For last night's EF Mass, the free standing altar was removed and the original altar was magnificent and looked more accessible to the congregation than the faux one that was removed.
Don't have any images of last night's Mass yet, but this one gives you an idea:
“Ritus nobili simplicitate fulgeant” is the complete expression found in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 34). It means, “Let the rites radiate a noble simplicity”. I firmly believe that this concept was misapplied in the reform of the Mass and was brought to an unneeded extreme leading to ignoble simplicity for the most part.
Last night I watched most of the Pontifical Solemn Sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form with Most Reverend David M. O'Connell, C.M., Bishop of Trenton.
The church that was used was quite beautiful and appropriate for either form of the one Latin Rite Mass.
However, as I watched the Mass, I couldn't help but think that all the bishops that gathered for the Second Vatican Council more than likely would have been quite open to the "simplification" of the Pontifical Solemn Sung Mass and that the words of Sacrosanctum Concilium, #34 were more than likely aimed at this type of Mass and not the normal Mass as it was celebrated in most Catholic parishes prior to the Council. The Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form exudes the radiation of noble simplicty as does the normal Missa Cantata without deacon and sub deacon and even the normal parish Solemn Sung parish Mass with deacon and sub deacon has a nobleness of simplicity.
However the Pontifical Solemn Sung Mass is another question altogether and yes, I think it would be wise to clean it up a bit!
However I agree with Father Uwe Michael Lang, C.O. when he writes, "...the fifth chapter on "Decorum of the Liturgical Celebration" in the encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia" -- of Pope John Paul II (April 17, 2003), where he affirms that Christ himself wanted a fitting a decorous environment for the Last Supper, asking his disciples to prepare it in the house of a friend who had a "large upper room furnished" (Luke 22:12; cf. Mark 14:15). In face of Judas' protest that the anointing with precious oil was an unacceptable "waste," given the need of the poor, Jesus, without diminishing the obligation of concrete charity towards the needy, declared his great appreciation for the woman's action, because her anointing anticipated "that honor of which his body will continue to be worthy also after his death, indissolubly linked as it is to the mystery of his Person" ("Ecclesia de Eucharistia," No. 47). John Paul II concludes that the Church, as the woman of Bethany, "does not fear to 'waste,' investing the best of her resources to express her adoring wonder in the face of the incommensurable gift of the Eucharist" (ibid., No. 48). The liturgy calls for the best of our possibilities, to glorify God the Creator and Redeemer."
So I'm not speaking of vesture. I'm am speaking of ceremony and too much of it that obfuscates what is happening and the total disconnect between what the choir representing the congregation does and what is happening in the sanctuary.
I don't mean for this to come across as implying anything, but it does appear that in the pontifical Solemn Sung Mass the bishop is treated as though he is a "queen bee" and that all the other worker bees are too many in number and in the way.
I have to confess that I haven't ever attended an EF Mass with a bishop in any form let alone the Pontifical Solemn High Mass. So there were things done that I simply did not understand why these were being done, for example, the bishop's miter being placed on his head for the incensation and washing of the hands. It all seem just too complicated.
In addition the use of the MC to tell the bishop what to do and at every moment struck me as too over-played. It made the bishop look like he didn't have a clue as to what to do for himself.
So, how to make the EF Mass radiate noble simplicity, I would say, get rid of some of the court of ministers. There are way to many and make the Pontifical Solemn Sung Mass more like the normal Solemn Sung Mass with deacon, sub deacon and Master of ceremonies. Get all the other ministers out of the way and make them less prominant and seen only when needed.
Finally, I really feel that there needs to be a connection between what is sung and that what is sung is what everyone sings whether they actually sing it or simply join quietly in following the singing and that should go for the celebrant too.