PrayTell does it again - fascinating post on liturgy 1965-1969.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,539
    A few years ago PrayTell posted minutes from liturgy committee meetings in the years following Vatican II and I was entirely captivated.. it was an amazing read. They've done it again with this:

    http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2018/06/12/liturgy-in-southbridge-ma-an-audio-time-capsule-of-post-conciliar-transition/

    An audio comparison of a parish's Masses from 1965-1969.

    Hopefully this post will lead to other recordings being found and this time period being more closely examined.
  • Ted
    Posts: 141
    That this once vibrant church finally closed in 2011 says a lot....
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • stulte
    Posts: 203
    Peter Kwasniewski says:
    June 12, 2018 at 8:55 pm
    It’s like watching the decomposition of a corpse.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw Jahaza
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,293
    Peter can be SO funny. I think it's called "a trenchant wit" when one refers to rotting corpses.
  • Joseph Michael
    Posts: 149
    Interesting!
    I was in 10th grade when the English mass was first celebrated in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

    Not all parishes used a "commentator" as is heard on the recordings.

    I recall, circa 1962, a seminarian coming to our parish to do a commentary during the (Latin) mass. It was called a "mass in slow motion"--explaining what each of the steps of the mass was and what they mean.

    Some dioceses were very strict as to what music could or could not be sung during the new English Mass. In the Archdiocese of Detroit, only two masses were approved: An English People's Mass by Dom Alexander Murray and the Mass in Honor of Saint Paul by Noel Goemanne.

    I distinctly remember how odd it seemed to have the mass in English until it switched to Latin in the middle (for the consecration).

    Prior to the 2nd Vatican Council, the Archdiocese of Detroit had an approved list of music. The "White" List. Schubert's "Ave Maria" was forbidden. As was the "Black" Saint Basil's Hymnal.

    Thanked by 1Jeffrey Quick
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,895
    Schubert's "Ave Maria" was forbidden.
    Should have never been allowed
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  • Carol
    Posts: 320
    I am interested in why Shubert's "Ave Maria" is on your list, Francis. Too shmaltzy?
  • Carol
    Posts: 320
    What about the Bach-Gounoud (sp?)?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,337
    Francis only likes Bach.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Carol,

    I think the Bach-Gounod is also outside the lines, but I'm not positive.

    Bach is a good composer (but not Catholic).
    Gounod is a good composer, but this piece has soaring soloist lines, almost as if it were designed for the stage, rather than the Mass.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Settefrati93
    Posts: 157
    So then what about things like Mozart's Et Incarnatus Est or most of the 'classical' mass settings with long soprano solo's at the benedictus and even other parts of the mass (gloria, creed). No good?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,337
    Although I agree they can be overdone, soaring solo lines are typical and characteristic of certain periods of music. It is also true that interminable, and sometimes insufferable, melismas are characteristic of another period. Polyphony can get tedious when the same phrases or words are repeated incessantly like the "Song That Does Not End," leading one to conclude that piece should have ended some minutes ago.

    Music is not perfect. Like any other medium, you often get the bad along with the good.

  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,185
    The issue is that the implementation of Pius X's motu proprio led to a series of bizarre regulations, wherein anything that was seen as "operatic" was to be purged, as well as anything not by a Catholic. While I'll agree that some things should be banned (the notorious and now-over-done Wedding Marches, for example), some things seem arbitrary and best, self-serving by the "experts" at worst.

    Gregorian Chant and "Palestrina" Polyphony held up as ideals, with music modeled on it as good choices, too. Fine. In theory, at least. But what it led to in practice was some of the worst and most banal liturgical music ever composed, which has, thankfully, ceased to be heard. So, instead of Mozart, Schubert, and Haydn Masses with choir, orchestra, and soloists, we have Perosi, Yon, and Rossini (of "Propers" fame) for choir (of 1, 2, or 4 voices--and all from the same score!) and harmonium. And, if the steady diet was Perosi before the Council, is it any wonder that that banality was overtaken by the vernacular banality of the Folk Mass, and later the Haagendasz music?

    And so-and-so was not a Catholic. Well then, there goes most organ repertoire: Sweelinck, Buxtehude, Pachelbel, Bach, ... Vaughan Williams, Herbert Howells, ...

    This era was the reign of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, ruled by Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, and their "approved" publishers (McLaughlin-Riley, GIA, etc.) and their Cathedral Musicians: As interesting as the "Black List" is, take a look at some "White Lists": One gets the impression that the only approved music was by Palestrina, Victoria, Yon, Perosi, Rossini, and a couple others--and "approved editions", by (who else) Perosi, Yon, or Rossini, had to be used for Pal. and Vic.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,337
    It was a racket to be sure. However, another racket has taken its place with the big 3 or so publishers being the villains.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,185
    Nichil novus sub sole.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • [self edited]

  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,385
    Joseph Michael, could you share that Detroit white list, if you have it?
  • Joseph Michael
    Posts: 149
    The book, CATHOLIC CHURCH MUSIC by Paul Hume (1956), is a must read to get a sense of the state of music at mass in America before Vat II. In it, I am fairly certain, Hume mentions the many "approved" lists at the time. Mediocrity, poor taste, and poor practice were rampant in the pre Vat II church as it is now. Even though there were "white" lists, they were often ignored. As for the Schubert Ave Maria, I think the main objection was that Schubert's text was not the actual "Hail Mary". Paul Hume, by the way, was the famous music critic of the Washington Post who wrote a scathing review of Margaret Truman's singing at a broadcast concert from Detroit. Her father, President Harry Truman, was outraged at Paul's review. The President wrote an angry letter to Paul with a veiled threat of a physical violence if they ever met. He not only wrote the letter, he found a stamp on his desk and mailed it personally. When the letter was published, it made national headlines. Jeffrey Quick, I do not have a copy of the Detroit "white" list, but I remember seeing it.
    Thanked by 1Jeffrey Quick
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,895
    Shubert... another on the list that isn't appropriate for liturgy. Yes, Mozart is on the same list along with Beethoven. Is there any composer from that era that belongs? And yes, Charles 'splains it perfectly... (soaring)... my term if you remember, is musical acrobatics.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,559
    Mediocrity, poor taste,


    Mother Dear, O Pray for Me
    Bring Flowers of the Rarest
    O Sacred Heart All Burning
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  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,385
    I LOVE "Bring flowers...". But it doesn't belong at Mass. It belongs with your friends around a piano, with the waters of life.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,337
    Bring flowers is a May crowning hymn. I have never used, nor heard it used, for anything else. The tallest kid in the class gets to crown the statue.
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • Jeffrey,

    Is it the words, the text, or both which enthrall you?
  • Shubert... another on the list that isn't appropriate for liturgy. Yes, Mozart is on the same list along with Beethoven. Is there any composer from that era that belongs?


    Honestly? I would say not much. The more traditional and sensitive choral works of Bach might be well-suited to the liturgy, but several of his works (especially for the organ) can at times stray off into the realm of bombastic overstimulation, which is not good for church music.

    But I've never once heard a Mozart or Beethoven piece that I felt really belonged in church. Maybe I haven't heard enough of their repertoire to judge, but it seems that every "sacred" work I have heard by them (and many other composers of that era) have just sounded like secular symphony music with sacred texts added in. That would be fine if it were music for public gatherings or civic events (like parades, holiday celebrations, inauguration days, the coronation of a monarch, etc.), but it's not music well-suited for the sacred liturgy. It is music for the concert hall or open air bandstand. It is not liturgical music.

    That's how I feel about orchestral masses, as well as overly busy pipe organ music. These kinds of compositions draw far too much attention to themselves, and away from the sacred mysteries being performed at the altar. They compete with the actual liturgy itself for people's attention and consideration.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,582
    Then there's all that horrible chant and polyphony with its whiff of the renaissance faire and madrigal dinners.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • ViolaViola
    Posts: 253
    'But I've never once heard a Mozart or Beethoven piece that I felt really belonged in church'
    What about Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus which (when performed well) is one of the most intensely devotional pieces I can think of.
    Thanked by 3CharlesW MarkB Carol
  • Then there's all that horrible chant and polyphony with its whiff of the renaissance faire and madrigal dinners.


    This statement makes no sense. Chant is quite literally the opposite of "renaissance faire and madrigal dinners." Polyphony might sometimes be guilty of association with such things. But it is impossible for chant to be associated with anything Renaissance or madrigal.

    Chant is the sacred music born out of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and is thus not associated with the Renaissance: not in form, nor in spirit. Madrigals are a type of polyphony, and polyphony is clearly not chant, so those are right out.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,337
    You know he was kidding, right?

    And yes, some polyphony can get really tiresome when it goes on too long and obscures the text with melody lines.
  • Yes, I realize there was some sarcasm there. I just wanted to be sure it was understood that chant is definitely not associated with Renaissance music. Although, if perhaps murder is an "association" of sorts, then I suppose that the Renaissance really is "associated" with plainchant.....

    As for polyphony, I definitely agree. It requires discernment in its use.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,582
    Why did I bother with purple, I wonder? My point is that if one takes seriously the whine that Mozart's Requiem must be excluded from the temple because it might remind someone of opera, you'd better be very concerned about how much weight to give this.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,559
    how much weight to give this.


    Altogether, far too much motion in the jaw. And that French spelling of "Pie" betrays a bad influence, too.

    I'll give it 2 pounds on a 20-pound scale.
  • CharlesSA
    Posts: 44
    With regard to Mozart, I remember one of my music professors at college talking a little bit about how he thought there was a slightly different character to Mozart's sacred works. Given that we did choral/orchestral masses periodically at the university church (most notably an annual Requiem Mass on Nov. 2), I assume he is a fan of orchestral Masses, and was probably arguing that there is a truly "sacred" character to Mozart's music written for the Liturgy. He was (is) certainly more or less is very knowledgeable about Mozart's music as a whole; I wish I could remember what he said about it.

    Lately I just roll my eyes when I see some grand EF High Mass being advertised and see that all (ok, most) of the music is orchestral or that it's all (or mostly) polyphonic, and that there will be lots of Bach-like organ music being utilized before and after and during the otherwise quiet parts. The last thing we need is people to associate the EF Mass with going to a Classical music or Baroque concert; what about advertising a grand EF Mass with limited use of anything other than simply the chants prescribed for the Mass, with Mass II or III, which is recommended for Solemnities, for the Ordinary? Polyphony is beautiful, no doubt about about it, but frankly, that is the problem - often it can be too beautiful, in my opinion, when contrasted to the the simple beauty of chant, which is the ideal sacred music. I know very, very well that polyphony is allowed to substitute for both the Propers and the Ordinary, but in my opinion, polyphony is best utilized as a "time filler" after the prescribed texts have been sung to their proper chant.

    I am in perfect agreement with the poster who said
    That's how I feel about orchestral masses, as well as overly busy pipe organ music. These kinds of compositions draw far too much attention to themselves, and away from the sacred mysteries being performed at the altar. They compete with the actual liturgy itself for people's attention and consideration.
    That is why it is best to stick with chant, and that is why "a liturgical celebration loses none of its solemnity when accompanied solely by chant." (or whatever the exact quote is.) Another good reason to stick to chant as the majority of the choir's repertoire is so that more practice will go toward the chant. Admittedly, I would most likely be classified as an extreme chant snob (one of those that sees no point in utilizing anything other than the "old Solesmes" method, at that), but as far as my experience goes, though admittedly it is limited, even (most of) those parishes that try to utilize it sound terrible chanting - mediocre at best. Now I never was and never will be a big-time choral director - my only experience is directing the music for a Sunday EF Missa Cantata 1-2 times per month for a year-plus - but the most frustrating part of my job was getting polyphony (or polyphonic-type stuff) ready for the Masses when all I really wanted to do was make the chant as good as it could be. I would have probably lost most of the choir (which was small anyway) if I didn't teach them any polyphonic pieces.

    I think people will be moved to think with the mind of the Church and to truly be immersed in the Liturgy, more by hearing the beautiful, prescribed chants than by hearing even well-executed, beautiful polyphony, and especially than by hearing even well-executed, beautiful (in their own right, not as sacred music) orchestral Masses. Not that I think no sacred music exists outside of chant - that would be blatantly disagreeing with what the Church thinks - just that chant is objectively what will move people in the way which the Church desires most for them with regards to participating in the Liturgy, as long as they are open to it over time.

    But I'm sure that's where I overstep my bounds and proclaim to know better than the Church in thinking in this way, so I'm left with mostly not saying anything (except by ranting, occasionally, on forums such as these) and just dealing with, and trying to be thankful for (provided it is licit and attempt is made to actually sing true sacred music) what is used/sung.

    And now I shall step off my high horse and resume my day. My apologies if I offend anyone or make them in turn roll their eyes at my extreme rigidity (I'm only sightly kidding about that "rigidity"...in my case, I'm aware that it really is that).
  • Incardination
    Posts: 448
    Charles, I agree with much that you say. In my own situation (nothing orchestral), I know that there are people who would criticize me on both sides of the coin for my music selection. I'm OK with that - when you get it from both sides, you are probably doing something right! :)

    You piqued my curiosity... We have some polyphonic Masses, and I also try to cover the entire Kyriale (including the ad lib chants) every 3 years - in part for the benefit of the congregation, in part so the choir can learn more chant. Any way, I looked over this past season:
    ** choir season only
    ___** 75% chant Ordinaries to 25% polyphonic Ordinaries
    ___** 73% proper-tone Propers to 27% mixed proper-tone and psalm-tone
    ___** guesstimating a 65-70 : 35 - 30 % chant : part music overall split once motets (both chant and polyphonic) are factored in.

    With summer factored in, the ratios shift higher for chant, since virtually all of the summer music (except the hymns) is chant:
    ** Year-around
    ___** 80% chant Ordinaries to 20% polyphonic Ordinaries
    ___** 62% proper-tone Propers to 38% mixed proper-tone and psalm-tone (most Propers during the summer are "short" - that is, full Introit and Communion; all else psalm-tone)
    ___** guesstimating a 75 : 25 % chant : part music overall split including motets.

    I do think there is value to both; I do think chant is necessarily superior. I tend to require everyone to do everything (not just "specialize" in chant or polyphony as they prefer).
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Carol
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,559
    CharlesSA, the older I get, the more I appreciate Chant--and the more I understand your argument for 'chant-only' Masses vs. Big Gig stuff. The Big Stuff has its place--Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, dedication of a church, and of course, the choirmaster's birthday. (Maybe I kid a bit.)

    But the simple-yet-profound music of Chant and how the music illuminates the text (and the ability to use limited resources) is more and more attractive. The stuff grows on you.
  • NihilNominis
    Posts: 292
    For my part, I might not want to hear Mozart at every Mass, or indulge weekly in the harmonies of Lassus and Vittoria, but I certainly can't imagine a world without them. Nor would I care to contemplate a liturgy that neither inspired such profound artistry nor had any place for them in practice.

    As for such Masses being "advertised," I think that is testimony to just how rarely the Big Stuff gets used.

    As a personal aside, I have never felt more engaged in the texts of the Mass, turning over and praying every word of them, than at St Agnes' All Souls' Day Mass with the Mozart Requiem.

    A friend who was along, who went in abominating orchestral Masses, left profoundly moved, and told me that he now understood. There is a unique beauty in the perfection of such musical craftsmanship on that scale, and its offering to God and for the edification of the public, without charge.
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 154
    While certain of Mozart's Masses are...questionable for liturgical use (Coronation, Great C Minor), I would have no hesitation using many of the misse breve in small doses, particularly the D major (K. 194) and B-flat major (K. 275)

    There is a noticeable difference between his secular and sacred works, I've found. And a "chant-only" approach risks ignoring much of the superlative music written for the Church in other periods. I agree with the other posters calling for balance in this regard.
  • {OFF TOPIC WARNING}:

    Having read your moniker, I have a question: Shouldn't it be Schoenbergher?

  • dad29
    Posts: 1,559
    Meh. We used the "Coronation" for the dedication of our new church (and the "Wie Lieblich" movement from Brahms' Requiem as the Offertory motet). Good enough for John Paul II, good enough for our parish.

    Perhaps I was not clear. I do not make a case for "chant-only," but would argue that such programming is very effective. It should be used a lot more often and if you'd like that defined, how about not LESS than once/month?