Thoughts from Ostermann's "The Case Against the Choral Ordinary in the Ordinary Form"
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,478
    I would love to see a parish where a 2 min. entrance was the norm. One verse of ST ANNE usually covers it.
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  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,478
    The real compositional problem, as I see it, is that there is no specific 'style' of today, and hence no real need for new music. In the past we needed new music because the style changed: anyone who played High Baroque Masses in Beethoven's Vienna was 'old fashioned'. -- The exceptions to this general rule are the works Mozart and Palestrina. But even the so-called 'Palestrina Style' of 18th century Vienna could not possibly be mistaken for authentic music of the High Renaissance, it is very obviously Classical in its manner.

    Today we have the problem of Tra le Sollicitudine and Sacrosanctum Concillium: High Renaissance Polyphony is extolled as second only to Gregorian Chant, and other types of modern music are "tolerated". And, let's face it, with Classical Polyphony given the status of the unofficial official music of the Roman Rite, why compose new music? Surely there's enough Isaac, Palestrina, Byrd and Lassus to go 'round. We don't need new music, especially when we don't have a style of our time, and since most new liturgical compositions (mine especially) are really only a kind of Neo-Fuxian Pastiche, and most don't go beyond the realm of gebrauchsmusik.
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  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Surely there's enough Isaac, Palestrina, Byrd and Lassus to go 'round. We don't need new music, especially when we don't have a style of our time, and since most new liturgical compositions (mine especially) are really only a kind of Neo-Fuxian Pastiche, and most don't go beyond the realm of gebrauchsmusik.

    Yes, there's plenteous Pierluigi to purloin indeed. We've been around and around this mousewheel since the Snowbird Group and Msgr. Mannion's taxonomy. We do need essentially new and inspired Mass Ordinaries that are mindful and not mimicry of the heritages of the music treasury. Because, if for only this simple reason, we all don't have Msgr. Wadsworth, Fr. Smith, Fr.Keyes or Fr. Pasley as our pastors. .001% of pastors might not kick you out of his office if you even asked for Hassler's Missa Dixit Maria for Advent.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,478
    [NB: this post is much edited.]

    The problem, as I see it, is that we live in a culture that does not value contemporary music. Having been bombarded with deconstructionist "art" since the beginning of the 20th Cent., many lay people (referring here to non-musicians) are wary of any music written by a composer who died after 1908, let alone someone who is still alive. Musicians probably shy away from contemporary music in worship because they want to avoid complaints about the 'harshness', the 'dissonances', etc. of modern musical language. Even someone as tame as Britten is feared by people. We program old music because people know it, and are accustomed to it; because it's harmless: it doesn't make them think, at least not too much. People are unwilling to progress beyond I-IV-V-I.

    [NB: My reference to I., P., B., and L., above was primarily regarding Propers Cycles (or individual settings), not Mass Ordinaries.]
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,156
    ... with the possible sole exception of Whitacre
    ... who isn't noted for writing liturgical/sacred/religious music.

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  • mahrt
    Posts: 510
    There is another repertoire that the church has handed us--classical polyphony. As an ideal, I don't wish Palestrina etc. to be pervasive throughout the church; what I wish is that the liturgy should be expressed through music that is beautiful and sacred. Chant, first of all does that, but so does Palestrina.
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  • The Church needs to pass chant and polyphony on to its musicians, through its musicians. Only than can the new music written have the "movement, inspiration, and savor" of chant. What happened after Vatican II (and before) was the abandonment of sacred music as it was, not the development upon it. I like Jared Ostermann's call for sacred musicians to contribute the best contemporary (in the literal sense) music for the liturgy, just as Palestrina et al. did in their time. We need the work of folks like Dr. Mahrt to retain the treasure to study and love and upon which we will build.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    We need the work of folks like Dr. Mahrt to retain the treasure to study and love and upon which we will build.

    I can name that corrected tune in three words: Father. George. Rutler.
    Mahrt and his predecessors who had to keep the boat from listing during the perfect storm of 66-71 have done their work. And there's likely lotsa CMAA/NPM/free floating capable choirmasters that could Palestrina weekly.
    But all it takes is a Dolan, a Chaput (most unfortunate, had high hopes), a Cupich or Wuerl to set an example for not only their charges, but for clergy everywhere who look upon the Mass as essentially a commodity that has to fit into their notion of time and content. Where have you gone, Joseph Ratzinger, the people turn their thirsting souls to you....?
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,553
    But all it takes is a Dolan, a Chaput (most unfortunate, had high hopes), a Cupich or Wuerl to set an example


    This is really a problem with the N.O., You are only ever 1 week away from the clown mass. You can build up a choir and sing Palestrina each week, you can build up a group of Altar boys to serve, you can order the sanctuary so it looks like part of a church, etc. But the new Parish priest can come in and sweep it all away, and still be using the same Missal / Lectionary etc.
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  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,615

    This is really a problem with the N.O., You are only ever 1 week away from the clown mass. You can build up a choir and sing Palestrina each week, you can build up a group of Altar boys to serve, you can order the sanctuary so it looks like part of a church, etc. But the new Parish priest can come in and sweep it all away, and still be using the same Missal / Lectionary etc.


    I mean... technically a bishop could assign a crazy priest to say the TLM and he could do crazy things at the EF too.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,553
    I mean... technically a bishop could assign a crazy priest to say the TLM and he could do crazy things at the EF too.


    Crazy things at the E.F., but then it would not be the E.F. There is very little room for 'change' without breaking the Rubrics. Also having a cross between the E.F. and a clown Mass will upset everybody, why not just save some hassle and have the N.O., then you will only be upsetting the TLM types, and they are used to travelling to Mass.

    We have now had two priests in London that have managed to lose their TLM communities.
    The first thought that he could use the New Lectionary, my friends who ran the schola all resigned, this was a Sunday Evening Mass and they all would sing morning Masses so all it did was give them the opportunity of going to Vespers. The low Mass did not last long either, girl altar servers were suggested by the priest and his congregation disappeared. The Priest ended up saying a N.O. with bits of Latin. The TLM types found a new venue within a week and now have Mass there.
    I think I will not go into the circumstances of the second, but he said the TLM perfectly well, but was so unpleasant to almost anyone involved in the TLM at the Parish that it was not worth being anywhere near him. Within two weeks the collection had dropped by over 400 pounds (per week)! Sadly this priest is now leaving the priesthood.
  • Crazy things at the E.F., but then it would not be the E.F. There is very little room for 'change' without breaking the Rubrics.


    Fair enough. For what it's worth, most of the 'clownish' things that I've seen in the context of the NO were also contrary to the prescribed rubrics (limp as they may be) for the NO.
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  • mahrt
    Posts: 510
    "Sadly this priest is now leaving the priesthood."

    Shades of the sixties and seventies! This was a commonplace then. A priest would make a mess of the liturgy and then cruise out, leaving a shambles. One of our priests criticized our chant Mass describing it as "stacking up deck chairs on the Titanic." It was only a few years that he left the priesthood, and we are still there.
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  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Professor, you have addressed ecclesial princes, prime movers of sacred liturgy world-wide, legions of musicians of all abilities, and most importantly been able to share your gospel with the good people of St. Anne's in Palo Alto for decades.
    But to my point above, unless "we" succeed in getting the serious, focused and interested attention of the body of bishops in this country about reawakening the sleeping giant that Christ's Church, HRCC, through the vitality and mystery of the true Mass of the Ages, we cannot help our own shepherds and captains towards true leadership. Is there no path other than the hodge podge liturgies that attend modern ordinations (LA should be interesting), world youth days, and papal visitations?
    At times I am dismayed thinking that the RCC has devolved into one pathetic paper push institution. And, if there's even a shred of truth in that resignation, then we are just re-arranging deck chairs, and it took a while for the Titanic to sink, but sink she did. I need to see the bow of the USS Hope on the horizon.
  • tomjaw says '...but then it would not be the E.F.'

    Michael says 'Fair enough.'


    No. It isn't fair enough. It isn't at all fair enough. If one insists that '...it would not be the E.F', one could quite as well insist that '...it would not be/is not the N.O.'

    We are again allowing, incorrectly, that a rite and what people do to that rite are a unitary thing. They are not. What is done equals actual conformity, in a juridical and spiritual (aesthetical) sense, or it violates those senses. This may, indeed be done to any rite, which (again, thanks to our friend, Donatus) ne'ertheless remains a valid mass using a spiritual deformation of its rite. As I've suggested before, if the NO hadn't come along and become the dominant rite, these liturgical perverts would be wreaking their havoc on the Tridentine rite or whatever was at hand. It's what they do in life (and, astonishingly, we keep ordaining them! - even making bishops and cardinals of them!). There is nothing at all that forbids some unfortunate person from performing (heaven forbid!) propers and ordinaries in Latin to sacro-pop music, the priest from wearing icky vestments, etc., for the E.F.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,553
    Fair enough. For what it's worth, most of the 'clownish' things that I've seen in the context of the NO were also contrary to the prescribed rubrics (limp as they may be) for the NO.


    I perhaps did not really make my thoughts clear...

    When I see a Mass advertised as a TLM / E.F., I have a very good idea what to expect.
    i.e. No Girl Altar servers, no Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, no rock / pop music, no folk Hymns, very little if any vernacular, etc. O.K. there will be the odd exception but anything crazy will see the listing of the Mass removed from the lists, someone will blog about it, it won't usually last. It is always easier to have a N.O. Mass instead.

    The N.O. is different, we can go from church to church and find completely different services, some will follow the Rubrics to the letter others will not bother. This flexible approach we would describe as a flaw, but those that created the Mass saw it as a feature. The limits of what is permissible are vague, the example of Pope, Cardinal, Bishop etc. has a much greater effect, than the letter of the Rubrics. We have less idea what we are going to get.

    In the E.F. I can always appeal to the Rubrics they are an intrinsic part of the Rite. In the N.O. the rubrics appear to be flexible.

    I see again and again on this forum threads about the problem of what music to use in the N.O. We can't appeal in many cases to the rubrics, history, legislation. So often it is the case of what the priest 'likes', or what the more vocal in the parish 'like'.

    I admire those here that do so much for the cause of Church Music within the N.O. it is really great what has, and can be achieved. But I am really glad that I do not have those problems (including the topic of this thread), and I am more than happy with the TLM.
  • I repeat: if the Tridentine rite were all that we had you would not be able to
    '...have a very good idea what to expect.'

    For reason, see my remarks just above.
  • I mean... technically a bishop could assign a crazy priest to say the TLM and he could do crazy things at the EF too.


    As far as music goes, bad EF priests don't "do" crazy. They do nothing. (i.e. the Low Mass.)

    I have nothing against the Low Mass, don't get my wrong, but the mentality of sticking in Low Mass mode, with as little music as possible - just get through mass and get it over with involving as little exertion as possible - if you ask me, that utilitarian mindset is almost a more insidious form of Modernism than the regrettable tripe of M. Haugen and the Banana Splits at mass. Because we want it fast, we want it now, we want it over with.

    Okay, here beginneth a rant: a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of arranging music for a TLM in my diocese - a fairly rare occasion, and it's been a while since it's happened in my hometown, so I wanted to make it a very special occasion. Palestrina's Missa Aeterna, full Gregorian propers, motets by Mozart and Schubert - we practiced for months, and we did a none too shabby job of it. I usually try to keep music pretty simple, but this was a special occasion, so I thought my utmost for His highest.

    What comments did my fellow coordinators have?

    -"Mass was too long - It was 45 minutes before the Gospel was even read (it wasn't - it was 18)."
    -"We never got to sing (untrue as well, since I included music for opening/closing hymns and the Credo)
    -"You should've put music for the ordinary parts in the bulletin so everyone could sing. (Yeah, as well as instructions for where S,A,T, & B congregants we supposed to sit.)"
    -"Mass was too much like a concert."

    This last one gets me. These same people are always telling me to slow down, take in life, enjoy the moment. Yet with them, it's either 'congregation must always participate' or absolute silence. It doesn't always have to be silent for a person to be reflective at Mass.

    Mass isn't about us. Mass is not primarily pedagogical, although it's a wonderful side effect. Mass is about giving due praise and adoration to God to the best of our abilities.

    I apologize. Here endeth the rant. But I am about burnt out about the reductionist worldview, in either EF or OF.
  • mahrt
    Posts: 510
    There is still some of the old "service-station" mentality. Do it as quickly as possible. But I would ask, would you limit a football game or a movie to 45 minutes? Which i more important?
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,574
    These same people are always telling me to slow down, take in life, enjoy the moment.

    With fermented beverage in hand to promote sharp retention of all aspects.
  • But I would ask, would you limit a football game to 45 minutes?


    Here in Texas that counts as heresy!
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  • ...45 minutes?'

    Actually, I would eliminate it altogether!
  • Let's be honest. Who here in their right mind would have a choir sing a polyphonic Credo these days?

    The tradition of the "Missa Brevis" in composition appears to have been that the composer would provide the Kyrie, Sanctus-Benedictus and Agnus Dei of the Ordinary of the mass, leaving the Gloria and Credo, where required to be sung in chant.

    I think that the reality of most parish churches would be to have a polyphonic mass setting once a month (or on major feasts) and then to use simpler settings for most other masses.
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  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    I think that the reality of most parish churches would be to have a polyphonic mass setting once a month (or on major feasts) never and then to use simpler settings something awful and inappropriatefor most other masses all the time.


    Edited for accuracy.
  • The 'missa brevis tradition' has several strands, of which the Gloria-less ferial or weekday mass is only one. I've never heard of a requirement to chant the Gloria only.
  • I recognise the humour in Adam's remark. It also may seem to represent reality. But, what if, just 'what if', instead of the 'musicans' and 'pastors' that they have, the people had real musicians and pastors. The people, who (and this is not meant disparagingly!) by and large have little knowledge or expectations of church music except the examples with which they are presented, would, of course, like polyphony, etc., if that were what was being presented to them by most choirmasters and pastors. Put more briefly, one may have certitude that people would like 'good stuff' if that was what was done in the majority of places and desired by most pastors. The people do not demand the junk they are presented with. Adam is, of course, correct in stating what he does. But, we should recognise that this situation exists because of the pitiful leadership of 'musicians' and 'pastors'.

    I would further edit the above quote as follows -
    'I think that the reality of most nearly all parish churches would be to have a polyphonic setting once a month (or on major feasts) never as often as their pastor wanted it providing that that represented cultural reality and pastoral wishes in the majority of Catholic churches.
    (In other words, the people really do not huddle and decide that they want junk. Their 'pastors' and 'musician' decide that for them. It beggars belief how very, very little a great, great many of our clergy think of 'their' people.
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  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,301
    But, in all honesty, I also cannot make the case for why the Novus Ordo Missae, and all it's accompanying baggage, was needed in the first place.

    All I have to say is this: the liturgical changes after V2 are NOT GOOD. A few over-zealous liturgists, in an attempt to bring us back to a supposed liturgical purity (whatever that means) threw out the baby with the bath-water. The ethos of the Novus Ordo is so completely different, except when celebrated at the mercy of specialist clergy and congregation (such as at Colloquia), that, to be honest, the Graduale Romanum isn't even 'at home' in it. I do feel that the only way to 'fix' the multitude of problems inherent in the N.O. is to revise it considerably or, better, to scrap it all together. I am sorry if this sounds drastic, but the very limited amount of good that has happened in the past fifty years as a result of the liturgical changes could easily have been incorporated into the Roman Rite without destroying it completely. But that is another discussion.
    my thinking exactly
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    I'd like to interject a smidgeon of "work in progress" perspective to the original concern Jarod raises. I purchased copies of Richard R's "manuscript" of a new SATB setting of "De Angelis" and we've been reading through it the last two weeks. It is a compelling and challenging setting. But as we went through the Sanctus to Agnus (it is in Latin) what I had speculated about its usage at our schola Mass (NO) was made evident- it really belongs in the TLM. And that's precisely what Richard does in VA. Ergo, the issue of time expended to accommodate any true "choral" Mass isn't really valid, it does have to revert to how best does a setting serve the particular attributes of ritual action (ars celebrandi) that a celebrant exercises. To further that, despite anecdotal histories of occasional insertions of a choral Mass in the NO or even regularly scheduled Sunday Masses (as per Msgr. Schuler), for a parish/pastor to introduce such to an established congregation and schedule could be pastorally inappropriate if you follow my reasoning. So the alternative might be not to concertize such a setting, but schedule a Mass outside of the weekly schedules that will have all the ritual elements necessary to which a choral Mass would serve and compliment.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    I've never heard of a requirement to chant the Gloria only.


    I think the meaning of the comment was: because the polyphonic Gloria wasn't composed, the chant had to be sung instead NOT because the Gloria had to be chanted, therefore no polyphonic Gloria was composed.
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  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,478
    Perhaps we should stop using polyphonic Credo, Sanctus-Benedictus and Agnus movements altogether, and revive the genre of the Kyie-Gloria only "Missa Brevis" of Baroque Lutherandom? (And this is NOT purple: I'm serious!)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e91I6pupoGc
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  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,301
    Wow that is beautiful ... Composer?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,301
    Nm... Went to youtube
  • melo - I cringe whenever I see a choral Ordinary in the OF advertised as being "sung in its intended liturgical context". Whether or not we want choral ordinaries in the OF, we have to acknowledge that the reformed liturgy is a different liturgical context than that for which the music was originally composed. However, one possible way forward, at least at certain "landmark" parishes with multiple choirs (oratories, cathedrals, etc.), is to maintain an EF Mass as part of the Sunday morning routine (not 1 PM or 5 PM!). The choral ordinary ensemble could serve at the EF, and the choral proper ensemble at the OF Mass. The entire breadth of the treasury thus gets active use. Although, the issue of how to handle the proper remains, even if the choral ordinary is used for the EF liturgy.
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  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Jared, Charles here.
    Like Rich Skirpan, I'm really a choral conductor/composer first, and chanter/accompanist second, so what I'm picking up is that our nomenclature regarding the "constitution" of a "Choral Mass" may not be the same. As a choral person, in 45 years I've never accepted the dismissive or diminishing role of the choir's function at service. There has been a number of shifts in modality of performance that have relegated choirs to what amounts as a "life support system" to mitigate FCAP. I loathe that devolution. Yes, choirs do provide the best (as opposed to the Mr. Caruso mic'd up cantor crap we'll endure next week) backbone for congregational singing, but not at the diminution of forcing capable singers away from SATB (or whatever voicing) to unison as the standard. So, that's why, to me, the Jernberg is the MR3 poster child for a fairly fulfilling choral and congregational setting, similar in a way to how I regarded Proulx's Oecumenica sans Gloria, and a few others such as Schiavone's Holy Family. I think this latter Mass, as modest as it is, however shows that choir singing in alternatim with the congregation is a still viable model for composition that is not all that much been used since MR3. What do you think?
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  • What keeps me scratching my head is, how are we supposed to regard the treasury of sacred music as a true treasure, and then say that the choral ordinary- especially the classical polyphonic ordinary- shouldn't be offered as fitting praise to God? Why would music of this kind- routinely upheld as fitting praise and part of the treasury of sacred music- be condidered unsuitable?

    It's the same thing with the Gradual and Allleuia. How are we supposed to value these splendid, elaborate compositions as treasures... and then turn around and consider them unsuitable?

    What are we missing in the application of the documents? Are the documents themselves contradictory? Might we be elevating one ideal- the desire of actual participation, at the expense of another ideal- the desire to give fitting praise from our treasury of sacred music?

    Sometimes I feel like a stained glass artist who is asked to make basic art but nothing too elaborate. Pressing this stained glass analogy, putting a moratorium on the singing of choral ordinaries strikes me as rather like removing the colors and designs in a glorious rose window and putting in plain glass or perhaps pastel panes instead. It is a loss. It is destructive.

    It's possible to have both elaborate beauty and actual participation in the OF. Let it be as splendid as practically possible. Use the treasury of sacred music for the glory of God and the edification and sanctification of the faithful. What did Jesus teach us about using treasure entrusted to us?

    Again, I assert that it is reasonable and possible to foster congregational singing of the ordinary and to sing a choral ordinary on occasion, or even fairly regularly.
  • One strategy that I've seen used successfully is to 'teach' the congregation the ordinaries by having the choir sing the congregation's part in unison with the congregation, for a couple of weeks. Subsequently, the choir sings polyphony and the congregation sings its part. Though evidence sometimes suggests otherwise, the congregation, as a whole, is not stupid. The people can pick these things up pretty quickly and participate.

    A well-written ordinary, prayed by a congregation that 'knows its part' and sings it, with the choir singing its part as SATB, can be a beautiful thing. There are many forms of participatio. This is one that everybody can easily appreciate as both prayerful and beautiful.
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  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Great to hear your voice, MACW! I don't think there's soul who haunts this forum not in complete agreement with your take and sentiment. However, what Jared has brought to the fore, is situation-wise, what most RC parishes and their DM's will have to contend. In the post-Benedict XVI era, I don't think there will be much enthusiasm expressed by both prelates and pastors to maximize their ars celebrandi which enables us to respond rightly. Without being mean-spirited, over at PTB, all of the Inwood/AWR folks are happy as clams with "gebrauchsmusik" compositions being chosen for various papal liturgies this week in DC/Philly/NYC. This is the way the wind is blowing, and it's a harsh reality. But in a way, it spurs within me a sort of Straight out of Compton mentality to "FIGHT THE POWER!"
  • Yes, this is the way the wind is blowing. And we music directors have to be savvy about that.
    Still, the wind changes pretty regularly. So we needn't chase it but rather sway with it.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,553
    Let's be honest. Who here in their right mind would have a choir sing a polyphonic Credo these days?


    We are thinking about it... We already sing a Credo (VI) that the congregation does not join in a few times a year, why not a full polyphonic Credo a couple of times a year. This is an E.F. parish, and we have spent many years educating the congregation. When we do a polyphonic Credo we will not get any complaints, of course we will use a shorter one!
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  • 'Who in their [sic] right mind....'

    Ahem! Let's be honest. Who, in his right mind, would not object to having a choir sing a polyphonic Credo these days?
    It's the unfortunate assumptions of aversion to quite sane practices like this that are deeply disappointing. I say this with some reserve because I do prefer that the ordinary be kept as the domain of the congregation, and that it be sung in plain chant or an accompanied mass of Willan-like quality. That one would balk, though, at such a credo is very disturbing. That one would consider this to be 'right minded' is alarming.
  • I think Jared's argument is that the Novus Ordo is liturgically different than the context for which the choral ordinaries were composed (parallel vs. sequential), and also that most congregants are not formed in a way that allows them to participate with the choral ordinary. It seems he is open to correction of the latter, and supportive of parishes where it is well-formed, but the former issue is perhaps a real block to the appropriate employment of the choral ordinary.
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  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,553
    While the N.O. is liturgically different, and that more, shall I say 'audience' participation is expected. But just because the N.O. is a sequential confection, does not mean that polyphonic Ordinaries are impossible in that setting. If the Parish Priest is supportive, and the congregation is expecting a full Sung Mass, polyphonic Ordinaries are possible, as can be seen from the list of London posted here, http://forum.musicasacra.com/forum/discussion/comment/151733#Comment_151733

    I do not see why in Parishes that have multiple Masses on a Sunday that one of these could not have a Polyphonic Ordinary. Why does every N.O. Mass have to be either a Low Mass or a Low Mass with Hymns?
  • tomjaw is spot on.
    This entire argument that the NO, in contra-distinction to the EF, is congenitally unsuited to polyphonic masses is specious. Also, the notion that the EF presumes a relative lack of congregational participation is, while, perhaps, typical of historic times, likewise absurd. It seems to me that the liturgical movement from its beginning had as a goal the proper and fitting (meet, if you will) participation of the faithful in the mass itself. Vatican II's emphasis on this is not an accidental feature of the NO, but an oecumenical council's insistence that the people are to participate in the mass, not sing vernacular songs and hymns at the mass, nor be engaged in myopic personal devotions at the mass, but consciously participate in the mass - be it NO, EF, or whatever.
  • In many of the comments here, and to some extent in Mahrt's responses to me in Sacred Music, I see an argument I think I can fairly summarize this way:

    The great Choral Ordinaries are fantastic sacred music, and an enormous part of the Church's treasury of sacred music. Therefore, it is wrong to say that we should no longer use them liturgically.

    And I feel that I have to keep repeating that I agree wholeheartedly with the first half of the argument. But I do not see that the second half logically or necessarily follows from the first. Music is not necessarily suitable for the liturgy merely because it is sacred; nor is it necessarily suitable merely because it is fantastic (i.e.: well-crafted); nor is it suitable merely because it is both sacred and well-crafted. There is a missing consideration here: to be liturgically suitable, music needs to be excellent and sacred, AND fit with the structure of the liturgy, AND fulfill the Church's broad musical ideals and specific directives.

    I believe that the argument I've summarized above springs in some ways from a defensive mentality proponents of excellent liturgical music have (for good reason) fallen into since the council. We've been attacked for decades merely for wanting music to be sacred and well-crafted. Therefore, any criticism of excellent sacred music (such as choral ordinaries) naturally provokes a defensive response. What I am trying to do in my articles is move beyond that defensive approach. I think that, thanks to people like William Mahrt and organizations like the CMAA we have now reached a better place for dialogue. We certainly have many more parishes and Cathedrals with tradition-minded musicians and pastors in charge, even than we had ten years ago. Building on that foundation, I am asking a more forward-looking question: "given that music should be excellent and sacred, WHICH excellent sacred music is the best goal for the faithful pastor and church musician?" In order to mature as musicians (and I would add, in order for the CMAA to stay at the forefront of liturgical music as an organization), we need to be able to discuss this question in a measured, informed, calm way. It is intellectually unsatisfying to simply proclaim that "the liturgy deserves great music!" We know that much already. The question is, what models most closely fulfill all considerations (musical quality, textual quality, liturgical integration, fidelity to the documents). Which parts of the treasury are most helpful? What types of things are we most in need of, from composers?

    Musicam Sacram itself calls for this discussion in article 53: "As regards the heritage that has been handed down those parts which correspond to the needs of the renewed liturgy should first be brought to light. Competent experts in this field must then carefully consider whether other parts can be adapted to the same needs. As for those pieces which do not correspond to the nature of the liturgy or cannot be harmonized with the pastoral celebration of the liturgy—they may be profitably transferred to popular devotions, especially to celebrations of the word of God."

    I will repeat that I have no desire to stop people from doing choral ordinaries (not that I could anyway!). BUT, looking at all the facts, I don't see the choral ordinary as the best way forward. That doesn't mean choral ordinaries are "bad" or unsuitable.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    This entire argument that the NO, in contra-distinction to the EF, is congenitally unsuited to polyphonic masses is specious.

    Again with the caveat that my sentiments are in concert as a musician, Jackson, I must point out an obvious cognitive dissonance with your conclusion, and to coax you into a lesser condemnatory tone. Ancillary to that, my remarks are confined to any regularly scheduled Sunday OF Mass. This will be brief.
    Whether from Leonin or Perotin to Liszt or Pergolesi, most choral (only) Masses will require the cessation of liturgical action by the alter Christus, the celebrant, which is not called for in post-conciliar documents. By that cessation, interruptus if you will, you de facto elevate the accompanying Ordinary to an "art for art's sake" enterprise. Please do not trot out contemplation, that only works for you, me and a few others present. For others, it would unfortunately become endurance. Mahrt, you, Schuler and a relative handful of others past/present have/had managed to keep the fire burning. But as Jared intimates, we need a third option.

  • For an open discussion of choral ordinaries, it seems reasonable to distinguish between different styles within that genre. They can be incredibly different in length, for example.

    And I have to openly wonder how many people who criticize the use of a choral ordinary have significant experience praying with a variety of these sung prayers.

    When, for example, the question is asked about ordinaries composed without a Credo in such a way that an assumption seems to be that because a Credo wasn't composed for many masses it somehow means that a polyphonic Credo is extravagant or unseemly, we have the problem of people seemingly wanting to belittle or negate a liturgical practice with which they are simply unfamiliar.

    (Hmmm. How's that for a long sentence?)
  • '(Hmmm. How's that for a....................................?')

    I love long sentences. They are works of art. One of the nicest things about the new translation of the NO is that it has sentences that, unlike the one it replaced, have more than six words in them... quite a few more in many instances!
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,142
    "What keeps me scratching my head is, how are we supposed to regard the treasury of sacred music as a true treasure, and then say that the choral ordinary- especially the classical polyphonic ordinary- shouldn't be offered as fitting praise to God? Why would music of this kind- routinely upheld as fitting praise and part of the treasury of sacred music- be condidered unsuitable?"

    THIS!
    Thanked by 2rich_enough francis
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    For an open discussion of choral ordinaries, it seems reasonable to distinguish between different styles within that genre. They can be incredibly different in length, for example.

    AND THIS.
    Out of curiosity, are there other DM's here (lurkers 2) who've programmed the Chris Mueller setting we sang a few years back a colloquium besides me? If so, how did you primarily regard his wonderful effort: choral/hybrid/congregational?
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,747
    In the post-Benedict XVI era, I don't think there will be much enthusiasm expressed by both prelates and pastors to maximize their ars celebrandi which enables us to respond rightly.


    Don't give up too quickly! Most (not all) priests that I've seen who are under the age of 50 are quite a bit more liturgically sensible than those who are over 50. Their understanding of ars celebrandi is much more 'conservative,' and that is more than half the battle.

    Their biggest problem is their congregations, or perhaps the fear they have of the few but loud Aging Hippie types who sometimes control a good deal of $$.