NYC- Manhattan – September TLM news

On the Feast of the Assumption this year, the Church of the Holy Innocents in Manhattan began a regular Sunday Mass at 10 AM in the Extraordinary Form (Traditional Latin Mass). 

I am told it is now the only parish in New York City that offers Mass in the TLM every day of the week

Sundays at 10 AM, weekdays at 6 PM, Saturdays at 1 PM.

The new Sunday Mass has a professional choir to chant the Proper and to sing a polyphonic setting of the Ordinary of the Mass every Sunday

Here’s the music program planned for the Sundays of September:

  • 9/5      Morales:        Missa super fa re ut fa sol la
  • 9/12    Ockegham:    Missa au travail suis
  • 9/19    Palestrina:     Missa brevis
  • 9/26    Byrd:            Mass for three voices

For the next two Sundays, I should be at Holy Innocents as celebrant (5 & 12 September).  There will be a convivium after these Masses. 

If you are in the area this Sunday, consider coming to Holy Innocents to support the new Sunday Mass. 

There’s also talk that there will be traditional Vespers at Holy Innocents next Sunday afternoon, 12 September. 

UPDATE 6 Sept 0356 GMT:

Today a write for National Review Online, Michael Potemra, came to the Sung Mass at Holy Innocents and made some comments.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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


    Any chance we could persuade you to stop by the Solemn TLM at St. Paul’s in Philly on Sept. 14?

  2. lucy says:

    Wow. Incredible that such a beautiful church can enjoy a traditional liturgy again. How I would dearly love to see it there.

  3. Wayne NYC says:

    It will be great to once again have you as celebrant
    Laus Deo

  4. Jerry says:

    “Missa super fa re ut fa sol la”

    Surely they could have found room to include _do_, _mi_, and _ti_.

  5. irishgirl says:

    Very cool!

    I hope that you can get to NYC before Hurricane ‘Earl’ comes ashore!

    Oh, how I wish I could come down from Upstate New York for this!

  6. Erik P says:

    Ut is actually Do, as Ut was changed to Do in Italy later so that it could be sung on an open syllable :)

  7. irishgirl: A great benefit of the passing of a hurricane is the perfect air that follows.

    NYC is more or less perfect today.

  8. AnAmericanMother says:

    And the syllables ut-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti (originally ‘si’) come from a hymn to St. John the Baptist “Ut Queant Laxis” — the system was invented by Guido d’Arrezzo, who noticed that the hymn begins a whole step higher on each phrase . . . and took the first letters to name the tones.

    He also invented the “Guidonian Hand” which is a clever way to remember a score if you don’t have pen and paper handy . . .

  9. AnAmericanMother says:

    Weather’s perfect here too, we must have gotten a little spin-off even this far inland.

  10. catholicuspater says:

    I’m glad there’s a professional choir, Father, but I thought both the pre-conciliar Popes and the Council wanted the people to say or sing in Latin those parts of the Mass that pertain to them. If there’s a professional schola singig the propers and a polyphonic mass, then what is left for the people to “say or sing in Latin” that “pertains to them”?

    It seems to me we’re just repeating the same mistakes that led to the overthrow of the Latin Mass by the Concilium if we don’t actually do what the Popes asked for time and time again in Tra le sollicitudini, Divini cultus, Mediator Dei, De musica sacra, and Musicae sacrae disciplina, as well as in Sacrosanctum Concilium.

    When poor P. Paul VI had Cardinal Villot send a copy of Jubilate Deo to every single bishop in the world to ask them to teach their people to sing the simple Gregorian Mass contained in it, I don’t think he was hoping that our traditional Masses would be taken over by professional choirs so the people could go back to being “dumb and idle spectators” (df. Pope Pius XII, Musicae sacrae disciplina.)

    If we want our churches to be filled with people at the Latin Mass who are engaged and enthusiastic about what they are doing, maybe it’s time to listen to Popes Pius X, XI and XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

    Shouldn’t we be promoting the agenda of the real liturgical movement (before it was hijacked by Bugnini)?

  11. catholicus pater: So, you don’t accept what the Second Vatican Council said also about polyphony. Okay. o{];¬)

    Is there no room in the liturgical practice of the Church for Masses with good choirs? Is there no room for use of the Church’s treasury of more difficult sacred music? Is there no room in our worship for people to participate actively also by listening?

    Not every Mass needs to be precisely the same.

    I too hope to see congregations also singing Gregorian chant, as the original intent of the Church’s documents following the Liturgical Movement intended by “active participation”.

    But not every Mass has to be the same in this regard. Our liturgical worship need not be uniform, homogeneous, unvaried.

    Or do you disagree?

  12. catholicuspater says:

    Fair enough point, Father, and I certainly enjoy polyphony, good choirs and active listening,
    and yes, not every Mass needs to be the same.

    That being said, most Low Masses I’ve been to (save one) have ONLY the servers making the responses, with a strange idea out there that it’s somehow wrong to have the people say in Latin those prayers that pertain to them.

    There is no diversity where I live, because at the three Latin Masses here the congregations are basically silent, and the kind of neurotic bias some people have against the people doing what the Popes both allow and encourage has alienated a number of families that I know. With that they have simply voted with their feet and headed back to the Novus Ordo, with TLM attendance here remaining anemic.

    The ONLY ‘participation’ here IS listening, and I think you’ll agree that is every bit as foreign to the mind of the Church as the opposite notion of ‘participatio actuosa’ meaning constant chatter.

    We have a real problem, Father, as I see it:

    At the OF, we tend to have constant activity to the virtual exclusion of silence and contemplation.

    At the EF (during the Low Mass) we tend toward complete silence from the pews to the virtual exclusion of external particiapation.

    You, of course, are right. We should have legitimate diversity such as the kind you call for. That diversity does not exist where I live, however, so I drive every Sunday to the neighboring diocese so my children can be part of a congregation where there are other people besides our family singing the Asperges, the parts of the Mass and the responses.

    I am convinced that until we take the directives of the pre-conciliar Popes seriously many TLM congregations that do not encourage vocal participation will remain small and isolated. Solving the liturgical problems of the last forty years characterized by almost incessant activity and sound will not be solved by going to the opposite extreme of 100% silence from the faithful.

    The way I see it, we are going to continue to bounce from extreme to extreme unless we begin correctly implementing the Church’s liturgical mandate for full and active participation by simply teaching people to say or sing in Latin those parts of the Mass that pertain to them.

  13. Flambeaux says:

    FWIW, I have experienced the active supression, in the last six months, of the dialog Low Mass.

    The pastor announced that the Church’s liturgical norms permit only silent participation by the Faithful. As there is still a weekly Missa Cantata at the parish, I didn’t protest. It was clearly not a hill I sought to die on. I’d much rather work to upgrade the current parlous state of singing and chanting in the Missa Cantata than argue with the pastor after he publicly decreed that all Low Masses in the parish would, henceforth, be silent as “required by the Church”.

    My experience from the pew as a layman tracks closely with what catholicuspater is talking about. Not “this is how it ought to be” but “this is how it is outside of a few shining exceptions”.

    The sanity of liturgical worship in fabled places like St. John Cantius or Mater Ecclesiae or the celebrations at the CMAA Sacred Music Colloquia is very far removed from the day-to-day grind, even in (and perhaps especially in) Traditionalist parishes.

    But this is moving off topic and I beg Father’s indulgence. The schedule of Masses posted above sounds magnificent. Only having access to such majesty but once a year (at the aforementioned CMMA Colloquium) is, for now, how I “get by” in what is still a liturgical wasteland (for all that I am very fortunate to be able to rear my family in a parish dedicated to the EF of the Roman Rite).

  14. Alice says:

    I have no idea about the liturgical practice at Holy Innocents, but theoretically, the laity in the pews could be invited to chant the responses even if the choir sings polyphonic Ordinaries and all the Propers. This would allow the congregation to participate both through active listening and joining their voices together in worship of the Almighty God.

    I dislike the idea of participation solo silentio that I have found amongst the traditionalists of my acquaintance. Yes, we can and should participate through active listening and meditation in silence; however, the laity should ALSO vocally participate in certain parts of the Mass. The two need not be mutually exclusive.

  15. JulieC says:

    Re: the participation of the faithful at the Latin Mass, the mandate in Sacrosanctum Concilium that the faithful are “to say or sing in Latin those parts of the Mass that pertain to them” is nothing more than the culmination of papal liturgical teachings reaching clear back to the turn of the century.

    Here is a sampling from the three most important pre-conciliar liturgical documents:

    Pope Pius X:

    “Gregorian Chant must be restored to the people so that they may again take a more active part in the sacred liturgy, as was the case in ancient times.” (Tra le sollecitudini, 1903)

    Pope Pius XI:

    “History tells us how in ancient basilicas, where bishop, clergy and PEOPLE alternately sang the divine praises, the liturgical chant played no small part in converting many barbarians to Christianity and civilization.”

    “Voices, rather than instruments, ought to be heard in the church: the voices of the clergy, the choir and the CONGREGATION.”

    “It is most important that when the faithful assist at the sacred ceremonies . . . they should not be merely detached and silent spectators, but, filled with a deep sense of the beauty of the liturgy, they should sing alternately with the clergy or the choir, as it is prescribed.

    If this is done, then it will no longer happen that the people either make no answer at all to the public prayers—whether in the language of the liturgy or in the vernacular—or at best utter the responses in a low and subdued manner.” (Divini cultus, 1928)

    Pope Pius XII:
    “They also are to be commended who strive to make the Liturgy even in an external way a sacred act in which all who are present may share.

    This can be done in more than one way, when, for instance, the whole congregation, in accordance with the rules of the Liturgy, either answer the priest in an orderly and fitting manner, or sing hymns suitable to the different parts of the Mass, or do both, or finally in High Masses when they answer the prayers of the minister of Jesus Christ and also sing the liturgical chant.” (Mediator Dei, 1947)

    As regards the Low Mass, in 1958, in De Musica Sacra, Pope Pius XII gave very specific directions as to what the faithful can say at a Missa Lecta. According to the Pope, “a more perfect form of participation is achieved when the faithful *respond liturgically* to the priest celebrant, taking part as it were in a dialogue with him, and *saying aloud the parts that belong to them.*” (emphasis according to the Liturgical Press translation)

    The Pope goes on in detail describing four degrees of participation by the people and lists all the prayers they are permitted to say, including the entire Pater Noster, which he calls “a fitting and ancient prayer of preparation for Communion.”

    We are speaking here, of course, about the so-called “Dialogue Mass,” which I’ve heard traditional-minded people speak of in a pejorative way, as if it were merely a short-lived experiment before Vatican II. From my reading of De Musica Sacra, however, I cannot find any clause whereby these four degrees of participation were considered optional by the Sacred Congregation of Rites who prepared the document.

    I’m no expert, but from what I can tell, the degrees mentioned were stages of participation that the Church was asking be implemented gradually over a period of time to introduce the people to a full, intelligent and active participation at the Low Mass. Nowhere is it stated that these directions could be ignored by local authorities. In fact, the Congregation speaks more than once of “those parts of the Mass that BELONG” to the faithful, so it was clearly their intention that all the faithful be allowed to say those responses.

    Finally, just to underscore the binding authority of this document, allow me to give the last line of De Musica Sacra which states:

    “This Instruction on sacred music and the sacred liturgy wa submitted to His Holiness Pope Pius XII by the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Rites. His Holiness deigned to approve it in a special way and by his authority to confirm it in its entirety and in all parts. He commanded that it be promulgated and be conscientiously observed by all whom it concerns. Anythin whatever to the contrary notwithstanding.”

  16. Jahaza says:

    At Sung and Solemn Masses in New York City, including at the Church of the Holy Innocents discussed above, the people commonly participate by singing the sung responses of the Mass, even at Masses in which the ordinary chants (Gloria, Sanctus, etc.) are sung to polyphony.

    People who don’t know what the praxis of a particular place is should sit on their hands and not cause division by complaining about it.

    The participation by the congregation of making the responses at Low Mass is allowed as an option at Masses according to the 1962 Missal. Practically, it doesn’t work very well, leading to a disorganized cacophany especially in large churches with spread out congregations (as Catholics tend to prefer to sit.) Since it’s optional and not required, doesn’t work very well, and since most people seem not to prefer it, not much effort has been put in to implementing it. The prevention of such cacophany is a key purpose of sung liturgy. It makes very little sense to put effort into creating spoken word choral liturgy.

  17. Jahaza says:

    From my reading of De Musica Sacra, however, I cannot find any clause whereby these four degrees of participation were considered optional by the Sacred Congregation of Rites who prepared the document.

    It’s the logical consequence of number 29 and number 31:

    29. The first way the faithful can participate in the low Mass is for each one, on his own initiative, to pay devout attention to the more important parts of the Mass (interior participation), or by following the approved customs in various localities (exterior participation). …

    31. A final method of participation, and the most perfect form, is for the congregation to make the liturgical responses to the prayers of the priest, thus holding a sort of dialogue with him, and reciting aloud the parts which properly belong to them.

    The participation of active listening (including using a Missal to pray along with the priest) is the first form of participation. The second form of participation is that of singing hymns, etc. (No. 30) and praying the words is only the third form of participation. This third form of participation comes in the four degrees previously mentioned, but it is the four degrees of participation in the third form of participation.

  18. FWIW: Today the congregation sang responses and the Creed.

    And the choir was GREAT.

  19. JulieC says:

    I would politely disagree that people “should sit on their hands and not cause division by complaining” about liturgical practices like the one mentioned above by Flambeaux where the people are told they cannot audibly participate at the Latin Mass.

    It may very well be fruitless and may cause some political fall-out, but nobody has the right to impose their own faulty interpretations of liturgical norms on the people. De Musica Sacra says several times that there are parts of the Mass which “belong” to the faithful and these parts are clearly listed in No. 31 of the document, so someone who tells the people they have no right to say those responses is causing division.

    As for Jahaza’s point that people saying the responses at the Low Mass is not pleasing to the ear, I believe that with more practice such difficulties could easily be overcome. At the Novus Ordo English Mass most congregations learn to say the responses in a fairly euphonious and unified manner. Because this is Latin and not the vernacular, it will initially be hard for people to assimilate, but with proper instruction, encouragement and patience it can be accomplished.

    When I attended Christendom College two decades ago, we had a daily Novus Ordo Mass in Latin and we learned fairly quickly to
    recite the responses with a respectable cadence and uniformity.

    I would agree with you that sung liturgy is the ideal and that preference is pretty clear in the liturgical documents. My only point is that when there is a low Mass, the Church insists that “special care be taken that the faithful are present ‘not as strangers or mute spectators,’ but that they exercise the kind of participation required by so great a mystery and which yields most abundant fruit.” (De musica sacra, #28)

    Of course, it’s the option of every individual to respond or to say silent at Mass, but none of the preconciliar documents give local authorities the option of prohibiting the people from saying the responses aloud if they so desire. A local authority may invoke “local custom” or “clerical preference” all he wants, but it’s abundantly manifest in the documents, particularly in the documents of Pope Pius XII, that the Church wanted the people to be taught to sing or say the parts of the Mass which rightfully BELONG to them. It’s a principle of canon law that a lower authority cannot supercede a higher authority, so I would imagine that if someone is actually ordering the people to be silent at a Latin Mass, he/she is, objectively speaking, on fairly thin ice, juridically speaking.

  20. catholicuspater says:

    Fair enough, Father, and thank you for the update. If the congregation is “wired in” to the celebration at least in that manner, I’ll certainly be one who would gladly attend.

  21. catholicuspater: If the congregation is “wired in” to the celebration at least in that manner

    You have an odd notion of active participation.

    Why couldn’t they be “wired in” by listening?

    Will the person who is blind not be said to be “wired in” if she can’t see what is going on?

    Will the person who is crippled not be “wired in” if she can’t stand and kneel and move as often as everyone else?

    Will the person who is tone deaf – and there are not a few – not be “wired in” if out of charity for others she chooses not to sing, but rather listen?

    Perhaps it is time to broaden that view of active participation.

  22. Supertradmum says:

    I think we looked at the documents concerning EF participation in the not so long-ago past. Yes, the congregation should be encouraged to learn Gregorian chant to a certain extent and sing the propers or the other parts of the Mass. “Local custom” can hardly be invoked as most EF’s have only been “going” for three years.

  23. Supertradmum says:

    PS Gregorian Chant is one of the easiest modes of singing to learn.

  24. catholicuspater says:


    By “wired in” I mean that I won’t be sitting in the congregation like the “dumb and idle spectator” Pope Pius XII mentioned in Musicae sacrae disciplina, or as an “outsider or mute onlooker” according to the same Pope in Mediator Dei, or as the “detached and silent spectators” described by Pope Pius XI in Divini cultus.

    By “wired in” I mean that I expect to be allowed to say or sing in Latin those parts of the Mass that, in the words of De musica sacra, “belong” to the laity.

    Now I appreciate that you are trying to broaden the meaning of active participation to mean also active listening, and I’m in complete agreement with that. However, if the term “active participation” is going to be distorted to mean only “active listening” with the congregation not being permitted to say or sing those parts of the Mass that “belong” to them, then that definition of active participation is flawed.

    I’m not suggesting that you are defining active participation as only active listening, but it seems that you’re implying that my definition of active participation is the opposite extreme of only speaking or doing, unless I’m reading it wrong.

    Here’s the bottom line, from my point of view, Father: It ought to be made clear—without any ambiguities—that Catholics at the Latin Mass have the prerogative, if they so choose, to “say or sing in Latin those parts of the Mass that belong to them.” That is the teaching of the Church, and that is the only thing I’m asking for, and with all due respect, I don’t think it’s something I have to apologize for.

  25. catholicuspater says:

    “Will the person who is tone deaf – and there are not a few – not be “wired in” if out of charity for others she chooses not to sing, but rather listen?”

    Talk about strange notions. I don’t believe tone deafness was mentioned in any of the documents as one of the criteria for taking part vocally in the celebration of Mass.

    I think it was Pope Pius XII who insisted in Mediator Dei that “Voices ought to be heard in church . . . the voices of the priest, the choir and the congregation.” However, he didn’t qualify what type of voices ought to be heard. I would presume the Pope knew very well that most of the people don’t have trained voices.

    The Mass as an act of public worship is what is key and it may be that some might be inclined to forget the spiritual needs of the people in their zeal to creat the most aesthetically pleasing experience possible.

    There is a dear man at our Latin Mass who has many physical infirmities, and who is, yes, quite tone deaf. However, he loves to sing and whenever the music begins, whether it is the propers or the ordinary or a hymn, he hums along in his own improvised melody. Some may find it irritating, but this man is so happy when he sings, that one can’t help but smile in sympathy and leave him in peace.

    From where I sit, this man’s tuneless singing and the amateur efforts of those singing around me in the pews has far more “heart” value than the most splendid polyphony in the most sophisticated setting. I know a schola director who confided to me once that in one of those big city Latin Mass choirs, when they’re not performing, the professional singers work crossword puzzles in the NY Times and TM their friends.

    While I’m not knocking professional choirs in the least, I think we must also consider what is most pleasing to God: the voluntary, enthusiastic and joyful participation of the common people singing in the pews, or the perfect rendition of music by people who are getting paid to sing, and to whom the Mass is just another weekend gig?

  26. JulieC says:

    Hope the liturgical police (either EF or OF) don’t come after your friend, catholicuspater, or after any tone-deaf priests, for that matter. (Just joking, of course.)

    The story about your friend reminds me of a severely mentally handicapped man who was actually banned from several local Catholic parishes here because he would sing in a loud, wordless, fog-horn-like wail during the hymns.

    Our saintly former pastor, however, heard of his predicament and installed him in a front-row seat off to the side of the church. He instructed the sacristans to allow the man to get a drink of water as needed from the sacristy during Mass. The ushers would escort him to his seat before Mass and to Holy Communion like he was a guest of honor, as indeed he was.

    That angelic little man continued to sing in the most awful way for many years, but we all learned to love him and tolerate his eccentricities, and I think our parish community was all the better for it.

  27. Henry Edwards says:


    You seem oddly preoccupied with “permission” to sing the responses at Mass. However, I have never attended a Sunday high Mass where this was an issue. Indeed, as a leader from the beginning in my local Latin Mass community, I may have had some role in forming our local custom in which everyone is encouraged to sing not only the dialogue responses and the Ordinary (e.g., Gloria and Credo) but also the Pater Noster (which may not so often be heard sung at TLMs). I think most of our adults and all of our children (learning from an early age) join in.

    However, I think a even higher (or deeper) form of actual participation is that originally described by Pope Pius X:

    “If you wish to hear Mass as it should be heard, you must follow with eye, heart, and mouth all that happens at the Altar. Further, you must pray with the Priest the holy words said by him. You have to associate your heart with the holy feelings which are contained in these words and in this manner you ought to follow all that happens on the Altar. When acting in this way, you have prayed Holy Mass.”

    So although I sing all the responses and ordinary audibly (if not well), I know that my participation is fullest during the offertory and canon when I unite myself consciously and silently with the silent prayers of the celebrant. For me this — neither listening nor praying aloud — is my most active and actual participation in Holy Mass.

  28. AnAmericanMother says:

    Y’all just don’t know how lucky you are!

    After last week’s wonderful experience at our local FSSP parish (where the congregation cheerfully, though not always tunefully, chanted the responses, while the small but expert schola dealt very professionally with a Viadana Mass and two motets – and were very respectful and all the ladies were veiled, we sat right in front of them) . . . we were on vacation and wound up at a South Georgia Parish that Shall Be Nameless for the “Life Teen Mass”.

    Oh my goodness, talk about a severe case of whiplash! There were at a maximum FOUR teenagers in the entire congregation (we weren’t sure of two of them, may have been 20-somethings), the average age of the congregation was around 65. And the music was possibly the worst I have ever heard in my life, including high school amateur night and girls’ sleepaway summer camp.

    The “choir” was one off duty priest with an acoustic guitar (out of tune, and with a maladjusted bridge or truss rod to boot so that it buzzed on all the low strings), one screechy voiced lady of a certain age, who doubled as the dramatic lector, and one old bearded pony-tailed hippie with an actual tambourine (no joke – it was vigorously applied throughout). The music was bad to begin with (old quasi-folk stuff like “Take My Heart” and “Something Touched Me”), and their (attempted) singing certainly did not improve it. Congregation tried to follow but the choir wasn’t following so it was pretty hopeless. My daughter kept catching my eye and I had to look away or I would have burst out laughing in the middle of Mass. I kept offering it up, but it wouldn’t go away . . . .

    Fortunately, the celebrant was absolutely and straight up orthodox (barring a little ad-libbing at the “Pray, brethren”) and delivered an excellent homily on the difficult Gospel.

    My daughter (who is very charitable; she’s really a very good girl) pointed out that they may not have been able to get anybody else to volunteer for the Mass. My husband the semi-pro rock guitarist waited until we were in the car to comment, “Father W__ can’t play guitar . . . but he keeps trying, give him that.”

  29. AnAmericanMother says:

    Julie C,

    Our old Sunday School director, who had a voice like somebody stepped on the cat, used to say “the Psalm says ‘Make a joyful noise unto the Lord’ — it doesn’t say anything about singing!”

    If you have a good strong-singing congregation, it doesn’t really matter. Indeed, a good strong-singing choir can carry a few off-tune choir singers.

    My parents (Episcopal) choir includes a mentally-handicapped lady who loves just to be in the choir but of course can’t sing or just sings at random. It’s a small choir and a chancel choir at that, but she isn’t particularly loud, and it makes her very happy to be there. We sub in the choir when we’re visiting my parents (I was drafted to sing tenor this week because their tenors were absent), but it honestly has never bothered me a bit. If people are doing their best, whatever that best is, you will not hear any complaints from me. It’s people who have no excuse, could do better if they tried, but sing junky music badly, that get the flak . . . . !

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