I got this from a reader.
I have always wondered about the sound during TLM’s. Now first off, I have only attended one low Mass. It was a beautiful experience, however I found myself wishing that I could hear some of the beautiful Latin prayers. I am not speaking of the prayers that are to be said softly or inaudibly, but rather the prayers said aloud by the priest and server. Since the Mass was in a largish church (I was only about 8 rows back from the front), I could hear nothing of these audible prayers. Mostly, I could not even hear murmuring or sound of any kind when the parts were being spoken. The only way I could follow in the missal was by the priests gestures (which was still easy to follow).
Here is my question: Wouldn’t it be beneficial for the people to hear the audible prayers of the priest and server?
I am not proposing wireless microphones or anything, but perhaps a simple (hidden) microphone near that altar that could pick-up these audible prayers. To keep the proper “feel” of the Mass, the levels would need to be kept low. The words should not be as loud as at the usual novus ordo Mass, but should sound natural. I wonder if this would particularly help those who are transitioning from the novus ordo.
I am very interested to hear your opinion on this and it may provide some interesting debate, as well.
Thank you for all the wonderful work that is accomplished through your blog. You have taught me much about the Faith, and for that I am very, very grateful.
Yes, I am sure there will be debate.
I think that the prayers which should be audible should be, well, audible. I don’t necessarily think that the priest or altar should be miked but they should be pronounced at a reasonable level so that people can hear them from a reasonable distance, even in a large church. Furthermore, the servers should say the prayers audibly also. I am all for the role of servers as "representatives" for the people, but they should learn to say the prayers well and will a reasonable tone of voice.
Also, keep in mind that Holy Popes of yesteryear also advocated that the congregation make responses together with the servers. I explained the various ways that can be done in another post.
What we encounter quite often is a rigid attitude of total silence, especially imposed by some members of the congregation who think it is a capital crime to utter anything, such as a response to Dominus vobiscum. These types will often hiss down or glare at those who dare to respond with Et cum spiritu tuo so as to intimidate others into the sort of silence they think is appropriate.
Surely we should do our best to fit with the prevailing sense of the congregation and the style of the place where we attended, provided it is reasonable. On the other hand, we also must recognize that during Holy Mass the congregation does have a role. A proper understanding of "active participation" also opens outward, to external expressions too. In the TLM those are mostly the quiet responses to the priest’s invitations, and so forth.
Again, I don’t think the microphone is the best solution. As a matter of fact, this is why the paradigmatic Mass of the Roman Rite is sung: so that it can be audible. But neither should anyone be shouting for the sake of filling the space to the farthest pew.