Monday, October 13, 2014


Apart from my headline above I agree wholeheartedly with John Nolan's observations. I ask him if there is a written text for Fr. Lang's talk?

On Saturday I attended a sung Requiem Mass (chant and polyphony) in the Ordinary Form. It was ad orientem, entirely in Latin (including the Scripture readings which were sung from the ambo, the first two by a cantor in choir dress). The Dies Irae was sung in the correct place, alternating chant and polyphony. Since the Sanctus/Benedictus was polyphonic the young Dominican priest recited the Canon in a low voice while singing was in progress; the Benedictus was sung after the Memorial Acclamation.

Now I realize that such a celebration is at the higher end of 'graduated solemnity' but it shows that the Novus Ordo and the classic Roman Rite are not in opposite camps. Those who argue that if you're going to have a Latin Mass you might as well use the 1962 Rite are missing the point. In a lecture afterwards, Fr Uwe Michael Lang, a priest of the London Oratory who has done stints in Rome at the CDWDS and the Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations spoke of the concern of liturgists that the trend since the Council has been to emphasize the text at the expense of the ritual, to the extent that many, if not most celebrations of the Novus Ordo are seriously unbalanced.

To redress this imbalance does not require a new rite of Mass nor a wholesale return to 1962, which is hardly a practical proposition. However, there is a generation of priests and bishops who were brought up to regard the Novus Ordo as an entirely new departure, reflecting a different theology or 'ecclesiology' which not only makes it incompatible with the older Rite but demands that it be celebrated in a radically different way. It was this perception that Benedict XVI sought to counter, and Summorum Pontificum was one means of doing this. Those in the 'progressive camp' were appalled, and some still try to argue it was merely a concession to diehard 'traditionalists'. Benedict's legacy will certainly survive this papacy, since the current generation of liturgical scholars (Fr Lang was born in 1972) share his vision. Piero Marini, born in 1942, is thirty years behind the times.


John Nolan said...

Fr Lang spoke at length (no pun intended) and extracts will probably appear in the next issue of 'Latin Liturgy', the newsletter of the Association for Latin Liturgy which is due out in spring next year. I understand he is shortly to publish a book on the subject.

John Nolan said...

If one wants the OF Requiem Mass to conform to the spirit of the older Rite, all of the following are legitimate options.

1. Black vestments
2. Ad Orientem
3. Latin
4. Same Proper chants as per the EF
5. No incense until the Offertory
6. No lights at the Gospel
7. No 'Sign of Peace'.

In an EF Solemn Requiem the paten remains on the altar and the subdeacon performs the incensations at the elevations. This is standard practice in the OF (for subdeacon read second deacon).

The Dies Irae sequence was dropped from the Mass in 1965. However, since the OF allows a wide variety of chants or songs it can legitimately be reinstated. No-one can argue that it is unsuited to the Requiem Mass.

By the way, a Mass is referred to using the opening word(s) of its Introit. So we refer to the Mass 'Gaudeamus' or the Mass 'Salve Sancta Parens'. If the Introit 'Requiem aeternam' is omitted or replaced by something else, it is not, strictly speaking, a Requiem Mass.