QUAERITUR: Should people make responses during the Traditional Latin Mass?

From a reader:

I have been attending the TLM almost exclusively for four years now. Where I used to live the responses were always given by the servers and we were expected to unite ourselves silently. However I’ve just moved and here there is a bit of tension around whether the congregation should say the responses or not. Is there any reason they should or shouldn’t?

I think people should make the responses.

Popes of the 20th century were speaking about “active participation” before the Second Vatican Council. They advocated making responses. The Holy See then clarified the different ways or “levels” of vocally active participation, depending on the sort of Mass being celebrated and the occasion.

In a nutshell, before the Council, it was strongly encouraged that people make responses, especially at Solemn and Sung Masses. This applied often to Low Masses as well, the so-called dialogue Mass.

Is there a good reason why not to respond? Why not to respond “Et cum spirit tuo“, for example?

It is hard for me to think of one.

As a matter of fact, it would be great for congregations who are capable of doing so to sing the Ordinary chants (Kyrie, Gloria, etc.), though that takes a while to learn.

I don’t think people should be bludgeoned into responding by someone with a microphone waving her hand around, as often happens with affliction liturgy in the Novus Ordo.

The argument is sometimes made that since all the responses are texts of Mass they should therefore be spoken by clerics or those who substitute for clerics (such as a choir).

That said, if no one else at the place you are going makes responses – at all – then I don’t recommend making them loudly all by yourself.

I think it would be good for congregations to make responses. People don’t have to shout, but they should not just sit there when they have been addressed by the priest.

The bottom line is, however, that the first and foremost way of active participation, which should give rise to any exteriorly active participation, is the interiorly active receptivity we should foster during every Mass. Active participation begins within and then gives rise to outward expression.

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87 Responses to QUAERITUR: Should people make responses during the Traditional Latin Mass?

  1. Phil_NL says:

    I must say I just don’t get the logic behind “The argument is sometimes made that since all the responses are texts of Mass they should therefore be spoken by clerics or those who substitute for clerics (such as a choir).” The choir is, under normal circumstances, just as lay as the rest of the congregation. The only difference would be that they sing better. Now not being able to sing properly isn’t going to be an issue when the responses are spoken, so I fail to see why the choir would in any sense be special; if the choir can substitute for a cleric, so can the congregation, of which the choir is a part.

    What I do understand is the logic behind people who wish to say the rosary throughout the Mass, and therefore dislike the responses. As I believe that the aim of assisting at Mass is to unite oneself spiritually to the Mass, rather than the rosary, I still disagree with their conclusion, but at least that argument is coherent.

    As an aside, it still is a better problem to have than what one sees in quite a few NO Masses, where the problem is that the congregation gives too many ‘responses’, i.e. joins in on parts reserved for the priest (thankfully being subtly discouraged now in this country). Not to mention the occasional priest who invites that bad habit…

  2. maskaggs says:

    At the Extraordinary Form Masses at Indianapolis’s Holy Rosary, the congregation makes all responses in their Missae Cantantae, to quite the edifying effect. There’s a very clear community dynamic at play there – no passive congregation, this one – both when responding and when praying silently.

  3. Mary Jane says:

    I attend the high EF every Sunday – and I sing in choir – and the congregation sings all the responses. If we are singing a well-known chant mass setting the congregation also sings the ordinaries of the mass with us. Of course if we’re singing a polyphonic (or less well-known chant) mass setting, they don’t sing the ordinaries (but they still do sing the responses). For low masses, our FSSP pastor prefers that the congregation not make audible responses.

  4. APX says:

    The argument is sometimes made that since all the responses are texts of Mass they should therefore be spoken by clerics or those who substitute for clerics (such as a choir).
    I don’t think this argument holds any weight since in the absence of a server, a lay woman is permitted to make the responses for the priest from the outside of the sanctuary. I also know of one woman who has done this when her priest-son would say Mass privately on vacation, thus have no server. Obviously he could have made the responses himself, and given that he’s verrry rubrical, I can’t see him doing something that isn’t allowed.

  5. Jon says:

    I attend an FSSP parish, and sing in the schola.

    One evening, several years ago, my wife and I had to our house one of the best known priests in the Fraternity. I asked him what he thought of the “Dialogue Mass.” His response, tongue only half in cheek, was four words, “the Abomination of Desolation.”

    I know all the arguments for, both historical and pastoral. My personal feeling is that congregational response is too close to Enlightenment principles and Bugninism. [Weird.]

    Perhaps in another five hundred years we can reconsider.

  6. Jana says:

    I would give the responses only if I was very, very bored. Responses kill the possibility for contemplation. Not many people are contemplative, but those who are, hate responses, both in EF and OF. [?!? How amazing you are! You can speak for everyone in the world who has a contemplative side!] Torture.

  7. rtjl says:

    I am contemplative and I say the responses (along with the congregation) at the TLM I attend – and I love them. I find no real tension between vocal prayer and contemplative prayer. In fact, I fa\ind that they flow in and out of one another.

  8. Random Friar says:

    People should participate. Giant puppets should not participate, with the exception of participating in the Easter Fire.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  9. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Where there is a certain clear antiphonal character to the chanting of the Credo, with the choir singing ‘their’ parts more loudly and the ‘congregational’ parts more softly, is it improper for one to do the opposite and sing along softly with the choir during ‘their’ parts?

  10. Jana says:

    Rtjl: Complicated and difficult to argue… When I read my breviary (OP, 1962), I concentrate on the words and try to make it as “perfect” as possible. But during the mass – no, never. I love the priest doing the whole thing, me just accepting – holding the pew not to levitate..:-) In the moment I would actively concentrate on the words, it is over. The words can come, but just now and then. I always feel pity for the priest who must concentrate on the words all the time.

  11. jasoncpetty says:

    Control freaks gonna control. The beauty of the Catholic Mass is that participatio actuosa can take on a number of forms. For some, that means following along silently in their missal; some pray the Rosary; for others it’s loudly and badly singing the Ordinary; some just kneel or sit quietly. Who am I to judge when none of the foregoing are breaking the law? As they say, nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali. And if you want contemplation, join a contemplative monastery—but when you’re in a parish, well, here comes everybody.

  12. acricketchirps says:

    Don’t get me wrong; I’m in favor of the Dialogue Mass where a Missa Cantata is not possible. It’s just that I would be happier if the congregation made its responses secreto.

  13. Jana says:

    jasoncpetty: Agree with you. I have nothing against other people doing what suits them, absolutelly nothing against small children running around for example. My point was – I do not like to be forced myself to make the responses, to sit/stand/kneel…

  14. Mary Jane says:

    “I do not like to be forced myself to make the responses, to sit/stand/kneel…”

    You don’t sit/stand/kneel at the appointed times during mass?

  15. B Knotts says:

    I try to “go with the flow.” At one parish in the area, the people only vocally respond at a couple of specific places. In fact, I got the stink-eye for singing (barely audibly) once. So, when I assist at Holy Mass there, I keep quiet.

    At my regular parish, we sometimes have the Dominican Rite, and the people tend towards a bit more vocal activity, so I join in.

  16. pelerin says:

    Some interesting comments here. I tend to whisper the ‘Et cum spiritu tuo’ and ‘Gloria tibi Domine’ etc as nobody else seems to join in. I find the responses automatic even after such a long period without the EF. They were once second nature to me and when I was once again able to attend an EF I was surprised that it all came back so easily. I am able to sing the Gloria and Creed entirely from memory whereas I find I have to look at the words to say them in English now – although I do love the new translation. I suppose I have reached an age when calling words to memory is more difficult!

  17. jbas says:

    I don’t understand why the Vatican’s 1958 instruction “De Musica Sacra et Sacra Liturgia” hasn’t yet resolved this question. This authoritative document treats both congregational singing of the Ordinary–and also the “dialogue Mass”–in positive and encouraging terms.

  18. chantgirl says:

    If people who are not Catholic, or who are Catholic but not familiar with the EF come, it can be less intimidating if there is a certain freedom of posture, response, and participation. They can observe without standing out, and take things at their own pace. I know that the structure of Mass shouldn’t be dictated by the whims of the people in the pew, but where the Church gives us freedom, it should not be squelched. I know how uncomfortable I have been at Masses when an air traffic controller cantor is trying to make sure that everyone sings everything, or where people are expected to clap, lay hands on the RCIA students, call out random prayer intentions etc. Some of those parishes have made it onto my “Do Not Return Until Reformed” list.

  19. Imrahil says:

    If you aren’t feeling very robust psychically, i. e. if you feel that you cannot help being hurt by the reproachful looks of the others, and if you don’t know for sure that the rest of the congregation does precisely what you are going to do,

    then be silent.

    Sorry, but that’s the way it is.

  20. teomatteo says:

    I attend an EF mass some distance from my home and prefer it from the suburban church ’round the corner. I find that with either mass there is very little ‘enthusiasm’ to respond. or sing, or chant. why (?). I do so as i can without being obnoxious. Maybe i am to some…. I almost at times want to give up and blend in… blend…. blend…. blen…..

  21. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Mary Jane,

    as it were, the sitting/standing/kneeling is very individual in the EF, more so than in the OF in fact. You won’t even get reproachful looks.

    I always try, for instance, to find out roughly when the priest begins the Canon, and kneel down at this point. Others, remembering that this is after the Preface, kneel down at the beginning of the Sanctus, others wait till the congregation’s singing of the Sanctus is over (at which point the priest sometimes has already arrived at “Qui pridie quam pateretur”). I always get up for the priest’s Our Father, others don’t. Some get up for the Collect, I generally don’t except if there’s a “Levate” before. You get the idea.

  22. Mary Jane says:

    “I always feel pity for the priest who must concentrate on the words all the time.”

    Pity?? I think you are grouping way too many people into your contemplative stereotype. The text of the mass is beautiful, and a lot of contemplative people prefer to focus on the text that is being prayed rather than let their minds wander where they will.

  23. Father I agree with you, the congregation should make the responses. Altar boys make the responses at private Masses because they are only filling in for the role of the missing congregation.
    Arguments are hard to settle because no authority has explained and firmly decreed what attendees are to do, and hence the heated shouting on this whole subject. And all those who lived it and understood it are dead apparently.
    As soon as people read this, the knee-jerk reaction is screaming about the sins of the Dialogue Mass, with thoughts of crazed, mindless activity without interior recollection as the only alternative to silence. Unfortunately, though widely practiced, the crazed over-participation is the inappropriate knee-jerk reaction to the silent Mass full of people who didn’t care or know what was going on!

    The true practice of participation is somewhere in the middle.

    The primary reason is that the altar boys are only there to make responses at private Masses when there is no congregation, and of course to assist with the cruets and such. With laity present, the altar boys can lead responses but the laity can and should respond. Apparently the Latin Rite is the only one that allows private Masses, and therefore the need arose for the responses by the one helping with the cruets. In every other Rite, historically the congregation fully participates and sings, repeating the prayers of the Mass being said by the priest. In all other Rites if there aren’t enough deacons and assistance, there is no daily Mass. [Yes, we know that the Sacrifice occurs through the power of the priest, not the people’s activities.]

    When it comes to singing in the Latin Rite,
    –the schola/singers sing the daily changing prayers [the Propers] alone, since the tune changes with the changing text, and takes a lot of ability/practice to sing;
    –the schola/singers sing the repeated prayers [the Ordinary] and if familiar to the congregation, they join too; otherwise if unknown, like a lesser known chant Mass or a polyphony piece, the congregation does not sing;
    –there is permission for the congregation to sing the Pater Noster, though this is generally sung by the priest alone; [the ‘Amen’ signifies the end of the Canon and then the Communion Rite begins where the silence ends and verbal participation by the congregation can begin as everyone prepares himself for Communion, note the general practice of overall participation for the Good Friday Communion Service as an example].

    For details and really good historical work, this whole 2-article explanation, is the best I have ever read on this subject:
    http://www.romanitaspress.com/articles/dialog_mass.htm

  24. When I feel tired, which is a lot, I wish for a silent Low Mass. I think a lot of people prefer it that way, rather than the Dialogue Mass. I initially thought the Dialogue Mass was better, but have since changed my mind.

  25. Cricket says:

    For some reason, the whole issue of congregational responses (or not) is EXTREMELY controversial in our diocesan Tridentine Mass Society. So much so that it nearly caused the Society to come apart at the seams several years ago. Emotions run high when opinions are strongly held. After weeks of bitter in-fighting, it was decided complete silence on the part of the congregation should be observed at all EF Masses throughout the diocese, just to keep peace. No congregational singing, not so much as an “Et Cum Spirituo” uttered aloud. I have mixed feelings about this, myself. For sure, a “dialog Mass” isn’t something that can be imposed on an EF community by fiat. Proper catechesis on the part of the priest/celebrant is vitally important. But at the end of the day, I think local custom should be respected.

  26. nmoerbeek says:

    God gave us both a body and a soul. The voice, lips, tongue were given to man to give back to God in the form of praise to God.

    We should also consider that very prayers of the Mass or the Gregorian chant is the fruit of the contemplation. When we offer public worship to God it is right to lift our hearts and voices to heaven with the Angels and the Saints. Singing is important to God! Jesus Christ himself sing a hymn after the first Mass (Matt 26:30), God the Father has Angels sing to him in heaven (Luke 2:13), and the Holy Ghost directed the faithful to speak in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual canticles (Ephesians 5:19).

  27. wolfeken says:

    Tina in Ashburn — where did you get most of your material? I don’t think you are speaking of the traditional Latin Mass, but rather the novus ordo. Your comments — such as ” the congregation should make the responses. Altar boys make the responses at private Masses because they are only filling in for the role of the missing congregation” — are completely wrong.

    The Roman Missal for 1962 and prior years does not say “congregation” for the responses. It says “server” or a word similar to it (depending on the missal) that indicates the responses to the priest are made by an acolyte. (Hence the minor order of acolyte and his role.)

    I will admit that I oppose congregational singing and audible responding for a boatload of reasons, but my point here it to note that officially the singing is done by a choir and the responding is done by a server. That is why the servers and choir are wearing cassocks and surplices, indeed substituting for clergy as Father Z noted. We should not pretend the congregation has an official role in the traditional Latin Mass. It does not.

  28. Konstantin says:

    I’m an ex-SSPXer and attend mass at an FSSP apostolate . I never attended a real Dialogue Mass at the FSSP but have seen plenty with the SSPX.

  29. Nathan says:

    Perhaps the question ought to be, which manner and circumstance of the TLM? There’s a fairly big difference in congregational response at a well-attended Sunday Mass and a quiet daily Mass, or, for that matter, a Low Mass offered on a side altar while the Divine Office is said in choir on the high altar (ok, that’s probably not what we’re talking about here).

    I guess my point is, one of the great things about the TLM is that there is a refreshing lack of the “lay enforcement liturgy police” around to make sure Everybody There Does Exactly The Same Thing On Cue. If you go where it’s silent, and you wish to respond, respond sotto voce. If a quarter of the congregation says “Et cum spiritu tuo,” don’t worry about it and respond. If it is a dialogue Mass and you don’t want to respond, don’t respond. In the TLM, the rubrics apply to the Sacred Ministers and to a lesser degree the altar servers, and as long as you’re prudent and respectful of those around you, you’re allowed in your dignity as a baptized lay person to pray the Holy Mass as you will.

    In Christ,

  30. MarylandBill says:

    I find this lack of uniformity to be odd. In my opinion, one of the strongest arguments for the use of Latin liturgically is the idea of uniformity through the whole of the church. This uniformity is broken if there is at least no universal understanding about whether the congregation should or should not respond.

    I am too young to remember when the Extraordinary Form was the only form of the Mass, and thus I can’t directly comment on what was the norm prior to the introduction of the Ordinary Form. However, I do remember hearing that J. R. R. Tolkien used to respond in Latin to the English Language masses he attended. This implies that while he felt English might be an wrong for the Mass, that responding (if one knew the responses) was not. While not a theological expert, he would have known what was customary at the time.

  31. wolfeken says:

    And, MarylandBill, Evelyn Waugh used to hear congregational singing and responding as fingernails on a chalkboard, going so far as to saw attending Mass (pre-novus ordo) became “a bitter pill.”

    So, I agree there is a split in views — some traditional Catholics like the altar servers making the responses and some more modern Catholics like the congregation making the responses. Some like the schola singing the music, and some like the congregation singing.

    Having said that, this is a 20th century argument. There is almost zero mention of congregational singing or responding prior to the 20th century. Not one pope addressed this subject prior to the 20th century. It was always assumed the men and boys in cassocks and surplices (in both sanctuary and choir loft) were the ones to make responses and sing the chant.

  32. wolfeken says:

    Sorry, I meant “a bitter trial.”

  33. acardnal says:

    wolfeken wrothe, “It was always assumed the men and boys in cassocks and surplices (in both sanctuary and choir loft) were the ones to make responses and sing the chant.”

    That’s my preference in the TLM/EF for what it’s worth.

  34. Elizabeth M says:

    @ B Knotts, No one should be “giving the stink-eye” to anyone at Mass, ever! Sorry that this happened to you.
    When our parish started having EF High Mass on a regular basis it was without the benefit of a choir. The parishioners learned the parts and after two years I can say that this was how I memorized Mass. Now that I have little children I am thankful for it because there is no way I can follow along with a Missal.

    Yes, in the beginning the parish sang poorly. We used to joke that it was a funeral march and no one knew how to “sing a joyful noise.” It is the best that we could do. I would rather hear humble and honest voices. There is a time for great choirs to give their gift of voice to the Lord; and time for aged, and children and ordinary people with no training to sing also. If you’re in a parish that can’t sing offer it up and hope that one day you’ll hear Angels sing!
    It seems that the unspoken rule at our parish is: Sing at High Mass, stay silent or at least whisper during all other times. I get a little confused though at special blessings. Do I say the response when there is no Altar server, since I know it? Or do I just let the priest say it? If he pauses for a long time, then I know he expects me to respond- In Latin too!

  35. Moro says:

    I’m fine with either so long as it’s all or nothing. At my parish, it’s some of the responses some of the time by some of the people. For example, nobody says the prayers at the foot of the altar other than the priest and servers but some of the faithful in the pews say the servers response for the kyrie. And then you get the new guy who comes in, sits up front, is the only one who says the Pater Noster alound (which everyone hears since he’s up front) followed by a loud “sed libera nos a malo” from the whole church, thus rendering that guy’s prayer awkward.

    There is zero logic to it and it drives me nuts. If it’s a dialogue mass, fine. If it’s not, fine. I just wish people would stick with one or the other and leave it at that. Anything in between is just odd and it leaves many newcomers to the TLM completely bewildered.

  36. Katylamb says:

    Sounds awful- all that squabbling. Isn’t there some official document that tells how it should be done?

  37. rcg says:

    I respond whenever the priest faces us. I try to look right at him, in the eye if I can. Seems only right in a dialog. The Mass is a group effort and I want the priest to know I am there with him on this terrible task.

  38. tripudians says:

    People have some nerve, arguing with St. Pius X.

    “Special efforts are to be made to restore the use of the Gregorian Chant by the people, so that the faithful may again take a more active part in the ecclesiastical offices, as was the case in ancient times.” Tra le solecitudini, II.3

  39. Nathan says:

    MarylandBill: “I find this lack of uniformity to be odd”

    That’s a good observation, but I will disagree with you that a lack of a common understanding on responses by the laity breaks the uniformity. The focus of the TLM and its rubrics, much more than the Ordinary Form, achieves its uniformity in what happens in the sanctuary and on the altar, where I would argue that the philosophy behind its celebration focuses much more on the Holy Sacrifice than on human reactions and responses to that action. I think one can, in good faith and in full consonance with the mind of the Church, argue from both sides of that–how we respond to the Holy Mass is important.

    In my opinion, the omission of those outside the sanctuary from the rubrics and the old habits of popular piety in how those outside the sanctuary pray the Mass points to the dignity of the baptized laity. We benefit from what the priest does at the altar and we respond to it while we pray at Mass, but we are not bound to it under obedience in the same way that clerics (and servers, who are acting in the role of clerics) are. In that way, we join in a communion with all the faithful the clergy, not by aping what the priest does nor assuming his liturgical role, but by maintaining our freedom in our status as lay Christians.

    Does that make any sense?

  40. pinoytraddie says:

    A Jesuit University in My Country is Known for currently having the “Missa Lecta” since nobody is used yet to the “Silent Participation” that usually takes place.

  41. Nathan says:

    MarylandBill: “I find this lack of uniformity to be odd”

    That’s a good observation, but I will disagree with you that a lack of a common understanding on responses by the laity breaks the uniformity. The focus of the TLM and its rubrics, much more than the Ordinary Form, achieves its uniformity in what happens in the sanctuary and on the altar, where I would argue that the philosophy behind its celebration focuses much more on the Holy Sacrifice than on human reactions and responses to that action. I think one can, in good faith and in full consonance with the mind of the Church, argue from both sides of that–how we respond to the Holy Mass is important.

    In my opinion, the omission of those outside the sanctuary from the rubrics and the old habits of popular piety in how those outside the sanctuary pray the Mass points to the dignity of the baptized laity. We benefit from what the priest does at the altar and we respond to it while we pray at Mass, but we are not bound to it under obedience in the same way that clerics (and servers, who are acting in the role of clerics) are. In that way, we join in a communion with all the faithful the clergy, not by aping what the priest does nor assuming his liturgical role, but by maintaining our freedom in our status as lay Christians.

    Does that make any sense?

    In Christ,

  42. moon1234 says:

    I think a lot of the backlash against the people making the responses comes from traditional circles that see anything coming after about 1954 as innovations and pushes towards the new Mass, despite the call for such optional participation before this time.

    I think that those that oppose such participation have NOT actually seen or heard it. For all those that dislike the SSPX, I would put forth that they are actually doing what the Church called for before the new Mass.

    Take a look at this Sunday High Mass as St. Nicholas in France. I think you will find that you really like it, I know I do.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=oU_s-yrrY7o#t=60s

  43. Elizabeth D says:

    I tend to attempt to say/sing the responses, and at High Mass Asperges, Gloria, Credo whether anyone likes it or not. If the celebrant specifically told me to be quiet then I would! Vatican II says the people should know in Latin the parts of the Mass that pertain to them. I have asked for Latin Novus Ordo at my parish to no avail (I am very annoying about wanting things in Latin, and I don’t even know Latin), so I only get to follow the spirit of Vatican II at the TLM. I think more people should attend the TLM so we can live Vatican II more fully.

  44. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    I would love to see it. I go to a Ruthenian parish for their Divine Liturgy sometimes. The liturgy is in English, but the Theology is eternal.

  45. jlmorrell says:

    My personal opinion is against the dialogue Mass with a couple exceptions. I think it can be fitting and edifying for the faithful to sing the short responses such as Et cum Spiritu tuo, Habemus Dominum, Dignum et justum est, and sed libero a malo. These are short enough so that the congregation can sing them in an edifying manner.

    I’m VERY strongly against the congregation attempting to recite aloud the prayers at the foot of the altar or any of the parts assigned to the priest alone (i.e. Pater noster).

    While I’m not absolutely opposed in principle to the congregation singing parts of the ordinary such as the Gloria, Credo & Agnus Dei, I think it is ill advised. I find it much more edifying to have a competent choir sing these parts as they require a level of competence not found in the general public – especially these days.

    But, all in all, I try not to quibble too much over these matters. What is most important is that the Traditional Mass be offered in a fitting manner and spread as far and wide as possible. I try to be a flexible with regard to these matters.

  46. Imrahil says:

    Dear @wolfeken, I wonder about that. The congregation does have a role in the TLM, if only because it is Mass.

    Dear @MarylandBill and @moro,
    being a regular Novus Ordo churchgoer though with preference for the TLM (one for which I could give substantial reason), I’m perhaps not the one to say so. But for what it’s worth, this is precisely one of the distingishing marks of the TLM. To put it even more provocatively, uniformity in the congregation is a Novus Ordo thing, even if it, arguably, is a “well-celebrated Novus Ordo” thing.

    For the congregation in the TLM, there’s of course plenty of etiquette of general nature (such as standing for the Gospel*, kneeling in the presence of Our Lord with some exceptions during Mass), but none of actual rules for posture.

    [* There’s often two Gospels, one in Latin and one, part of the preaching, in the vernacular. To stand up for the first is clear; to stand up for the second is already less clear, even if done, I guess, on a general basis. Whether or not to make the three crosses at the second Gospel, is not clear at all; some do; some don’t.]

    Even in the EF, it is, of course, the general posture to kneel down in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. So far so good. But when you have an outdoors procession, then you obviously stand and walk. Fine. For the Eucharistic blessing, or when the Holy of Holies comes within an unspecified (!) distance, we tend to kneel down again. And during all of that, there are some students’ corporations (which around here have a military tradition stemming from 1813) who do nothing of the sort, but stand at attention and give a military salute.

    Do I critizise that? No. Of course not. Catholic variety, that’s what it is.

    Let’s leave the uniformity to the military where it belongs. I would personally opine that all people should learn the march in step, if only for the reason that collectivity is a mighty, and also, if among other things and without claim of ubiquity, a good thing. But collectivity is certainly not everything, and (precisely to hinder it from becoming such) ought to be put into restraints.

  47. Imrahil says:

    OF, that should be in my third last paragraph.

  48. FXR2 says:

    Father Z,
    I prefer to say the responses at the TLM. I attend masses where the responses are said and where they are not. I try to conform to the tradition of the place. Sometimes I find myself saying Amen, especially after per Christum Dominum Nostrum. My mother does not respond and states that she is imitating the BVM and St. John at the foot of the cross. That is a hard argument beat.

    fxr2

  49. In terms of Liturgy, I think we have a lot to learn from the east. Responses should not only be said, but sung…

  50. The Masked Chicken says:

    “I find it much more edifying to have a competent choir sing these parts as they require a level of competence not found in the general public – especially these days.”

    Oh, tish, tosh. The little red booklets for the TLM have the music for the chants of the Ordinary right in the back. Now, if they would only get it out of the square note notation, anyone could sing it. Really, Chant has pride of place, but nowhere, in any document in history of which I am aware does it says that there is a special advantage to square note notation. Oh, it is all retro, but it is not a part of sacred Tradition. It simply was the best we had back in the late 12th-century. Just as doctrine can develop, so can musical notation. It’s really cool to look at them in an authentic chant manuscript, but, really, I cannot believe that when Vatican II said that chant should have pride of place they actually meant square note notation, too. There is nothing really good about square note notation that could not be done much better by white notation. Scale theory is one of my areas of expertise, and if you really want to be authentic, why not go back to the even earlier notational schemes where only pitch inflection was indicated, or even a one-line staff, like in the 10th-century?

    It would be much easier to pitch chant and it would seem less mysterious if they would update the notation. This is one area where the Solemes monks really did an injustice to practice, if not history, in my opinion.

    The Chicken

  51. This really raises the question of where we would be now if the “spirits” hadn’t hijacked Vatican II. Since liturgical renewal was clearly in motion well before 1962, just saying that we should go back to 1962 or 1950 or even 1935 isn’t sufficient and doesn’t acknowledge that the liturgy was already changing, with the blessing of the Popes. We really need to be careful about reacting so negatively to the excesses of fringe elements in the late 20th century that we disregard what the Popes of the early 20th century were legitimately trying to accomplish. Clearly, they would have no problem with the congregation making at least quiet responses even in a Latin Mass. But, as Father Z suggests, if the congregation is not loud enough, the priest or other sanctuary occupant need not say things along the lines of, “I can’t hear you!” or “Say it as if you mean it!”

  52. @wolfken: there is plenty of history describing the congregation making the responses. Read the article to which I linked for starters, a link which I know you have been sent before. On top of that, there are Church documents describing this prayerful practice. The ancients prayed the Mass this way. I’m sick of the ‘liberal’ label flung at anyone who desires to pray the way the Church prays.
    Joe of St Thérèse refers to the other Rites that have always done it this way – in fact sung not spoken. That’s pretty old stuff right there.

    Masked Chicken: You suprise me! I’d a thought you’d be drawn to the old music notations – there are similarities to a chicken having walked across the page with inky feet after all.
    “Square notes” include expressions and nuances that do not convey in modern notation. Plus modern notation just screws things up with beats and stuff. Square notes depend on the text creating the pulse, and the ebb and flow of the chant – whereas modern notation makes the text fit the tune/rhythm. Ever noticed how good chant sounds like waves of the ocean dropping and falling? That effect is written in the chant.

    I understand your perspective on regular notation, I was “there” once. I couldn’t sing that old music because I couldn’t read it. Generally folks haven’t a clue how to read the old stuff, so how do you get em to sing it?
    A moderate sight-reader myself after years of schooling and choir singing, I took it for granted that everybody could kinda follow a page of music, even if it was just up and down or something. Ha. Imagine my surprise as I realized over the years that most folks today cannot read music, modern or ancient.
    So frankly, why not use the square notes? :-)

  53. drat, I meant : Ever noticed how good chant sounds like waves of the ocean *rising* and falling?

  54. Stephen Matthew says:

    Masked Chicken,

    While I know you have some experience and training in this matter, I find your prejudice against square notes rather odd. If someone know modern notation they are very near to being able to fully read square notes, and if they know neither system (as is very common) then simply know if the next note is going to be the same, higher, or lower is clear enough from either system. (But I spent a while living with regular use of chanting, congregationally, using square notation, so perhaps I have an unusual view.) In my experience your average singer, untrained in chant, will make a real hash of something written in modern notation because they then chuck out all the sensibilities of chant and instead treat it like modern harmonized music (but perhaps that is from another experience with a different group of musicians that colors my view negatively in this regard).

    As to the original topic, I second the view that our Eastern Catholic brethren seem to have laudably maintained the practice of singing/chanting virtually every word of the liturgy, with some parts taken by the priest, some by the other ministers, and a fair number by the people. Singing also seems to remain more culturally normative outside of liturgy in my rare encounters with Eastern Catholic parishes (likely true not long ago in ethnic parishes in the Roman Rite in America) and this practice of regular singing at liturgy, at cultural/community events, and in the home makes for better quality singing by all.

  55. Hank Igitur says:

    Variations in how the responses are offered have existed from one locality to another for the TLM for a very long time, long before A. Bugnini was ever on the scene. Such variations will continue. THere is no single one way for it to happen.

  56. I attend Sunday Mass at the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest’s apostolate at St. Margaret Mary Church in Oakland CA. The congregation is welcome to sing the Asperges, Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei and all of the responses. The Mass is heaven on earth.

  57. I should have said “almost all of the responses”. We don’t say the preparatory prayers.

  58. Gratias says:

    It is very important to say the responses, it puts us all on the same page. After the priest says ecce Agnus Dei all communicants are supposed to say the Domine non sum dignus. At the pilgrimage Una cum Papa Nostro last November at St. Peter’s the congregation sang along parts of the Gloria and Credo. The Italians had it pretty well worked out and sung only certain verses while the Schola sung other lines. It was heavenly, and Father Z was there.

  59. Rachel K says:

    Jane; ” My point was – I do not like to be forced myself to make the responses, to sit/stand/kneel…”
    Sorry to put it this way, but this shows a lack of understanding of the liturgy. You need to read what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has to say about the importance of posture in the liturgy; he explains that we are physical beings and our various postures at Mass are part of our response to the liturgy.
    I recommend his book ” God is Near Us ” on the Eucharist, I quote from p91,
    “The Lord gives himself to us in bodily form. That is why we must likewise respond to him bodily….it also means that our religion, our prayer, demands bodily expression.”
    The uniformity of all the congregation ( obviously not those infirm or holding babies) making the same bodily postures gives glory to God, it is a communal expression of our response to the liturgy and it is good and just that the Church directs us in our physical responses as a congregation, just as she directs the priest to speak and move in a particular way in the liturgy. I don’t at all see it as being forced, just as part of our structured prayer in the catholic faith.
    Hope this is helpful.

  60. Rachel K says:

    Dear Chicken,
    I agree with your concerns about four note notation in chant, I think it is very off-putting for the average member of the congregation. It gives an exclusive and esoteric feel to it whereas it should be and is accessible to all. From my experience, I think the best way for “non-musicians” to learn plainchant is by ear, as this bypasses all the problems of singing it as if it is a four-square metrical hymn tune… Which is of course how it would have been learned in the past. I like the new Hymnals ( we have Laudate here in the UK ) which have lots of chant in standard music notation, making it easier for church musicians to use.
    Tina in Ashburn; the style of chant singing is not written into the four note notation. As you rightly point out, the text gives the rise and fall of the music. (Pulse is the wrong word here, it refers to the speed of the music). Speaking as a musician, I agree that the ebb and flow you describe is good and is the way I was taught to sing chant, but it can , and should, be done whatever the notation. The hymnal I mention above has the chant written in standard notation but with no time signatures or note values, so the ebb and flow comes from the text.
    I am a great fan of plainchant and constantly encourage my husband (the organist and choirmaster!) to use more of it. He gets bored of me telling him it is the normative music for the Mass, and has pride of place as the Church says. But one brick ( or note!) at a time!….

  61. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Rachel K,

    I very much doubt the dear @Jane wanted to say that she did not want to worship Our Lord with her body.

    But this does not mean there needs to be uniformity. If the present TLM use is an accurate reflection of the pre-1970 use, I has all appearance that the goal of “uniformity” originated in the collectivist tendencies of the day. Think of a military parade. And as it were, the liturgical movement, at least the national unity songs (songs which all Catholics of a nation can sing, not just one diocese) did start in the trenches of World War I.

    Now being a former soldier with a faible for “formal service” (as it is called here) myself, I say there’s some actual good in uniformity, and I kind-of like it in its place.

    But it must not be ubiquitous. Attendant form one congregation by worshipping together, such as they are with the exception of sins (which they have, but must not cherish). Even if some silently say the rosary, for that matter.

  62. Imrahil says:

    And: to have “some sort of understanding of the liturgy” means often to do the contrary than the congregation does.

  63. Jana says:

    Thanks, dear Imrahil:-) As English is not my mother tongue, I express myself probably with words too strong, I do not have the correct feeling there, and I see some people got offended. Sorry for that.
    In my younger days, when I went as a child or teenager to daily masses (OF), nobody would make any responses. Perhaps some sitting in the first pew. The rest of us would hide behind a column or in a side chapel. The old priests (now dead) did not expect any responses. If the priest wished some respons, most of the “daily-mass-people” would just change the church.

  64. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Jana,

    thanks for your very kind answer… and I wonder if it is a coincidence that the two of us do not speak English as a mother tongue.

    The knight E. M. von Kuehnelt-Leddihn once said, to a person from Catholic Europe it is totally incomprehensible what “the neighborhood” (and other collectives) in Protestant countries is. Maybe that is so. As Catholics, we’re at root individualists. (Or strictly speaking, personalists, which, while it sees the man in totality, including that much of him is being a social animal and that he has duties towards God, has nevertheless, as Cardinal Marx once said, a tilt towards individualism as opposed to collectivism, and that’s all that needs to be said here.)

  65. CharlesG says:

    At the EF sung mass here in Hong Kong the congregation makes the responses and indeed sings lustily (if that’s the right word for a sacred occasion) the whole Ordinary, Asperges and Marian Antiphon. It is a joy to hear, frankly. I went to an EF sung mass in Toronto over Christmas and, while there was a fine schola, nobody said or sung a peep. Quite a difference.

  66. I thought of this entry last night during the Corpus Christi Mass. The congregation responded well and with strength. They sang the Creed. It was wonderful.

  67. The Masked Chicken says:

    ““Square notes” include expressions and nuances that do not convey in modern notation. Plus modern notation just screws things up with beats and stuff. Square notes depend on the text creating the pulse, and the ebb and flow of the chant – whereas modern notation makes the text fit the tune/rhythm. Ever noticed how good chant sounds like waves of the ocean dropping and falling? That effect is written in the chant.”

    You would think that, being a musicologist, I would favor black square notation, but there is nothing that black square notation can do that white notation cannot. My areas of specialization are Medieval and Modern Music, so I have studied the historical evolution of notation in great detail. THE reason that Chant has a non-defined metric (beat pattern) is because mensuration simply wasn’t invented until a century later, but by that time, few people were writing monophonic plainchant. When Chants were used as Cantus Firmus basses, they were, invariably, metricized, which means that composers did not hold the accidental flowing nature of pre-mensural Chant as a high point in the compositional process. Besides, this can be exactly mimicked in modern notation by the use of rubato and expression marks, which give a greater degree of control and reproducibility than anything during the Black square notation period. There are, in addition, Twentieth-century forms of notation that allow for even more expressiveness.

    Doctrine develops by moving from a more diffuse understanding of a topic to a more focused understanding. Specificity of expression is increased. The exact same thing happens in music. Other than for nostalgia (or scholarly) sake, I really do not see a valid musicological reason for the continual use of Black square notation in modern re-publications of Chant. What good is it to read The Inferno in a re-production of the original Italian? The printing techniques were vastly inferior to modern methods and some of the alphabet symbols have evolved.

    Black square notation should be reserved for scholars, not the man-in-the-pew. That way, you vastly increase the possibility that people, at least the musically literate people, will sing the responses, because they won’t be hampered by having to learn a new music notation. They can use the one they already know. People who cannot read music should either learn to sing by ear, or learn modern music notation, since it gives them access to music beyond Chant.

    The Chicken

  68. Spaniard says:

    I am all for the opportunity to be contemplative during Mass, and I am as bithered as anyone when someone pretends to inbstruct me to sing or pray louder as if we needed some sort of policeman in church. On the other hand I would like to point out that liturgy is not about what we like/prefer/feel better about, but about giving God his due praise. And for that, even though we might not want to, we have to forget about ourselves, come out of our comfortable podition, and think about the outward praise He deserves, and to which the Psalms constantly call us.
    Just a thought!!

  69. Spaniard says:

    Sorry, that should read “bothered” in the first phrase

  70. The Masked Chicken says:

    Further, if the Black square notation meme is going to be really consistent, then the choir would have to re-tune to Pythagorean tuning, since that is the tuning used during the height of Chant development and, yet, I see no one advocating for that.

    I love black notation. I have some cool stories to tell about it, but, practically-speaking, music thory is more advanced than before and it allows Chant to be better situated. You may hear Mozart played on an authentic (read:small) period orchestra, but, guess what – that orchestra is not necessarily the way Mozart wanted the symphony to sound. He makes it clear in his letters that, when given access to larger orchestras, he preferred it, so he adapted his music to what was available, not what he wanted. It is the sme with Chant. It was adapted to the music techniques of the period, which, by the way, is why vibrato is not used in Chant – the technique didn’t exist, but if the original composers could have heard music with beats and a clearly defined, consistent pitch basis, they would have, if for only practical reasons, killed to use it.

    Sometimes, the appeal to the past can be a fallacy and with regards to music notation in Chant, I, personally, think that this is the case. Chant does have certain performance practices that developed from its historical milieu , but, whereas Latin is a dead language and fixes the thoughts of the Mass very clearly, the analogy does not fit with regards to music notation, since Latin was already a mature language at the Council of Trent, whereas music notation and practice was not.

    The Chicken

  71. wolfeken says:

    Father Z wrote: “I thought of this entry last night during the Corpus Christi Mass. The congregation responded well and with strength. They sang the Creed. It was wonderful.”

    Let me guess, Credo III? Where everyone was belting it out in the style of an anglican hymn?

    There were also Masses yesterday where Credo IV, or Credo VI, or (the original) Credo I, or Credo II, or Credo V were sung, alternating phrases by cantors and the rest of the schola of men. The men showed up for Thursday evening rehearsal, and then showed up again an hour before Mass to rehearse so the music would be most fitting for the sacrifice of the Mass. The tempo was together. The volume was directed, tapering the end of phrases. The release of an “s” or “t” was in unison. Like Benedictine monks, who often composed the chants centuries ago.

    It’s a little disturbing to see comments saying that base-level chant (Missa de Angelis and Credo III, every single High Mass) sight-read by anyone and everyone who shows up 15 seconds before the opening bell are superior to a schola taking the time to sing well-rehearsed treasures of the Church’s deep sacred music library. That’s the democratic populism mentality that nearly killed Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony in the 20th century.

    Hopefully we are not content with mediocrity in the name of audible participation on the fly.

  72. Mary Jane says:

    The Masked Chicken, I do have respect for your background in music (that must have been awesome to study) but there are things that “black square notation can do that white notation cannot”. It is easier to pitch the chants when you have the chant notation in front of you – you are not restricted to “that note is an A”. The different chant modes are slightly different than, for example, the modern notation “key of E”. When the director says “this is in Mode 7″, that means something very specific. Tina, above, said it very well: ““Square notes” include expressions and nuances that do not convey in modern notation. Plus modern notation just screws things up with beats and stuff. Square notes depend on the text creating the pulse, and the ebb and flow of the chant – whereas modern notation makes the text fit the tune/rhythm. Ever noticed how good chant sounds like waves of the ocean dropping and falling? That effect is written in the chant.” This is spot on.

    I sing in our parish’s women’s chant schola, I sing with the full choir, and I sing with our parish’s smaller polyphony choir. My husband is the men’s chant schola director. I will say from personal experience that those of us singing the Gregorian Propers every Sunday want to use the Liber Usualis (or Liber Pro). Some of the less experienced choir members probably would prefer modern notation – but the folks that are more experienced at singing Gregorian Chant want to use the chant notation. You said “Black square notation should be reserved for scholars, not the man-in-the-pew.” Perhaps this is true.

    I guess in general I disagree with most of what you are saying about chant vs modern notation. I do want to say though that I enjoy reading your comments, and I always look forward to seeing them in in the comment boxes on Fr Z’s posts. :)

  73. What compares with a quiet low Mass in the hushed stillness of early morning, affording undistracted private concentration on the prayers of the Mass? Or with a Sunday high Mass in which the people join the choir in singing the ordinary and responses, praying the Mass together as Pius X and subsequent popes have urged? Or with a polyphonic Mass that encourages especially prayerful participation in the form of extended personal reflection on each phrase as it is repeated by different voices in a well-practiced choir?

    Isn’t anyone who denigrates any one of these betraying an impoverished appreciation of the splendor of Holy Mass in the sacred tradition of the Church?

  74. acardnal says:

    I agree with wolfeken’s position on this post. I love attending High Mass to hear the professionalism of the schola and/or organist not the many congregants who sing off key, who do NOT practice regularly, do not read music notation, and, moreover, do not have voices suitable for singing. Blech! Yech!

  75. dominic1955 says:

    Seems to me there is room for everything. One of the first things I learned about the TLM from an FSSP priest is that there is little “expected” about the precise doings of the laity. Sure, there are “norms” about when to sit, stand, kneel, etc. but no one need to follow in lockstep with these actions. About the only time you really ought to be doing the same thing as everyone else (kneeling) is during the Consecration, barring physical inability or somesuch. That said, I do not like a formal “dialog” Mass because I think it turns into a cacaphony but I know it can be done well. The other thing about it is that it seems to bring that imposition into the TLM from the “average” NO mindset-everyone has to be doing everything that they are “supposed” to. Again, maybe folks that do dialog Masses regularly do not have this problem. I have been saying the old breviary and really like the individual way its said-mouth or barely aspirate the words. Doing so, I respond at most every Low Mass I attend and don’t bother a soul. Everyone is happy. For High Masses, I sing.

    As to the square notation, I think its fitting for the chant. Even though modern notation can probably do the same or better, I think it also takes away from the “freedom” of chant expression not to mention putting the reading of chant into an even more specialized and technical “language” than the square notes. The square notes are emphatically not the same as writting “Ye Olde Towne Shoppe” in “Gothic” lettering on a strip mall sign. It also developed in its own and its usage, read the begining of a Liber Usualis for example.

    As to the “man in the pew”, most (in my experience) cannot read the round notes properly either and see them as an “up/down” signal more than anthing else. IF they know some of the particulars of the 5 line staff round notes, its also usually not much past grade school music mastery of the elementals. The real problem with congregational singing is not the square notes, its just that when people do not want to sing, they do not want to sing! The chant repertoire can easily be handled in seasonal modes (i.e. Mass XI Orbis factor for Time after Epiphany/Pentecost/Ordinary Time) and the square notes because not much changes and the average parish cannot tackle much more than the Ordinary anyway.

  76. The Masked Chicken says:

    ” It is easier to pitch the chants when you have the chant notation in front of you – you are not restricted to “that note is an A”. The different chant modes are slightly different than, for example, the modern notation “key of E”. When the director says “this is in Mode 7?, that means something very specific.”

    ???

    Four line chant notation assumes the same pitch references as modern notation – one is, literally, simply missing a line (it is like Tenor Clef or any other movable clef). Also, composers write modal music in modern notation all of the time. Percy Grainger is notorious for this. Mode 7 is, simply the key of C with B as the reference pitch. I can do anything with modes in modern notation just as easily as in Chant notation. Again, no advantage to black notation.

    “As to the square notation, I think its fitting for the chant. Even though modern notation can probably do the same or better, I think it also takes away from the “freedom” of chant expression not to mention putting the reading of chant into an even more specialized and technical “language” than the square notes. The square notes are emphatically not the same as writting “Ye Olde Towne Shoppe” in “Gothic” lettering on a strip mall sign. It also developed in its own and its usage, read the begining of a Liber Usualis for example.”

    Black notation adds nothing, nothing, to the expressive ability of Chant compared to modern music. Chant composers would have killed to have modern notation. Do you insist on doing Calculus in delta-epsilon form (which wasn’t invented until the nineteenth-century) or even in the fluxion notation? Square notation is a subset of modern notation. There is nothing that can be done in square notation that can’t be done in modern notation. Square notes are less technical (really?) than modern notation because they are not as developed. They are not the equivalent of Church Latin. Black notation is not a part of Sacred Tradition and unchangeable, as Latin is. Study music history. There has been a slow, steady, incremental change in music notation until the 1750’s when Rameau, essentially, codified the modern scalar structure. Latin, on the other hand, became frozen earlier on, so that, when Trent gave the Mass of Pope Pius V, the language was in a fixed form. The only equivalent would be Chant that was written in 1750 or later. Then, music notation was, more or less, fixed. One could go back a ways until the 15th-century when the five line staff was universally adopted, but, by then, no one was writing Chant. If they had, it would have been in five line white notation.

    The Mass is the Mass. Anyone performing the TLM will do the same things at roughly the same time. It is a fixed form. Chant, on the other hand, is not. One could compare a bishop in 1600 and one in 2000 saying the TLM and it would look almost identical, but one simply cannot compare a monk singing Chant from 1200 AD to one singing it in 2000 AD. They simply would not sound the same. Every performance would be different. The starting pitch would be different (A was not 440 Hz), the tonal scales would be different (Pythagorean or Just tuning vs. equal temperment), the rhythm would be different (each leader would phrase differently and slow down or speed up differently), etc. When you say Chant, you really mean, “Chant as realized by the Solemes Monks.” That is not authoritative, fixed Chant. It is their opinion.

    Chant to a musicologist means something different than chant to a modern individual. What you sing is not authentic Chant. That’s just the fact. Given that you really can’t sing Chant as Chant was sung, “back then,” (unlike the Mass), there is no real reason, other than nostalgia, to not use white notation. Even Tridentine Chant, unlike the Mass, would not sound like Chant, today, because they used a different tuning system. Are you insisting that we go back to meantone tuning?

    This is an area where the viewpoint of Traditionalists is simply inconsistent. There is no way around it. In for a penny, in for a pound. You want the black notation, change the tuning and pitch structure, otherwise, it isn’t real Chant.

    The Chicken

  77. The Masked Chicken says:

    Oh, and I have the Liber Usualis in both black and white notation versions. I am not talking about changing the words of Chant or the melodies, merely the way it is printed. That is more like printing the TLM in modern type-setting than anything else.

    The Chicken

  78. chantgirl says:

    I have to go with neumes here. I was trained with modern notation and didn’t encounter square notes until my 20s, and I find them immensely better for chant for several reasons. Most people who have studied modern notation have at least relative pitch and already associate certain lines of the staff with a certain pitch range. Four line chant notation can take place in any pitch range that is comfortable to the singers. Chant written in modern notation, besides losing the nuances, also takes much more space to lay out the same melody, and often resulting slower, heavier singing of the chant. Also, and this is my own opinion, the propers are much easier to read as chant. At first I sang them from the Bragers, but found the simple pictures of square note notation much easier to follow, and I was less tied to the page.

    With an hour or two workshop, most people can be taught how to follow the chant they would need to know for the ordinary. Probably the easiest way for the people in the pew to learn chant is listening to a good recording.

    Sorry, Fr. Z, it seems the musicians have hijacked your thread.

  79. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Four line chant notation can take place in any pitch range that is comfortable to the singers. ”

    So can modern movable clef notation. There is Tenor clef, Alto clef, Soprano clef, etc. That IS , exactly, what Black notation is: movable clef. Again, no advantage over modern notation.

    The Chicken

    P. S. Sorry for taking over the thread. I will bow out.

  80. chantgirl says:

    Chicken- I transposed Palestrina’s Missa Aspice Domine into modern notation this past year for the precise reason that most vocalists cannot read those clefs anymore, let alone the people in the pew. Yes, it is possible to put chant into the varying clefs, using much more complicated dynamic and tempo markings, but the likelihood that your average choir could read and sing it well is pretty low. It would be mostly impossible for the pewsitters.

    I admire your musical prowess, but I think you give the rest of us too much credit ;) There’s already a system that works very well for chant. For all the energy we would expend transposing and teaching people your modern notation chant, we could just teach them square notes. If it ain’t broke..

  81. dominic1955 says:

    I know, but what I was saying about the Liber Usualis is that there is an explanation of the neumes and it seems, to me, that these had been developed along w/ the chant, akin to Latin in Latin Rite usage. While the vernacular and round notes had taken over ad extra, Latin and neumes were maintained and fostered ad intra. Thus, it wasn’t the same as “Ye Olde” sign, not just that some monk at Solesmes saw an old vellum choir book and thought, “Gee, that would look cool if we started printing music books using these old notes!”

    All the different clefs add complication to the simple existance of the neumes. Yes, it is true that modern notation is overall better than the neumes as far as what it can do is concerned but as to its actual use, I wholeheartedly agree with chantgirl-if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. All the different clefs and markings that can be utilized with modern notation is too complicated for the average person or even many choirs. It seems to me that most folks who are at all inclined to do chant are also inclined to learn the neumes.

  82. ssurrencty says:

    I agree with Father Z. It seems to me that the main thrust of Sacrosanctum Concilium can be simplified this way. The mass is the most important part of our faith. Participate in the mass with your mind and heart; so hold the private devotions during Mass. By the way, the people should know, understand, and make the responses in Latin. They can use some English sometimes too- perhaps the readings and the propers- but of course Latin should never be lost. Oh, and some things have become redundant in the mass, so we can simplify a few things- but only if those changes are really necessary. By the way, we need to use a lot of scripture. Maybe more of that should be read. And if cultural adaptations are necessary, that can be done to. Oh, and the mass is really important.

    So, I feel like a dialogue mass and/or participation of the people in the High Mass are part of what the council actually called for. Bugnini, apparently, read a different document.

    That’s it.

  83. FXR2 says:

    Henry Edwards,
    I could not agree more. Both are beautiful and have their place!

    fxr2

  84. The Masked Chicken:
    Awesome, geeky explanations. And thanks for understanding what I meant as ‘pulse’ [a non-defined metric (beat pattern)]. Rachel K above said I used the wrong term. Egad.
    My French aunt/cousin was a student of Justine Ward, and an avid tireless teacher of chant in Paris, so I was ‘brainwashed’ from the womb on chant methods. I know that ‘beat’ isn’t what happens in chant but there is some sort of meter. I really have never found the term that describes that ‘thing that happens’ when chant is done right.

    A heavy beat is bad for the soul. Summons the demons, very important in voodoo, doncha know. So, chant has nothing to do with ‘beat’ – its about ignoring the lower senses and raising oneself to God. We go up, not ‘down’. A beat has no place in Liturgical music for so many reasons.

    You probably also know that chant developed differently in localities, and that even as expressive as notation is, we don’t have recordings and we are only guessing at what our present chant methods are supposed to be. Then on top of that, somebody decided that this here French monastic version is the one to emulate, and who cares what it sounded like in, say, Bavaria. So are we even interpreting chant correctly? :-)

    Gee, your description made me consider that Cantus Firmus was the beginning of the end, as you describe the eschewing of that flowing nature of chant. hmmm. Y’know, like how paintings went from representational symbolism to the humanistic material view by depicting visual perspective. Is that really better?

    You sound like you’d be a lotta fun to talk with, Mr. Chicken. Me, I’ve developed into a curmudgeon. After a bit of music school and then over 25 years of clueless parish singing, I don’t agree with you. I’ve seen the future. We need to go back to chant and its notations. :-)

    Hey, y’all music folk, this was fun. The hijack worth it – hope Fr Z doesn’t mind. But doncha know, music IS the Liturgy. this is important. Congregational participation?!? No talking at Mass! It should all be sung, see?

  85. Dear Henry Edwards. Egggzaclee. A quiet introspective Mass is a delight, but there is also a place for the vocal prayer and singing.

    Opinions don’t count here. God tells us how He wants to be worshiped [check out the minutiae of details throughout Scripture if you think God doesn’t care]. How ’bout we really really try hard to find out what that is! Hint: its what the Church teaches. Tolle, Lege. [pick up and read!]

    @acardnal. We all know your pain. What’s worse? A dreadful schola. I suffer through this pretty often at a TLM parish around here. They need the support of the knowledgeable congregation to help them sing the simplest stuff, but alas its a ‘silent’ congregation.
    But in spite of our perfectionism and impatience and sheer agony, what God hears is the voice of the soul. Its not the quality of the voice, but the beauty of the soul as it sings prayer that pleases God.
    LOL At least that’s how I calm myself when hearing unbearably performed music, I say to myself, “its not for me, its for God, what is He hearing as he views the person in his entirety? God may be hearing the love, sincerity and union with Him, not the crummy singing.”
    I am not advocating bad singing as this is a horrible distraction to recollection at Mass. No schola should be that bad, the objective is not to wreck the Mass, but to lift the soul. But it happens.

  86. Gratias says:

    Muchas gracias al Pollo Enmascarado.

  87. Supertradmum says:

    Lucky you above hearing bad scholas, while I am hearing “Walk, walk in the light weekly.” Really, I can hardly stand all this after 50 years of such. I pray the SSPX comes back in, as, except for a few places, there is no regular Latin Mass here in Great Britain.