Great Principles of Liturgy
  • I read, many years ago, in a booklet that accompanied a CD of chanting monks, that following Vatican II the monks in a certain monastery had for the most part become depressed, grumpy, sad, and, generally, miserable. Some sensitive questioning by some psychologists who were brought in revealed that the monks lives were upended when the daily routine of the hours sung to Gregorian chant had been disrupted - disrupted as in tossed out the window. The restoration of chant solved the problem.
  • The principle, therefore, could be stated:

    Gregorian Chant (sung well) is one of the gifts we receive at the Mass.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,219
    Sinner "X" is mired in a horrible, spiritually disfiguring addiction. His appetites and sensibilities are absolutely wrecked. Yet, he hears [insert your absolutely least-favorite piece of sacro-pop here] on his annual and reluctant visit to St. Y's church and, somehow, this cuts through all of the barriers that X has put up, and sets X on the journey whereby he finally gets help for his addiction, and resolves to try to give up sin.

    This sort of thing does happen,

    True, if only anecdotal. The musician's duty remains the same: to glorify God and raise the MINDS and hearts of the Faithful to God. Like it or not, this duty applies to the vast majority of Faithful, not the one-sey/two-sey of anecdote. Just because I get all choked up hearing the "In Paradisum" of the Faure doesn't mean that it should become a staple (albeit it is a MUCH better option than what's on offer in most churches.)
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,219
    this is not a good liturgical precedent.

    Now that you have *exposed* this, you can expect some Jesuit to try it out.
  • True, if only anecdotal. The musician's duty remains the same: to glorify God and raise the MINDS and hearts of the Faithful to God. Like it or not, this duty applies to the vast majority of Faithful, not the one-sey/two-sey of anecdote. Just because I get all choked up hearing the "In Paradisum" of the Faure doesn't mean that it should become a staple (albeit it is a MUCH better option than what's on offer in most churches.)

    The musician's duty was never in question.

    The musician's attitude and approach in dealing with those whose practice of sung liturgy he or she intends to improve, was the whole question.

    The anecdote was intended to convey that a personal attachment to substandard music could, in fact, be spiritually significant.
  • dad29 - Been there, seen that! 30 years ago at a Mass celebrated by a Jesuit at which after the dismissal he struck up a chant of 'We will dance, we will dance, we will dance as David danced'. Fortunately the ensuing conga, with which the conference of catechists left the hall and proceded to another room for coffee, did NOT match King David's exuberance.
  • Nihil, the problem that I have is that I find your position to be too general, which then opens itself to abuse. That's why I tried adding the distinction.

    I use Bring Flowers for the May Crowning devotion (outside of Mass). I'm truly fortunate being in a position where I can choose appropriate music for the Mass in full support of the pastor. Doesn't mean that there aren't complaints (on either side) from PIP, just that I can answer - respectfully and without denigration - and carry on, a position other church musicians are not necessarily able to enjoy.

    Most recently, I had someone opine that "Now Thank We All our God" was too N.O. for an EF hymn (recessional). I wrote out the provenance of the tune, the text, and some digging of Catholic hymnals it was found in (ironically, 1938 St. Cecilia - published in Cincinnati) in order to show that it was suitable as an EF hymn. It wasn't about smashing someone's opinion, it was about education. I concluded by encouraging the person to continue to ask questions and voice their concerns to me - as it was a good learning experience for me as well.

    At the end of the day, Truth is true - regardless of people's perceptions, regardless of feelings and emotions. If someone feels that 2 + 2 = 5... because they feel that 4 gets all of the attention and 5 is left out - it doesn't change that fact that 2 + 2 = 4, no matter how fervent they are. (Unfortunately, this example isn't that far-fetched in the age in which we live with gender-neutrality, safe-spaces, and no wrong answers. History books published with dates totally incorrect - because "history is more than just dates". Teachers encouraging students to spell the word any way that makes sense to them.)

    The Mass is not FOR the PIP. I'm sure many will disagree with me... but that doesn't change the fact. The Mass is for God.

    And part of our role - as church musician - is about education. Our first purpose is to augment the glory of God. Our second purpose is to elevate and inspire the hearts and the minds of people to God. And part of that secondary purpose revolves around education.

    Children enjoy sweets. As parents, we probably don't go to the extent of forbidding all sweets forever and ever, amen - instead we educate our children on the need for good nutrition and use sweets judiciously. Parents all have different standards of how they administer treats.

    I can understand someone articulating a general principle that it is never beneficial to demean or denigrate your children because they want sweets. That doesn't mean that parents have to "respect" a child's desire simply because it has been expressed, or because it is real to the child. Parents have to determine - in a way best-suited for their children's temperament and the home situation - how best to deal in their own situation.

    In your case, you apply your general statement to Bring Flowers. But in the case of Z, he chooses to apply it to having the rock band in the sanctuary - because the PIP "connect more meaningfully with the service, dude." And suddenly, Pandora's Box is open.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,219
    the ensuing conga, with which the conference of catechists left the hall and proceded to another room

    These were adults?

    'Splains a lot about today's catechesis problems, too.
  • History books published with dates totally incorrect - because "history is more than just dates".
    Is this in fact true, or someone's perception?
  • Is this in fact true, or someone's perception?

    This is, in fact, true. A review board in Texas found thousands of errors in History textbooks presented by publisher, including dates and "historical anomalies". Publisher resubmitted, and again, thousands of errors were found. One example error was a mistake in the date of the battle of Waterloo - the publisher is said to have replied that "history is more than just dates". (There were other date errors as well - some of them quite significant.)

    You can google search on errors in Texas textbooks. It is particularly an issue in Texas since, given the population, what the Education Board in Texas does often what becomes standard elsewhere.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Would anyone disagree with "history is more than just dates"? I can well believe that Google might tailor different results for the two of us, but the tack you suggest renders page not found, "Texas Board of Education refuses to allow professors to fact check textbooks" and State Board of Education unanimously votes to reject the Mexican American Heritage textbook. Nothing about dates in any of these, and the closest "battle of waterloo date in texas" gets to the question is the tidbit that the village of Waterloo changed its name to Austin in 1839, which makes it impossible for me to consider the assertion in fact documented yet.
  • Richard, I was proposing a general search, not a specific one for that particular result. In my search result I turned up "Texas finds 109,000 errors in Math textbooks" and a slew of results regarding erroneous history textbooks for Texas. [I also used a different search engine, but that's a search I wouldn't think Google would tinker with! ;)]

    The article regarding the particular incident I mention was from the 2000's. My point with my google reference was that you can find lots of similar articles that would indicate a pattern, not suggesting you would find the particular article that I'm referencing. As I was a teacher at the time, the article I read 15 or so years ago certainly stuck with me. Believe me or not - I don't particularly care. But it is not something that I've concocted out of thin air. However, I should have been clear that the search I suggested was more general and not specific. Sorry if I mislead you in that regard.

    Certainly, history IS more than just the dates... but dates ARE important historically. In the same article I mention, there were numerous examples far more concerning than evidenced as simply being a typo. In light of the nature of the mistakes, for the publisher to respond in that way indicated - at best - a complete indifference to accuracy.

  • Principles derived from the last few posts:

    Google is not a rubricist or a liturgist, or a lover of God. Treat his advice accordingly.

    Inculturation, where it is permitted at all, should be authentic inculturation, not the adopting of foreign customs in the name of inculturation.

    When a musician refuses a request to sing (play) a particular piece of music, his refusal should be based on what is fitting for the Mass, not his own personal choice.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,700
    CGZ said exactly what I was going to say, but beat me to it... if you make Google (or any search engine) the 'proof' of any 'fact', searcher beware. Refer to printed material before Google came online.
  • If I may follow the tangent, I once overheard two guys talking after Tridentine rite Mass. One recommended a book to the other, who replied "When was that published? 1980? I have enough problems, I don't need a book from 1980."

  • Still taking principles?
    a) He who sings prays twice
    b) Lex orandi, lex credendi.
  • Madame,

    Absolutely still taking principles.

    I'm surprised no one has (yet) suggested:
    That which is in black, speak ye.
    That which is in red, do ye.
    Neither a jot nor a tittle shalt thou change of thine own authority.
  • ...of thine own authority.

    You speak, Chris, of an authority that is non-existent! There is no authority period for anyone of any rank to alter by so much as an iota any of the black or the red which you reference. What there IS authority for is DOING every iota. There is no authority for anything else. It doesn't exist. There is a name for those who exceed their lawful authority, whether in the political or ecclesiastical spheres - it is 'tyrant'.
  • the age in which we live with gender-neutrality, safe-spaces, and no wrong answers. History books published with dates totally incorrect - because "history is more than just dates".
    One example error was a mistake in the date of the battle of Waterloo - the publisher is said to have replied that "history is more than just dates". …
    You can google search on errors in Texas textbooks.
    I feel bad about pushing so hard on this parenthetical tangent, not having reason to doubt Incardination's good faith, but 1) I'm terribly curious about how how this could happen, and how far off the Waterloo date was, and 2) does the context actually have anything to do with 'gender-neutrality'? One example I did unearth was one book with a racist agenda which stated
    “In 1822, Moses Austin obtained the first charter to start an American colony in Texas,” the book notes, but Moses Austin died in 1821.
    and quite rightly was unanimously rejected by Texas. If some other example got into print it shouldn't be impossibly hard to name it.
  • Of course, we all know that history is more than dates, and that dates don't matter. Why, it is not of any consequence at all to us that the battle of Waterloo was fought in 1066 between Genghis Khan and Julius Ceasar - the important thing is that it happened - (or did it, really?).
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,219
    MJO, you disappoint with your loose grasp on history.

    Matter of fact, Waterloo was a battle between George Patton and Charlemagne, occurring in 1850. Patton was on the "pro" side regarding Mozart, and Charlemagne is the great-great-great-great-great-grandpa of our very own Francis. Yes he was on the "nay" side.

    My word as a Biden.
  • our very own Francis.


    Do you mean the Francis who posts here or the Francis about whom there is much griping every time he gets on an airplane and is anywhere near a microphone?
  • Could be either - I've actually heard that everyone is descended from Charlemagne, more or less.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,219
    The CMAA Francis. About him I can jest. Not the same with the other guy....
  • >> Most recently, I had someone opine that "Now Thank We All our God" was too N.O. for an EF hymn (recessional).

    umm... that would be me. :-D
    as long as I am in the traces, this will not be used.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,700
    hey... what is this about me and Charlamagne! if you talk about ME (as opposed to the airliner version of my namesake) you need to put @francis in your post so I can defend my turf! lol... (who is kidding who... i am going to be crucified one way or the other)

    BTW... I want to meet ALL OF YOU face to face at the next CMAA gathering... be there! (especially CharlesW and those belonging to his 'school of thought') I am treating those I recognize to a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. [MJO, I dream to start a new blog called if you are interested to be an author. (moreLOL)]
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    "Now Thank we all Our God" was too N.O. for an EF recessional.

    (purpura)I'll tell Teddy Marrier to take it out of his next edition of the "Pius X Hymnal".(sine purpura)
    Thanked by 2Liam chonak
  • long as I am in the traces, this will not be used.

    Certainly your prerogative, and I would never argue your choice of what to use or not use. However, I think painting this hymn as OF vs. EF is not quite accurate... perhaps you can provide more insight on your viewpoint?

    Here was my summary that I provided my parishioner:
    The text was written in early 1600’s by Martin Rinkart, a Lutheran minister and a hymn-writer. (It is not unusual for Catholic hymns to have been written by Protestants… in some cases the text is Catholic; in some cases, Catholic hymn-writers have “sanitized” the text to be Catholic.) What is interesting is that this text is a paraphrase from one of the books of the bible that were subsequently rejected by Protestants and maintained by Catholics, several verses found in the first chapter of the book of Ecclesiasticus, so the text is eminently Catholic in that perspective.

    The music was written by Johann Cruger (also in the 1600’s). Cruger was Lutheran, but again this is not unusual – he also wrote the music we use for O Sacred Head, So Wounded, for example. J.S. Bach frequently borrowed thematically from Cruger, who is a well-regarded composer in his own right.

    The text was translated in the 1800’s by Catherine Winkworth. She is one of the most respected translators of hymns, particularly from German into English.

    The hymn can be found in the 1927 edition of the St. Cecilia Hymnal – a Catholic choir book produced in Cincinnati… however it has widespread use well before 1927. The English version of the hymn is listed in over 600 different hymnals (Protestant and Catholic) dating from the mid-1800’s (the time at which Winkworth translated it into English).

    When evaluating whether or not to use a hymn for the Latin Mass, it is primarily text and music that is the focus for me. Does the text express the Catholic Faith? Or is there something contrary to the Faith? Is the music in some way unsuitable? Obviously, the latter is a judgment call – there are some who would argue Bring Flowers of the Rarest is unsuitable because it is too emotional, too syrupy sweet, for example. And yet we use that piece for May Crowning because many people are attached to it on a sentimental level (and there is nothing wrong with the text, itself).

    There are several very highly respected Catholic hymn-writers (Fr. Faber and Fr. Caswall, both from the late 1800’s, are examples), who did not hesitate to adapt Protestant texts or Protestant hymns to the Catholic Mass. In some cases, they modified the text or wrote a new tune. In others, they took the hymns as written because they were in no way contrary to the Faith. Fr. Faber is one of the pre-eminent Catholic hymn-writers, and his hymns are highly regarded examples of Catholic hymnody.

    I do not see anything contrary to the premise of the Latin Mass in either the text or the music of this hymn. Some of the things I might look for… is there something that emphasizes “meal” over “sacrifice”? Something that stresses the Human aspect of Christ over the Divine? Something that undermines Catholic theology in some way? But I don’t see anything like that with this text.

  • It's the same field we've harrowed before, isn't it? - quite a number of times... if it doesn't contradict Catholic teaching, if it does express Catholic teaching, and/or has a positive biblical reference, it's sui generis Catholic. All Truth is Catholic, period - even if it is of Shinto or Hindu origin. The Truth is something that resides in all of humankind, though it may (and does!) do so more fully and purely in some than others.

    The only thing I would question, relative to the subject at hand, is this: if one celebrates an EF mass strictly with sacred chant and polyphony, isn't it rather aesthetically jarring (as in totally artless) to follow on its heels with any hymnody of a quite different aesthetic or genre than these? In my view, this would be reprehensible, whether it be belting out Grosser Gott or Nun Danket, or (heaven forbid!) something so irredeemably insipid as 'Bring flowers...'.

    So, I would add to the general liturgical principles which are the topic of this thread (1 - aesthetic consistency of any or all the arts involved, (2 - consistency of language.
  • I suppose it depends on the context. The May Crowning is separate from Mass. It involves a procession (typically outside in our case), with the crowning at an outdoor statue, then litany and prayers.

    I'm also not sure I see a dichotomy between hymnody and chant / polyphony. I think... given the repertoire of hymns that existed when there was ONLY an EF, that I'm not alone in that. :)
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • Notice that I said 'of a quite different aesthetic or genre than these', 'these' being chant-polyphony.

    I didn't mean to suggest that there is a blanket dichotomy between hymnody and chant-polyphony. There are, to be quite sure, many hymns that would compliment chant and polyphony. (Down Ampney comes to mind.) Some are, of course, plainchant, some are of a more modern genre. What I was suggesting is that any such hymnody should be chosen carefully to ensure that it does compliment, rather than distract, from the established aesthetic (whatever that aesthetic may be!). Some hymns (I deliberately chose Grosser Gott as an example!) are belted out almost mindlessly rather than sung decently. It is this sort of unfeeling mindset that destroys any link, any residue of holiness, with the genres employed in a given celebration.
  • Jackson,

    On the topic of aesthetic consistency...

    Could one sing Gregorian Chant Propers, Renaissance polyphony and Maurice Durufle in the same Mass, and call this 'aesthetic consistency'?

    If one sings one polyphonic Proper, must one sing all polyphonic propers to be consistent?
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,992
    In my experience of organizations, including the Church, when consistency is elevated as a value in the triage of values, it tends result in lowest common denominators of some sort. For example, I would say it tends to be the reason why it's difficult to change the the song-hymn approach to the introit-offertory-communion[-recessonal], or to adopt chanted dialogues and presidential prayers and to embrace traditional settings of the Ordinary.
    Thanked by 2Richard Mix Elmar
  • Liam,

    So.... I'll put the same question to you. Do I gather correctly that you would count as adequately consistent a mixture of the singing of Gregorian Propers, Polyphonic Propers, Mix-and-Match Ordinaries.

    On the other hand, would Bach's B-Minor Mass be welcome with Recto Tono Propers?
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,992
    1. The idea in general is not unacceptable to me as a matter of principle; my opinion about particular choices might differ. Mind you, my context is entirely in the OF.

    2. I don't think Bach's BMM is appropriate to be used as the Ordinary for Catholic Mass (even if its pretext was for the Protestant Elector of Saxony turned Catholic King-Grand Duke of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) with the possible exception of churches or oratories where its use in that context is an immemorial custom (not sure any place falls into that category), so no.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    I'll bite on the B minor.

    If the purpose of singing the Propers recto tono is for the purpose of "making room" for the ordinary, then the answer is a resounding "No". If the reason is because the choir master spent so much time preparing the Ordinary that he didn't have time to rehearse the Propers, then he should be fired.
    Thanked by 2Liam Elmar
  • Salieri,

    I really wish you could be blunt, clear and precise, instead of loquacious, ambiguous and equivocal.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,700
    The only place Bach's Mass will be acceptable for liturgy is if when we get to heaven God decides to program it himself. (time will not be in vogue there)
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • The unsuitability of BWV 232 is entirely temporal - similar to Bruckner's outer Masses which are simply unwieldy, especially in the OF.

    I would always fail to understand any criticisms that it is unsuitable because it was composed by a Protestant.

    The choice between a polyphonic Ordinary and RT Propers on one hand, and Gregorian Ordinary & Propers on the other, is so obvious and clear that I'm surprised that it was even mentioned. Polyphony (at its best) is simply an elaboration of the same formula that the Gregorian Ordinaries and Propers use, so to discard all but the text of one entirely in favour of elaborating the other is a mistake of the highest calibre. It is akin to an organist devoting weeks to practicing Vierne for prelude and postlude but being unable to play anything within the actual Mass.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Elmar
  • Schoenbergian,
    [I really must find out how to put the umlaut where it belongs, but.....]

    If I understand correctly, Recto Tono would lose. I'm completely with you there.

    Could one sing a combination of polyphonic and Gregorian Propers, so that the Introit might be polyphonic, but the Gradual and Alleluia were chanted, and meet the standard of aesthetic consistency?
  • ö yields ö
  • No worries, Chris. Perhaps one day I'll use my real name on here (not that it's a secret) to avoid that issue. (Many just drop the umlaut without adding the E)

    To your question, I ask you this:

    Could one omit the jubilus from the chanted Alleluia, or sing the verse to a psalm tone?

    Could one substitute a Simplex melody or other simplification for the Romanum chant?

    The answer, to me, is that these modifications retain the "essence" of the full Propers while allowing for more or less elaboration on the same basic formula. If polyphony is then an elaboration on those principles, there is no issue with mixing the two - just as there would be no aesthetic conflict if one were to prepare a descant, elaborate fauxbourdon, or re-harmonization of a specific hymn verse. The above is especially true if one uses polyphony that is directly based on a specific chant, such as Isaac's Choralis Constantinus, the Duruflé motets, or any Franco-Flemish or Roman motets or Ordinaries that use paraphrase technique. That being said, I would not believe parody Masses or compositions from composers as esoteric as Messiaen or Poulenc to be out of place.

    One has to remember that, if nothing else, many of the Church's greatest compositions were composed under the auspices of a mostly-intact Vetus Ordo whose character shaped the languages of the composers who served it to a greater or lesser extent. Some composers point fingers at Mozart and Haydn - but even their church compositions display marked differences from their concert or secular fare and a definite affinity with the stile antico. So although their languages may differ from era to era and region to region (as one would expect), they are all influenced by a certain Catholic aesthetic whose roots can be traced back to Gregorian principles - again, even with Messiaen and Poulenc.

    (These compositions and others by Villa-Lobos, Villette, and Peeters are the finest examples of legitimate enculturation one could hope for in the Catholic sphere. Modern liturgists and composers of drivel, take note!)
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Elmar
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,219
    I'll tell Teddy Marrier to take it out of his next edition

    Your long-distance phone bill will be.....ahh....celestial.

    As to Bruckner's "outer" Masses.......we sang the E minor at the V International Church Music Congress in Milwaukee. Since there were two fleets of clergy circulating in the Cathedral, there was plenty of time.

    The sublimity of that Kyrie!
  • dad29,

    The E minor is not what I was referring to. It is indeed liturgically suitable, albeit barely. The "outer" Masses (in other words, the first and last of his 3) are much longer, with the Credo lasting over 15 minutes and the Sanctus-Benedictus not far beyond. They are, however, some of the most moving and extraordinary devotional concert pieces ever composed.
  • Dad,

    The bill will, surely, be beyond astronomical!
  • If he sings the Doxology from the Roman Missal, you respond with the Great Amen from the Roman Missal.
    Thanked by 1francis