By Flowing Waters and the Adoremus Society
  • My copy of the latest Adoremus Bulletin arrived. Page 15 carries an editorial reply to a letter about “Chant in English”:
    . . .
    Unfortunately, the English liturgical texts that Bruce Ford used in The American Gradual are not approved for liturgical use in the Catholic Church which is also a problem with Paul Ford's By Flowing Waters, a setting of the Graduale Simplex.

    Both use English translations of the Scripture that are not authorized for liturgical use for Mass in the United States.

    Several Catholic musicians have works in progress rendering English versions of Gregorian chant (Graduale Romanum and other Mass chants), as reported in these pages. Most Catholic liturgical composers, are (prudently) waiting for the new English texts for Mass to be approved before publishing new books of English chant.

    Even though the letter writer does not mention my book, the bulletin’s editors mention my book and repeat, for a third time (I have been keeping track), the calumny that By Flowing Waters is not approved for liturgical use.

    However, readers of this Forum know that By Flowing Waters was approved by the USCCB’s Committee on the Liturgy (now the Committee on Divine Worship) on July 2, 2003. (see attached)

    The Adoremus Bulletin’s editors also deploy the adjective ‘Catholic’ as if I am not Roman Catholic. Dr. Bruce Ford is Anglican; but I, Dr. Paul F. Ford, am a lifelong Roman Catholic, teaching for twenty years with a canonical mission in a Roman Catholic major seminary and having gladly made the Profession of Faith and taken the Oath of Fidelity.

    Are any members of this Forum better connected to the Adoremus Society so that their demurral would get printed in an upcoming Adoremus Bulletin?

    Thanked by 1marymezzo
  • Somehow I suspect that this is really a mix up over the use of the translation itself. Flowing Waters is perfectly licit because there is no official translation of the sung propers. I gather, however, that the translation version used in the book is not approved for, say, the readings.

    In the same way, when we use the Anglican Use Gradual for the offertory, we are using the same liberality concerning the sung propers.

    Am I missing something here?
  • This sounds like an instance of modern clericalism that I am surprised to hear coming from Adoremus Society. The NSRV and Jerusalem Bible texts have been approved in Canada and other English speaking countries, but not in the USA. And yet the RSV-RC Bible was approved, officially, and was in use up until the publication of the NAB Bible texts, so it should be considered as "authorized" here in the USA. And, although I'm not sure where to find the ruling, I've heard that sung texts may use any authorized texts. Is a part of the automatic function of Canon Law that authorization of one set of texts automatically de-authorizes texts in use? As I've mentioned before, we had a beautiful Ordinary translation during the mid '60s transition period - very similar to the Anglican Rite I text. IMO, we should be allowed to use them yet today, and in the future.
  • Jscola30
    Posts: 116
    and if we had stuck to that translation, we wouldn't be going through all this now, and those resources could be already availble....
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,195
    I know that I raised this issue on another thread, owing to a comment that a colleague of mine made when I told him that I was planning on making use of BFW. I appreciated Dr. Ford's clarification on the subject, and want to make it clear that my original comment questioning the status of the texts was in no way an attempt to engage in calumny.

    While I recognize that it is possible for there to be an attempt at wickedness on the part of some who wish to marginalize or pour scorn on BFW, I think that for the most part it's not calumny but more a lack of understanding regarding the status of the texts used in BFW.

    I'd like to believe that ignorance, unless it's wonton, isn't necessarily evil or sinful, as the word calumny suggests.
  • Yes, calumny is a mortal sin. Quite an accusation.
  • Paul Ford, are you saying that the Bishops allow your RESPONSORIAL PSALMS to be used in the USA?

    I don't see how that can be, since they do not use the correct text (approved for use in the United States).

    Please explain.
  • Jules,

    Yes, the U. S. Bishops allow the liturgical use of the responsorial psalms of By Flowing Waters. This is because the responsorial psalms in BFW are mean to to be sung.

    This is because of the long-standing permission from Rome to permit the singing of any translation that has the imprimatur. For example, even the liturgy in Latin may sing the vetus latina, the vulgata, and the nova vulgata translations.

    The U. S. Bishops are not free to allow the spoken proclamation/recitation of the New Revised Standard Version without Rome's approval.

    Rome has approved the adapted NRSV for spoken proclamation/recitation in Canada.

    In 1991 Rome approved the NRSV for spoken proclamation/recitation in the United States, at the request of the U. S. Bishops. The bishops however delayed the printing of NRSV lectionaries until Rome could also approve the RNAB lectionary then in preparation by the bishops. When they submitted the latter to Rome in 1994 for the recognition, Rome rejected the RNAB lectionary and withdrew its permission for the U.S. to print NRSV lectionaries.

    Does this explain the matter any better?
  • Dear Paul,

    I thank you for typing that. Is there any official documentation available that says the same thing?
  • paul
    Posts: 60
    it's common knowledge. Rome let the Canadians keep the NRSV translations only because they had already printed them.
  • Hi Paul,

    Actually I would say this is not common knowledge as evidenced by the frequency that you have to defend your book. I think Jules would like to have something to offer as evidence to the local pastor. I believe you forwarded a letter in a previous email.
  • Paul, if what you say is true, what is to keep anyone from using the DOUAY RHEIMS as Responsorial Psalm if it is SUNG? Or having the priest SING the Douay version: SINGING a version with an imprimatur.
  • Cantor
    Posts: 84
    Or, heck, what about singing the readings? Would that allow the NRSV to be used for, say, the gospel reading?

    The scenario you describe above strikes me as an absurdity. I think it's great that BFW is available and approved etc., but for something to be approved for singing and not for speaking just sounds a sad-state-of-affairs, maybe-it's-a-power-struggle kind of way.
  • I agree, Cantor. I do not believe it is correct.

    I do not believe that, for example, a priest can SING the Douay version of the Gospel in the United States.

    Nor do I believe that, for example, a cantor could SING the Douay version of the Responsorial Psalm. And what Antiphon would he use, since those are paraphrases sometimes?

    I tried to get ANY source of official documentation about this, and I was told it is "common knowledge"

    I do not believe this is so.
  • Cantor
    Posts: 84

    My cynical side gets the feeling that the USCCB/CDW would also give you the "common knowledge" reply.

    An idea I have brought up earlier is that the current bishops are the same guys who presided over funerals where "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace" was the "responsorial psalm" in the 1980s. I tend to think they are not terribly concerned with liturgy - at least, not nearly so much as those of us who frequent this list, NPM, SWLC, SCL, Adoremus, CMAA, NAAL, or any other liturgically-minded forum/organization.

    My current pastor is a "prodigy" who is very adept in front of a crowd. He's good at fund-raising. Basically, the talk is that they'll make him a bishop. Liturgically, though, I sometimes think he knows and cares little beyond "do the red, say the black, unless I want something else".

    Look how long SttL took to come out. Many have commented here, and I think not unjustifiably so, that it's a twisty, messy document. (Gavin's reaction is worth recalling - it spends half its ink quoting other documents!) Would this be the work of a group of people who really care about the subject matter? It had its shortcomings, but at least MCW was more coherent than SttL.
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,195
    As they say in England, this all sounds a bit "airy-fairy," sung versus spoken texts.

    I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Ford's work, and am using parts of BFW with my choir during Mass to try to introduce the sound of unaccompanied chant-style singing to the liturgy. Unfortunately, as time goes on it may become necessary to decide whether the status of the translation set forth in that resource trumps its value as a teaching tool.

    Where things seem to go off the rails is all of this "who approved what, when, and for what use" stuff starts getting flung about. Isn't this precisely what Liturgiam Authenticam was supposed to address and correct? We are not talking about hymn or song texts, we're talking about texts that come from the liturgy itself. Although it would pose a rather daunting task, wouldn't the whole issue be resolved by simply sending BFW through the process set forth in LA?

    I attended an NPM convention last summer, and the whole issue of full approval of any given American document by the American bishops (not including submission to the Holy See for recognitio) was raised at the end of one of the breakouts on Musican Sacram. The spirit of the response was if the bishops say that something is valuable for learning and guidance, that's all that's really necessary. A full vote really doesn't make it any more or less valuable. The issue of recognitio was never even touched when the question was raised.

    I shouldn't be surprised that we now face this heated debate about whether or not a set of texts in translation are acceptable for use clouded by the question of the text being sung or spoken. It's a distinction without a difference.

    Please don't get me wrong. I'm not attempting to discredit, pour scorn upon or in any way dismiss Dr. Ford's work or his intentions. I'm merely raising the questions that seem to be at the core of this debate.
  • I agree that most bishops don't care one way or the other.

    I know bishops who don't even know what an Introit is (much less that they are not allowed to skip it in spoken Masses).

    However, I don't think that we can simply do anything we want, and justify it because we know a bishop who doesn't care.

    I am very curious to see how Dr. Ford responds to the queries that have been put forth on this blog (above).

    I know several priests with doctorates who would scoff at the idea that one can SING any translation (with an imprimatur), whether as the Responsorial Psalm, Gospel, or whatever the case may be.

    If Dr. Ford can produce ANY document that backs up what he says, I will be very grateful. I have never heard his point of view before. I know several priests who suffered greatly for years on account of the translations they had to use (under obedience).

    But these are serious issues, and tossing around the "common knowledge" card doesn't do any good here.

  • Jscola30
    Posts: 116
    In my copy of BFW, there was an insert that saith this: dates 7/2/03

    BFW; Chants for the Liturgy, although not an offficial Liturgical book, is approved for publication by the USCCB Committee on the Liturgy. The chants are translated from the Graduale Simplex and may be used as sung settings for the Responsorial Psalm, Entrance, and Communion Chants.

    Msgr. James P. Moroney

    Executive Dir.

    The U.S. Bishops Committee on Liturgy
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,195

    That is essentially the content of the .pdf file (letter from the BCL) that Dr. Ford provided earlier in this thread.

    I must confess that in light of official, curial, Roman documents (especially Liturgiam Authenticam) regarding the use of approved texts, I have to ask if Msgr. Moroney's "approval" on behalf of the BCL carries any real weight.

    Dr. Ford's work was extensive, exhaustive and costly in terms of his time and resources. It's a shame to set it aside or subject it to narrow scrutiny because of questions of approval, especially if the questions begin to border on scrupulocity. The fact that Dr. Ford took the time to even ask for some kind of approval from the BCL demonstrates that he is interested in doing things right, which is much more than can be said for most of the "liturgical music composers" who have contributed their truly awful twists on texts that appear regularly in the resources published by the "Big Three." Even hymnals like "Spirit and Song" can claim to be published with ecclesiastical approval. But just what does that mean? (In a thread where the issue of hymn texts came up, I asked why none of these hymnals carried an imprimatur or nihil obstat, and if ecclesiastical approval by the American bishops really meant anything).

    Because BFW represents a huge chunk of Dr. Ford's work and life, I can appreciate that he may feel the need to defend himself against what can appear as personal attacks (hence the use of words like "calumny" in referring to comments made in the Adoremus bulletin), and his defense can easily turn to defensiveness.

    I think what we're interested in here is intellectual honesty and circumspection. In that regard, I concur with JulesVanNuffel's request for something a bit more than just the copy of the letter from the BCL. I'm afraid that based on our collective experience with the BCL, we're more inclined to skepticism with respect to much of what the BCL (now the Committee for Divine Worship) has to say. Perhaps some clarification on their position that comes from more than a functionary (with all due respect to Msgr. Moroney) . . . say, a statement signed by all members of the CDW that goes beyond simply approving BFW for publication, and actually approves it for use in the liturgy.

    If BFW is truly worthy of use in the liturgy, it seems it would be worth the effort to get the proper recognitio to give it the weight it needs to get beyond these niggling questions.
  • I have three comments to make:

    1. The Vatican gave its recgnitio for use of the NRSV in the Canadian lectionary in September 2007, so it can no longer be argued that the Vatican objects to the NRSV translation, per se.

    2. According to the new GIRM, para. 61, By Flowing Waters may legitimately be used for the responsorial psalm, as it is a duly approved collection of psalms.

    "In the dioceses of the United States of America, the following may also be sung in place of the Psalm assigned in the Lectionary for Mass: either the proper or seasonal antiphon and Psalm from the Lectionary, as found either in the Roman Gradual or Simple Gradual or in another musical setting; or an antiphon and Psalm from another collection of the psalms and antiphons, including psalms arranged in metrical form, providing that they have been approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop. Songs or hymns may not be used in place of the responsorial Psalm."

    2. The new text translations of the Ordinary of the Mass are, in fact, available. They have been recently published by WYD2008 on the Internet, together with a musical setting for use at World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney. The WYD2008 organisation reports to the Vatican through the Pontifical Council for the Laity. According to the publication announcement, they encourage the use of the new texts and music setting in all English speaking parishes throughout the world as a preparation for World Youth Day. Go to to download the sheet music and recordings of Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen and Agnus Dei. It sets a new standard for youth Masses!


  • Jscola30
    Posts: 116
    Good Call!
  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    Is it, in fact, licit to use a setting of the Gloria with the new English translation?
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    Paul F Ford: "However, readers of this Forum know that By Flowing Waters was approved by the USCCB’s Committee on the Liturgy (now the Committee on Divine Worship) on July 2, 2003. (see attached)"

    Somehow the attachment for the first post is missing (lots of attachments go missing with regularity).

    When you attach, can you also give us the http://whatever so we still have copy-paste access?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,967
    I found the approval statement on-line via Here's a PDF file made from my screenshot.

    For future reference (in case this PDF is ever lost) here's the text:

    July 2, 2003

    By Flowing Waters: Chant for the Liturgy, although not an official liturgical book, is approved for publication by the USCCB Committee on the Liturgy. The chants are translated from the Graduale Simplex and may be used as sung settings of the Responsorial Psalm, Entrance, and Communion Chants.

    Monsignor James P. Moroney
    Executive Director
    The U.S. Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy

  • Where does the editorial appear in the Adoremus Bulletin? I just perused the online version of the April 2009 issue and failed to find it. I would like to reply to it.

    Where the introits, offertories, and communions are concerned, the "alius cantus aptus" provision obtains. Certainly any translation of the texts in the Graduale Romanum or the Graduale simplex may be sung.

    The legitimacy of using the Graduals and Alleluias from The American Gradual in the Roman Catholic Church has been a subject of debate in this forum. One writer holds that because the bishops' conference has adopted no official translation of the texts Graduals and Alleluias in the Graduale Romanum, these texts may not be sung in the vernacular. Others have asserted that because no official translation exists, any translation may be sung. I don't know who is right.

    The Adoremus Bulletin editors are certainly mistaken, however, in their implication that translations of the introits, offertories, and communions which are not based on a biblical translation currently authorized in the American RC church may not lawfully be sung.

    How can I communicate with them?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,967
    Well, this is an old thread that begin in January 2008. I wonder whether anybody ever did clarify the issue to the Adoremus writer.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    what translation of the Psalms does BFW use? Grail?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,967
    The Catholic edition of the NRSV.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    I've tried to explain this matter of the Graduale texts many times to HHH.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    "That is essentially the content of the .pdf file (letter from the BCL) that Dr. Ford provided earlier in this thread."

    Where has this PDF gone?
  • Paul F. Ford
    Posts: 836
    Here it is again.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    What's the deal with the posting above? Is it spam?