Monday, September 2, 2013


This is a repost of the Ordinary Form Mass, with chanted Latin propers and celebrated ad orientem for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, featuring the Church Music Association of America's Chant Intensive choir:

Yesterday (Sunday, September 1) at 2:00 PM was my last Mass at St. Joseph Church, Macon until I return from my sabbatical in Rome on December 3rd! My last Mass was the EF High Mass and my first Mass on return will be our every Tuesday EF Low Mass at 5:00 PM! Lovely bookends, no?

But as I celebrated this splendid EF Mass yesterday with our men's schola chanting the Latin Propers and the rest of the Mass the Jubilatio Deo Mass parts except for the Sanctus which was Obis Factor (if I have that correct, spelling and otherwise) I was struck at the noble simplicity of this Mass and its chants. Yes, noble simplicity of the EF Mass and its chants. All was in Latin (Greek Kyrie of course) except what I believe is not illicit for a High Mass, which is technically a low Mass sung, as there was no deacon or subdeacon, and that is I chanted the Epistle and Gospel in English at the altar ad orientem, but with the chanted Latin introduction and the congregation "Deo Gracias." The schola chanted the Gradual in Latin splendidly.

I have to say, when I celebrate either the low or high EF Mass, I feel Catholic, very Catholic. I feel a bit more diluted as a Catholic with the normal way most Catholic Churches celebrate the OF Mass today, with or without music.

But I digress! As I was celebrating this Mass, I wondered how our typical Sunday Masses at Saint Joseph would be received by our rank and file laity, if we eliminated hymns at the procession to actually sing the proper entrance chant in English and at the offertory and Communion. Now at our EF Mass yesterday, our schola did sing an additional chanted motet in addition to the brief Offertory Antiphon. We did sing "Holy God, We Praise Thy name" as the recessional too.

Currently at our OF Mass, the cantor simply chants the entrance chant in the Roman Missal as the procession begins but then we go immediately into a hymn from our St. Michael's hymnal which means our hymns are traditional hymns and quite singable.

We also sing hymns at Communion and of course for the recessional.

But what if we eliminated a processional hymn and sang the official chant with additional verses in English. How would rank and file laity, who in our parish will sing hymns they know with gusto, if we sang the entrance chant in a "responsorial fashion" with refrain for the congregation and verses for choir and cantor and truly in an English chant mode?

For example, here is the official entrance chant in the Ordinary Form for Christmas Day, which could be done by a cantor alone, or a schola or choir and people encouraged to join:

How would Catholics feel if no traditional Christmas carol was sung?

Here is the offertory chant for the Christmas Day Mass in the Ordinary Form. Again, how would Catholics feel if this was chanted in place of a Christmas carol?

Same question about the official Communion chant for the Ordinary Form Christmas Day Mass:

Chant, English or Latin, Gregorian, simple, complex or polyphony brings to the Mass what most would think is truly "Catholic" in sound, spirituality and ethos.

There was no question yesterday at our EF High Mass, that this was anything but a Catholic Mass. Someone said to me on Saturday who prefers exclusively the EF Mass, that if someone passing on the street a Catholic Church with its doors wide open during a EF High Mass, they would know immediately that it was a Catholic Mass, no question about it.

But if they passed a Catholic Church celebrating Mass in the Ordinary Form in English as in most parishes today, with its door open and then passed a Protestant Church with its service and the doors opened, they wouldn't be able to distinguish very well the difference as the two sounds would be quite similar!

And there is one of the problems with the reform of the Catholic Mass and our liturgies in the Ordinary Form especially as it concerns the virtual elimination of Chant, Gregorian and otherwise, a concerted effort to make our Mass and liturgies more Protestant for ecumenical reasons and what was truly misguided in the 1960's from the Council forward, that making the Catholic Mass more Protestant would lead to Christian Unity. It hasn't and it won't.


Hammer of Fascists said...

Fr. McD: Regarding your penultimate paragraph, do you mean to suggest that the Novus Ordo, unlike the Tridentine, strongly resembles a Protestant liturgy? Why, that's impossible. Everyone knows that there's nothing Protestant about the NO. ;-)

John Nolan said...

The Missa Cantata is not a sung Low Mass, since you don't start with a Low Mass and work upwards; you start with a Solemn Mass and work downwards. Paragraph 26 of Universae Ecclesiae (2011) clarifies the situation regarding vernacular readings:

" ... lectiones Sanctae Missae quae in Missali anni 1962 continentur, proferri possunt aut solum Latine, aut Latine, vernacula sequente versione, aut in Missis lectis etiam solum vernacule".

The option for having readings only in the vernacular therefore only applies to the "read Mass" (Missa lecta), the term used since 1960 for the Low Mass, which previously had been known as "Missa privata". Not to the sung Mass. Sorry.

Henry said...

It's not a matter of opinion or semantics subject to argument. Only the Church is competent to say what it means by terms like low Mass, sung Mass, etc. And in regard to the traditional Latin Mass, the Church has spoken officially many times, most recently (for the EF) in Musica Sacra (1958):

3. There are two kinds of Masses: the sung Mass ("Missa in cantu"), and the read Mass ("Missa lecta"), commonly called low Mass.

There are two kinds of sung Mass: one called a solemn Mass if it is celebrated with the assistance of other ministers, a deacon and a sub-deacon; the other called a high Mass if there is only the priest celebrant who sings all the parts proper to the sacred ministers.

So that's it, the low Mass is one thing. The sung Mass, whether with or without deacon and subdeacon, is another thing. No form of low Mass is sung, and no sung Mass is a low Mass.

Case closed. Nothing left to discuss. No contrary opinion is admissible.

Lewis K. said...

This is our heritage! How can the people be edified if they aren't even taught their heritage? The written directives of the recent council are then utterly ignored! There are reasons music and rite developed as they did: side by side. Authentic Catholic music, entirely in line with the doctrine and Tradition of Holy Mother Church, has no better setting than in Most Holy Mass. By all means encourage the laity to involve themselves in Most Holy Mass, but not to the ignorance of Him at the altar stone. Change the prayer and you change the belief, the person. This is why Pope emeritus BXVI kept repeating that the reformed liturgy needed further reforming so as to correct the current status of Catholic formation. Do more than just restore the Propers - insist upon them!