Thoughts from Ostermann's "The Case Against the Choral Ordinary in the Ordinary Form"
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,217
    By that cessation, interruptus if you will, you de facto elevate the accompanying Ordinary to an "art for art's sake" enterprise.

    Spock would say that "it does not follow." And it doesn't.
  • Charles - I agree that there is plenty of room for experimentation and growth in the realm of congregational/choral ordinary composition. I hope creative minds come up with many and varied ways to impart some choral artistry into the congregational ordinary. The challenge, certainly not insurmountable, is to have a "back and forth" or harmonized format that is also clear enough for lay people to join into easily. I have heard Jernberg's Mass online, and thought it was lovely. I have no experience implementing it with congregation, so I can't speak to that, but it seems like something that could work well.

    MACW: "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 considered unsuitable?"

    Several things here. First, to say that a piece of music doesn't work well liturgically is not to say that it is unfit to be offered in praise of God. That would imply that there is something wrong, or unholy, inherent in the piece. To say that a particular choral ordinary is not a great liturgical piece is no judgment on its musical and sacred qualities.

    Second, as I point out above, even Musicam Sacram does not regard the treasury as completely uniform (as in: anything in the treasury is fit for liturgical use). Rather, MS points out that some compositions from the treasury "do not correspond to the nature of the liturgy or cannot be harmonized with the pastoral celebration of the liturgy" and suggests other honorable, but non-liturgical settings for these piece. MS does not say which pieces are useful liturgically and which are not - it instructs experts in the field to examine the treasury and make this judgment.

    Third, it is important to distinguish between the genre of classical polyphony, and the sub-genre of Mass ordinary settings. Polyphony is upheld in the documents as second in rank only to chant. The specific sub-genre of polyphonic ordinary settings is not specifically mentioned. So what we have in the Church's glowing treatment of polyphony is a recommendation of a specific way of setting sacred texts. Even IF we never used a choral ordinary liturgically, we could continue to delve into the treasury of classical polyphonic settings of other liturgical and sacred texts.

    Your point about the range of choral ordinaries is good. Some choral ordinaries are so massive that they would probably never be helpful liturgically; some are so compact that they can be used without creating much noticeable change in the flow of the liturgy.
  • This is only one of a number of "tensions" both in the liturgy constitution itself and in its implementation. We are to "foster the treasury of sacred music" except when we're not supposed to, i.e. when dealing with music which does not "correspond to the nature of the liturgy or cannot be harmonized with the pastoral celebration of the liturgy."

    But in addition:

    - "There must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing" - yet we can all think of mandated changes where it is very difficult to see how they are true organic developments (e.g. three-year lectionary, new offertory prayers), or which provide any real benefit to the faithful (e.g. elimination of the season of Epiphany and Septuagesima; changing the date of some saints' days).

    - "The use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites," except when it is effectively prohibited by the bishop.

    - "The Church has no wish to impose a rigid uniformity in matters which do not implicate the faith or the good of the whole community," yet the older rite, with very few exceptions, was strictly prohibited with the inauguration of the new, and still is actively discouraged, if not disparaged outright, in many dioceses.

    . . . and I'm sure many of you could think of other issues. So the question of the treasury of sacred music is not an isolated case - many provisions in SC are in tension with other provisions or with the way the reforms were implemented.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Thank you, Sam.
    Jared, fresh from Mass according to Jernberg- This is one of the subtle qualities that I have observed: The homophony is so intuitive and tight that I hear PIPs and celebrants (who are mic'd) just gravitating from the melody to another ear-worthy note and not skipping a beat. (The Miles Davis Principle.)
    Will anyone answer my Mueller question?
    Dad, you've only applied half of Spock's informed intellect, the not human half. The unpredictable, illogical (often Chaos theory) happenstance of applied practice by people surely allows for the outcome of "art for art's sake" assessment on the part of regular folks AKA the great unwashed.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,668
    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... THIS!!!!

    And yes, the NO is quite inferior in total both theologically and liturgically to the TLM and more than the form not being able to stand up to the weight of excellent choral music, it is the dumbed down psyche that have been hoisted on us by liturgists and other so called experts that have truly marginalized the primacy of the art.
    Thanked by 1kenstb
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,704
    So could I suggest that the argument against the choral Ordinary is,

    1. Most Catholics experience either a Low (Dialogue) Mass or a Low (Dialogue) Mass with Hymns, and are quite happy with this arrangement.

    2. Some Catholics experience a deformed Missa Cantata, with some or all of the Ordinary and a handful of songs / Hymns. If they are very very lucky they may even have heard the Propers sung! They are blissful in their ignorance and we should leave them to it.

    3. A handful of clergy in Rome have spent the last century looking out into the congregation during Mass, and have spent far too much time worrying about what the congregation is doing. This has lead to lots of writings and rules from those clergy that had as their intention, that the Congregation is to be made to participate in certain ways. These rules and writing are not only contradictory, but can be arguably said to have failed in their intention. BUT we must take these writings as a good thing and ignore Tradition and perhaps good taste.

    I find it somewhat bizarre to see photographs and films of a certain Cardinal in L.A. 'presiding' over a 'Mass' that finds plenty of time for young ladies in white dresses to wander around a table carrying vials of Incense. Another Cardinal in Austria to find time to play with balloons, and invite the congregation dressed in Wild West outfits to wander around the sanctuary during what I am told was a Mass. This appears to be o.k. in N.O land but if we dare to sing a choral Ordinary it is not ideally suited to the Liturgy.

    I do note that the sequential nature of the N.O. causes problems for the Sanctus / Benedictus, but this is hardly going to lengthen the Mass by more than a few minutes. I also note there is always plenty of time for wacky Bidding Prayers... etc.

    I also accept that certain choral Ordinaries due to their length and complexity are not suitable for the N.O. or even the E.F. as they are generally celebrated, BUT these more complex pieces may be suitable at Pontifical High Mass in Cathedrals with the increased ceremonial action.

    N.B. I should remind that I only attend the E.F. and have not been to the N.O. Mass for 15 - 20 years.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    A handful of clergy in Rome have spent the last century looking out into the congregation during Mass, and have spent far too much time worrying about what the congregation is doing.

    I don't recall a more cogent observation, EVER, being proffered here. Only Mary Jane Ballou is on record (in print via "Sacred Music") in recognizing that the PIPs ought to be afforded the right to be the way they want to be, if only because "the church" keeps changing the spec's, the music, the postures, the the degree that the PIPs just go "Uh huh, go ahead with your latest _____, we'll still be here."
    Tomjaw, allow me to thank you for your honesty as regards the perspective you specify. We engage in promoting so much idealism here, which isn't a bad thing, but it tends to auger (and argue) against the realities so many DM's who are confined to the OF and long to be otherwise deployed.
    Thanked by 3CHGiffen Salieri tomjaw
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,217
    In Jos. Pearce's book Catholic Literary Giants, Pearce develops the theme that Catholicism has a 'three-edged sword of Truth' with the three edges being reason, love, and beauty.

    As you all recall, B-16 also spent some time discussing the nature and value of beauty. There must be something to it, eh?

    Now, then, the 'great unwashed' are that precisely because no one has washed them in beauty and/or has educated them in the necessity thereof. It verges on incoherence to tell them that at Mass they can find reason and love, but not beauty, does it not?

    YMMV, I suppose.

    (No, I am not making the case that all choral Masses are 'beautiful,' nor that 'beauty' demands only choral ordinaries. But I'm with M.C. Wilson when she notes that this is a very confusing set of contra-indicative mandates.)
    Thanked by 2melofluent tomjaw
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    no one has washed them in beauty

    Well, Dad, you and I both know that beyond those beloved names I sparingly listed above (such as the folks at St. Chaz Borremeo, N. Hollywood, Salamunovich), have in point of fact kept those fires burning (sorry Ken Canedo.) Two new members of my schola made a point of letting me know this morning that their resolve to cross the Tiber from the Anglicans is buttressed by their observance of my "mission" to keep our traditions in tact as well as augment them with the best of the "new."
  • I want to reinforce something I said far up above -
    It really is not at all 'what the people want' or 'what they expect'.
    As Catholics, culturally they want and expect what their clergy and their what-would-be-church-musicians decide that they 'want' and 'expect', what they are going to get. They are not organised. They do not get together and decide these things. These things are decided for them. The persons responsible are their pastors and clergy and 'musicians', who are delirious enough actually to believe that what they call 'contemporary' music is modern and representative of XXIst century musical achievement. And, they have 'the people' so brainwashed and dumbed down that they, too, actually believe it.

    Rather than splitting hairs over whether the NO is a real liturgy or whether God really prefers the EF, we should rejoice that any polyphony is being done and appreciated anywhere. I see little, if any, difference between, e.g., a choral sanctus 'holding up' the NO liturgical action, and in the same being sort of a blanket that proceeds over the continuous liturgical action, which action remains a purely clerical event going on whilst the people are (presumably) awe-struck or engaged in private devotions. If anything, the NO scenario is, in my poor and humble opinion, preferable.

    The council expects conscious and active participation in the mass. This applies to the EF as well as the NO. There should be no delusion about this. This was what was envisioned from the beginnings of the liturgical renewal movements of the XIXth century, culminating in Vatican II. The EH is not exempt!
    Thanked by 1dad29
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,217
    Two new members of my schola made a point of letting me know this morning that their resolve to cross the Tiber from the Anglicans is buttressed by their observance of my "mission" to keep our traditions in tact as well as augment them with the best of the "new."

    They follow J H Cdl. Newman. Bravo to you!! And may Paul's spirit remain alive with you!
    Thanked by 2tomjaw melofluent
  • Most Catholics experience either a Low (Dialogue) Mass or a Low (Dialogue) Mass with Hymns, and are quite happy with this arrangement.

    Is this actually true? I'm curious. Most places I've been, outside my own parish, do have a spoken Credo, but the other ordinaries are typically sung (granted, to a horribly inappropriate melody 6 times out of 10 and a merely non-offensive melody 3 times out of 10).

    Or are you referring to the fact (as it is at least in my experience) that in most places the priest does not chant his part (and by implication, neither the congregation, though I just had the rather silly and wonderful image of a priest speaking his part and the congregation chanting in response)?
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,704
    Is this actually true? I'm curious. Most places I've been, outside my own parish, do have a spoken Credo, but the other ordinaries are typically sung

    I would suspect in the U.S. the deformed Missa Cantata is more widely celebrated than globally. Another problem is when does a Dialogue Mass with Hymns become a Deformed Missa Cantata. Singing some of the Ordinary at a Dialogue Mass is a very long way from a Missa Cantata. Also I will note that the Gloria is called the Angelic Hymn in the Sarum books.
    Thanked by 1MichaelDickson
  • tomjaw: "So could I suggest that the argument against the choral Ordinary is,"

    You could suggest anything you want - it's a free country! I'll just point out that the argument you outline has nothing whatever to do with the argument I've made against the choral ordinary.

    My argument is that the choral ordinary is in tension with

    1 - the sequential structure of the NO
    2 - the legislation of the NO, as found in the GIRM
    3 - the reform ideal of singing integral liturgical texts, while also involving the congregation in the singing (which ideal pre-dates Vatican II and the NO, by the way)

    A lot of people on this thread seem to think that the argument against the choral ordinary is

    1 - people prefer low mass with hymns
    2 - people prefer music that is not very good
    3 - anyone against choral ordinaries is pandering to 1 and 2

    We have to be intellectually honest though, and realize that the rallying cry "we need better music in the liturgy!" is insufficient. What we need is subtly, but critically different: better liturgical music.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,704
    I did say I agree with your point 1. also my summary was based more on the drift of the thread rather than your arguments.

    With point 2 while the GIRM may require things which go against the choral Ordinary, we do have some problems with the GIRM.
    a. If the GIRM is the only consideration where does this leave the Gregorian Missal / Graduale Romanum?
    b. If the GIRM is the last thing to say on the Rubrics of the N.O. should we throw our copies of the above books away?
    c. How many versions of the GIRM have there been? (I really don't know, but I would guess that the answer is not 1.)

    My other main worry with point 2 is with the Liturgical changes of the 20th c. We have seen many pieces of legislation being written and many have been contradictory, the one guarantee (since the 1950's) we have is that Rubrics have a habit of changing. We still have factions in Rome with different agendas i.e. Reform of the Reform vs. say the ideals of Bugnini. The winds of change will keep blowing.
    While some people have written of the demise of the Benedict effect, those who felt called to the priesthood thanks to the inspiration of the Benedictine reforms, are going to rise through the ranks!

    Is the GIRM a constant? I think not!

    As for point 3 I stand by what I wrote,
    clergy [...] have spent the last century looking out into the congregation during Mass, and have spent far too much time worrying about what the congregation is doing.

    I think that the attempted nannying of the faithful has not been a good thing and could well be one of the reasons why people have been leaving the Church. I believe that quality should be the primary consideration in choosing music followed by the ability of the choir and then by the ability of the congregation to join in, and I am far from alone in thinking this.

    What we need is subtly, but critically different: better liturgical music.

    This is excellent in theory, but our choir has spent the last few years emptying our choir loft of books and music written for the N.O. that is now no longer licit. (Much of the paper over the last few years has been used to light the new fire for the E.F. Easter Vigil)

    What is the danger of this newly written music following after the earlier music for the N.O.?

    I still think we are safer anchored to the rock of tradition...
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,943
    The GIRM is later and more specific legislation for the Missal, and has been updated with the new edition of the Missal. Where the GIRM and the Gradual conflict, the GIRM would normally control.

    Don't assume that all, or even a majority, of the priests called to the priesthood during the prior pontificate will spend much capital on a Benedictine vision of the liturgy. Any more than is the case under any pontificate before or after. In particular, priests who are called to be pastors historically have not been promoted for the liturgical vision. For good or for ill. The historical Roman preference in its pastors is for prudence and administrative competence. Doesn't mean Rome always gets them, either. (That said, this preference has deep roots in Roman culture from before Toleration. Romans, historically, learned to be wary of marrying power to charisma - because it often ended bloodily. But there were exceptions, too.)
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,704
    The GIRM is later and more specific legislation for the Missal, and has been updated with the new edition of the Missal. Where the GIRM and the Gradual conflict, the GIRM would normally control.


    In the E.F. the Missale Romanum (M.R.) has the texts for the Priest, while the Graduale Romanum (G.R.) has the music (and text) for the choir. Interestingly the two texts are NOT identical, I am told that the difference is so ancient that no one could find when the texts diverged.
    Only a week ago I had to point out that what was in the MR or other books was of no concern to me, I sing from the G.R.

    I have never had to read the GIRM, as it does not apply to the situations I find myself in, so can I ask some more questions,
    Did the compilers of the G.R. 1974 assume that the rule still applied that the G.R. is the authorised book for the choir?
    Also did the GIRM in 1974 allow for the options as found in the G.R. 1974 ed.?
    Does it say anywhere that the GIRM now takes precedence over the G.R.?

    I have always given the advice to those singing at the N.O. that they can find all the music in the G.R. or Gregorian Missal and they can sing this instead of the Responsorial Psalm etc. Is this incorrect?
    Also in the new version of the GIRM can the appropriate Hymn or Song before the Gospel be one of the ancient sequences as many friends have been doing for many years!
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    While watching the canonization Misa, after the massive, over the top Alleluia VI, I think that this single event wraps up in a nutshell both poles of the debate herein, and all points within.
    I am not thus comforted.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,943

    REad the GIRM for your answers.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,704
    Well have just done a google search for GIRM plus Gradual. I can see no Rubric that says that the instructions in the Gradual are to be ignored. I can also find plenty of referrals to the Gradual, to find what to sing.

    So as far as I can tell the G.R. 1974 is still the authorised book for the choir, and can be used for all the Music!

    I will also say looking at the GIRM that it is not written with clear instructions for the Choir, unlike earlier Rubrics in E.F. books. I assume that this is because the GIRM is only a general guide, and is not the primary source of information for the choir. This fits well with the historic situation between the M.R. and the G.R.

    N.B. I was using the version of the GIRM on the Vatican website.

    P.S. I am SO glad that I don't have to deal with the bizarre choice and unclear instructions that I have just read.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,943
    Well, you need to understand the authority of the GIRM vis-a-vis implementing the Missal. That governs how the Mass is to be done. If there's a contrary instruction in the GR, the GIRM, being later and specific to the Mass, governs. A general principle of law.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,704
    A general principle of law.

    A law that I have demonstrated did not apply to the M.R. and its differences with the G.R.

    Also I would really like a legal reference / Rubric that the GIRM takes precedence, rather than a general legal tradition!
    N.B. Pope Benedict also gave us an eloquent example of this rule not applying universally with S.P.

    I suspect that most people have forgotten about this historic situation, apart from perhaps those that produced the G.R. 1974.

    Another thing I note, the GIRM is written in English, with little sign that it is a translation of a Latin original. This is unlike the earlier Rubrics of the E.F. that are clearly translations of the Latin original. I wonder how many differences there are between the English and the Latin GIRM?

    I do wonder how the new edition of the G.R. is coming on and when it will be issued.
  • tomjaw - sorry, I thought you were summarizing my case.

    I do agree that the congregation-gazing has reached (and often still does reach) an unhealthy obsession. It is possible to focus on externals, to the exclusion of spiritual reality, with any set of externals, whether it is ceremonial and vestments or the outward actions of the congregation. I find it ironic that many liturgical "progressives" look back in horror at a stereotyped Medieval church obsessed with tiny external details, then propose as a solution that we put all our efforts into the external actions of the congregation. It's possible for any legitimate good (such as congregational participation) to become warped into an all-consuming destructive obsession. But the fact remains that there is a general ideal in the documents of the congregation singing some of the integral texts of the Mass. It is flexible, yes, but it is there, and I don't think the ideal itself, as expressed in the documents, is at all unhealthy.

    I'm also curious about the Graduale vs. GIRM conflict you see. From my perspective, the GIRM explicitly allows (and even prioritizes) everything in the Graduale - the entrance, communion, offertory antiphons, and the alleluia verse and the gradual. The GIRM is very pro-graduale. Is there a conflict I"m not thinking of?
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,704

    No problem, as a discussion becomes longer it is difficult to keep track. I had just noted what seemed to be the prevailing opinion of the thread. Your case was made perfectly clear from the beginning.

    As for the GIRM vs. Graduale, A number of people here seem to think the GIRM is the last word, and I am not convinced.
    I look at it from a historical perspective, and my instinct is to use the Graduale, as the primary book for the choir. Having read through the GIRM I also see that it suggests the choir look to the Graduale anyway. Of course if there is no choir the GIRM provides the other options for singing during / at the Mass.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,158
    The attached file, from a scanned copy of the 2002 Missale Romanum, contains the GIRM in Latin, as of that year. To the best of my knowledge, the adaptations granted to the US dioceses exist only in their English texts.

    Some notes:
    -- An official (Vatican-published) Graduale has still not been published. The 1974 Solesmes edition is "unofficial", as the footnote on page 8 says.
    -- It derives its music rubrics from the Ordo Cantus Missae, which is official, and you can get it on-line.
    -- The OCM's legal weight in case of any conflict with the GIRM, however, is minimized by its authorizing letter, which only put it into force for Masses celebrated in Latin.

    Therefore, unless your OF Masses are so celebrated (an admirable practice!), it is hard to make a case to give OCM precedence.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen tomjaw
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,704

    So the last official Graduale is for the E.F. I always forget about the OCM, we have no equivalent in the E.F.

    I presume the OCM was only put into force for Masses in Latin because they assumed that the Normative form of the N.O. was also in Latin, and therefore...

    All these years so many revisions and the Church still has not completed a full set of official books for the Mass and Office (for the N.O.)
    Thanked by 2Salieri CHGiffen
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,072
    I want to join in this discussion on one level, but the thing that I can't get by is that we are taking the 1970 missal as a logical outgrowth of Musicam Sacram. MS had already taken some (not terrible) liberties with its authority granted by SC/V2 (and is of course a compromise document), but the 1970 missal went far beyond this.

    I like your creative thinking, Jared, but I hesitate to prescribe too much aesthetic authority to a missal that seems will continue to be tinkered with (continuity-ized, if I make up a non-word) over the next century. Yes, I don't feel comfortable doing the Vierne Mass Kyrie and Gloria in our choral NO Mass due to the demands of participatio actuosa, but that doesn't necessarily mean the problem is with the piece of music (although I do understand the context has changed).

    At the same time, it does not follow to me that (occasionally, with good judgments) we can reasonably program such a long Kyrie and Gloria, because somehow the Holy Spirit writes straight with inspiration what is defective in our occasional planning-by-committee of his liturgy here on earth.
  • Bruce - I see what you're saying. I suppose I feel that a discussion as to the validity or projected longevity (in whole or in a certain part) of the current missal and its accompanying instruction is "beyond my paygrade." It is very interesting to me that both here and at Pray Tell Blog I often run into the same conversation-stopper (not accusing you of this): "Well, the current legislation is a flawed committee document - you can't base too much on it." There may, or may not be truth to this, but once we go down that road I have an increasingly hard time distinguishing the Church's handing on of liturgy from individuals' handing on of personal theories about the liturgy.
    For my part, I see the GIRM (at least in its treatment of the Ordinary and Proper) as a logical and consistent outgrowth not just of Musicam Sacram, but of Sacrosanctum Concilium and the major pre-conciliar liturgical texts, right back to 1903. And I think that the conflict between singing the integral mass texts and involving the congregation in singing would require our consideration, even if the 1970 Missal had turned out much differently.
    Thanked by 1BruceL