Novus Ordo orchestral Mass alert

Funny how things work out.  I was just talking about this Mass the other day.

This is from a priest reader:

Dear Father Zuhlsdorf,

Here at Holy Redeemer [in El Dorado, AR] we will celebrate the first Sunday of Advent with Haydn’s Kleine orgelmesse. Every year we sponsor a concert by the Polish Orchestra Sinfonia around this time. This year I have arranged for them to assist at the main Sunday Mass. (All our Masses are novus ordo.) Since it’s Advent, we will omit the Gloria, and the rather extensive Benedictus will be sung during Holy Communion. A chant Benedictus will be sung after the first Ossana. As a musician and priest, I have tried to rescue our musical patrimony from the concert hall and bring it to its rightful home. It often seems to be a losing battle, but I’m stubborn. I enjoy your blog very much.

I applaud the desire to reclaim the wonderful patrimony of sacred music Holy Church has in her long neglected treasury.

My only hesitation with this is that instrumental music is by law and tradition not allowed during Advent:

Sonus organi aliroumque musicalium instrumentorum permittitur tantum ad cantum sustendandum.

While I suppose we can interpret this very broadly.  After all, for an orchestral Mass of the Viennese school, the instruments do sustain singing by the choir.  They don’t play by themselves without singing all that much.  Still, it seems to me that an orchestral Mass goes a bit beyond the rubric above that:


The playing of the organ and other musical instruments is permitted only to sustain singing.


Nevertheless, it is good to see that priests are doing what they can to reclaim our great heritage for our Catholic people, to whom it justly belongs.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Will says:

    instrumental music is by law and tradition not allowed during Advent

    Alas, a custom honored more in the breach than in the observance.

  2. ED says:

    The Novus Ordo and Classical Music somehow dont seem “kosher” get the Gregorian Rite!!!

  3. ED: The Novus Ordo and Classical Music somehow dont seem “kosher” …

    An entirely understandable impression, given the current situation. But, of course, the Fathers of Vatican II intended neither the “New Order” of Mass nor the wholesale degradation of sacred music that occurred as the directives of the Council were ignored in the years following it. Indeed, I understand that the advocates of classical sacred music and Gregorian chant left the Council with the expectation that it had set the conditions for a great flowering of music in the liturgy.

  4. The Novus Ordo goes better with guitars….

  5. C’mon, Greg. Let’s have a little respect for the ordinary (normative) form of the Latin rite of the One Holy Apostolic Roman Catholic Church. (I mean, a little respect is surely what it deserves. Right?)

  6. Eric the Read says:

    My parish just did Mozart\’s Coronation Mass for the Solemnity of Christ the King (which I found out by sheer happy accident), and this isn\’t the first orchestral Mass this year, either! I am not as familiar with this piece as several of Mozart\’s other works, so I can\’t say if or how it was edited, but there weren\’t extensive instrumental sections that I can recall. It was a pleasant surprise, as I found that due to my normal attendance at the EF Mass, I was able to follow the Latin in the Mass texts much more easily.

  7. Eric the Read says:

    Oh– I missed the “during Advent” qualifier for some reason. Oops! Anti-spam word is “think then post”, which I should take to heart. :-\

  8. anon says:

    According to the 2002 General instruction (UK and US editions) in English:
    In Advent the organ and other musical instruments should be used with a
    moderation that is consistent with the season’s character and does not anticipate
    the full joy of the Nativity of the Lord.

    Tempore Adventus organum aliaque musica instrumenta adhibeantur ea moderatione, quæ indoli huius temporis conveniat, quin tamen plenam lætitiam Nativitatis Domini præveniat.

    It is for Lent that the prohibition on instrumental music applies. Father’s quote may be tradition, but it is not law.

  9. Ole Doc Farmer says:

    I think another problem with this particular Mass setting is that it involves “telescoping”…the four-part choir each sings a different line of the text in the Gloria and Credo. That way…it’s really, really fast.

    I’m pretty sure that “telescoping” is a disapproved practice.

  10. anon-man says:

    Could you be so kind as to post the time and location? Maybe some of us would like to attend!

  11. mao now says:

    People should be A little more nicer and respectful! Give Father A break! I agree that the Novus Ordo goes better with guitars. But at least by introducing this classical music during the Mass, it is a first step to eliminating said guitars! And who cares if its during Advent? Its not the worse rubrical violation in the Novus Ordo, that I have heard of (and seen)Give em A break folks

  12. Antiquarian says:

    Of course, the masses of Mozart and Haydn were once banned (in the US, at least) for use during the liturgy. I believe they were considered too “theatrical,” and indeed some of them are. I never once heard one used liturgically until after Vatican II!

  13. Geoffrey says:

    “The Novus Ordo goes better with guitars…”

    Never! That’s exactly the problem. Everyone thinks silly music is automatically part of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, and that is most definitely not the case. What a difference good music would make!

  14. Ohio Annie says:

    The new Mass definitely does not go better with guitars. Or hymns. I invite people to step back and take a good hard look at what the new Mass was supposed to be versus what it has become in the hands of the Wreckovarians. I attend a reverent well-done new Mass at a Dominican parish and think I am better off there than elsewhere, even at the indult parish down the street.

  15. Ohio Annie says:

    The comment about theatrical type music is correct. At one time there was published a list of music that was not considered appropriate for Mass, included were some famous pieces that are now commonly heard such as the famous version of Ave Maria whose composer escapes me at the moment (middle aged brain cells).

  16. Fr. Joseph Hearty, FSSP says:

    God bless you, Father. All God’s blessings for you in your endeavours at Holy Redeemer.

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