From a reader:
I’d value your opinion. I attended Mass today at a parish run by a new, quite traditional community of priests that regularly uses the Extraordinary Form. Today they celebrated a reverent Ordinary Form Mass but the priest brought in two things common to the EF.
First, at the Gloria (which was chanted in Latin from Mass VIII) the priest sat down, as did everyone else. Should a short Gloria be sung seated?
Second, the Benedictus was choral and rather long, and the priest started the Eucharistic Prayer silently and was well along by the time the Benedictus was over. Is this allowed or advisable in the EF?
Ad 1ª: I guess that depends on how short short is. That is a bit subjective. Frankly, I think any chant from Mass VIII is a little long, but I don’t prefer Mass VIII. On the other hand, the Mass of Creation and some other settings seems, to me, interminable. I’ll take Mass VIII any day in that case. But, for the sitting down…. I guess you have to make the call. The rubrics indicate that the Gloria is sung standing. On the other hand, if the whole congregation isn’t singing, and the Gloria (or any other chant for Mass) is long-ish, then I see nothing wrong with having people sit (including the celebrant).
This is where the “mutual enrichment” of the two forms can be helpful. Sung Masses were around a long time before the Novus Ordo. There were centuries to work out the best way to do things and the old ways seemed to work pretty well.
Ad 2ª: You mention the Benedictus. Could it be you meant the Sanctus? In the practice of the Extraordinary Form, the priest, having sung the Preface, would recite the Sanctus quietly while the schola or other choir began the sung version. Once the priest was done with the Sanctus, he moved straight into the Canon, since the Preface, Sanctus and Canon all form a whole. If the musical setting was longer, as is the case with many polyphonic and orchestral settings, once the Sanctus was concluded the choir would stop when they came to the Benedictus. They would begin the Benedictus after the two-fold consecration.
Again, for the Ordinary Form…. I think we can take a clue from the “mutual enrichment” desired by Pope Benedict. Before his election he even mused in his writings about the usefulness of having a silent Canon from time to time in the Novus Ordo.
Keep in mind that in the older form of Holy Mass, it was essential that the priest, if no one else, said all the texts. In the Novus Ordo it is foreseen that, if other people are present, many of the texts are said by priest and people together (e.g. Gloria, Sanctus/Benedictus).
For the Ordinary Form, the Novus Ordo, the rubrics indicate that there should be no music during the Eucharistic Prayer. I have firmly in mind the piano bar style rubbish that tinkled from the ivories in during the consecration in the chapel of our seminary… piano… an absurd instrument for a church… but I digress.
That brings me to another point. I wonder, now as I write this, whether the prohibition of music during the Eucharistic Prayer wasn’t aimed at prohibiting musical accompaniment of the Eucharistic Prayer itself. Could it be that the prohibition of music during the Eucharistic Prayer doesn’t extend to the Sanctus/Benedictus? Hmmmm… I wonder.
In any event, in the OF if there is to be a sung Sanctus/Benedictus (undivided), everything generally comes to a halt and the priest/bishop stands at the altar waiting for it to conclude… which can take while when they were written by Haydn.
I have a great memory of doing something like this. For an orchestral Mass in the Novus Ordo the practice in the place was to begin the Canon quietly as the orchestra and choir did their thing, as in the older form. However, in this case, after the consecration the Benedictus was quite a bit longer than the text of the rest of the Canon. Thus, there I stood, deacon by my side, waiting for the conclusion of the Benedictus. The choir sang, the fiddles scraped, the horns blew… Beeeenediiiiiiictus…. tus…. tus…. qui veeeeeeeenit… venit venit veeeeeenit, in nomine Doooooooooooooominiiiiiii…. qui venit qui venit qui venit….. You get the idea. After about the 300th “qui venit“, I heard the deacon mutter, “I wish he’d hurry up and get here.”
The point is, the division of the Sanctus/Benedictus was done to help keep the Mass a reasonable length and still have the glorious music the liturgy and the people deserve.
We should be willing to dig into the treasury of the Church’s sacred music and then apply common sense to its use. If it is a little long, sit down. If it is going to be quite long, get on with the Canon…. unless of course people don’t mind Mass getting pretty long.
Again, I am all for saying… singing the black and doing the red. At the same time, I am also for common sense and paying attention to the mutual enrichment the Holy Father desired, which must go beyond issues of text and calendars. Priests and liturgists of the liberal stripe do all sort of goofy things that are not in keeping with either the rubrics of the Ordinary Form or our tradition. Surely what our ancestors… remember, this is all within living memory… did for so long is not wicked or contumacious. The former seems truly out of bounds to me. The later, well… taking a clue from the Roman Pontiff… I think we have to use some common sense.
It sure would be helpful to have some of this loosened up a bit, and get some direction from Rome on these matters of mutual enrichment…. gravitational pull. But I digress.
To use our great treasury of music, written for the Roman Rite, we have to also consider what our forebears did to accommodate that music within our sacred rites. They had it worked out.
All these things having been said: If you are in doubt, use the Extraordinary Form for some occasions when the music seems more appropriate for it. It is a shame to have to sequester it that way, for I believe that the great flexibility permitted for music in the Novus Ordo was intended for the vast spectrum of truly sacred artistic music, not so much most of the rubbish that has passed for liturgical music for the last decades.
Nevertheless, it just seems that the more the Ordinary Form is adjusted in the direction of the Extraordinary Form, the better we are able to seek – in the Ordinary Form – that continuity within our tradition which is of such critical importance today.