From an "active participant" in the pews
  • toddevoss
    Posts: 49
    Hello – The forum admins were kind enough to let me join. I am not a professional musician. I am a congregational member who enjoys and appreciates music. I have always liked a “sung mass” (in the OF) and have grown more attracted to the Gregorian Latin chants and have been slowly educating myself (currently using “square note” app to learn better). But I am not opposed to contemporary music or hymns, nor do I attend mass to function as a “liturgical music critic”. But I thought it would be useful to present a “guy in the pews” perspective of introducing Gregorian chant.

    When a parish I attended decided to go “full latin” for the ordinary’s (they used the Jubilate Deo chants found in Worship) upon adoption of the 2010 missal, I was fine with the Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei, but initially I thought it was obnoxious to expect us to sing the Gloria in Latin. 2 months later, I thought: “I can do this.” 6 months later: “I really like this”. 9 months later : “I love this.” 4 years later a parish “merger” and the new priest ended it and I thought “Why is he taking this treasure away?”.

    I have educated myself to learn the origin of this chant sequence under Pope Paul -an “easiest” versions compilation from the 18 Gregorian mass settings and intended to be one all Catholics could/should be familiar with. I have listened to all 18 on CC Watershed and I would agree these are the easiest. I would add that, personally, I think the Gloria (VIII de Angelis) is also the most beautiful and “sing-able” of all the Gloria’s in the Kyriale. For a congregation member, repetition is very important to learn , and unfortunately for the Church musician , once learned, continuing to use the same familiar ordinary chants from memory over time is also part of an important religious experience of the congregation (not so much fun for the musician). So my thought is that there is nothing wrong in “not progressing further” beyond this essential Gregorian sequence. It has occasionally been asked on this forum – what about seasonal variations? I understand from reading those discussions that the seasonal suggestions from the Vatican are just that- suggestions- and that nothing is mandated. Assuming that is the case, I would make the following suggestions from my pew-sitting perspective.

    Ordinary Time – Jubilate Deo Compilation Setting. Because Jubilate Deo is “easy” and ought to become “ordinary to encounter” and part of the musical muscle memory.

    Advent/Lent – Jubilate Deo except substituting Orbis Factor Kyrie (XI) because it feels slightly more penitential (to me and I also think it is “easy”), and, perhaps more importantly, only introduces a small incremental change for the congregation. Or use full Orbis Factor setting (XI) after a year or so if a significant portion of the congregation is engaged and interested in Gregorian chant ( I would be one of them and willing to go on from there). Obviously, the Gloria is dropped due to the season.

    Christmas /Easter – Missa de Angelis setting (VIII). Gloria from Jubilate Deo will be familiar from Ordinary time and so only the shorter pieces need to be learned. Again, make the magnitude of the changes easier to digest.

    Weekdays – Jubilate Deo to the extent ordinary is sung at all. Likely omitting Gloria in most parish weekday masses in my experience.

    As an aside, and without going into a whole new post, I think the Missa Simplex by Proulx/O’Connor is elegant genius (it almost sings itself) and is a good English non-chant alternative (yet somehow feels like chant) for congregations not going the “Gregorian chant route”.
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,400
    Greetings, PIP Ambassador. Always good to hear an outside opinion.

    A few questions for you -

    1. Where would you fit in the delightfully inoffensive "Missa Simplex" into the calculations of your calendar?
    2. What are your thoughts on the usage of some of the non-mass chant selections from Jubilate Deo? (e.g. Adoro Te Devote, Da Pacem Domine, the Marian Antiphons, and so on.)
  • toddevoss
    Posts: 49
    1. Well I think the Missa Simplex doesn't fit into my Gregorian calendar scheme. I was suggesting it for a complete alternative where the parish (priest usually) is wary of Gregorian for whatever reason. I suppose one could use it in ordinary time and then try to introduce the "jubilate deo" sequence into "special seasons" i.e. Advent/Lent/Easter/Christmas. I realize that doesn't make sense from a certain perspective , but it could "feel right" from the pews.

    2. I haven't given much thought to it, but I do like what my current parish does. After the "dismissal" as one of our closing "tunes" we sing the Salve Regina in Ordinary time for example. With probably our best participation. That tune is very sing-able. I'll throw in something else we do - which is a little off topic. For Communion, we first sing the beautiful Eastern liturgical piece (in place of a "hymn") "Receive the Body of Christ, Taste the Fountain of Immortality". Then normally the choir sings the communion Antiphon (often in English, sometimes in Latin). In my current parish, typically, the only hymn we sing is the opening hymn but we also then go right into the Introit (english chant). My current parish is not much Latin but is very "sung" - lots of sung english liturgy (except always a simple Kyrie in greek with alternating use of XVIII for Agnus Dei). To give you even more flavor of our parish, our Priest normally sings the Gospel in English.
    Thanked by 2Carol bhcordova
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 103
    I am also a PIP - I sing on the weekends, frequently, but during the week I am fully PIP. And I can attest as a person who LOVES to sing, and who wants desperately to participate in all my PIPness, that I am impeded by the "let's pull random songs out of our hats" approach in some parishes.

    Just take, for instance, the Sanctus, which is usually sung in the vernacular, using one of dozens of melodies. Every few months I'll luck into the organist (or guitarist) deciding to sing one I've heard before. I rarely get to sing along because I have yet to figure out how to guess which one it will be or how to learn them all, since they only appear on rare occasions and there doesn't seem to be a fixed source of material such as a single hymnal from which these are taken. The internet has spawned the "infinite library of music" from which to pick things.

    One great advantage of consistency in music - at least of the ordinary, or other parts the congregation is expected to sing - is that they can actually learn to sing! If people don't really know the words or the melody with certainty, they will mumble (well, with some exceptions, like the lady on my left!!!). If there's no predictable pattern to things, I can never really pray very deeply, as I'm spending a huge amount of attention trying to follow what will happen (or I just decide to tune out and ignore what's going on).

    The same is true of the responsorial psalm - you expect the congregation to participate, you've provided vernacular psalms, you've even handed out little booklets with today's readings. But the melody is anything the lady who goes up to read decides to pull out of her hat, and if it's simple enough I may be able to imitate it as we go along. If it's hard to get, I'm going to spend four repetitions trying to remember how it goes, and by then the psalm is over, and I've not even paid attention to the text because I was trying to remember the little melodic line.

    So where perhaps there's room for some very beautiful music that draws us to deeper prayer simply by listening (which I think is a very good thing, personally) if you want people to sing, you must help them figure out how. Either by having some little classes once in a while, or repeating stuff frequently enough that people can catch on.

    20 cents. :D
  • toddevoss
    Posts: 49
    Agree on all counts with Catherine S. Too much temptation to "mix it up" too often. I grew up Lutheran and we primarily used the same liturgical tunes/chants over and over. It "works".
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Ambassador PIP and Ambassadrix PIP,

    Welcome to the Forum.

    You've inadvertently provided reasons to return to the one-year cycle (instead of the 3 year cycle) and to abolish the "responsorial" psalm, in favor of the Gradual.

    To Todd's remarks: repetition is not by any means a (necessarily) bad thing, but the Church has a liturgical calendar for a reason, and so predictable variation exists. For the long season after Pentecost, some variety might be introduced to mark a "resting" point, but the "quick change" seasons all come on top of each other: Advent, Christmas, Epiphanytide, Septuagesima, Lent, Passiontide, the Triduum, Paschaltide and Ascensiontide cover from December to May, and Pentecost covers the rest.

    Further to Todd's remarks: I'm a convert, but not from Lutheranism. If you had to identify the biggest liturgical reason you became Catholic, what would it be?
    Thanked by 2toddevoss Carol
  • toddevoss
    Posts: 49
    Chris - to be honest, I converted (in 2005 after 7 years of discernment) despite what I had generally observed in Masses I attended at various parishes, not because of what I generally observed. That is a broad generality. However, I did like kneeling as a posture. If the beauty of the physical aspect of the older churches counts as part of "liturgical" then that was a plus as well. Also anytime I encountered incense. I am a smells and bells kinda guy.
  • tsoapm
    Posts: 79
    if [the melody of the responsorial psalm is] simple enough I may be able to imitate it as we go along. If it's hard to get, I'm going to spend four repetitions trying to remember how it goes, and by then the psalm is over, and I've not even paid attention to the text because I was trying to remember the little melodic line.
    It didn’t ever really occur to me that this might be problematic to the extent described here, at least among people who actually want to sing. Perhaps you have overly elaborate melodies; ours aren’t always very simple. At my first Catholic parish we used the soprano line from a limited number of Anglican chants; this was perhaps not ideal, but at least it’s a format that does lend itself to this kind of positive repetition.
    I did like kneeling as a posture.
    Ditto. I’ve said this before, but never mind: as a convert from an Anglican background, it’s strange for me that kneeling at communion isn’t the norm, when I used to kneel when I didn’t even believe in transubstantiation.

    [Speaking as a former Anglican myself, so please don't be offended by this]:

    No fair! You grew up as an Anglican, and so you could sing nearly anything, no matter how elaborate, on one hearing. You probably harmonized with the melody of the Responsorial psalm and found a way to make harmony with everything in Glory and Praise
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 725
    I completely understand where y'all are coming from, regarding the responsorial psalm.
    While having it sung makes it easier for me to remember it, I quite often can't remember what was said by the lector at a daily Mass, especially if it was at all mumbled.
    Of course, recognizing the melody is one thing, while actually hearing the text can be just as much of a problem when it is sung as when it is spoken.
    Thanked by 3CHGiffen CharlesW Carol
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,073
    We Catholic PIPs need predictability to be able to respond, a cue. The celebrant says 'Lift up your hearts' we respond 'We have ...' The repertoire of Gregorian chant accomodates this by, for example, having a cantor intone 'Sanctus' to a tune we can recognize as, say, Cum jubilo, and the people pick it up. Our liturgy has been like this for over a millenium.
    It is possible, though expensive and in my view undesireable, to substitute this with a printed order of service, provided it is comprehensive and straightforward. Every disturbance to this simplicity reduces participation (whether active or contemplative). We have 1) a newsletter with the introit, readings, orations, ... plus 2) a pew card for the 'invariables' (with all their options to locate), plus 3) a hymnbook and 4) a board with hymn numbers (which may have from 2 to 5 numbers on it), oh! and 5) the response for the bidding prayers is printed on the other side of the newsletter. Consequently, even if the organist or cantor announces the Offertory hymn number, people are looking in their wallets or purses for a contribution to the collection. When they have that, and only if they want to sing, they look for a hymn book, then for the number, then find the number in the book, then they have to work out which verse we have reached. Aaagh!
    OTOH everyone who thinks they can sing joins in Alleluia and Holy, holy (we only sing one setting).
    Example of confusion: on Easter Sunday the newsletter had the Renewal of Baptismal Promises, which we used. There are two options for the first 3 questions and we used the first, after three items, the celebrant asks Do you believe in God ..., but the newsletter prints the alternative option at this point and the congregation has to recognize that and skip over the next three questions. This confused them. The question received a very hesitant and uncertain answer, despite all the answers being a simple 'I do'. The celebrant stopped, remarked lightly, 'You don't sound very sure of that, I'd better ask again' and we got back on track. Of course if the questions had not been printed, we would have listened, and responded without difficulty. Sorry this rant is so long
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 725
    I remember those answers being more complete, with "I do believe," or "I do renounce them."
    Is that only at personal baptisms, or did the responses get shortened, at some point? I kept responding with too many words, this Easter.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,532

    The "more complete" answers were the vernacular responses for the preconciliar ritual of baptism (hence why they are most popularly known through the baptism scene near the end of The Godfather (I)). That ritual changed in the early 1970s as the new ritual books were released.
    Thanked by 1CCooze
  • Carol
    Posts: 366
    This is a good discussion! 2 of my brothers and I were at Mass the day after a wedding in a parish to which none of us belonged. Although we all are involved in the music in our home parishes, none of us was familiar with everything that was sung for the ordinaries. I spent time trying to find which Mass setting was being used and finally gave up. It was either not in the missal (which was OCP or GIA) or they were mixing and matching. Very frustrating as PIP! I was thinking at the time that maybe the ICEL chants are good for that very reason. A few years ago on the way out of Mass, I heard a man say that they should rename our parish "The Church of the Unknown Hymns." At that time we had an organist who believed we should try to sing everything that was in the missal over the course of the year.

    I think when a person says they are drawn to incense and kneeling, what they really mean is that this reverence signifies a belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and in the Tabernacle.

    On a lighter note, I had a first grader who was Baptized at the age of 6 and answered for herself when asked the questions. She was instructed in a perfunctory way by the priest to respond "I do." However when she was asked the questions, she emphatically replied, "YES." It was really sweet and one of those moments a teacher can live off of for a very long time.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 639
    I've also noticed that the PIP get confused easily. The addition of a sequence to the Mass confuses the people at my church so much that they forget what they are supposed to do for the rest of Mass.
    Thanked by 2Carol toddevoss
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,549
    Perhaps the survivors are suffering from fifty-plus years
    of experimental novelty fatigue.

    Imagine the continued interest in sports
    if each had options chosen on the fly by the local referees.

    At the moment I am looking at Ascension materials and see ..
    Second Reading has three choices
    Offertory Antiphon has two choices

    How it can be thought that anyone is conscious or active
    after being beaten down by this endless behaviour is beyond me.
    Thanked by 1toddevoss
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 725
    @Liam - thank you. We always choose the EF baptismal rite for our children, though our priest will usually use the vernacular, anyway. Perhaps that is the reason!
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,073
    It should not matter to the PIPs that there are three possible second readings, they/we don't need to know that. What we need is someone to proclaim the chosen reading clearly enough for us to listen to it, and hear it.
    Information overload is part of our current problems, if we have the three texts printed for us we spend time trying to see which one is being spoken, when we should be hearing the word of the Lord.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    I spent time trying to find which Mass setting was being used and finally gave up. It was either not in the missal (which was OCP or GIA) or they were mixing and matching. Very frustrating as PIP!

    I maintain that the Achilles' heal of pulp missal publishers is the abject poverty of musical coherence in their "featured" Mass settings (I'm looking at you, Mass of Renewal and Christ our Savior.) Whether one's taste runs toward the St. Ann or St. Philip Neri or the Simplex or the ICEL, the singular, sellable aspect of reliability is a sense of intuitively structured melodic movement (probably best typified by the ICEL Glory to God, whose four note motive many find impoverished as well.)
    What we have instead is a recurring cycle of editorial decision making akin to that of automobile manufacturers; every five years or so a "new model" is positioned to be the new paradigm and we are conditioned to run to the dealer for all the innovations it presumably offers. So many "bells and whistles" like auto lane control (how apt) and touchscreen infotainment, we forget that the primary role of the beast is to convey us from one point to another. That's not saying style has no place, it's just that I prefer that style to be classic or ideal in some way, shape or form. If I wanted to find a classic or ideal Mass setting, a missalette is the least likely source, IMHO.

    PS, I suppose the paramount exemplar of this sort of marketing was the incredibly poor "Celtic Mass" presumably envisioned to eclipse the MoC.
  • Incardination
    Posts: 501
    Love the analogy to auto manufacturers. With the advent of self-driving cars, can auto-playing organs and simulacra choirs be far behind? I heard a rumor that the Vatican is gearing up to try this innovation at St. Peters in the not-too-distant future...
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,516
    You know you have just given Jackson apoplexy? LOL
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,532
    The artificially intelligent organ at the Vatican - Barocco's Basilisk - will punish you (or your simulacrum, should you predecease for some reason) if you fail to assist in bringing about its existence.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,227
    Just as a note to this: my congregation sings

    Gloria VIII, XV, plus two neo-chants in English (one by our own Ralph Bednarz);
    Sanctus VIII, XVII, XVIII, more Ambrosiano;
    Agnus VIII, XVII, XVIII, ad lib. II, plus a Latin setting by Healey Willan.

    The trick to this is repetition, and lots of it. We change semi-seasonally, with some overlap (if anyone is desperately interested, I can describe it in more detail). But none of it would have happened had it not been for 10 solid years of nothing but Jubilate Deo, then slowly adding other parts over the past 14 years. In other words, it's taken 24 years to get to this point. It has reached, I think, the point where we have enough variety to differentiate the liturgical seasons, and enough stability to allow the PIPS to get comfortable with them.

    We do, sometimes sing parts of Gregorian ordinaries with the choir alone, too.
  • >> The artificially intelligent organ at the Vatican

    There is no happy precedent here... L’Osservatore Romano - not so hot.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • toddevoss
    Posts: 49
    Salieri : "But none of it would have happened had it not been for 10 solid years of nothing but Jubilate Deo, then slowly adding other parts over the past 14 years. In other words, it's taken 24 years to get to this point."
    Thank you for posting. Your informed empirical experience bears out what I instinctively suspected in a cruder way. I think you are wonderfully patient and tenacious. Of course, the choir can always sing some challenging material to keep the Choir/Music director going during such a journey.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,073
    Salieri: Thanks for that evidence that it is possible. What resources/information do you provide for your PIPs?
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,227
    We use the Adoremus Hymnal, 1st ed., and some things are there. When something new is introduced I will print cards with the new movement on it, and put it on a table in the center aisle. I will do this for a few weeks, until all the cards disappear (they are supposed to put them back, but since most people have their "usual spots" they tend to leave them there, the cards are half-letter (5.5in x 8.5in) and fit into the hymnals, so they are not unseemly if left behind).

    It's been a while since I've printed anything for a new ordinary--actually, for some things, like the Ambrosiano Sanctus and Agnus ad lib. II, I've never printed anything and they learned by ear. In other words, at this point these things are mostly memorized and "belong" to the PIPS.
    Thanked by 2a_f_hawkins Mary Ann
  • agincourt
    Posts: 10
    bhcordova: our pastor directs us to omit the sequence (OF) on Easter and Pentecost) and says "don't you think we're already praying enough"
  • Andrew Malton
    Posts: 768
    I had a pastor who directed us to omit the Gloria during the summer and would say "they're saying in Rome that it can be omitted sometimes.". Pastors say the darndest things: just gotta grin and bear it sometimes. Has has passed on: may he rest in peace.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,440
    Maybe they should omit the homily on Easter and Pentecost, and let you sing the sequence. After all, those days have 100% of the required sequences, while giving up two homilies a year will hardly make a difference. :-)
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,532
    ". . . directed us to omit the Gloria during the summer"

    I just offer it mentally, then.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,532

    Rather, they should give a one-sentence homily. It can be done - very effectively, I might add, something I've witnessed on more than one occasion - but it requires much more effort than a typical homiletic preparation.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 639
    Our recently retired pastor would tell us that when John was very old, he would be brought out to say something about Jesus and his sermon was "Love"
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,549
    pastor directs us

    22. 1. Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop.

    2. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established.

    3. Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.
  • Eft,

    Have you been reading the documents of the Council of Trent again? Surely in the age of the synodization of the Church nothing so ancient as the backward-looking Benedict XVI (or even older) applies any more.

  • Carol
    Posts: 366
    bhcordova because of what you wrote above: Yesterday at Mass something in the homily and the sculpture above the altar caused me to think this: John was the only apostle present for the crucifixion and he is the Gospel writer who can be summed up by the one Word "Love." John saw Love in action as it had never been shown before or has since.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,549

    Sadly I do not have time to read the Trent docs.
    V2 texts are onerous enough.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,227
    Trent is easier to get through than Vat. 2.

    My copy of Trent is half the size of my copy of V2, AND Trent contains everything, including things like "The council will recess on 2 December so that the Fathers may travel back to their Dioceses for the Nativity of the Lord, and will reconvene on 21 January." whereas V2 just contains the 16 basic documents.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,648
    A Berkeley Fringe Concert I've been asked to sing at, Thursday June 7 2:00:

    Jan Campanus Vodňanský (1572-1622): Ode and Psalm
    Philipp de Monte (1521-1603): Ahi chi romp
    Jacob de Kerle (1531-1591): Primum Responsorium Pro Consilio a4
    Jacob de Kerle (1531-1591): Similirudo vultus a5
    Karel Luython (1557-1620): Missa Quodlibetica a4