I received a question via e-mail from a reader. It concerns the use of music at a low Mass in the usus antiquior.
Can we have some knowledgeable people help this nice person?
I have a question. My pastor is planning on adding the 1962 Mass to the weekday schedule. He is going to say a low Mass every Thursday, and has been training with the priest who does our monthly diocesan indult Mass.
I direct the choir that sings chant and sacred polyphony at one of our Sunday N.O. Masses. Our organist, who directs the Polish choir says that the proper antiphons cannot be sung at a low Mass, only hymns. So, that sounds like, on Thursdays we will have a lot of Polish hymns and maybe a couple of Latin Hymns sung almost continuously while Father and the servers say Mass in silence.
Is this true? I would like to prepare to sing the proper introit, offertory, etc, but if they are not permitted at a low Mass, then what we are going to have is a Mass filled with (I hate to say it) the same shlocky Polish hymns we sing at our daily N.O. Mass.
I understand that this music would be fairly continuous throughout the Mass, so there will be no silence, no chant, nothing that makes the 1962 Mass attractive to people.
So that’s my question. Is this true? Are the proper antiphons not permitted at a low Mass?
(I’m hoping that in the future Father will feel confident enough to attempt a high Mass.)
Thank you Father.
I can see a couple problems.
It really sounds like you need to do a Missa cantata rather than a low Mass.
Low Mass moves along pretty quickly. I don’t think you would have a lot of time for the proper chants.
A Missa cantata without sacred ministers can be done in two ways, a simpler and a more solemn form.
In the first case, you pretty much follow the rubrics for low Mass. The priest sings all that is sung at a Solemn Mass, including the Gospel and the Ite, etc. He can sit while the choir sings the Gloria or Sequence or Creed. A server who is a cleric in surplice could sing the Epistle and then the priest would not say it himself but only listen. The choir could sing pretty much everything they would sing at a Solemn Mass. There wouldn’t be incense but there could be torchbearers.
The fancier form is like the above, but… well… fancier. This would be the form that was often used in places instead of a Solemn Mass.
I am sure some of the readers here will have some personal experiences of this simpler form of the sung Mass, so close to the low Mass but with music.
I think there can be a little flexibility in light of the music notes of the Holy See from the Second Vatican Council and after. For example, I think we could tolerate also that women might be able to sing in church in a choir even without the explicit permission of the local bishop. I think we could permit that they sing Gregorian chant or there could be women in a schola cantorum. I think we might be able to allow women to stand also near where the men are if there is a mixed choir when women must substitute for boys as sopranos and altos. It would be nice if people attending might also sing the Ordinary in Gregorian chant, as is recommended by Pius XI in Divini cultus, Sacrosanctum Concilium 36 and 54 and by Benedict XVI in Sacramentum caritatis 62.