Te Deum during Advent and Lent - EF Rubrics
  • In Psallite sapienter by B. Andrew Mills, it is stated that the Te Deum is not to be sung at Benediction when the day or season is penitential, and that the hymn "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name" should also not be sung. No official documents are cited. Is this merely the author's personal opinion or does it reflect the legislation of the Church? I note that the official regulations explicitly allow solo organ playing at Benediction during penitential seasons when it is otherwise forbidden, but I have found nothing about singing the Te Deum.
  • I cannot speak to EF rubrics in this matter, but thought it customary from of old that Te Deum was not sung during penitential seasons. There is, though, I think some question as to whether this stricture applies to all penitential seasons or just those in which Gloria is not sung. I think that the latter represents the more correct usage. It would make sense that hymn paraphrases, such as Grosser Gott, would be subject to the same rule, they being substitutes for or literary equivalents of Te Deum.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • rarty
    Posts: 96
    In the current EF rubrics, the Te Deum is omitted (replaced) in Matins on Sundays and ferial days in Advent, and Lent (plus the 'gesima Sundays). See rubric 238 in the Breviary.

    It is also omitted on ordinary (green) ferial days, but said on every feast in Lent and Advent. It is like the Gloria at Mass, not totally verboten like Alleluia in Lent.

    So it sounds like the author's opinion. Sure we can change the music at Benediction services to reflect the season, but it seems a bit of a stretch to equate "Holy God..." with the Te Deum to the point where we need an ordo to know when to omit it at Benediction.
    Thanked by 1madorganist
  • 'Holy God..' certainly isn't Te Deum, but it seems to me that, as we all know, since it is a vernacular paraphrase of the same, singing it when Te Deum is dis-allowed is sort of cheating, creating a handy loophole. One cannot say that it's forbidden, but one can say that singing it is sort of slipping Te Deum in on the sly. Would we say that a vernacular paraphrase of Gloria was permissible at OF mass, or even as an offertory anthem, during Lent? I think all could see that this would be bare-faced adolescent tom-foolery. One has to wonder at the suspect motivation for even asking the question. It isn't mere words that are not allowed - it seems to me that honesty would be compelled to consent that it is their lack of penitential register and thrust as well.
    Thanked by 1CCooze
  • It isn't mere words that are not allowed - it seems to me that honesty would be compelled to consent that it is their lack of penitential register and thrust as well.
    Well, that's really the crux of my question. Does the legislation of the Catholic Church suppose that Benediction is to have a penitential character during penitential seasons? The allowance of solo organ playing would seem to indicate otherwise. The rubric from Matins is irrelevant. It is also forbidden to play the organ at Matins during these seasons. What's the rule for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament?
  • I reviewed what Fortescue has to say and am, until someone offers evidence to the contrary, satisfied that the mind of the Church is that Benediction always have a festive, never a penitential, character.
    Thanked by 1rarty
  • Someone other than I could say whether or not there is a rule.
    Let's presume that there isn't one concerning Benediction.
    So then, knowing that such celebratory items are inappropriate for Lent, are you going to do it anyway, because there isn't a rule and you want to. There may not be a rule, but there is common sense for what is seemly during Lent. I can't see that Benediction should be more privileged than Mass itself in these regards. By your logic one could sing alleluyas at Benediction during Holy Week because you have cobbled together your own 'mind of the Church' which sets Benediction apart.

    (And, speaking of Fortescue, he also takes a very dim view of lace vesture, calling it un-Roman and decadent. Therefore....)
  • It's well known that the alleluia is entirely suppressed in the so-called extraordinary form of the Roman rite from Septuagesima until the Easter Vigil. This rule admits of no exceptions whatsoever. Not so for the Te Deum even at Matins, which is required on the feast of the Annunciation, for example. The liturgical legislation of the Catholic Church stipulates that
    the playing of the organ, and all other instruments is forbidden for liturgical
    functions, except Benediction, during the following times:
    a) Advent, from first Vespers of the first Sunday of Advent until None of the Vigil of Christmas;
    b) Lent and Passiontide, from Matins of Ash Wednesday until the hymn Gloria in excelsis Deo in the Solemn Mass of the Easter Vigil;
    c) the September Ember days if the ferial Mass and Office are celebrated;
    d) in all Offices and Masses of the Dead. (De musica sacra, 80-81)
    Perhaps you would like to enlighten us as to why the exception is made for Benediction, if not to emphasize its festive character. Would your "common sense" not indicate that such festive use of the organ is unseemly on a penitential day?

    Whether you personally agree or not, Benediction is "more privileged than Mass itself in these regards," as the document cited above clearly demonstrates. You should think twice before accusing other forum members of cobbling together their own notion of the "mind of the Church" to justify whatever you consider to be liturgical abuse, especially in the absence of specific rules. How patronizing!

    As far as I'm aware, lace on paraments is a post-Counter-Reformation innovation, but that's another topic altogether.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,728
    The liturgical colour for Benediction is white, though if the celebrant proceeds directly from Mass or Vespers to Benediction without leaving the sanctuary he may retain the colour he is wearing (unless it is black). [Fortescue et al] This suggests an inherently festive character.
    Also the rubrics for the part from Tantum ergo onwards were in the Ceremonial for Bishops, the hymns prior to that are/were 'not a strictly liturgical function' ibid. but there may well be local regulations (there were in England)
    On the other hand(?) Cantus selecti gives Te Deum only 'For thanksgiving'
    Thanked by 1madorganist
  • N.B. the use of the organ is allowed at Mass on Gaudete and Laetare Sundays, but the Te Deum is not said on these days.
  • Indeed. It's covered in paragraph 83 of De musica sacra. It also specifies that organ only (not other instruments) may be used on those two Sundays. As the document reads, other (i.e., orchestral) instruments may also be used at Benediction, even during penitential seasons. Benediction apparently never takes a penitential character.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,374
    Glad this is all clear now....
  • Glad somebody thinks so
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,802
    From what I have read, the only music required by the rubrics are Tantum Ergo, and the Versicles and Oration (assuming they're sung), everything else falls under the all-encompassing heading of 'local custom'. Below, I reprint verbatim the directions for Benediction given in the New St. Basil Hymnal (1958).

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    BENEDICTION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT
    (Simple-Solemn-Pontifical)



    TANTUM ERGO immediately followed by the VERSICLE and RESPONSE:

    V. Panem de caelo praestitisti eis (Alleluia).*
    R. Omne delectamentum in se habentem (Alleluia).*

    Then the ORATION, sung by the priest, with the choir's AMEN.



    The above are the only musical requirements of Benediction. It is customary to precede these with the O salutaris Hostia or some other hymn in honor of the Blessed Sacrament, either in Latin or in English. Hymns in honor of Our Lady or of the Saints, as well as hymns of the season may also be used.

    If the Te Deum is sung, it must precede the Tantum ergo, and it must be sung in its entirety and in Latin.

    Between the oration and the blessing with the Blessed Sacrament, nothing may be sung. During the actually blessing nothing is sung, but the organ may be played softly. Present day custom has the blessing in silence, except for the altar bell.

    The service is frequently concluded with the antiphon Adoremus in aeternum and Psalm 116, Laudate Dominum, or with Holy God, we praise Thy Name. An English or Latin hymn of the season may replace these if desired. (Also see pages 130-131 for additional antiphons to be substituted for the Adoremus in aeternum.)

    * The Alleluias are added only in Paschal Time and on the Feast of Corpus Christi.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,154
    From what I have read, the only music required by the rubrics are Tantum Ergo, and the Versicles and Oration (assuming they're sung), everything else falls under the all-encompassing heading of 'local custom'.


    That is my understanding too, the Liber in the Benediction section starts with the Tantum ergo followed with V and R, prayer, and after the blessing Psalm 116, etc ending with Adoremus. Other Hymns suitable for Benediction are listed separately.

    N.B. the local customs... In England we have a Benediction manual that lists the ONLY prayers that can be used, and when they can be used. In other places only prayers approved for public use could be used.
    In France they have chant books with pieces for each liturgical season / Feast.

    Of course in this day and age such rules are unknown!

    I see no problem singing any music found in a Liturgical book at Benediction, there is a wonderful section of such pieces recommended for Benediction in the back of my copy of the AR 1949. Of course avoid the pieces with Alleluia after Septuagesima...
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382
    Cantus Selecti is good. We use it for the Tu es Petrus and prayer for the bishop, with the verse and collect following as well as te hymn at the beginning, the concluding invocation to the Sacred Heart, and the Tantum Ergo.