There are three wonderful things that Pope Francis has done in continuity with Pope Benedict in terms of the Liturgy: 1) He maintained Msgr. Guido Marini as the Papal MC--a stroke of genius on the part of the pope in keeping this genius MC; 2) He named Cardinal Robert Sarah as the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship--a stunning choice that certainly pleased Pope Benedict! 3) The Sistine Choir continues to make magnificent strides under Pope Francis in becoming a world-class choir--it had failed miserably at this in the past, but through Pope Benedict and now Pope Francis things are changed, watch this!
While there hasn't been the same liturgical excitement under Pope Francis as generated by Pope Benedict, I know from first hand experience at the Vatican and simply watching both of them celebrate Mass that their voice and gestures and style of gestures at the Mass is almost identical. Where they differ is in taste of vestments and desire to chant the priestly parts of the Mass. Pope Benedict liked the finer things, the Baroque and Roman although His Holiness was not adverse to more modern vestments. He wore both to show there can be continuity in diversity.
Pope Francis prefers plainer albs, chasubles and copes, although I find his sections to be very tasteful although austere at times. I'd love to have a closet full of his vestments at St. Joseph's as Pope Francis tastes in albs, chasubles and copes correspond more to my tastes although I do have a fiddle-back or two, but I don't like busy, gaudy vestments that so many young traditionalists are using. These look too fussy to me!
But let's talk about the liturgy under the two popes. At the Vatican the only thing that I have noticed that has changed is the adaptation of the altar arrangement with a lower crucifix and candles that do not completely block the pope and what is consecrated at the altar. But it is still the so-called "Benedictine" altar arrangement which is actually how the altar was arranged prior to Vatican II when ad orientem was the norm everywhere. Even in papal travels, this arrangement has been scrupulously maintained even in Cathedrals and parishes the pope visits where it isn't used.
At the Vatican, the parts of the Mass are in Latin which the congregation is encouraged to join in chanting. The official Introit, Offertory and Communion antiphons are also chanted in Latin even when their is a preludal processional hymn in the vernacular.
The Sistine Choir continues to improve and Praytell tells us the following:
"...This is new: the Sistine Choir no longer belongs to the Ufficio delle Celebrazioni, but belongs once again to the Casa Apostolica as private choir of the pope. This is why Archbishop Georg Ganswein, Prefect of the Papal Household, presented the CD of the Sistine Choir last month. This CD is the fruit of something historic – the first time the Vatican has ever opened the doors of the iconic Sistine Chapel for a studio recording with the Sistine Chapel Choir."
And here is the selection of music that you can hear on this CD and I don't detect anything from the Saint Louis Jesuits or Praise and Worship!
1. Gregorian Chant - Rorate caeli desuper
2. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525–1594) - Ad te levavi
3. Orlande de Lassus (1532–1594) - Magnificat VIII toni
4. Gregorian Chant - Lumen ad revelationem gentium
attrib. Palestrina – Nunc dimittis (World premiere recording)
5. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina - Super flumina Babylonis
6. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina - Improperium exspectavit cor meum
7. Gregorio Allegri (1582–1652) – Miserere Sistine Codex of 1661 (World premiere recording)
8. Gregorian Chant - Christus factus est pro nobis
9. Felice Anerio (c. 1560–1614) - Christus factus est pro nobis
10. Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548–1611) - Popule meus (Improperia)
11. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina - Adoramus te, Christe
12. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina - Sicut cervus
13. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina - Angelus Domini
14. Orlande de Lassus - Iubilate Deo
15. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina - Constitues eos principes
16. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina - Tu es Petrus
There is also a trailer and excerpt from Allegri: Miserere on Youtube and the choir is stunning!They never sounded like this in the recent past in fact their sound was, well, embarrassing, but not now.
I hope and pray that things improve on the ground level in dioceses around the world beginning with Cathedrals, basilicas and want-to-be basilicas! I think things are slowly changing for the better in local parishes at least I hope what is being modeled at the Vatican even today is changing local parishes and how they celebrate and sing the liturgy!
This music is uplifting and heavenly!
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