Friday, November 28, 2014
TO CHANT OR NOT TO CHANT OR TOO MUCH CHANT, THAT IS THE QUESTION
At one time, even after ordination and because of poor seminary formation in the 1970's, I thought a Mass with music meant that we sang hymns during the Mass, like an "opening hymn, closing hymn and maybe something at Communion time." So early on after I was ordained I would insist even at a daily Mass we sang at these places.
Chanting the propers never entered my mind and I never experienced this in the post Vatican II Mass either in my home parish or in the seminary. The first time I heard the propers sung at a Mass, either I was celebrating or attending, was at Most Holy Trinity in Augusta when we started to celebrate a Latin Ordinary Form Mass once a month at our Saturday Vigil. And it was our choir director who did it. I had to ask her where she got these Latin Chants not knowing even by 2000 that these still existed for the Ordinary Form Mass in Latin. Wow!
I do not have a trained voice for singing, but I can carry a tune and people tell me I have a nice voice. I am not a virtuoso and I can't perform a secular song as entertainment although I have a nice singing voice. I have what I like to call a fine liturgical voice that is not geared toward virtuosity. I can chant and sing liturgical music and even lead it. I can chant the priest parts of the Mass in a prayerful, liturgical way without coming across as an entertainer.
I've always sung at Mass and have always know how to chant the opening prayer and preface with relative ease. I do have a gift to improvise the written text of the Preface if I get off note and can recover also without it being too obvious to the congregation.
However up until 1991, I seldom chanted my parts of the Mass except for special feasts and solemnities to enhance these, what was taught to us as "progressive solemnity."
In 1991 I inherited a sung Mass at my new assignment of Most Holy Trinity in Augusta. Every Sunday all the stops were pulled out at the 10:00 Sunday Mass, including the use of incense and Holy Water each Sunday. It was then that I began to sing my parts of the Mass every Sunday.
But it has only been in the last eight years that I've begun to sing all my parts at Sunday Mass, including the Sign of the Cross, greeting, introduction to the penitential act and all other parts. I even chant the epiclesis and words of consecration for the Eucharistic Prayer.
What do you think? Is the Ordinary Form of the Mass made to be chanted or not. Do you prefer the priest parts chanted or spoken?
In fact even at our daily Mass, we chants the congregational parts for the Alleluia, Sanctus, Mystery of Faith, Great Amen and Lamb of God. The Congregation is led by the lector to recite the Introit and Communion Antiphons from the missalette. We chant the congregational parts in Latin, which our daily Mass congregation knows by heart.
Doing this for daily Mass would not be permitted in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.