Sunday, December 27, 2015


The New Liturgical Movement post:

Video of Midnight Mass, Christmas 1962 from Ushaw College, Durham, England

The actual Mass begins around minute 5:10, although the announcer gives a marvelous brief history of English Catholicism and its travails under Anglicanism and Protestantism in the first five minutes. The first few moments are mute but it recovers. My comments below video except for this first comment of mine:

In this marvelous form of the Mass that creates such awe, wonder, reverence and piety, you would not have seen and will not see the celebrant riding a hover board to give his homily or an any other place during the Mass insert his personality and personal preferences into this form of the Mass. It simply didn't, doesn't and won't happen! Why does it happen in the revision of this Mass which never intended to destroy the reverence, wonder, awe and piety of the Catholic Mass? Why or why? 

1. Please note the wonderful processional hymn which is a Latin Hymn, but not the Introit. Please note also the choreography of the seminarians as they enter the pews. Marvelous. 

2. Please note too, the beautiful Gothic (not Roman) chasuble of the celebrant. I do not recall Roman vestments in any of my childhood parishes prior to Vatican II. All of them were like this or similar.

3. What needed to be addressed as a reform is the fact that the choir/schola's chanting and singing is an independent reality. The priest, deacon and subdeacon recite the Mass parts despite the fact the choir is singing these. The two are not integrated and the choir seems to be adding only solemnity and music. One of the needed reforms of this form of the Mass was to integrate the priest with the choir and allow him to join in singing the Kyrie and Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei rather than saying these (and sitting down for the choir to complete the Gloria and Credo). 

It also seems to me that if the choir is independent of the priest and he's doing all the parts in Latin in a spoken voice, that there is no reason why the choir can't chant the parts of the Mass in the vernacular since what they are singing is on a separate track. 

4. Please note that the elevations are not drawn out at all.

5. The priest's actual reception of the Body and Blood of Christ which completes the Holy Sacrifice seems to be ignored by the congregation as you hear footsteps of people coming forward during the priest's communion and prior to their "Domini Non Sum Dignus."  As I recall, people would already be kneeling at the altar railing and would be standing in the aisle for Holy Communion as the priest turned to them for the "Ecce Agnus Dei" and those standing would drop to their knees on the hard floor of the center aisle. 

6. Please note that while the movements and rubrics are carefully followed, the priest, deacon and subdeacon are not robotic but natural.


Anonymous said...

Father, I attended the Ordinariate Mass this morning for the first time. Here are some observations.

1. I was greeted with genuine warmth and a smile when I entered. I actually felt wanted, unlike the "fake" welcome at Novus Ordo parishes and the no welcome at traditional chapels.

2. The quality of the music was superb, but never ending. By the end I was just wishing the singing would stop. The hymns themselves were beautiful but very unfamiliar as they were basically Episcopal hymns.

3. The homily was excellent.

4. The Mass was celebrated by priest and people with dignity, piety and genuine love.

5. The Ordinariate Mass was VERY wordy.

6. Communion was given under both species and took forever. Only the priest distributed communion (which was terrific) and people received kneeling at the altar rail which was wonderful. But the priest would distribute the host to those kneeling then went back to the altar got the chalice went back and gave each of them the precious blood. It was completely foreign to me maybe that is why I thought is was a little odd to see.

7. After Mass the entire congregation remained kneeling in prayer. I have never seen that even in traditional chapels.

My overall thoughts are that nothing can compare with the traditional Roman liturgy. The traditional Mass has a strength and an embracing warmth that cannot be matched, in my opinion. The Ordinariate Mass has much to be admired. It is dignified and reverent but it doesn't flow as well as the Traditional Mass or the Novus Ordo. In fact I prefer portions of the Novus Ordo over both of these other forms from i.e. From the Our Father until the end of Mass. In my opinion the Traditional Mass has to be the starting point for reform. Keep it's essential structure, basically keep the Prayer at the foot of the Altar from the EF, the Liturgy of the Word from the OF, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist for the offertory, Preface and Canon, and the Communion Rite from the OF (except no Eucharistic ministers, communion kneeling down, no communion in the hand). And bring back the last Gospel and prayers after Mass.

I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to go to the Ordinariate form of the Mass. It's a very nice, spiritual experience. I was just balled over to see friendly faces in church. They were nice people, in all honesty Novus Ordo and Traditional Catholics are not exceptionally warm or inviting.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

When I look at the Ordinariate Missal, especially the Anglican additions, it is very, very wordy. And then the hymn singing which is a part of the Anglican Tradition and singing every verse of each hymn. I think a hymn is sung after the homily too.

But you are right, it is reverent and most Episcopal Church's while stilted in their style of Liturgy with a rigid formality, are very reverent and expect it in their liturgies.

John Nolan said...

Father, there are still things you need to learn concerning the Roman Rite. That the choir/schola sings while ritual actions are in progress is part and parcel of the rite. The idea of the priest joining in the singing of a polyphonic Ordinary (or even a chant Ordinary such as Mass IX which is traditional for the first Mass of Xmas) is clearly not practical. He has other things to do, which is why the celebrant's chants are simple cantillations. The Gradual for the Missa in Nocte (Tecum principium) is lengthy, melismatic and undeniably beautiful; in the first millennium the celebrant was indeed not required to read it, but to suggest that it is simply a choral add-on which might as well be in the vernacular is profoundly wrong. It is, like all the sung Propers, integral to the liturgy. It's the priest's reading of these items which is a second millennium add-on when private Masses became common. (Missa Privata or Low Mass is a Mass which is deprived (privata) of the music and ceremony of the Solemn Mass.)

Ushaw's chapel was collegiate, so had no altar rails. Those receiving Communion were already in choir and would have knelt on the altar steps. In the EF the congregation do not approach the rails until after the Ecce Agnus Dei. The bells at the priest's Domine non sum dignus are not a signal for the congregation to come forward.

Charles G said...

In our EF, people remain kneeling during the priest's communion of the Host, but start moving toward the rails while he is partaking of the Precious Blood.

John Nolan said...

No colour TV back then, but the quality of this outside broadcast by Tyne Tees Television (networked throughout the UK and Ireland) was far better than you'd see nowadays. The focus was on the ritual action of the Mass which congregations never saw in close-up. Now the cameras tend to focus on the congregation and the singers.

Within a few short years this would all be jettisoned and replaced with a banal over-the-counter hymn sandwich played before dwindling audiences (there is a video of a Pontifical Mass at Ushaw in the 1980s and the contrast is painful). The tonsured young men of 1962, if they stayed the course, would soon be kumbaya-ing with the best of them and would form the generation of clergy most opposed to tradition. It has never been satisfactorily explained. It is a sobering thought, but at the time of this broadcast Pope John's Council had already been hi-jacked by the progressives and the writing was on the wall.

Long before the college closed due to a shortage of vocations, the heart had been ripped out of it, and the same can be said for the wider Church.

Rood Screen said...

John Nolan makes a good point about the relationship between the priest and the singers. For a priest to celebrate a Solemn Mass, or even a Sung Mass, the priest needs humility. It is simply not possible for the priest's personality to become the center of attention. There's no opportunity for him to impress anyone with his antics or his singing.

The way the OF Mass is customarily celebrated, however, the personality of the priest becomes an essential feature. The Modern congregation feels neglected--denied participation--if they do not feel the reach of the priest's personality. This is why Modern congregations and Modern priests suspect malice or psychosis whenever they encounter a priest trying to offer the OF Mass with the traditional attitude.

Anonymous said...

I attend both the TLM and an Anglican-Catholic Mass the latter in Latin as well, The Anglican-Catholic Mass is as stunning as the TLM with Gregorian chant, kneeling for communion, incense, Roman and Gothic vestments, priest facing the altar, lovely Anglican hymns in Latin and Elizabethan English, only altar boys, no lay lectors, all of this was from our beloved Benedict the XVI. As for all of the young men we see in the video how very sad that only a short time after this Vatican II destroyed it!!!!!

altar boy said...

It's a theatrical performance. Everybody's watching a mediocre opera performance. And that is truly what the audience/congregation is doing....watching. I bailed out at about ten minutes in.

And the "choreography" of the seminarians....awesome...

Do you really think that today's people would show up on Sunday for that?

Rood Screen said...


It's unlikely that today's people would do so. They wouldn't have a clue why the priest, music, language and rituals weren't all oriented towards them. I doubt they'd last even ten minutes. This sort of thing just isn't Modern man's cup of tea.

Anonymous said...

Yes, how very sad and shows the lack of intellect in the "people" of today, as for an opera performance and choreography as you say altar boy you should stick with the "Novus Ordo Show" with giant puppets, altar girls, dancing girls in leotards, hand holding, kiss of peace, drums, guitars, protestant songs, communion in the hand, felt banners, polyester vestments, the priest who thinks it all about him, rock, mariachi, folk music, women running around the altar pretending to be priests, lay lectors, barren churches, well this is the MAN MADE NOVUS ORDO AND YOU CAN HAVE IT. I will for one take the real deal Gregorian chant, kneeling for communion, Mozart, Palastrina, Hayden, bells, incense, Gothic and Roman vestments, altar BOYS only, statues, crucifix not dinner table in the Novus Ordo, Latin, Organ, silence, and reverence, this is my cup of tea!!

John Nolan said...

It's theatrical in that the Mass is in essence sacred drama (or, for that matter, cosmic drama). Faber spoke the truth when he said it is the most beautiful thing this side of heaven. 'Altar boy' (who sounds like another incarnation of our friendly troll Gob) would have noticed, had he not 'bailed (sic) out', that most of the seminarians made up a large mixed-voice choir which sang a robust but not overly complex setting of the Ordinary, and there were no fewer than twenty seniors in the chant schola. However, the cliché of congregations as dumb spectators is well ingrained, even in the imaginations of those old enough to know better.

To continue with the theatrical analogy, the live broadcast I watched this year (St George's RC Cathedral, Southwark, with an ethnically diverse congregation which reflects this part of London) was variety performance rather than grand opera, with some of the audience invited onstage at certain moments. Mostly spoken English, some Latin (the congregation were expected to join in with Gloria VIII and Credo III, with the choir contributing the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei from William Lloyd-Webber's Missa Princeps Pacis; the schola sang a couple of the Gregorian Propers), the inevitable popular carols, EP II (ugh!) one hopes because of time constraints. Pity they couldn't have dropped the polyglot bidding prayers in favour of the Roman Canon which has seasonal Propers - not many south Londoners would understand Yoruba or Tagalog in any case.

In short something for everybody, at least in theory. Little to object to, but not much sense of unity (ritually speaking) and no sense of mystery. If this was middle-of-the-road Catholicism, on Xmas morning we had middle-of-the-road Anglicanism (Bath Abbey). A white middle-class congregation. Lots of carols. Spiky modern settings of the Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei (choir only). The dean in his scarlet cassock acting the part of a TV chat-show host, even staging interviews with local worthies in place of a homily. At the altar and versus populum the Eucharist was celebrated by a middle-aged woman in a chasuble who hammed it up, assisted by a younger woman in a dalmatic who performed no diaconal functions. The gospel was read by a laywoman. (Yes, I am aware that they're all laywomen.) Communion was received standing and in the hand. The minister of the cup doesn't hand the chalice to the communicant but tilts it in his/her direction.

It made the Southwark Midnight Mass look traditional in comparison.

altar boy said...

"bailed (sic) out" ?

John, it's abundantly clear that you are a wannabe music celeb. Maybe you should take a new tack...get a guitar...grow a beard...try folk music...even hip hop. I think you can "make it".

John Nolan said...

AB, did you bale out, as from an aircraft about to crash, or did your bail run out, resulting in your recall to prison? Is making puerile blog comments a criminal offence in your neck of the woods?

altar boy said...

Google "bail out". A "bale" is the amount of cotton that our slaves were required to pick each day.

John Nolan said...

Well, dang y'all and hush mah cotton-pickin' mouth!

altar boy said...

No comment, John Knowlan....

altar boy said...

BTW...nice "puerile blog comment". You're a real classy guy.

John Nolan said...

Keep it up, AB/Gob. A Battle of Britain pilot, having baled out over the English Channel, might then have to bail out his rubber life raft. Carry on bailing, lest you sink under the weight of your ignorance and prejudice.

Perhaps the wicketkeeper removed your bails while you were out of your crease, leaving you stumped ...

Rood Screen said...

I've noticed that liturgical revolutionaries seem to distance themselves from reasonable dialogue with liturgical conservatives. Their comments on this blog seem limited to hostile disgust towards those who approach evaluation of liturgical rites differently than they do. That's a surprise to me. Of course, there are also liturgical reactionaries on the other extreme, but they're usually capable of reasonable dialogue with others.

John Nolan said...


GK Chesterton, fortunately for him and unfortunately for us, was not around at the time of Vatican II and its aftermath. In his words:

'In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which would probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern reformer goes gaily up to it and says "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."'

I can't see the likes of Gob subscribing to this, or any other wisdom for that matter.

altar boy said...

John can't seem to get me out of his mind.

"plain and simple"?....or could it be "plane and simple"? Back to Google...

That's all folks.