Ad orientem versus at the Viennese Cafeteria

In Vienna being turned toward the East has been a constant experience through history. Sometimes it has been a matter of life or death.

In the spirit of the informal motto we have taken here, Save The Liturgy – Save The World - I tip my biretta to Gerald over at the Cafeteria (or in this case Viennese Caffe) for a something from Christoph Cardinal Schoenborn he translated. o{]:¬) He got it from Kath.net. Here is what Card. Schoenborn has to say about Mass celebrated versus populum and ad orientem versus. My emphasis and comments.

    The question "people’s altar or high altar" has become a reason for dispute. A Viennese parish decided, to once more celebrate Mass using the baroque high altar. A movable people’s altar will only be used for "family Masses". Someone told the media about this which resulted in some clamoring, including the hilarious statement that from now on the priest would "preach to the wall" in this church! [How often do we hear the laughably stupid phrase that the priest has his "back to the people"?]

    First and foremost: It is not decisive in which direction the celebrant faces, but rather what happens on the altar. [True. However, from a point of view of the "psychology" of the changes, Klaus Gamber said that the deorientation of the altar was the more destructive change after the Council.]

    …

    Second: Both directions of celebration are justified and neither should be suspected or "ideologized". [cough] Mass isn’t celebrated "to the people" or "to the wall", but to God through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. The celebration turned "to the people" has the meaning that we all, priests and laypeople, gather around Christ who symbolizes the altar and whose Body and Blood become present on the altar [cough]. The celebration "with the back to the people" is not a turning away from the faithful but facing in the same direction in prayer, expression of the path we walk walk towards God as pilgrims, His wandering people.

    Third: Vatican II did not say anything about the direction of the celebrant. It wasn’t until 1969 that the GIRM said (Nr. 262): "The main altar should be built separated from the wall, so that it can be walked around easily to make the celebration versus populum (towards the people)" In the 2002 edition the following is added: "This should be the case wherever it is possible". The Roman Congregation has declared this as a recommendation, not a requirement. [There is a great deal of controversy about this GIRM 299, which the American bishops mistranslated in their "Built of Living Stones", the successor of your favorite and mine, the so-called Environment and Art in Catholic Worship, which though it had ZERO authority was the basis of Dresden-like devastation to our churches and the souls that (used to) frequent them.]

    Fourth: The oldest direction for prayer is towards the East. The Jews prayed towards Jerusalem, the Muslims towards Mecca, the Christians towards the rising sun which symbolizes the Risen Christ. Thus the respective orientation of the synagogues, mosques and churches. The orientation, ie the "Eastwardness" of churches is one of the "original laws" of church architecture. St. Peter’s in Rome faces westward for practical reasons. therefore the Pope celebrates facing the doors, which are in the East, and because of that towards the people. It is good to remind oneself what "orientation" means.

    Lastly, a personal comment: I love both directions of celebrating Mass. Both are full of meaning for me. [cough] Both help me to encounter Christ – and that is, after all, the purpose of the liturgy.

Years ago I translated a piece in Notitiae which indicated that a new wind was starting ever so imperceptibly to puff into life. The CDWDS admitted, astonishingly, that where there was an important main altar we should not set up a table altar in front of it. This is because the prinicipal of the unicity of the altar for worship is so important.

Right! And let us not forget that His Holiness Pope Benedict has written about this very topic.

The Post-Synodal Exhortation is going to be coming out. I recall that during the Synod, some bishops from the East spoke about how the celebration of Mass "facing the people" had weakened the sense of the liturgy.

We need a massive re-orientation.

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38 Responses to Ad orientem versus at the Viennese Cafeteria

  1. RBrown says:

    He is a good man and good guy, but his comments are not surprising.

    I knew him a bit when he was in Rome–he used to come to the Convitto now and then for dinner and to see our spiritual director, Fr Hertz, op. (who had been his rector at Fribourg) The last time I spoke with him was in Austria in 1999. One of my best friends, a Swiss priest also known to Fr Z, knows C. Schoenborn well.

    It is noteworthy that he was ordained in 1970, with grad studies afterwards–he was a scholastic and student priest during the years of craziness. It is important to remember that during those crazy years scholastics who were strong often were run out of formation. Those who remained were either liberals or of a certain personality that avoided conflict and controversy.

    In his years as a prof at Fribourg, he was a member of the German speaking faculty, well known for its dissent. But he was not a dissenter and was very competent as a prof of Christology. That notwithstanding, for anyone who has spent years in such a pig pen, being against women priests is heroic.

    After the catechism was finished, he wanted to stay in Rome and teach at the Angelicum, but Fribourg wanted him back on the faculty. Rome’s circumvented the situation by naming him auxiliary in Vienna.

    My understanding is that in Vienna he is considered wishy-washy. In fact, another Dominican who knows him very, very well said that S is someone who is blown around by the winds.

  2. Geri says:

    “How often do we hear the laughably stupid phrase that the priest has his “back to the people’?”

    Coincidentally, I was just this morning reading, in yesterday’s paper, (MSM,) an article commemorating the 5oth anniversary of our diocese, Bishop Melcek is quoted as saying “Before the couhcil, when people came to church on Sunday, the Mass was in Latin and the priest had his back to the people. There was little participation by the people – only the rosary, the novenas or other prayer, and the most participation was receiving communion.”

    I suspect he was simplifying for the interveiwer.

  3. John Polhamus says:

    Fr. Z et al: I think that in the United States it has been mainly Mother Angelica in her dispute with her local Ordinary in Birmingham. Alabama, over televised ad orientem masses, who has helped to clarify the nature of post concilliar reccomendation 269 as just that, a reccomendation not a requirement. She appealed to Rome, as you probably are well aware, and received a rather concrete clarification which indicated just that. She still defers to the wishes of that particular bishop, at least for now, but she deserves alot of credit for highlighting the abuse of power which mandates such a thing where it is not desired. But then, what else is new in the reform!

    Anecdotally, I have visited her convent, situated in a lovely valley between the coal-rich mountain seams north of Birmingham, and it is truly amazing. But what is most revealing is the subtle impact its presence has had on the surrounding populace. As you approach through countryside typical of the southern bible-belt, one is suddenly aware that one is passing signs for the “St. Philomena Guest House,” and the “St. Thomas Aquinas Bed and Breakfast.” I was told that people of all denominations attend the masses on a regular basis, drawn by the atmosphere of peace and substantial nature of the worship conducted there. They do remarkable work, but I think that Mother A’s little dispute and resolution over “ad orientem” celebration may be her most universal contribution. More power to her!

  4. RBrown says:

    Coincidentally, I was just this morning reading, in yesterday’s paper, (MSM,) an article commemorating the 5oth anniversary of our diocese, Bishop Melcek is quoted as saying “Before the couhcil, when people came to church on Sunday, the Mass was in Latin and the priest had his back to the people. There was little participation by the people – only the rosary, the novenas or other prayer, and the most participation was receiving communion.”

    I suspect he was simplifying for the interveiwer.

    The old high mass was fine, but the public low mass needed some adjustment. I am an advocate of dialogue masses, and I see no reason why at public low masses the Epistle and Gospel should not be read facing the people.

  5. Stu says:

    Fr. Z wrote: The Post-Synodal Exhortation is going to be coming out. I recall that during the Synod, some bishops from the East spoke about how the celebration of Mass “facing the people” had weakened the sense of the liturgy.

    Father, is it out of the realm that this issue may very well be addressed in the Exhortation?

  6. Janet says:

    John,
    As to Mother Angelica and ad orientum mass, the masses at the shrine are indeed ad orientum. Bishop Foley could not prevent that, because she did go ‘over his head’ to Rome, but what he did instead was refuse to allow those masses at the shrine to be televised on EWTN. Perhaps that was actually what you were saying, but it wasn’t clear.
    Currently, we have been waiting almost two years for a new bishop in Birmingham diocese, since Bishop Foley retired about a week before JPII died. It will be very interesting to see what the next bishop decides concerning latin mass, as well as the ad orientum mass at the Shrine in Hanceville.
    For what it’s worth concerning Bishop Foley, he is a good, spiritual man, from what I can gather, and he and Mother Angelica seem to be currently on good terms. He’s not a bad man at all, but it just seems that at one point he got tired of being considered “the bishop in Mother Angelica’s diocese”, and decided to get assertive about something. He just chose poorly as to the battle he decided to fight.

  7. Jon says:

    Janet,

    “just seems that at one point he got tired of being considered “the bishop in Mother Angelica’s diocese”

    That’s not all. Read Raymond Arroyo’s biography of Mother. Our friend in Los Angeles had much to do with what happened in Birmingham. The book is a real eye-opener.

  8. “Our friend in Los Angeles had much to do with what happened in Birmingham”.He did? I read the book and I did not get the same information from it.Cardinal Mahoney caused a fuss with Rome over what Mother said on tv about his pastoral and her implying that Catholics might not have to obey such a prelate.Bishop Foley supported Mother and told the Cardinal so.It has been the law since Pius XII that the bishop of the diocese can set rules regarding the televising of mass.It was meant to prevent the not too uncommon (in the 50’s)scenario of having clerics who cant sing be a celebrant or deacon at a mass on television. The norm about the celebration of mass has been clarified many times .The “preferable”refers to the altar being free standing not to the direction the priest faces. What will come first-the motu proprio and exhortation or the identity of the father of Ann Nichole’s child?

  9. Jon says:

    Father McAfee,

    Interesting. That’s not how I remember it, but it’s been a while. I could swear Raymond implied pressure had been put on Bishop Foley. I’ll dig the book out of my wife’s stash and reread it.

  10. Janet says:

    I also read Arroyo’s book when it first came out, and of the things I do still remember, one of those is that Bishop Foley nearly always was supportive of Mother Angelica. And my own pastor has just this past month gotten around to reading the book about Mother Angelica,and he mildly disagrees with Arroyo’s account about that “tiff”. He wrote in his weekly newsletter that he feels Arroyo misjudged Foley’s actions and motives concerning the ad orientum dispute. My pastor knows the bishop quite well, and I’m willing to trust his judgement on this.

  11. Jon says:

    Janet and Father McAfee,

    Because I don’t want to attract folks who might turn Father’s blog into a wrestling match over who did what in Birmingham eight years ago – it’s widely read and Birmingham is still awaiting its bishop – I don’t want to roil the waters for Mother, however slight. I’ll just suggest that you go to the book and re-read the account. I just did. It begins on page 284 and is entitled “Facing East.”

    I last read the book over a year ago. I must admit my memory wasn’t quite right, but if you look at the paragraph on page 290 beginning “The question remains: Why?” you can see why I recalled “our friend in Los Angeles” having more influence than he may have had in the matter.

    As for Bishop Foley (who was auxilliary for several years in Richmond when I lived there), he might be a nice fellow, but he’s retiring, Mother still lives, and the man who wrote “The Spirit of the Liturgy” sits on the Throne of Peter…magna est veritas, et praevalet. ’nuff said.

  12. Matthew Robinson says:

    Let the dead bury the dead.

    Who cares what the Cardinal says….his diocese is DOA….

  13. Stephen M. Collins says:

    RBrown wrote “I am an advocate of dialogue masses, and I see no reason why at public low masses the Epistle and Gospel should not be read facing the people.”

    Yes, absolutely to the Dialog Mass! But I disagree with the priest facing the people or the Latin Readings at the Traditional Latin Mass. When the Subdeacon and Deacon chant the Readings at a Solemn High Mass, there is a symbolism to the direction they face, and the postition in the Sanctuary. There is also a similar symbolism to the Epistle side (facing the Altar straight) and the Gospel side (facing somewhat northwards) that the people should understand. (Some one feel free to jump in here as I don’t yet own a copy of Fortescue.) If the Priest reads the Latin aloud, and clearly, it is really quite easy for the congregation to follow along in their Missals or other printed worship aids. And therefore, there is no need for the Epistle and Gospel to be repeated in English prior to the Sermon.

    When I was growing up, we had Latin, French an Spanish language studies in RC high school. I don’t think very many of us used any of the three very much. Now, in some parts of the country, you need to know Spanish in order to get a good job, because some of your clientel will no speak English. But there is still all this bugaboo about Latin in Church, “But I don’t know any Latin!” I’m sorry. If you took Spanish, you had “virtual Latin”. Get over it!

  14. Bear in mind, Christoph Cardinal von Schoenborn, OP was the editor of the Catechism. I also very much reject the idea that the Archdiocese of Vienna is “DOA”, as I know quite a few people there, some of whom work in the Archdiocese. Cardinal Schoenborn is an internationally esteemed scholar and bishop. He took over from an archbishop, Hermann Groer, who can only be described as freakish, from the bizarre way he “talked” (if anyone knows “Family Guy”, think of the old pedophile neighbor) to the homosexual abuse he’d engaged in. Cardinal Schoenborn took over at a lowpoint. The Archdiocese of Vienna was around when America wasn’t even a glint in a conquistador’s eye. It’s survived two Turkish sieges. Not to mention that the late, beloved Viennese Archbishop Cardinal Koenig was instrumental in getting John Paul II. elected. Cardinal Schoenborn obviously is well-esteemed by Pope Benedict as he was by Pope John Paul II. I am often critical of both of “my” countries (Austria and the US), but when someone else does it, I get ticked off.

    I for one think that Cardinal Schoenborn’s article – written to a “concerned” target audience, the media had basically said “church headed back to the stone age” – was well-balanced. I certainly wouldn’t call him wishy washy, however, he is not a firebrand (like the former bishop of St. Poelten, Kurt Krenn – whose seminary was basically a bath house, thanks to his very liberal admission policies). He makes public statements against abortion in a country where even the conservatives will attack the Church frequently on it. I’m very excited about meeting Cardinal Schoenborn for an interview in May, then I’ll be able to add a personal impression, too. Oh, and one more thing about that “DOA” archdiocese – I’ll meet him in the Archbishop’s palais which was stormed and smashed up by Hitler Youth in 1938. And, it’s also survived a much-hyped “referendum” by a group called “We are church” in the 90’s.

  15. Melody says:

    Stephen: With all due respect, I took five college semesters of Spanish and although many of the words are similiar, the language is pronounced very
    differently from Latin. In addition roughly 15% of Spanish words are based on Arabic, a result of the Moorish conquest of Spain. It is difficult for me to understand more than simple sentences (Like “Qui est veritas?”). I’m not saying we shouldn’t have the latin mass, but for the good of all our souls, the readings and sermon ought to be in the vernacular, or we lose the ancient purpose of this practice, which was to edify the people with the word of God. Also, being able to both see and hear scripture helps greatly in learning and memorization, given differed learning styles.

  16. Stephen M. Collins says:

    Melody. I’m sure you’re right. I do not speak Spanish, but while I lived and worked in Houston, I did have many occasions to sing it, and sometimes even prepare bilingual worship aids. And I still say that, for most Catholics with some college, the pronunciation of Spanish is closer to Latin than is the English. I have spoken to members of our congregation who have felt restrained from even attempting to sing the Latin, having absolutely no exposure to it. I believe it is a help to them to know that they do indeed know something!

    As to the REadings, I have no problem with them being in English for the New Mass, but I would never want to see that sort of change in the Old Mass. I wouldn’t mind seeing a return to people bringing their own personal worship aids, AKA Missals, to church with them, and getting rid of the news-print “missalettes”.

  17. Stephen M. Collins says:

    I’ve only heard a sermon in Latin one time in my whole life – and that was at a Latin Liturgy Association Convention Mass. I think I would have understood more (I only had 2 years of Latin in HS) if the Chapel AC had not been so noisy, and the priest had check his sound level before starting the Mass in an unfamiliar space.

    Having the Readings in Latin would cease, to a certain extent, the controversiallity of our English “translations”. We used to read along in our Missals using the Douay translation – one of the most significant translations in the history of the Church. It was the core of RC Biblical study for generations. But it was not allowed reach that exalted plane of a “liturgical translation” for some reason – mostly political and agendy driven.

  18. CPT Tom says:

    One danger in the coming multi propio is folks viewing the Mass of Pius V as a museum piece. It shouldn’t be. Ever has the church organically grown the liturgy. There were valid changes that needed and need to be made to the mass especially if it is to gain acceptance in most of the Church. A dialog version of the Mass, especially for low mass, would be a good change, as the low mass seems to me boring and could be prone to error just out of sheer boredom. I also think adding the old testament reading as the new mass does is one of the few good things the new mass has.

    I think repeating the readings before the homily in the vernacular is needed, because not everyone knows Latin well enough (particularly the very young and converts or potential converts) to follow along to get the full meaning of the readings.

  19. What’s with this “7dN4oYndu1″ anti-spam word? The Vatican protocol number of the motu proprio?

    At any rate, the complete Inside the Vatican interview with Archibishop Ranjith has finally been posted at

    http://www.insidethevatican.com/newsflash/2007/newsflash-feb21-07.htm

    The lead editorial in the February 2007 issue of ITV says

    “There are those who have argued that such a papal decision [as expected] will ’cause confusion,’ will be ‘too abrupt.’ But the decision which caused our current decision was the the decision after the Second Vatican Council to change the Mass abruptly. That decision was taken virtually overnight, without consultation with the faithful around the world. And so let the return of the old Mass be brusque, let it come quickly and decisively, as the banishment of the old Mass was quick and decisive.

    Does that last sentence nail it, or what?

  20. RBrown says:

    Yes, absolutely to the Dialog Mass! But I disagree with the priest facing the people or the Latin Readings at the Traditional Latin Mass. When the Subdeacon and Deacon chant the Readings at a Solemn High Mass, there is a symbolism to the direction they face, and the postition in the Sanctuary. There is also a similar symbolism to the Epistle side (facing the Altar straight) and the Gospel side (facing somewhat northwards) that the people should understand. (Some one feel free to jump in here as I don’t yet own a copy of Fortescue.)

    If there is legitimate symbolism to the way the subdeacon and deacon face at the solemn high mass, why is this symbolism not appropriate for the low public mass?

  21. If there is legitimate symbolism to the way the subdeacon and deacon face at the solemn high mass, why is this symbolism not appropriate for the low public mass?

    RBrown: So now – understanding the importance of the symbolism of the deacon proclaiming the Gospel to the north (the direction whence evil was considered to come) – I take it you would withdraw the earlier remark that you “see no reason why at public low Masses the Epistle and Gospel should not be read facing the people”? If, indeed, you feel that all symbolism in the solemn high Mass should be duplicated in a low Mass.

  22. Paul says:

    Gerald,

    I took Matthew’s comment to refer to “our friend in Los Angeles” of whom I know you are very familiar. As I live here in LA, I’m too painfully aware of what Matthew is referencing, although I don’t think it is “DOA.” As it happens, today is the 71st birthday of the Cardinal, so only years remain until he must submit his retirement notice. I am hopeful that, in four years time, your wonderful auxiliary bishop (who will be celebrating a TLM in Stamford, CT this weekend) will be ready to make the move 100 miles north.

    On the other hand, this weekend is the LA Religious Ed conference, another step on the road to flat-lining. :(

    BTW, I have seen references to anti-spam words, but I haven’t seen one in several weeks. I actually miss them.

  23. RBrown says:

    RBrown: So now – understanding the importance of the symbolism of the deacon proclaiming the Gospel to the north (the direction whence evil was considered to come) – I take it you would withdraw the earlier remark that you “see no reason why at public low Masses the Epistle and Gospel should not be read facing the people”?

    Not really. The somewhat northward stance is not maintained during high masses.

    If, indeed, you feel that all symbolism in the solemn high Mass should be duplicated in a low Mass.

    Huh? When did I say that all symbolism in a solemn high mass should be duplicated in a low mass?

    My point is that I think there should be certain differences between a public low mass and a private low mass, most of which (maybe all of which) would occur before the beginning of the canon, which is per se priestly.

  24. RBrown says:

    “There are those who have argued that such a papal decision [as expected] will ‘cause confusion,’ will be ‘too abrupt.’ But the decision which caused our current decision was the the decision after the Second Vatican Council to change the Mass abruptly. That decision was taken virtually overnight, without consultation with the faithful around the world. And so let the return of the old Mass be brusque, let it come quickly and decisively, as the banishment of the old Mass was quick and decisive.”

    Does that last sentence nail it, or what?

    I don’t think so. The various aspects of the slash and burn liturgical deformation (incl concelebration) in the 60’s and 70’s were contributing factors in the destruction of the lives of many priests and religious. They were often told that they were unsound psychologically because they couldn’t adjust to change (which of course sounds like the old Communist accusation of not being true to history).

    I think the de-restriction of the 1962 Missal should be carried out in charity–but that doesn’t mean continuing the 40 year long practice of babying dissenters.

  25. I think the de-restriction of the 1962 Missal should be carried out in charity—but that doesn’t mean continuing the 40 year long practice of babying dissenters.

    Of course I agree, even though Moynihan’s “brusque, quick, decisive” get-it-done insistence has a certain appealing cachet to those who have waited 40 years for something good, anything good, to start happening with the liturgy.

    What I do not agree with is the approach of the tepid pastor who thinks he’s doing his bit with the reform of the reform by introducing the Sanctus in Latin this Lent, the Agnus Dei next Lent, moving a statue back into the sanctuary this year, the tabernacle next year, etc.

  26. I think the de-restriction of the 1962 Missal should be carried out in charity

    Only now does it begin to sink in what an profound innovation in the liturgy you are suggesting. The very idea of introducing changes in the liturgy with charity – charity, charity, CHARITY! – is so breath-taking novel as to be virtually mind-boggling. Nothing like this has been suggested, even imagined, in the past 40 years. How on earth did you come up with such a fresh and startly idea?

  27. Melody says:

    “As to the Readings, I have no problem with them being in English for the New Mass, but I would never want to see that sort of change in the Old Mass. I wouldn’t mind seeing a return to people bringing their own personal worship aids, AKA Missals, to church with them, and getting rid of the news-print “missalettes”.”

    Why is this so? Not everyone can afford to buy a missal. Secondly, many people absorb text better when they hear it,which is why books on tape are popular. I have heard the scriptures chanted quite beautifully and reverantly in English. The style of Gregorian chant is not necesarily tied to the Latin language.

  28. M Kr says:

    There’s been some discussion about participation at Mass, and the direction and language of the readings. I’d like to give some of my opinions.

    One hears a lot of descriptions like Bishop Melcek’s of pre-Vatican II masses where the celebrant mumbled the prayers, no participation, etc. While I wasn’t born until well after Vatican II, I think that part of the problem was the too frequent celebration of low Mass (on Sundays). This is a problem that then Cardinal Ratzinger alluded to a few years ago at a liturgical conference. From what I gather the tendency to neglect Sung Mass was especially pronounced in North America. I have heard that there were parishes that only had Sung Mass on Easter and Christmas, and in other places often the Sung Mass was relegated to later morning and many folks didn’t give it much consideration. I have an old American 1950s Sunday Missal that is clearly only intended for low mass. Somebody onced remarked to me that there is nothing spectacular about Sung Mass, “you just get to sing along with the priest”. This is a very minimalist view of the role of music in the Church services and was, I gather, too prevalent. It is important to keep in mind that the Mass is essentially a chanted service with the music being an integral part and not just an embellishment. Historically speaking, low mass is an abridgement of High Mass, and not High Mass, an “embellishment” of low mass. Thus, in many places, Sunday worship was not very inspiring and it is no wonder that many did not feel a sense of loss after the changes in the sixties. The increase in the use of dialog mass in the twentieth century was good, but more energy should have been placed on promoting the Sung Mass as the main Mass and devoting more energy to it. (That is, Sung Mass is naturally a dialog mass and one can feel a lot more involved at Sung Mass.) If that had been the case, we would not hear as many descriptions as Bishop Melcek’s of the old days.

    As for the readings, it is quite appropriate for them to be in the vernacular and read (or chanted) facing the people. However, it is not wrong to read them facing the altar or the north since there is deep symbolism in that and there is great advantage in retaining Latin for the readings especially for the sense of continuity with tradition. At the old-rite parish that I attend, at Sunday Mass the readings are read in Latin and then in English at the lectern. This seems a good balance between the two dimensions of reading the Sctiptures in church (proclaiming them before God and proclaiming them to the people). However, for a weekday low Mass, it would be nice to hear the Scriptures in the vernacular and thus have them read facing the people and I hope that this will be allowed for the old rite eventually. It seems appropriate to reserve the Latin and eastward position to the solemn chanted proclamation for Sundays and Holydays.

    P.S. Even Archbishop Lefebvre viewed the reading of the Scriptures in the vernacular during Mass with favour and commented in one of his writings in the 70s that several SSPX communities did this.

  29. RBrown says:

    If I might offer a clarification:

    What adjustments might have been made 40 years ago to the 1962 Missal (as well as OP and OCart rites) re low public masses are one thing. I doubt there will be any change now–it is simply a bad idea when Rome is working to get the SSPX back in the fold.

    The opportunity to adjust the 1962 Missal is long past, and it will be years before another one arises. Those in charge simply blew it, snookered by a dreamy Community of Man ideology that they thought should have precedence over the propagation of the faith.

    On the other hand, there is the question of what changes to make with the Novus Ordo.

  30. Melody: “The style of Gregorian chant is not necesarily tied to the Latin language.”

    Yes, I think it is. Languages have internal rhythms. English texts with Gregorian melodies just isn’t very successful. Different musical forms should be used for English. This is something Anglicans developed.

  31. Melody says:

    I respectfully disagree Father, but only because of my own experiences of hearing the Carmelite nuns here chant the Divine Office in English and the wonderful priests at my parish chanting the readings for Easter liturgy. I wouldn’t say it sounds exactly like the Latin, but it does contain the same beauty of form.

    On a lighter note, I bought “An Idiot’s Guide to Learning Latin” today.

  32. Everyone’s an expert, I guess.

  33. Sean says:

    RBrown: The various aspects of the slash and burn liturgical deformation (incl concelebration) in the 60’s and 70’s were contributing factors in the destruction of the lives of many priests and religious. They were often told that they were unsound psychologically because they couldn’t adjust to change (which of course sounds like the old Communist accusation of not being true to history).

    Not forgetting the totalitarian-style blackening of the priests and religious who departed at that time as degenerates seduced by free-love, etc.

    Heroic Spirit of Vatican 2 Indoctrination Camp motto “We have never had an old mass. We have always had the new mass”.

  34. RBrown says:

    Some years ago I stopped in at the Trappist Abbey in Utah. Their English chant was surprisingly good.

    But it wasn’t–and can’t be–Gregorian chant.

    Latin meter is much different from English because Latin words seldom accent the final syllable. Because of inflection Latin words almost never end with a hard accent–they are often Dactylic (long, short, short) or trochaic (long, short). This inflection gives the language a soft, feminine sound, despite the regularity (and masculinity) of the rhythmn. Dactyl is a waltz rhythmn.

    On the other hand, English often uses one syllable words. This gives the language a certain hardness–like rock and roll, with its accent on the 2d and 4th beats (back beat).

    Thus compare:

    Super flumina Babylonis illic sedimus et flevimus

    to:

    By the waters of Babylon we sat and wept.

    In addition to the double short accents ending (and softening) flevimus, inflection has also produced the natural rhythm found in the phrase sedimus et flevimus.

  35. RBrown says:

    Heroic Spirit of Vatican 2 Indoctrination Camp motto “We have never had an old mass. We have always had the new mass”.

    I once heard it said of a professor at the Gregoriana: He thinks that nothing significant happened in the Church between the death of the Apostles and Vat II.

  36. Stephen M. Collins says:

    Hello Fr. Z.

    English texts to Gregorian chant are at best difficult. And most of the totally melismatic chants in the Graduale Romanum just don’t fit. You are correct. But there is the question of crafted “chant” melodies, patterned after the Gregorian, tha at least take the first step towards a chanted English Mass. And there’s also the question of the English translation itself! During the intereim (1965-70) we had a quite reasonable translation. It bordered on the Tudor English example of centuries of Anglicanism. And there WERE attempts to fit that language into the chant, but not by the masters of chant. And, ofcourse, all of that work was thrown out – by mandate! – when ICEL finished the 1974 Sacramentary. It was no longer even remotely possible to sing the Ordinary of the Mass to modified Gregorian chant! I contend that ICEL could have taken chanting texts into consideration – but they didn’t. Not do I believe that they will be successful in this current revision. The silver lining of this cloud would be that, if you want texts to Gregorian chant you’ll have to use the original Latin! But OTOH, all it would take is an “option” that, when and only when the Mass texts are sung, other translation would be permissable.

    While I was at Our Lady of Walsingham, we used both Gregorian and Anglican chant for the Propers. Introits and Communions work especially well with the Anglican chant being used for the Antiphon, and Psalm tones being used for the verses. Even the contemporary texts CAN work with the Psalm tones, with only an occasional note added at the cadence.

    And Anglican chant is one of the most ignored options to RC musicians. It really is most flexible. I’ve used it with both the 1928 and 1979 Prayerbook Psalters, NAB Psalm texts, Latin and Spanish Responsorial Psalm texts! The polyphonic verses of the Magnificat in both the Pius X and St. Gregory hymnals is the Anglican chant formula.

  37. Stephen M. Collins says:

    Quoting Meldy here:
    “Why is this so? Not everyone can afford to buy a missal.”
    A) It was a required text book purchase for everyone in parochial grade school. But that was in the 1960s when they were more affordable.
    B) At our church, we have some St. Andrew’s Missals available for thise who don’t have a personal Missal, and
    C) I print ALL of the translations – Readings, Collects, Prefaces, Propers – in the 11×17 tri-fold, along with all of the music to be sung.

    “Secondly, many people absorb text better when they hear it,which is why books on tape are popular.”
    Yes, some people. And yet I’ve had school teachers insist that many NEED to view the text rather than listen – even when the Lector is properly trained/

    “I have heard the scriptures chanted quite beautifully and reverantly in English. The style of Gregorian chant is not necesarily tied to the Latin language.”
    (See my previous comment.) Yes, the tones for the Readings are some of the easiest to use with the ICEL texts. I do them in my computer and supply them to my old friends at OLW even today, 4 years after moving away from Houston. As an Anglican Use parish, they use the RSV-RC Lectionary. But I would be just as happy to provide the same service for anyone else using the NAB. (Shameless plug to earn some extra spending money!)

  38. Stephen M. Collins says:

    Addendum:
    Our Pastor ennunciates all of the Latin out loud VERY well. He works hard at it. I find it very easy to follow along with the English translation while he’s reading in Latin. OTOH priests who insist on reading it too fast and too “privately” cannot be understood by even the Altar boys!