D. Marquette: New liturgical music legislation

I received word that the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan, is getting a liturgical music overhaul.   Based on the work of the previous bishop, now-Archbp. Alex Sample in Portland, Oregon, Bp. John Doerfler has issued a document that requires all the parishes to adopt a single diocesan-produced hymnal and that all parishes will learn to sing chants in both English and in Latin.

Someone sent the document to me, but since I didn’t see it on the diocesan website, I’ll not post it here… yet.  Most of the document pertains to the development of the diocesan hymnal, but there is this:

“All parishes and schools will learn to chant the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei from the Missa Iubilate Deo, and they will be sung by the congregation some of the time throughout the year.”

It seems that Bp. Doerfler takes seriously what the Council Fathers mandated in Sacrosanctum Concilium 54, namely:

54. …[S]teps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.

I can hear the liberal candy-rearends whining even now.  “It’s tooo haaard!”

Frankly, I think that what was mandated could have been a bit more far-reaching.  They should also have a Gloria and Creed.  Furthermore, what’s to keep them from adding a Mass setting each year or so?

At my home parish in my native place, there is a K-12 school.  All the students, for the all school Masses, sing the parts that pertain to them, alternating, without blinking or thinking anything of it, in English and the Latin.  No one told them they couldn’t do it.  There is also a student choir that sings polyphony and settings of orchestral Masses.  Also, on Saturday mornings there was always a Novus Ordo Mass sung in Latin: the whole congregation sang the Ordinary.  The cantor would announce something like, “Mass IV, today”, because it happened to be a feast of an Apostle, and everyone sang, either from memory or from the Kyriale provided in a basket by the door.  Easy peasy.

Sure, there might be a few bumps on the way, but in time it’ll be no problem.  We don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good and we strive always to do our best when it comes to our liturgical worship of God.

Fr. Z kudos to Bp. Doerfler.

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  1. Zephyrinus says:

    Thank God for Bp. Doerfler.

    Brick by Brick.

  2. joan ellen says:

    I live in SW MI. Going to be asking God & His angels & saints to help the rest of the MI Conference to follow suit. Thank you, Fr. Z. We can all use these bits of good news.

  3. Norah says:

    I sang in my primary (elementary) school choir and we sang the Kyrie, Sanctus, Gloria, Credo and Agnus Dei.

  4. Once they start with the Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei, maybe the faithful will realize what was stolen from them and start clamoring for the Gloria and Creed on their own– perhaps a new document will not be needed.

  5. The document has apparently been found, courtesy of Corpus Christi Watershed:

    [On the other hand, though I have it, I haven’t seen it on the diocesan site.]

  6. Kerry says:

    Father Z., my wife and I remember and miss those Saturday masses at Agnes.

  7. SaintJude6 says:

    I think Dora the Explorer already taught us that even preschoolers can learn to sing in another language and understand what they are singing.

  8. SpesUnica says:

    Let’s pray for them! And for Bishop Doerfler especially, as this is a wonderful idea that could easily be stoked into a conflagration by people opposed to change or tradition. There is nary a catfight like a liturgy catfight. I can’t wait to see a copy!

  9. frjim4321 says:

    Last one out, turn off the lights.

  10. Geoffrey says:

    Blessed Paul VI’s “Jubilate Deo” went the way of his instituted ministries. If both had been embraced and utilized, what we now call the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite would look very different.

  11. FXR2 says:

    Fr. Z.,

    I did find this amazing letter, “REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS”, from Bishop Sample dated January 21, 2013. I seems to cover much the same topic.

    What a blessed Diocese.


  12. FXR2 says:

    perhaps I should have jumped to Watershead first. OOOPs!


  13. Charles E Flynn says:

    On a few occasions, I have used the expression about not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good in conversations with largely secular friends, and when they seem surprised that they have not encountered this pearl of wisdom in their quarter-megadollar Ivy League educations, I have been tempted to explain that it is the for the same reason that they have never heard of the valley of tears.

  14. Moro says:

    Too hard? Well first off, Christianity is rather hard even in the best of times. And second, there are small children (about 8 years old or so) in my TLM parish here in Barcelona that can sing parts of the mass quite well. If they can, surely parish choirs can.

  15. Roguejim says:

    At my parish, within the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, we still sing the inclusive version of I Am The Bread of Life, when we’re not singing more bluesy numbers to the accompaniment of a piano and acoustic guitars, while the pipe organ gathers dust in the defunct choir loft. The “Sample Effect” has not made it here.

  16. Imrahil says:

    When I graduated from highschool, we kept a book with quotes of our classmates. I was quoted there with “as for singing, everyone can do that”. I don’t recall when I said that, but I quite agree with myself.

    All that is needed are three things: i.) a booklet with the notes ii.) an absence of disapproving looks if someone sings wrongly or without singing wrongly sounds creepy. iii.) a little choir or schola for the parts of the chants of the ordinary which the congregation usually does not sing. (You might do it left-side, right-side, but that’s too complicated for a beginning.)

    And of course you must make sure that the beloved popular Church-songs still will be sung: at the end, or as an introduction, or in Masses without chant, or even, perhaps, in devotional services apart from Mass. Leastways if you’re in Germany. You can’t bring a German Catholic to say goodbye to the Schubert Mass.

    That said, why not start with an entire Missa 18 plus Credo III (seems like a legitimate Lenten program – yes, at the beginning you might have to bite into the sour apple and use Missa 18 on a Sunday) and follow up with the Missa de Angelis? (Yes… I know some people think the Missa de Angelis rather overused… but you have to start somewhere.)

  17. Imrahil says:

    Ah yea, you might use a fourth thing.

    iv.) an organ – at the times where this is allowed – to prevent the congregation from sounding too creepy.

  18. Well, I also heard that the rector of their cathedral did not like sacred music. So it may be an uphill battle for the bishop.

  19. wised says:

    This brings up a question that I do not remember having ever seen addressed. What is the purpose of a church choir? I have sung in church choirs in the past, both with musical accompaniment and men’s acapella, never with guitar or snare drum accompaniment. In each case, the musical selection was always liturgical and enhanced the reverential. It seems to me that today the musical selection often leans toward what I call the folksong genre. Is the aim to engage the members of the choir with attempts at harmony, or actually to enhance the sacred as found in the sacrifice?

    I would again join the choir, if only they sang religious songs. If I hear “Go tell it on the Mountain” one more time …..

    Whether it is the Christmas season or the month of May, can we not hear the songs that we have heard for years rather than new selections that only the choir has rehearsed? Whatever happened to Immaculate Mary?

  20. Simon_GNR says:

    In my experience it’s *easier* to sing in Latin than in English. Generally there are fewer words and fewer syllables to fit into the musical notes.

  21. FXR2 says:

    Badger Catholic,
    I agree. “REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS” from 2013 seems to have been the proverbial carrot while the new document functions as the unfortunately necessary stick. The joys of leadership in a bureaucracy.


  22. Imrahil says:

    Dear Simon_GNR,

    sounds logical. On a similar vein, I’m rather caught on a wrong foot if I have to say the Salve Regina in German, and have to search for the words. Say it in Latin is easier (I can just sing it in mind). In Latin chant (ferial tone – the solemn one is just so rarely done…), it comes without thinking.

  23. iamlucky13 says:

    Chant is actually one of the easiest forms of music, because despite its beauty most of it has simple meter and intervals and is not constantly reaching for those high D’s I’ve always dreaded.


    At my parish, within the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon… The “Sample Effect” has not made it here.

    Having lived there for a while, too, I’m certain it will take quite a while for the Sample effect to take hold in Portland. Probably longer than he will be their archbishop.

    I pray he is able to create some positive changes, but he’s up against much more difficult challenges than in Marquette. The most obvious challenge is the stronger hold of liberalism (and the stronger newspeak conviction that “tolerance” means intolerance for traditional Catholicism that leaves even well-meaning Catholics often afraid to be appear too Catholic). Plus, the whole “keep Portland weird” mentality is grounded in the same hippy sort of tradition that spawned all that terrible 70’s music in the first place and drew in Oregon Catholic Press’s most prolific songwriters (I’m almost called them composers). On top of that, for better or worse, the Pacific NW culture is unabashedly casual, which is great in most social contexts, but a hard habit to break even when formality is clearly merited.

    He’s going to be very busy dealing with nonsense like comparing concerns over a Catholic school hiring teachers who flout Catholic teaching to pedophilic rape. The largest secular newspaper in the archdiocese is responsible for that comparison:

    If he has strength left after dealing with the bigger issues in his archdiocese to also fix the liturgy then he’s an even more remarkable bishop than he seems.

  24. organistjason says:

    Even in dark times, where Rubrics are changed “with a pen”, the “Reform of the Reform” moves on. In the footsteps of Archbishop Sample, Bishop John Doerfler, has joined the ranks in my opinion, of Extra-Ordinary, Ordinary’s. Soli Deo Gloria!

  25. FXR2 says:

    iamlucky13 says:
    29 January 2016 at 5:56 PM
    If he has strength left after dealing with the bigger issues in his archdiocese to also fix the liturgy then he’s an even more remarkable bishop than he seems.

    As Fr. Z. has said, “Save the Liturgy, save the world!”


  26. Imrahil says:

    Dear wised,

    you have to give the choir their due… Mice are caught with bacon, as they say around here. If someone serves his parish by being in a choir, he isn’t over-rewarded when he gets, some time, to sound off the songs they’ve chosen and rehearsed (all the more if doing so on the organ gallery without being seen).

    And “Go, tell it on the mountain” is, examine it as often as you like, an orthodox religious song. Also, a religious song remains a religious song if it is accompanied by a guitar or also, if it fits, a snare-drum.

    [Religious “songs” are not part of Mass.]

  27. Volanges says:

    Wish we could get our Bishop to do this, or at least mandate that Jubilate Deo be used at some point during the year. The CCCB commissioned 3 settings of the Mass to accompany the promulgation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal. Our choir learned one and we’ve been singing that one exclusively for the past 4 years.

  28. Stephen Matthew says:

    If you are Catholic in the English speaking world and can’t sing both the Missa Jubilate Deo and the chants in English of the Roman Missal, more or less from memory, you have been cheated and betrayed by the ecclesiastical ministers charged with music and liturgy in your locale.

    Sadly in my experience, when you gather Catholics from multiple parishes and multiple diocese, there is not a single mass setting of any sort that is universally known and singable. That is tragedy, and a sort of violent betrayal of both the unity of the Roman church and the possibility of the people participating liturgically in the manner hoped for by The Council. Not to mention it is a lobotomizing of our musical and cultural heritage.

  29. Volanges says:

    The CCCB published a booklet, Celebrate in Song, to accompany the new Roman Missal. It includes the chant setting from the Roman Missal and the 3 settings they commissioned. But the layout is Mass Setting A; Mass Setting B; Mass Setting C. The chant setting? Oh, that comes last and they labelled it Chants, not Mass Setting so the choir director, who’s not well versed in liturgical music, didn’t even realize it WAS a Mass setting. Needless to say we’re not learning that one.


  31. I’m a little late to this, but…

    The big news here is the hymnal, which the bishop is going to publish! This means:

    – No excuses. If it’s not in the hymnal, you have to get permission from the bishop.
    – One the hymnal is in place, people will get used to it. It becomes the default.

    And here is the best part:

    – Why can’t parishes outside this diocese purchase this hymnal? I intend to order a copy when it becomes available.

    This could be very influential.

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