Question about singing Good Friday Passion in Extraordinary Form

I got this question via e-mail. Edited and with my emphases:

We have had the EF for five years now.  From the start, the Good Friday service in the old rite has been done very strictly.  All Latin, all Gregorian chant from the Liber.

I have strongly advocated that on Palm Sunday, that the Passion be chanted in English with the Gregorian setting (while the celebrant reads it in latin softly). After a two year hiatus during which the Passion was said aloud in English, we are chanting it again this year. There is some grumbling that this is not appropriate at the EF.  What is your opinion?

My opinion is that you should follow the books.

I don’t recall reading anything anywhere that foresees in the older books that the Passion could be sung in the manner you describe. 

I think you should just sing the Passion in Latin as it is.

Also, I don’t believe that in the 1962 form the celebrant read the Passion in Latin quietly by himself.

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32 Responses to Question about singing Good Friday Passion in Extraordinary Form

  1. Gloria Thiele says:

    At St. Stephen the First Martyr in Sacramento, California, on Good Friday our three FSSP priests sing the Passion from St. John’s Gospel. It is gripping, beautiful, unforgettable. One chants the narrator and Pilate in a conversational volume, one chants loudly the voices of the high priest and crowd, one chants the voice of Christ, in a low voice, softly and solemnly. Who needs English? We can follow the drama in English in our missal. I actually prefer to read the Gospel at home and simply listen and contemplate the scenes. I have a CD of the Good Friday Passion, sung in just this way. It brings tears to my eyes. Gloria

  2. AF says:

    Given Article 6 of Summorum Pontificum:

    In Masses celebrated in the presence of the people in accordance with the Missal of Bl. John XXIII, the readings may be given in the vernacular, using editions recognised by the Apostolic See.

    Could not the Passion be chanted in English and the Latin be dispensed with altogether?

  3. Terth says:

    Perhaps the upcoming clarification document from Rome will clear this up, but isn’t one of the “books” that is to be followed regarding the ancient use Summorum Pontificum itself? In there didn’t the Holy Father permit using approved vernacular texts for the Scripture readings the Extraordinary Form?

    I remember reading here, whether by Father or a commenter I do not remember, that it is unclear what that statement in SP meant. But didn’t the Holy Father say this was allowed?

  4. Ken says:

    One of the greatest parts of Palm Sunday is hearing a High Mass where the priest saying Mass reads the Passion of Saint Matthew silently at the altar in Latin, while three deacons chant the Passion in Latin facing the congregation from the sanctuary:
    http://www.musicasacra.com/pdf/matthew-passion.pdf

    I hope people organizing traditional Latin Masses aren’t going to try to change this. There are plenty of novus ordo liturgies where you can go hear the Passion in English.

    (The same goes for the Passion of Saint Mark on Tuesday in Holy Week, the Passion of Saint Luke on Spy Wednesday and the Passion of Saint John on Good Friday.

  5. Ken: In the 1962 of the Triduum rites, the celebrant does not say the Passion alone.

  6. Joshua says:

    Leaving aside the question of vernacular, the way the query put it sounds wrong

    Ideally three deacons of the passion come out at this time and chant the various parts. This even if there is no subdeacon or deacon at the Mass. If say you have deacon, and subdeacon and lack three extras, then the deacon of the Mass can take a part, and even the subdeacon if he is at least in diaconal orders. McManus says that if you only have the deacon of the Mass then he may chant two of the parts, with the priest taking Christus.

    In the ritus simplex where there are no deacons then the priest, even in a sung Mass, may recite it aloud in Latin and omit the chant. If there are three deacons available, they come out as normal. If only two, then the celebrant retains his chasuble and chants the Christus. The schola/choir is only allowed to sing those parts of the Synagoga that are crowd parts, not those of individual persons.

    Here we are having the celebrant chant, with the assistance of one deacon of the passion, and the schola taking up the crowd parts.

    A BIG NOTE. What ken posted for the passion can be used, but it is outdated. 35 verses at the beginning were cut, and the last 6 (all but 14 of these were restored in the longer form for the NO). So you start on “Venit Jesus” and end on the word “abiit”. Also, the rubrics are wrong. In the 1962 you do say the Munda cor meum, and jube domne before the whole thing. If there are just deacons, they say it kneeling and ask Father’s bless as at Solemn Mass. If the priest joins, though, the deacons kneel and he bows saying the munda cor meum, and they all say the jube domine as at low Mass.

  7. Petrus says:

    Gloria: Is that cd available for purchase anywhere?

  8. Ben Fratto says:

    Fr.
    Does a legally blind priest have an indult to say the Extraordinary Form using Marian Propers through the year all year? (Ex. the missal this priest friend has is large print and has only Marian masses that change per liturgical season)

    Does the blind priest have to say the propers for Sundays or Solemnities?

    If he is required to say the Sunday/Solemnity propers, what would be appropriate to use, a large piece of paper with the enlarged print from the standard missal?

    If not, and he is permitted to say the Marian mass on Sunday’s Should the choir sing the Marian or the mass of the day?

    Lastly, Does which color does he wear? Example a weekday in Lent, Mary’s mass or violet.

    Thank you,
    Ben Fratto
    St. Peter’s Merchantville, NJ

  9. Henry Edwards says:

    Could not the Passion be chanted in English and the Latin be dispensed with altogether?

    Article 6 says that readings in the vernacular are allowed. Does it also say that the readings in Latin can be omitted? In other words, is it vernacular readings instead of Latin readings — or only vernacular readings in addition to Latin readings — that are allowed?

  10. Joshua says:

    Mr. Fratto,

    If you have the Celebration of the Mass by O’Connell he treats of that indult, as well as others (one handed priests for instance). If don’t remember everything, but I do remember this: 1. the priest must always have another priest assisting him. 2. He just says the Marian Mass, not any proper prayers.

    If I am not mistaken he wouldn’t offer Masses pro populo. If Fr. Z doesn’t get back to you I will…I have the book and I will look it up.

  11. Diane says:

    Fr. Perrone had a beautiful Good Friday service, mostly in the vernacular with regards to singing (the entire passion was done like an opera with priests, choir and “narrator” soloists).

    However, he is aiming this year to give us one according to the 1962 Missal. I must say that I will dearly miss the way the Passion was done – for now.

    I’m sure I will like it the way we will have it from here on out, as I usually do just flow with it.

    Our service on Good Friday is typically packed. Hopefully, it will be this year too.

  12. Sacristy_rat says:

    I agree that the Motu Proprio allows the scriptures to be proclaimed in the vernacular. It seems SO clear that I can’t see why one needs clarification on the matter. If it were a matter of exclusively using Latin for the readings it would seem that the mention of vernacular readings would be unnecessary.

    I have no use for scripture readings in Latin. The scriptures were always intended to edify the faithful. The orations, preface, canon… Latin seems unquestionable. The readings are an entirely different matter. In fact I would argue that that was pretty much the extent of the liturgical reform, in an authentic sence, that the second Vatican Council called for.

    In the same manner I don’t argue that Latin readings should be FORBIDDEN.

    Think of amatures up there singing in recto tone the Passion, the prophesies in the Vigil…. put me to sleep…

  13. Sacristy_rat says:

    I agree that the Motu Proprio allows the scriptures to be proclaimed in the vernacular. It seems SO clear that I can\’t see why one needs clarification on the matter. If it were a matter of exclusively using Latin for the readings it would seem that the mention of vernacular readings would be unnecessary.

    I have no use for scripture readings in Latin. The scriptures were always intended to edify the faithful. The orations, preface, canon… Latin seems unquestionable. The readings are an entirely different matter. In fact I would argue that that was pretty much the extent of the liturgical reform, in an authentic sence, that the second Vatican Council called for.

    In the same manner I don\’t argue that Latin readings should be FORBIDDEN.

    Think of amatures up there singing in recto tone the Passion, the prophesies in the Vigil…. put me to sleep…

  14. Gloria says:

    Petrus, the title of the CD is “I Am With You,” and is available online from Paraclete Press. I think I got mine from our parish bookstore. It is the third of a series by the Gloriae Dei Cantores Schola, conducted by Dr. Mary Berry. They are wonderful. Pax tecum. Gloria

  15. Terth says:

    Henry, if the Ordo Missae contains Introit, Collect, Epistle, Gradual, Gospel, Canon, Postcommunion, etc., and SP said “the readings” (or something to that effect) could be read using approved vernacular texts, then wouldn’t the only meaning of that be that what is to be done as part of the text of the Holy Mass may be done in the vernacular?
    Meaning: it’s usual for a priest to read the Scripture readings in English before the homily, or perhaps to have someone else read the readings in English while the priest reads them in Latin at their proper time from the altar – but these actions are not “part” of the Holy Mass. Even though the servers/people may say “Thanks be to God,” or cross our forehead, lips, and heart, etc., that doesn’t make THOSE readings an actual part of the Mass. But if the Holy Father said that these particular parts of the Mass (Lesson/Epistle and Gospel) could be done in the vernacular, that seems like something entirely different.

  16. Terth says:

    p.s. I’ve never seen a layman proclaim the Gospel while the priest is reading it from the altar. I’ve only seen the priest re-read the Gospel in English; just thought I’d clarify.

  17. Henry Edwards says:

    Sacristy_rat and Terth: Evidently there is a range of opinion on the question. As, for instance, that of Fr. Kenneth Baker, SJ in the NLM post quoted below:

    “Many of you may have seen tonight’s EWTN special on Summorum Pontificum. During this show, Msgr. Moroney, secretary of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy, asserted that the motu proprio gives permission for the readings of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite to be rendered from the Lectionary that belongs to the Ordinary Form. Fr. Kenneth Baker, Editor of Homiletic and Pastoral Review, politely disagreed and asserted that this is not the case. Rather, Baker said, it refers to permission for the priest to read the lessons in the vernacular after they had been read in Latin. He bases this interpretation from his reading of the official Latin text of the motu proprio, which says that the readings may also be done in the vernacular.”

    “Moreover, Baker referred to the custom in France and Germany–different from that in the U.S., where the readings are read together in the vernacular before the homily–of doing the vernacular of each lesson immediately following it. For instance, the priest would read the Epistle in Latin facing the altar, then turn around and face the people while reading the Epistle in the vernacular.”

  18. Henry Edwards says:

    I might mention also another European usage I’ve heard of. That of another priest (or deacon) proclaiming the Gospel from the pulpit while the celebrant reads it in Latin at the altar. While this would not appear to be envisioned in the 1962 rubrics, a possible interpretation of Article 6 of Summorum Pontificum is that this practice is now permissible (as per Fr. Baker’s “also” in the Latin original).

    Perhaps all this is not so clear as it may seem at first, and will ultimately require PCED clarification. (Unless there’s already a definitive statement somewhere that I’ve missed.)

  19. Richard says:

    The tenor of this discussion is unsettling. With all this mischief, the Traditional Mass will be unrecognizable in ten years.

  20. David2 says:

    Sacristy Rat:

    “I agree that the Motu Proprio allows the scriptures to be proclaimed in the vernacular. It seems SO clear that I can’t see why one needs clarification on the matter.”

    It needs clarification because people keep using bad English translations.

    Summorum Pontificum article 6 reads:

    Art. 6. In Missis iuxta Missale B. Ioannis XXIII celebratis cum populo, Lectiones proclamari possunt etiam lingua vernacula, utendo editionibus ab Apostolica Sede recognitis.

    In other words, the readings may also be proclaimed in the vernacular. That is, you’ve got to do the Latin, then you may do the English.

    One of the real tragedies of the last 40 years is that prideful disobedience to liturgical norms has become so entrenched that even supporters of the EF feel free to do what they please with the liturgy. “Hey wouldn’t it be good if we read this bit in English…how about doing the “Dominus vobiscum” in Farsi….hey, why don’t we all go nuts at the “kiss of peace”. Hey, the Motu Proprio doesn’t expressly forbid “liturgical dancers” and “altar girls”…

    Come on, people. Use a little common sense. Say the Black, do the Red. It’s not rocket science.

  21. David2 says:

    Richard, my point exactly. People have got to stop indulging their “creativity” like this. The ink on Summorum Pontificum is barely dry and the “spirit of Bugnini” is looking for ways to replicate the worst of the Novus Ordo in the 1962 Missale Romanum.

  22. David2 says:

    Oh, and Sacristy Rat (who has no use for the scriptures in the language of the Church) – why do you imply that us “dumb ol’ faithful” are too stupid, or ignorant, or badly catechized to be edified by scriptural readings in the language of the Church? If there’s one thing that really gets up my nose, its the contemptful condescention of litugical reformers. Some smart-arse liturgists seem to begin every second sentence with “The faithful are too simple to know/understand…”, or words to that effect. Heaven forbid that we actually teach people a little Latin. Jews can learn Hebrew. Moslems can learn Arabic. But we Catholics are just too lazy or dumb, or whatever, to bother with a sacred language. So keep feeding us dumb ol’ oxen in the pews on mashed up vegetables and milk, ’cause we’re not capable of digesting solid food, and never will be…

  23. Terth says:

    I’m certainly not advocating a wholesale dumping of the rendering of Scripture in Latin during the Mass: what was sacred and venerable then is sacred and venerable now. That being said, and considering it’s perhaps unwise to be doing exegesis on a translated text, I don’t think the “also” in SP must mean “again.” Doesn’t “that can ‘also’ be done” usually mean “you can do it this way or that way”?

    In other words, the readings have always been given in Latin, from the codification of the Mass after the Council of Trent (and before) right up until today. Then the Holy Father said priests of the Roman Rite have the faculties and the right to offer Holy Mass using either the Missale Romanum promulgated in 1962 or that promulgated in 2002. And if you use the older form, which assumes all the ordinary and proper parts in Latin, the readings may “also” (that is alternatively) be done in Latin.

    Why would the Holy Father say that the readings may be given in the vernacular according to an approved text if that is almost always done already? It’s hard to believe the real import of that statement is that they be done using an approved text. I’d assume priests offering Mass according to the older form haven’t been using willy-nilly translations for the readings and only now would use an approved translation.

    But if that’s what the Holy Father meant and that’s what Rome will clarify, then let us have now what was sacred then.

  24. Joshua is correct when he says that the portion of the Passion after the word “abiit”, i.e. the part sung by the deacon alone, is omitted in the 1962 Missal. It is a loss however since the chant for this portion is hauntingly beautiful as one can see by simply going to this part of the Passion as it is given here and reading the chant. I am grateful to Ken for supplying this older version.

  25. Jack007 says:

    Thought I would kill two birds here, given Father’s generosity in posting pics of Lenten veiling of images in various churches. A pic of Palm Sunday last year (looks the same every year) in our FSSP parish, here in Kansas City; Blessed Sacrament.
    Only the crucifix is veiled as we have to share this church with the NO…
    Father Wolfe is chanting the Passion from the altar and his assistant Father Gordon is at the ambo chanting his part, facing sideways.

    http://www.jack007.com/PalmSunday.jpg

    Jack in KC

  26. David2 says:

    Great picture Jack. Most NO churches I have been in veil their statues after the fifth Sunday of Lent. I don’t know why some people think that the NO forbids veiling. Usually the same folks who want to forbid kneeling, and hate Communion on the tongue…

  27. Matt Q says:

    David2 wrote:

    “Summorum Pontificum article 6 reads:

    Art. 6. In Missis iuxta Missale B. Ioannis XXIII celebratis cum populo, Lectiones proclamari possunt etiam lingua vernacula, utendo editionibus ab Apostolica Sede recognitis.”

    ()

    Yes, editions recognized by the Apostolic See. So, since the Douay-Rheims is what the Tridentine Missal uses, let’s use that in the Novus Ordo Masses. Sounds good in an EF Mass.

    Davdi2 wrote further:

    One of the real tragedies of the last 40 years is that prideful disobedience to liturgical norms has become so entrenched that even supporters of the EF feel free to do what they please with the liturgy. “Hey wouldn’t it be good if we read this bit in English…how about doing the “Dominus vobiscum” in Farsi….hey, why don’t we all go nuts at the “kiss of peace”. Hey, the Motu Proprio doesn’t expressly forbid “liturgical dancers” and “altar girls”…

    Come on, people. Use a little common sense. Say the Black, do the Red. It’s not rocket science.

    Richard, my point exactly. People have got to stop indulging their “creativity” like this. The ink on Summorum Pontificum is barely dry and the “spirit of Bugnini” is looking for ways to replicate the worst of the Novus Ordo in the 1962 Missale Romanum.

    Oh, and Sacristy Rat (who has no use for the scriptures in the language of the Church) – why do you imply that us “dumb ol’ faithful” are too stupid, or ignorant, or badly catechized to be edified by scriptural readings in the language of the Church? If there’s one thing that really gets up my nose, its the contemptful condescention of litugical reformers. Some smart-arse liturgists seem to begin every second sentence with “The faithful are too simple to know/understand…”, or words to that effect. Heaven forbid that we actually teach people a little Latin. Jews can learn Hebrew. Moslems can learn Arabic. But we Catholics are just too lazy or dumb, or whatever, to bother with a sacred language. So keep feeding us dumb ol’ oxen in the pews on mashed up vegetables and milk, ‘cause we’re not capable of digesting solid food, and never will be…”

    ()

    Said very well, David. Said very well.

  28. frPaul says:

    To argue that the use of the word “etiam” in the permission for vernacular readings implies they must be said in Latin first is, quite simply, ignorance of the meanng of the Latin word “etiam”. Moreover, in continental Europe it has been common (although not universal) for many years for the scripture reading to be read only in the vernacular. The “purists” do not reason how big an obstacle Latin readings are to potential newcomers to the TLM.

  29. Ken says:

    Father, with all due respect, newcomers do not make the trip to a traditional Latin Mass to hear English.

  30. techno_aesthete says:

    Dear Fr. Z., while your headline refers to the Good Friday Passion, the main question of the correspondent is about the singing of the Passion on Palm Sunday.

  31. techno: I think pretty much the same would apply to Palm Sunday.

  32. Terth says:

    I can’t help but notice that Father hasn’t given any statement in these comments on whether he would read Summorum Pontificum has allowing the readings in the vernacular alone. You did say to follow the books (and we can all agree on that one, right?), and that you think the Passion ought to be proclaimed in Latin. But is that to say your reading of the legislation presently in force is that the readings must always be in Latin, and must always be only so?