4-Hymn Sandwich -- in the EF!
  • There are folks working in my area of the country to get a regular EF Mass started. So the first one was on the schedule. The organizer wrote to ask if our schola would sing for it. Sure, I said! Then he wrote back that it would be a Low Mass and that the celebrant says that the schola can sing a processional hymn, an offertory hymn, a communion hymn, and a recessional hymn.

    My answer came in about 5 seconds: this is an abuse and we want nothing to do with it.

    My answer was probably imprudent and over the top, but it struck me how absurd this is. In our weekly OF we have already moved way beyond this model of music. I never imagined that an EF would come along that would actually be a step backwards away from what the Church is asking toward a dumpy old model of protestant-style hymn singing.

    It makes one wonder what people put up with in the old days.

    Anyway, because of this answer, the EF Mass has been postponed until the celebrant can learn to sing the parts, so that the schola can actually sing from our books. I have to think this is good news. Other may disagree but truly, I'm not sure I see the point in establishing an EF that only entrenches the errors that are all-too-common in the OF.

    What do you think?
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    It isn't an abuse in the legal sense of the word, only if they can do better but won't. And frankly I think the Low Mass should be thrown out, at least for Sundays and HDOs. Ban it.

    And it just conforms to my caricature of many trads as just wanting to turn the clock back 60 years. I'm not just referring to Fr. Z commentators who think it's anathema to say "et cum spiritu tuo" at Mass. Most online trads are good people devoted to reform. But there's also the blue hairs who want to go back to 4 rounds of lousy hymns while they pray rosaries throughout, as they have at one of the EF Masses in the Lansing diocese.

    My common theme is that the popular format of the OF is simply a LACK of reform. 4 hymns at Mass that no one sings? That's the old Mass. Latin not treasured? Old Mass. Get people out in 50 minutes or less? Old Mass. If you want to implement the council, use Latin, use the propers, use chant, do it reverently, and do either the OF or the EF. That's what the council wanted.
  • To call this an "abuse" would be a little over the top, I think, since it was for EF Low Mass. Have a look at Pius XII's document on sacred music - I think you'll find that hymns in the vernacular are permitted at Low Mass, although I've never seen anything like that at communion, in my experience.

    To be honest, I think this (historically speaking) is how we've ended up with the musical mess that we're in at the moment. Pre Vatican II, I suspect that the vast majority of parishes (in at least some English-speaking countries) used the hymn sandwich at Low Mass. This is because Low Mass probably became the "normal form" (at least from the perspective of "custom"), and hymns were used to allow the people to participate musically. So the problem of "spoken Mass" is a LOT older than some people might think - at least in the West. Why don't we see such evolved traditions of hymn singing in the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church? Simple: they don't (or at least didn't, until the 20th century), have anything equivalent to the Western Low Mass - every liturgy is supposed to be sung. They developed a tradition of the congregation singing the texts OF the liturgy, rather than simply singing AT the liturgy.

    So what do I think happened after Vatican II? I think the these "Low Mass" parishes went to their nice new vernacular "Low Mass", except that they replaced their older hymns with things more "contemporary." I think that the "degrees of participation" that we see in Musicam Sacram were an attempt to gradually introduce musical participation to the degree of a fully sung Mass - with the EF, it's either all or nothing (OK - there were a few interesting little variants by 1962, but let's not go there...) - you either have Low Mass or Sung Mass. The new OF allows you to get to sung Mass in stages. To me, the whole approach taken seems to show an awareness of the prevalance of Low Mass and the difficulty in making the transition to Sung Mass. It seems as if Musicam Sacram is trying to take into account the "reality" of a "Low Mass" world, as it found it, and tries to make it possible for every parish to have Sung Mass to some degree. Perhaps this meant that not every Parish would be singing Propers, but maybe appropriate hymns, with a Sung Ordinary and everything else sung were considered an improvement - I don't know. Take this or leave it - it' s just my own theory.
  • By my lights, Gavin and Palestrina hit the nail on the head. The 1962 form puts a huge musical hurdle between low Mass (potentially no music) and high Mass (everything sung). I've also read Sacrosanctum Consilium and Musicam Sacram as allowing a progression of music in order to make sung Mass a more accessible reality for small to average parishes. But Sung or Solemn Mass is still the ideal.

    So, Jeff also did a service by giving the new EF folks in his area a higher standard to strive for. But low Mass with hymns isn't necessarily an abuse. Check out the St John Cantius Missa Sancta site for some 'rubrics' for music at low Mass. More on the line of personal preference, I would stick to Latin within the Mass (ie, Offertory and/or Communion) and allow vernacular for procession and recession. For the recessional, just remember to wait till after the Leonine prayers. Unlike a local schola, who started right in after the last Gospel. Their closing hymn was Ave Maria, so the priest just waited and treated it as the first of the 3 Hail Mary's and went on with the Leonine prayers.
  • Probably it was emotion that drove my response. I was so excited at first, and then disgusted that the schola was being asked to do less of the Church's music than we do now in the OF!

    Struggles ahead.
  • G
    Posts: 1,396
    It is not an abuse, just about as far from the ideal as possible while still remaining licit.
    Whether you were imprudent or not depends... you know the people, you're the one on the ground there.
    If your reply had led to a response of "well fine, we just won't do the EF, pass the Gather hymnal," I'd say you had something to answer for, but depending on how long the postponement for the celebrant to learn to sing his parts, it may be the best thing under the circumstances.
    "I would stick to Latin within the Mass (ie, Offertory and/or Communion) and allow vernacular for procession and recession."
    I think that would be a good compromise, I don't know that the off-with-its-head approach to low Mass is the way to win hearts and minds. (Putting on my flame-retardant underwear, I'm not sure there aren't times when I would prefer a low Mass.)
    Of course, they don't need your schola for that.


    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I think Jeff should have responded, "Ok, Gather Us In, On Eagle's Wings, One Bread One Body and Let There be Peace on Earth. How's that for hymns?" :P

    I wouldn't back down from the language of abuse. Legally it is not, just as it isn't in the OF. However, one should employ as high a model of church music as they are capable of. And when you have a schola trained in chant and polyphony available... hymns are an abuse.

    I sometimes have the same reaction when subbing at Catholic parishes - "wait, you want me to do WHAT?"
  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    Palestrina, I think you are correct. My own personal recollections of the TLM (I was 10 in 1965) were based entirely on Low Masses, as I discovered this past year when I went to an EF High Mass for the first time. I realize now that I had never heard music at the Masses prior to 1965 EXCEPT for the hymns we sang. I can't recall now, but my impression is that we sang the 4 hymn sandwich back then, with things like "Praise to the Lord", "Holy, Holy, Holy", but I'm not sure if that was truly the case or I'm extrapolating based on what happened in the late 60's. I do remember the priests singing dialogue, though - and I know that for sure because I remembered it lo, these 40 years later.

    In any case, Jeffrey, your reply was exactly what it needed to be. We don't need to repeat the mistakes of the past when we have a golden opportunity to change.
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,202

    Don't be too hard on yourself. Perhaps this was exactly the response (both content and delivery) that was needed.

    I have to wonder if the person who approached you on this was aware of the work you've done at your own parish and in connection with CMAA. If they are, and they asked for this anyways, then they're being really absurd.

    (This is the same kind of absurdity that attended, to my reading, a recent job posting where the instrument was a 2-manual Allen, and they wanted all candidates to submit repertoire lists and recordings of performances!)
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    I would submit that this is an opportunity to teach that may yet be salvageable. Not many chruches are willing or able to change completely overnight. It took 40 years to get here. Let's give it some reasonable time to get back.

    Keep in mind that the message was second hand - the pastor told me and I'm telling you. So it's unknown where it came off the rails. A better response to the call might be, "Interesting proposition, but that's not normally how we sing the Low Mass. Could you, the pastor, and I chat about how we would like to approach things?" After all, you're being called upon because they already recognize you have skills and knowledge that they lack. So teach! And if after your teaching they still want a sandwich then you might beg off.

    So call them back, apologize for the antics of your evil twin, and see about bringing another congregation into communion.
  • Jeffrey, why not a missa cantata? I don't think the priest HAS to sing for that.
  • 1. I think the priest does need to chant at a Missa Cantata. It's all the ceremonials that are left out.

    2. The Leonine Prayers after Mass are specifically for the Low Mass. They are omitted at a High Mass of any degree.

    3. I'd rather have a Low Mass with GOOD hymns than a poorly prepared High Mass. I don't like the 4-hymn sandwich that takes from the Top 50 Moldy Oldies! But there is really great hymnody out there just waiting to be used.
  • We just had our first EF Mass last week. I had been expecting a Missa Cantata all along, but it turns out that the priest, who has just learned the rite and is probably in his 40's, only felt ready to do the Low Mass. We in the just-formed schola were asked to sing at E, O, C, and R so we did some simple Latin chants. It was a votive Mass of the BMV so we did a version of Jesu Dulcis (with other words), Ave Maris Stella (the mode I), Ave Verum (both chant and motet by Mozart) and Ave Maria. It was a start. I just advised the parish music director that when the priest is ready we should do the chant Requiem first, because it's easy. I guess they had to borrow some altar boys from another parish --- and I think that at a low Mass, those are the only places you're allowed to sing. For an ordinary parish it's not easy to get started with the old rite. But the best thing was the turnout -- 200 enthusiastic people for the first time! By the way, there was no referee at the Mass -- good thing because both priest and musicians missed a couple of cues!
  • "Get people out in 50 minutes or less? Old Mass."

    This often-repeated myth has got to go. It is a blanket characterization. It is an irresponsible comment. It is like saying that every single priest that ever lived is a child-molester.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    And yet that WAS the overwhelming experience of Catholics before the council. The High Mass was underattended and long, the Low Mass was attended by everyone because it was short. Very short. As in 50 minutes would have people complaining. My mother tells me her family always attended the High Mass, so it was by no means the only experience. And I'm sure there were hour-long Low Masses as well. But again the common experience is that people wanted to get their "obligation out of the way" and so they opted for a quick early Mass. Many of Pope Benedict's comments about the old Low Mass indicate that this was not even a distinctively American thing. And this same attitude has carried over into the Ordinary Form. The more we can do to squash it, the better.
  • "Squashing things" and "abuses"? -- with friends like these, the restoration of the traditions of the Latin Mass and Music doesn't need enemies.
  • AOZ
    Posts: 369
    Before the language becomes too confused, the basic point Jeffrey tried to make is this: no sense in going back to what was happening before Vatican II. The push for each of the participants in the Mass (Priest, schola, congregation) to assume its appointed role has been going on since Pius X and before. No sense in yet another incarnation of the four hymn sandwich. That's not progress in any direction.
  • Yes, you are right. A Missa in cantu without ministers but with choir is a Missa cantata. Can someone point me to a simple guide for the parts the priest HAS to sing?
  • Gavin, I can assure you beyond a doubt that, although I am sorry this was your mom's experience, to say this ("the Low Mass was attended by everyone because it was short") is false. As a matter of fact, many people avoid the Old Mass THESE DAYS because it is often longer. A few years ago, you may probably the Novus Ordo priests and Bishops in Germany were trying to develop an 8-minute Mass. I don't know if they succeeded or not, but you need to get your facts straight. You are absolutely free (and encouraged) to share your thoughts, but not make false blanket characterizations.
  • Jan
    Posts: 242
    Opps. Sorry to disagree Jules. I was there (my first organ gig age 12 in 1959; primary parish organist 1962-75).

    Parish Sunday Mass Schedule (1962ish): 7 am (low/no music/35 minutes)
    8 am (low/organ/4 hymn/50 minutes)
    9 am (low/organ/4 hymn/children's mass/55 minutes)
    10 am (low/organ/4 hymn/50 minutes)
    11 am (high/organ/choir/Greg propers & ordinary/1hr 10 min)
    12:15pm (how/organ/4 hymn/50 minutes)

    7am was the 'quicky. 12:15pm many called the 'drunkard's mass. As I young organist 1959-1962 I played the
    8, 9 & 10. From 1962-75 I played 10, 11, 12:15 & hired out for the 8 & 9. In the 1950s the music was right
    out of the St. Gregory's Hymnal. High Mass, choir sang the Mass of the Angels ordinary with Credo III, propers
    were psalm tone sung by choir soloists, hymns (prelude, communion, recessional).

    Every Sunday the same people usually attended the same masses. The 11am High Mass & the 12:15 were always
    standing room only (packed). 7am had a small but loyal attendance.

    Can't remember our source for the propers. When I left (because I couldn't take the new music any more) &
    took the copy of Cantus ad Processiones et Benedictiones SSmi Sacramenti Juxta Editionem Vaticanam which I still have. Other music from Secunda Anthologia Vocalis (Motets for 3 equal voices) edited by Ravanello & Cantate
    Domino: Prima Anthologia Melodica Edited by Rossini.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Did I say the EF is celebrated as a short Mass today? No. Why not? Because of the council.

    That the "15 minute Low Mass" abuse existed is generally accepted. I'm only 22 so I wouldn't remember, but nearly everyone who recalls the Mass before Vatican II has said the same thing: "If you woke up early you got to go to the short Low Mass, if you woke up late you were punished by having to sit through High Mass with the sermon and the choir." Thomas Day says the same thing so I know it's not a Michigan phenomenon.

    Why is the EF so long today? Because the people who attend it actually want to be there. An hour and a half is all the better because they recognize the beauty of it. I believe some use the term "intentional community" to describe this. They attend, many sing the responses and the ordinary. The EF is almost entirely attended by those who are not bothered by the length or beauty of the Mass. This was not the case 50 years ago, as common experience tells us.

    It serves nothing to whitewash the history of American Catholicism so as to undermine the reforms of Vatican II. The fact that the EF is commonly NOT a 4-hymn short Low Mass is due to people carrying out the council's concern that every Mass be celebrated well. And the converse of that is that people who complain about long sermons, lots of long chants, and the like are doing so in opposition to Vatican II, both the letter and spirit of the documents.
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    When I was an altar boy, I routinely served the 7:00 a.m. weekday Low Mass. There were normally a few dozen worshippers, and even with cleaning up the church (part of our job description) we were easily out of there by 7:30. I had time to ride home, have breakfast (couldn't do that before Mass in those days) and ride to school in time to attend the mandatory 8:00 Mass. This was always out by 8:30, even with 500 or so kids in attendance. Now and then would be a High Mass which would run past 9:00. (Because my 7:00 Mass was in an expansion parish, these times reflect Mass at two separate churches.)

    The same timings applied, by the way, when I visited grandparents in New York and Boston. Two candles? 30 minutes or less. Six candles? You're going to be there a while.

    So as for Gavin's making blanket characterizations, I wholeheartedly agree based on my experience. His facts are quite straight.
  • Jan
    Posts: 242
    Getting back to Jeffrey's original topic '4-hymn sandwich for the EF'. No (oh please, NO!) One can go anywhere to
    hear that! EF should be new...a breath of fresh air. What is so extraordinary about the 4-hymn sandwich? Nothing.
    What IS extraordinary are the sung propers & ordinaries. If they are thinking 'easier transition', I really don't believe
    the PIP will miss the hymns. They choose to attend the EF because (I think) it's extraordinary. So why should the
    music be ordinary! (I am so redundant, sorry)

    However, a little historical note: Back in pre-Vat II days, many people grumbled not about Gregorian Chant per se, but the quality of the singing. The length of the Mass only seemed really long (& I recall people saying this) because the Credo went on & on & on & on. Poor singing & a very slow tempo Credo = yawns & squirms. The choir has got to
    practice! Keep the tempos brisk if the tendency is to go flat. Choose the best soloists for the propers. Choose
    simple ordinaries for the people to sing. And perhaps end with a traditional hymn (a la Now Thank We All Our God).

    I am a great admirer of Jeffrey's Mass programs! (See his thread r/t this). For a blended Mass, they are absolutely
    stunning. In our parish, our Men's Schola sings OF Gregorian Chant (propers & ordinaries) with prelude & postlude at times the seasonal latin Marian Hymn (Solemn & Simple). I sprinkle in an occasional hymn for seasonal variety. But we don't have the # & quality of singers to 'pull off' any polyphony.(The men are opposed to 'barbershop' as they call it). We only sing one Sunday/month to keep the quality high (very important) & keep the congregation asking for more!(Subversive but it works!) I never put in the bulletin when the schola will sing (even though some PIP have asked me to) because I want the regular folks to have the change to experience this. Many are surprised at how much they like it...many who perhaps would not go out of their way to attend. It's working! That's the important thing!
  • Well, I could quote just as many stories to the contrary. For example, a dear friend of mine is rather old. He can remember when Roosevelt was president.

    His parish LOVED the High Mass. They ALL sang Masses from the Kyrie. They knew 3 Creeds. They sang Mass I, II, III (occasionally), IV, VIII, IX, XI, and others.

    This was an ordinary parish in Ohio.

    Ultimately, an anecdote here and there mean NOTHING. I've got plenty more. You may, as well. It is silly. Especially since you DO NOT want to start comparing folks nowadays at Mass to folks in the past. You don't want to go down that road, trust me!!! You don't want to go there. There are people who love their faith and liturgy today. There were people who loved their faith and liturgy 60 years ago. There are *millions* of folks nowadays who don't even believe in God, yet go to Catholic Church. I can tell you about priests who give Communion to MUSLIMS at Mass---EVERY SUNDAY. There were also a lot of folks 60 years ago who went to Mass without great love for the liturgy. There are MANY bad bishops today. There were also bad Bishops 60 years ago. etc. etc. etc.

    So, again. Please stop throwing out blanket statements. If you want to share a story, GREAT. But we have to get beyond blanket statements, especially when patently false.
  • Jan
    Posts: 242
    Jules, you're right. There are so many different experiences with pre-Vat II liturgy. I loved the High Mass. I was
    there. And you're right about the 'good, bad and the ugly' stuff too. I could throw in the social & cultural upheavals of the 60s & we've got the road nobody wants to ever see again! (Unfortunately we're still living there in music ...SLJs et al).

    Hopefully we can learn from the past & bring quality to the present & the future.
  • G
    Posts: 1,396
    Ladies, gentlemen, could we perhaps just agree that no one's experience is universal, that some of us are too young to know except by hearsay (including in print hearsay,) that none of us were everywhere, and that much of what is now said about "the way it was" is said by those with an agenda, (for good or ill,) and that no generalization is worth a damn, including this one?
    There was probably no greater uniformity in certain matters 50 years ago than there is today, (in other matters? well one presumes that in 1960 nobody ever substituted a favorite poem for the first reading...)
    And I'm wondering if that isn't germane to the thread.
    Are ALL EF Masses to be uniform? is there no room in the world for the "low" Mass?
    I can understand if a musician does not want to put his own efforts into less than his ideal, or rhater, I'll grant THE ideal, but does he want to tell other people that THEY can't do it? does he want to claim that what is clearly not an abuse is an abuse?

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • Jan
    Posts: 242
    Sorry. I keep thinking EF = high Mass. (Probably because we have not progressed to EF in our parish) Forgot about low Mass. Variety is good! God bless!
  • Jan
    Posts: 242
    It's interesting how these 2 topics, EF & 4 hymn sandwich, touched a nerve.
  • 1) Everyone should read (if they haven't yet) Thomas Day's books "Why Catholics Can't Sing" and "Where Have You Gone, Michaelangelo?". There is no universal perception of the pre Vat. II Mass - it's all parochial and cultural.

    2) Rather than insist that 4-hymn EF Masses should not exist, try working with the absolute best of hymnody to make it as relevant as possible, including some chant melodies and some Latin.
  • Well, let's consider where the Low Mass comes from. It's a product of the 18th century Enlightenment for the most part. Churches were losing lands (and rents), which meant cutting back on trained musical chapels and everything else. The elaborate Gregorian chant was also seen as something from the Dark Ages that probably should be put in a box or something. Joseph II in Vienna even put a ban on elaborate church music (ever wonder why Mozart didn't write any during the 1780s?). Thomas Day also mentions the rather practical need for Low Masses in pre-liberation Ireland. It was just plain dangerous to do a high Mass! Add into the mix that Catholics have an obligation to attend Mass on Sundays, and well, you can see why Low Masses were a bit more popular.

    In the post motu world, we have to live with the "reenactments" of 1962 Catholic culture that many EF Masses are today for a little while as the younger priests learn the liturgy. The older priests and laity are simply doing what they remember. Meanwhile IMO, I think we should emphasize the High Mass and make good use of the Missa Cantata so that the EF takes on these forms as "normal". Low Masses on weekdays are probably a very practical approach, though.
  • I can recall reading T. Day's account of the preconciliar world and thinking that he was surely exaggerating the problems. In light of what I've seen and heard since the Motu Proprio, I'm thinking now that the problem was mine: I had overly idealized the preconciliar world. Now I can more clearly see the roots of where we are today. If you do heavily accompanied Mass ordinaries (not really chant!), Rossini-style propers, and a smattering of vernacular hymns, you end up with a package is not all that different from the typical Mass in parishes today. Today it is a big groovier and less romantic but this is just a gradient of style issue. As Arlene put it to me the other day, this whole approach to liturgical music has no teeth. It is just a big comfy mush. From one mush to another mush.

    William Mahrt wrote in his first editorial after Summorum that an important priority we have is to protect new EF Masses from repeating mistakes of the past. When he first sent it to me, I wondered why he was so focussed on this point. Now I know.
  • "If you do heavily accompanied Mass ordinaries (not really chant!), Rossini-style propers, and a smattering of vernacular hymns, you end up with a package is not all that different from the typical Mass in parishes today."

    Jeffrey, may I respectfully toss out a different take? There is a real difference between what you describe and the sentimental, rhythmically-driven, rhythmically-composed, heretical-text SONGS that are sung (sadly) in most of our Churches. It is a difference between, for lack of better words, "to whom are we singing?" After all, the Mass texts are sung in order to be better proclaimed to all the world: heaven, hell, the entire galaxy, and all creation, now and forever. If folks use Rossini-like formulas to add a bit of solemnity, doing their best, rather than just speaking them (which is also fine) who are we to blame them? This other music is all about entertaining US, and people ask after the Mass, "Did you have a good time?"

    On the other hand, Jeffrey, folks like you are to be commended because you are aiming for the Church's ideal. You are a major inspiration for all of us.

    Also, Michael, I don't think that is where Low Masses came from —low Mass was developed in the middle ages when you have hundreds of monks who each had to say a daily Mass—it is a simplification of High Mass (done and tolerated from necessity).

    But thank you for the information, Michael!
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 754

    I think you miss Jeffrey's main point, which is that there's a tendency to see pre-conciliar worship through rose-tinted spectacles, and assume that good practice must follow a renewed focus on tradition; but it ain't necessarily so.
  • I have served a parish for several years that alternates Missa cantata and Low Mass, and on the Sundays I don't direct the schola for the former, I have played organ music for the latter, specifically at the points of the Mass mentioned--prelude, offertory, communion, and postlude. It doesn't seem a big stretch to suggest that there could be congregational singing at these points, and I have known indult Masses that follow this model. Why all the outrage?

    I would suggest that the venom inspired by this issue seems to be directed, not so much against the four-hymn model of singing at Mass, but against Low Mass as a legitimate expression of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. If anyone is questioning that legitimacy, then I must take strong exception. While I recognize sung Mass as a fuller expression of the liturgical riches of the Missal, I also recognize the spiritual riches offered by the simplest of Low Masses. I came to the conclusion long ago that full absorption of the spirituality of the traditional liturgy is greatly enhanced by, if not dependent upon, a direct experience of Low Mass, at the heart of all that silence. Nothing else can completely cure us of the modern mindset that "active participation" equals "me making noise," or that "solemnity" equals "turn up the volume."

    Furthermore, anyone who denies the validity and/or efficacy of Low Mass would seem to me to be offending against (if I can use the term) the spirit of Summorum Pontificum, and against the liturgical pluralism that Pope Benedict is encouraging. That liturgical pluralism extends beyond the forms of the Rite to include the various expressions of those forms, the various levels of singing and ceremony. We cannot speak of "progressive solemnity" in the old Mass the same way we (or some) could in the new. But to dismiss the idea out of hand would place a great burden on those who are fighting, inch by inch, to restore the traditional liturgy in their parishes. To call it "going back" is to disparage the deep and integral spirituality that can be, and frequently is, fostered by Low Mass.
  • A question for clarification: I've only ever had the opportunity to attend an EF Mass (that I can remember) at the colloquium last year, so I have a very beautiful mental image of the EF Mass. But, is it correct to assume that at a 'low Mass', it is not permissable to sing anything but the four hymns? It seems to me that I can remember something Dr. Mahrt mentioned at the colloquium last summer about the fact that all Masses that are not sung entirely are 'low Masses'. Forgive me, Dr. Mahrt, if I have that wrong. I'm just wondering what is allowed and what is not allowed at a 'low Mass'.
  • My reaction was based on the request that the Schola drive an hour to sing hymns at the EF when we are already doing propers and Latin ordinary in the OF. the irony is striking. There is also the problem that this was to be the first public EF in this area of the country, presented to a new generation as an ideal.

    That said, I too have been to many beautiful Low Mass EFs, none with hymns that I can recall. They can be truly wonderful, so my objection isn't to the Low Mass as such but more to the circumstances.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,207
    As to 'what parts the priest must sing' at a Missa Cantata:

    All the greetings (Dominus vobiscum), all the Orations, the Gospel, the intonations of the Gloria and Credo, the Preface (and the preceding short greetings), the Pater Noster. (And all the short items at the end of the Mass excepting the greetings before the Last Gospel.)

    Most likely place to find the OFFICIAL word: in the Roman Missal (1962.)
  • I totally agree with Jeffrey.

    Incidentally, the sung Mass has always been abused, in some parts. It is sad, but true. For example, early in the 20th century, many places often just skipped the propers.

    May God inspire us all with a love of the Lord's commands, and inspire us to do our best for Him.


    Low Mass can be so wonderful ~!! (Preferably without hymns at the Offertory or COmmunion!)
  • Jules, you are correct the Low Mass had its beginnings in the Middle Ages, but the "rise" of the Low Mass comes from the 18th century, which was also a time when chant practices had really really gotten rather strange in some places. The revolution of Solesmes was in reaction to this situation.
  • "There is also the problem that this was to be the first public EF in this area of the country, presented to a new generation as an ideal. "

    Or was it being presented as "what we can do at the moment?" I have a hard time believing the organizers of this Mass were touting it as "an ideal." I have an even harder time believing that you consider your efforts (or mine, for that matter) at a sung Mass might represent "an ideal." We are all working toward an ideal, in every Mass... but that ideal has a lot more to do with our eternal disposition than it does with our musical integrity. I think musicians forget that sometimes.
  • I think the vast majority of pew-sitters have their own, personal, spiritual reasons for preferring the EF. Many of the older crowd probably prefer a reverent but spoken Mass, especially when compared to the typical OF. The younger crowd, including many younger families, have similar reasons centered around reverence, focus, orthodoxy, etc. Most seem to accept singing some music, while some prefer to read along in their Missals every word that is being whispered in the Sanctuary. Those who do sing along with the hymnody also realize that, at a High Mass, they will either have much more to sing, in Latin (and they don't mind that) or they will do even more listening to the choir and schola (nor do they mind that - they understand the real "active participation".)

    I would love to help musically with at least a monthly Missa Cantata, even if I have to chant the Propers by myself and use the Ordinary that most of the people know. I settle for hymnody at a Low Mass because I know that with my love and understanding of hymnody, and my confidence in the congregation's ability and acceptance, this music "sung AT the Mass" can be as relevant as possible - and a beautiful thing in itself, even if less than the perfect Liturgy.

    IOW, I believe it is musicians who have the greatest problem with the whole concept of the "4 hymn Mass". While I'm all for bringing congregations up to the next step, I'm even more for having more EF Masses - period!
  • bsven
    Posts: 20
    Wonderful discussion. Very helpful to me. My parish priest remembers singing hymns in Slovak in Mass when he was a boy (he is 75 plus years) until they were banned, which caused great resentment among the people. Many angles to this issue. One question: in pre-conciliar masses, were the people expected to sing the ordinaries? What do you all remember? When I introduced Latin Ordinaries in my parish, no one knew them, including the sizable senior population, which mystified me.
  • As I've recommended before, everyone involved in the "reform of the reform", especially in the USA, needs to read Thomas Day's "Why Catholics Can't Sing". Many of your questions will be answered. The bottom line is that there was no universal approach to the music AT or OF the Mass. Some congregations sang number of Ordinaries (Gregorian); others had choirs who did so, and also polyphony; still others almost never had High Masses. Some had a wide variety of hymns, both Latin and English at their Low Masses; others had just a couple of dozen that rotated; still others had small choirs sing EVERYTHING!

    In re-introducing Gregorian chant Ordinaries, I would recommend 1) using the organ, but only as accompaniment (see other discussions), having a small group who can lead the congregation (or even chant by themselves the first couple of times), and introduce the easier melodies first, even if you end up mixing/matching parts from different Ordinaries and the "ad lib" section of the Kyriale.
  • bsven
    Posts: 20
    Steve, what you suggest about the Ordinaries is what we did in our parish, and after three years of patiently inserting and withdrawing the Latin, the people in ALL masses know them. We also use English chant from the Sacramentary for the Mem. Accl. and Amen and the Lord's Prayer. Our next step is the dialogues and collects. Sometimes we use the communion proper. I envision the day when the switch to EF will not be so difficult because the people have slowly over time become accustomed to the sound of chant. For me, the main issue is one of sound. We sometimes use Fr. Samuel Weber's English propers.