Friday, 28 November 2014

Too much chant?

At Southern Orders, Father Alan MacDonald muses about the amount of chant in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. I left a comment there which I reprint below.

The fundamental problem is the 1967 document, Musicam Sacram. This document, in its desire to remove the strictness of the Read, Sung and Solemn Masses, put forward the practice of "progressive solemnity." Sing what you can without regard to the previous structure. It encouraged that the whole Mass be sung but sanctioned that one could sing what one could manage.

The second problem and perhaps the worst of it was the permission to actually substitute the Sung Proper (Introit, Offertory and Communion) with a hymn.

Up to that point (and remember, this was not the manufactured (quoting Pope Emeritus Benedict) liturgy of Paul VI but the slimmed down "tridentine" rite; the Proper had to be said (in a Read Mass) or sung (chanted melismatically or in psalm tone or in polyphony). That wretched document and that one paragraph is where we can point to for the destruction of the chant and the propers.

It also admonished choirs who sang all the Propers without the people. The people have no business singing the Propers, that is the domain of the choir/schola; the people's part was the Ordinary.

Until we get over this idea that the people must sing everything we can never restore these liturgical sung texts.

In the EF Masses which I lead and conduct on a typical Sunday, the people sing the following:

Processional Hymn in English
Sprinkling Rite
Marian Antiphon
Recessional Hymn

Until that is revoked and the Propers (said or sung) in the Ordinary Form with the restored Offertory chant (now only permitted if sung) are mandated, we will not see a restoration of the sacred liturgy.

On a further note, it is incumbent upon every layman or laywoman working in the Extraordinary Form to follow the rubrics and norms and to humble themselves to them. If you are not able to man up to that then stop doing it. We don't need the errors of those who destroyed the liturgy in from 1964 to 1967 and then again in 1969 to creep in to the venerable rite. If you can't do the rite, right, then don't do it at all!

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