mass and had a "senior moment" as it regards how the Requiem was to be concluded and the Placeat recited without the blessing. Oh well!

Finally, I think our deacon and subdeacon must have been trying to bring OF sensibilities to the Liturgy of the word--can you tell where?

Also, please note that there is a prelude before the Introit. Our cantor chants the names of our Faithful Departed from the past year inscribed on the Scroll at the Blessed Mother's Chapel. My favorite parts of the Requiem are the Introit, the Offertory, the Sanctus (rest assured I recited the complete Sanctus btw)as wellas the Libera Me and In Paradisum.

Part I:

Part II:


Joseph Johnson said...

If you will tell us your dress hat size (6 7/8, 7 3/8,etc.) I'm sure someone will procure a biretta for you. I happen to like the Italian-made folding type that is available from Leaflet Missal Co. I have already bought two of these for priests who have/are serving at St. Joseph, Waycross.

Probably the easiest way to get your hat size is to go into a good men's store (one that still stocks real dress hats in numbered sizes--not S,M,L, etc.) or a store that sells Western wear and try on some hats. When doing so, you will notice that the hats have the size tag in the rear of the hat's sweatband (along with the little ribbon bow). Nowadays, these size tags also show the numbered size in centimeters (such as 59 centimeters for an American 7 3/8 hat size). This centimeter size number would be necessary in ordering a biretta as they are sized in centimeters (being made in Europe). You can also measure your hat size with a measuring tape and translate it to a hat size but this could result in a slightly innacurate sizing (maybe too tight). In my experience, as with buying trousers or jeans, it is best to try hats on.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

But,but, you see, that's the problem! My head is just too big and I can't post it for all to see how big! :)

Joseph Johnson said...

But Father, I have a big head, too! My hat size is 7 3/8! I also believe you have my email address!

ytc said...

Would you like a biretta with silk pouf or without?

ytc said...

btw, I think your pre-Mass chanting of the names is an eminently wonderful way of sensibly and appropriately "inculturating" the Faith in your parish. Bravo! Truly, I do believe what you have done here is a wonderful idea, a testament to real inculturation.

For all the bellyaching we get from some in the Church about wanting more inculturation, I wager to say that the pre-Vatican II Church in the US and around the Western world was ironically vastly more inculturated than She is now, and in a far more appropriate way. With the nuttiness following the Council, there was, effectively, an abortion of centuries of beautiful and organic inculturation around the world.

Given the mounds of pre-Conciliar evidence surrounding us--musical, architectural, artistic, devotional, etc.--I cannot come to any other conclusion than that the post-Conciliar Church is effectively devoid of inculturation of any real value. And I think it is sad that we are seemingly artistically illiterate and cannot create churches anymore that rival those of the past. It is really quite embarrassing.

What I do not understand is why the South Americans and the Asians and the Africans are allowed to "inculturate" everything to death, but MY white European cultural and liturgical traditions were all of a sudden deemed necessary of exorcism. Not fair, yes? Am I bitter about that? Yes, I am. It seems everyone's "culture" is respected in the Church except Western white peoples'. :(

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I find the Libera at the end to be the most moving of Faure's R. I think because it captures a great deal of the passion of Italian sentiment at death and the music causes that sentiment to well up in the one hearing it, especially this half Italian who just buried his full Italian mother! The In Paradisum accomplishes the same thing in a much more sober way--it is truly moving and a tear jerker.

The other thing about Solemn Sung EF Mass which I've mentioned before and which I must emphasize again is that this Mass is a "dance" in the classical meaning of the term--it is well choreographed and dictated by the law of the Mass and the movements of the priest, deacon, sub deacon and servers shows that Liturgical Dance was well celebrated in this Mass, not by adding silly, sexualized dance to it, but by see the Mass is the dance, just as the music of the Mass isn't the silly, banal and secularized songs we've been singing now for almost 50 years, but the Mass itself!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I have an important comment about the Latin. The very next day, Fr. Dawid and I went to the Macon Opera House for a performance of Hansel and Gretel as an opera with our Macon Symphony and profession opera singers. It was entirely in German! Above the stage, in fact, above the curtain was a screen which had the English words in caption. It was a glorious experience and so well done in fact I felt like I had been in New York on Broadway. The German added and did not take away from the Opera and the English captions helped to understand what was taking place--very much what most Catholics did prior the Council with the Mass when they followed the Latin Mass in their vernacular missals! What a loss the Latin has been!

ytc said...

Oh and, PS, the text of the Pope's new Motu Proprio establishing the Pontifical Latin Academy was made public today via our friends at Rorate, who ostensibly got it from Vatican Radio!

Litterae Apostolicae Motu Proprio Datae "Latina Lingua:"


John Nolan said...


Perhaps they looked at western culture in the 1960s and decided to adapt the liturgy to that!

Fr Allan,

Very well done. Owing to the position of the microphones I had to strain my ears to hear the schola but they delivered the goods. The choir itself was excellent. Yes, I noticed the Verbum Domini - oops! - and also another 1965 moment when the choir joined in the Pater Noster. The ciborium issue shows how important an MC is at a Solemn Mass. (The problem with a modern stemless ciborium is that the celebrant has to unjoin the thumb and forefinger of his left hand in order to hold it!) The 1962 rubrics do not require the celebrant to read the Epistle, but immediately after the subdeacon has sung it he returns to the altar to read the Gradual, Tract and Sequence from the missal even if they are being sung by the choir/schola.

One feature of Faure's Requiem is that he replaces the Benedictus with the lovely solo Pie Jesu. This was intended to be sung after the Consecration (a peculiarly French tradition - O Salutaris Hostia is also frequently sung at this point). However, one can't expect a southern Methodist to be au fait with pre-Conciliar French liturgical practice!

As for birettas, they were a optional item (at least for Low Mass) even before the Council, and once you start wearing them you have to know when to carry them and when to wear them; what Fr Z calls 'birettaquette'.

ytc said...

John Nolan, as per PCED everyone is allowed to join in the Pater Noster. I do not care for it, but it is allowed.

Also, I am not sure that the biretta was optional before the Council. If it was, then I do know that the vast majority of bishops placed their priests, enforced by pain of sin of disobedience, under a requirement to wear a hat when celebrating Mass and when outside. If I recall correctly this was even required in some dioceses in the US until the 1980s. And I see nothing in the way of bishops once again requiring this.

Of course, the biretta is properly only a liturgical headdress, the non-liturgical being the saturno. But I think most priests wore their biretta everywhere.

John Nolan said...

Father, in view of your comment at 11:07 are you going to increase the use of Latin in your regular Masses, thus giving your excellent choir and schola the chance to sing more of the Church's traditional music?

Ted said...

My experience with the Pre-Vatican II Mass in French Canada at least was that altar boys wore red cassocks on festive occasions, and black on penitential or Masses for the dead. A parish would usually have two sets of cassocks for the boys. But is seems there is no hard rule on this today, if there ever was.
This is by no means a criticism, but it is just that for me the use of red (i.e. joyful in my experience) cassocks during a Mass for the dead seems out of place. Red cassock and surplice sure beats white albs, but I was wondering if you have any rules on this in your parish.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

John, time will tell, it took me almost nine years to get up the nerve to celebrate our 12:10 PM Sunday Mass Ad Orientem (with Latin once a month) so you never know what might transpire.

Ted, I agree about the red cassocks. I'm not particularly a fan of these except for festive occasions. Our parochial vicar from Poland talked me into them which we recently acquired to replace the black ones we had which were getting into bad shape.

John Nolan said...


The permissions given by PCED in 1997, which appear to license 1965 alterations, including changes to the Roman Canon in respect of the doxology have been superseded by SP and UE (see section 28 of the latter). The older form of Mass before then could have been deemed to include the changes made before the promulgation of the NO; since 2007 it is specifically the missal of 1962, and to date the only alteration allowed is the reading (at Low Mass) of the epistle and gospel in the vernacular only, an option which is rarely taken up.

ytc said...

John Nolan, you appear to be correct.

John Nolan said...

As it's Armistice Day I have been to the London Oratory for their Solemn Requiem Mass in the Ordinary Form. It is the only OF Requiem I shall have attended this month, and it does prompt comparisons between the older and newer forms.

Now the Oratory celebrates ad orientem and in Latin (except for the Scripture readings) and the Mass setting was that of Orlando di Lasso. Those things that are options in the OF were taken up in order to make the Mass resemble the traditional Requiem Mass as far as possible (no incense before the Offertory, ferial tone for the Preface, but not for the Pater Noster as it assumed that the congregation won't know it, no kiss of peace). Gradual, Tract and Sequence were of course as per the traditional Requiem Mass. However, those OF elements which are mandatory had to be retained (Credo because it was a Sunday, plus blessing and Ite Missa Est)

The EF Missa pro Defunctis is markedly different from other Masses. The reformers blurred the distinction by making some of the simpler elements (no Ps 42, no osculations, the subdeacon not holding the paten in a humeral veil) applicable to all Masses, and at the same time applying what is the norm in all Masses to the Missa pro Defunctis, with a bewildering number of options to boot.

Twenty years ago I would have asked for a NO Latin Requiem for myself. Now I specify the Usus Antiquior. I would love the 1605 Requiem of Tomas Luis de Victoria, but would settle for the Gregorian setting, which I have sung so many times.

Anonymous said...

I *much* prefer the black cassocks for the alter servers. Black goes with anything. The red seem out of place with the liturgical color. (I don't look forward to Advent - purple/violet and red.)

Bill Meyer said...

Father, mine is 7-5/8. There's no reason to be ashamed of what God gave you!

Marc said...

John, the Tomas de Victoria requiem is also a favorite of mine. I think the St. Joseph schola is up to the task.

John Nolan said...

The Oratory had the Victoria Requiem on All Souls, with sackbuts and cornetts. If the Church took music more seriously the priest-composer Tomas Luis might be considered for canonization - he was as great a mystic as his compatriot and contemporary St John of the Cross, and his setting of the Improperia, which looks so simple on paper, is achingly beautiful. I think polyphony is most effective when alternated with chant.

rcg said...

Fr Z has published the state of your uncovered pate for all the world. So now you are a charity case. I am ashamed that he has taken it upon himself to lead this effort rather than anyone of the fine contributors or parishioners of St Joseph.

How will we redeem ourselves in the eyes of the world?

Anonymous said...

First Sunday of Advent and I was right - the purple/violet vestments of the priest and deacon versus the red cassocks of the altar servers just don't seem to go together.