Can Hymns replace propers
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    Led by a footnote Fr. Kirby's dissertation, I stumbled on a passage that seems to give strong weight to the idea that propers may not be replaced by hymns, and I see here that Susan Benofy makes the same point, so I'll quote it. See what you think.

    Abandoning the traditional music and texts of the Mass was clearly not the intention of the Council, whose Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium (1963), decreed that "the treasury of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care" (SC 114). This principle was further clarified in 1969 by the Consilium (the group of bishops and experts set up by Pope Paul VI to implement the Constitution on the Liturgy), who responded to an inquiry on whether the permission for singing vernacular hymns at a low Mass — given in the instruction De musica sacra et sacra liturgia of September 3, 1958 — was still in effect. (Before the Council the hymns sung at low Mass did not replace the prescribed Mass texts, but were an addition to them, and were considered only an "indirect" form of participation.)

    The Consilium's response was very clear:

    That rule [permitting vernacular hymns] has been superseded. What must be sung is the Mass, its Ordinary and Proper, not "something", no matter how consistent, that is imposed on the Mass. Because the liturgical service is one, it has only one countenance, one motif, one voice, the voice of the Church. To continue to replace the texts of the Mass being celebrated with motets that are reverent and devout, yet out of keeping with the Mass of the day amounts to continuing an unacceptable ambiguity: it is to cheat the people. Liturgical song involves not mere melody, but words, text, thought and the sentiments that the poetry and music contain. Thus texts must be those of the Mass, not others, and singing means singing the Mass not just singing during Mass.

    (Original emphasis. The response was published in Italian in the Consilium's official journal Notitiae 5 [1969] p. 406. An English translation appeared in the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy's BCL Newsletter, August-September 1993.)

    Intriguing! Quoted as recently as the BCL newsletter in 1993? wow. This seems to suggest that the postconcilar legislation on propers is actually STRONGER than preconciliar rules.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    BCL Newsletter, Volume XXIX, August-September 1993.

    This newsletter has eight pages.
    Most of page 2 through the start of page 6 is filled by an article entitled
    Rereading the Constitution on the Liturgy (art 112-121)
    and it spotlights lots of documents by name with fragmentary text quotations
    as the BCL commentary proceeds.

    Below, are bits of the first twelve paragraphs of the article, in particular the in-line document titles, and some text for context in which is found the above blockquote.

    ... Constitution on the Liturgy ...
    ... Musicam Sacram ...
    ... Music in the Renewal of the Liturgy ...
    ... Role of the Choir ...
    ... The Use of Music for Special Groups ...
    ... The Salaries of Church Musicians ...
    ... The Place of Music in Eucharistic Celebrations ...
    ... Music in Catholic Worship ...
    ... Liturgical Music Today ...
    ... Constitution on the Liturgy ...
    ... Musicam Sacram ...
    ... Music in Catholic Worship ...
    [provided here in its entirety]
    In spite of these efforts to promote the sung liturgy, preference continues to be given to singing during the Mass instead of singing the Mass. In fact many of the faithful interpret singing the liturgy to mean singing hymns or songs. Thus those involved in liturgical preparations oftentimes confine themselves to the selection of hymns as their first priority and neglect the singing of ritual texts. Likewise many composers give preference to the composition of hymns and other sacred songs rather than to the ritual texts of the liturgy.
    [provided here in its entirety]
    MCW 52 provides some historical background to this development and points out that "two patterns formerly served as the basis for creating and planning liturgy. One was the 'High Mass' with its five movements, sung Ordinary and fourfold sung Proper. The other was the four-hymn 'Low Mass' format that grew out of the Instruction of Sacred Music of 1958. The four-hymn pattern developed in the context of a Latin Mass which could accommodate song in the vernacular only at certain points. It is now outdated, and the Mass has more than a dozen parts that may be sung, as well as numerous options for the celebrant."
    [provided here in its entirety]
    In 1969 the Sacred Congregation of Rites responded to a [sic] inquiry on whether the instruction of September 3, 1958, which allowed for singing of four vernacular hymns during a recited Mass still applied. The response, published in Notitiae, stated: "That rule ... [as seen in the first post blockquote] ... during Mass" (Notitiae 5 [1969] 406).
    The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) ...

    [article continues on for three more pages]

    This is one of many worthwhile BCL Newsletters.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,703
    We all know this, but it's one thing on paper and an entirely different thing making this happen in real circumstances. How can we better make this shift without overturning the parish liturgy (and/or our positions?)
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    I'm not entirely sure I knew that a preference for propers over hymns was clearly legislated as late as 1969: "Thus texts must be those of the Mass, not others." To sing hymns over propers is "to cheat the people."

    That's amazing language. Actually, I would say that it is the clearest statement of the most radical idea that exists in the world of Catholic music today.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    I agree, this is an AMAZING statement!
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    Ok, good, yeah, so right. I mean, wow. Ok, it's one thing for a 1969 document to cite this. Same year as Bugnini liturgy, fine. But for the BCL to cite this in 1993?

    this is something of a sleeping giant, it seems to me. Not so much the statement itself but it's import and rationale and status as a statement concerning the normative form.

    This is also the ONLY postconciliar statement I've seen that clearly says it is not correct that hymns can replace propers -- that propers have first rights over anything else. Otherwise we are cheating the people.

    By the way, it is charming that the instruction specifically targets motets that replace propers. Would that were the problem today!

    there we go.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    Tucker: "targets motets that replace propers"

    Umm, no, I think it is against text-swapping: "motets that are reverent and devout, yet out of keeping with the Mass of the day ... texts must be those of the Mass" has nothing against motets that use the proper text.

    The desire for appropriate texts shows up in various ways in
    GIRM 1975
    GIRM 2000
    Liturgiam Authenticam 2001
    Redemptionis Sacramentum 2004

    and then the USCCB lobbies for modifications to get recognitio (and succeeds!).
  • I agree with EFT: it's a textual issue. Palestrina's Offertory settings, and indeed all polyphonic propers from the treasury, are safe. :-)

    It also meshes with the conclusion that I have come to regarding the incorporation of hymnody into the Mass: any hymnody must be additive — that is, in addition to the singing of the Propers — and not substitutive. Actually, it looks to go even further than my own conclusion, which seems positively permissive in contrast.

    This makes efforts like the Simple Choral Gradual, American Gradual, Anglican Use Gradual, Fr. Weber's, and Fr. Kelly's contributions to development of vernacular settings of the propers all the more timely, in addition to raising awareness of the Gregorian Missal for the OF and moving towards a Sung Mass in the EF.
  • The current GIA Quarterly arrived yesterday.

    Bob Batastini writes:
    "STL reminds us that church legislation today permits the use of vernacular hymns, and then adds "because these popular hymns are fulfilling a properly liturgical role, it is especially important that they be appropriate to the liturgical action" (115d). Hymns as propers, not merely a substitute for them."

    There's also a great article featured on the cover on Gregorian Chant called: "SQUARE NOTES, LOOSED TONGUES" by Melissa Musick Nussbaum. Very interesting exposition on Gregorian Chant, very, very timely. It says...oh. It's not about Gregorian Chant at all. Never mind.

    Then Anthony Ruff, OSB, writes about the 1955 Musicae Sacrae Disciplina and how Pius XII "also encourages music in a wide variety of styles, stringed instruments (which had been forbidden by Pius X) are now permitted in the liturgy.

    [sounds like a justification for guitars to me.]

    So then I had to look it up. In Latin:

    59. Oltre l'organo vi sono altri strumenti che possono efficacemente venire in aiuto a raggiungere l'alto fine della musica sacra, purché non abbiano nulla di profano, di chiassoso, di rumoroso, cose disdicevoli al sacro rito e alla gravità del luogo. Tra essi vengono in primo luogo il violino e altri strumenti ad arco, i quali, o soli, o insieme con altri strumenti e con l'organo, esprimono con indicibile efficacia i sensi di mestizia o di gioia dell'animo. Del resto, circa le melodie musicali non ammissibili nel culto cattolico, già abbiamo parlato chiaramente nell'enciclica Mediator Dei.

    [this, you will find interesting as it is not in the English translation below] "Quando essi nulla abbiano di profano o disdicevole alla santità del luogo e dell'azione liturgica e non vadano in cerca dello stravagante e dello straordinario, abbiano pure accesso nelle nostre chiese, potendo contribuire non poco allo splendore dei sacri riti, a elevare l'animo verso l'alto e a infervorare la vera pietà dell'animo".(20) [end of cut section]

    È appena il caso di ammonire che, quando manchino la capacità e i mezzi per tanto impegno, è meglio astenersi da simili tentativi, piuttosto che fare cosa meno degna del culto divino e delle adunanze sacre.

    Then, with a start I realized IWASREADINGLATIN! Then I realized it was the Italian...and it is much more beautiful than the English translation.

    And it's talking about arco....meaning they were not talking strumming. Not even pizzicato.

    59. Besides the organ, other instruments can be called upon to give great help in attaining the lofty purpose of sacred music, so long as they play nothing profane nothing clamorous or strident and nothing at variance with the sacred services or the dignity of the place. Among these the violin and other musical instruments that use the bow are outstanding because, when they are played by themselves or with other stringed instruments or with the organ, they express the joyous and sad sentiments of the soul with an indescribable power. Moreover, in the encyclical Mediator Dei, We Ourselves gave detailed and clear regulations concerning the musical modes that are to be admitted into the worship of the Catholic religion.

    The English fails to include a translation for: "Quando essi nulla abbiano di profano o disdicevole alla santità del luogo e dell'azione liturgica e non vadano in cerca dello stravagante e dello straordinario, abbiano pure accesso nelle nostre chiese, potendo contribuire non poco allo splendore dei sacri riti, a elevare l'animo verso l'alto e a infervorare la vera pietà dell'animo".(20

    Which reads something like:

    "When they have nothing profane or unbecoming to the holiness of the place and of the liturgical action and do not go in search of the bizarre and the extraordinary, and have access in our churches, can contribute greatly to the splendor of the sacred rites, to raise the soul upward enthusiastically and the true piety of mind."(20)
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    right, i think i was misunderstood. it's ok
  • JT: I think you're right; you said nothing of motets!...
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    What is the legislative force of the GIRM?
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    Tucker: "not correct that hymns can replace propers ... targets motets that replace propers"

    Hymns are SATB, motets are SATB, propers are unison, therefore hymns and motets are not propers.
    Sigh. Sorry.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    frogman: "It says...oh. It's not about Gregorian Chant at all. Never mind."

    If they can provide a graphic of 200-year-old strangely shaped notes on a staff, and talk solfege even briefly, they are one step closer!
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    Kathy: "What is the legislative force of the GIRM?"

    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.

    Decree of Confirmation
    Prot. N. 2235/02/L


    At the request of His Excellency, the Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory, Bishop of Belleville, President of the Conference of Bishops of the United States of America, in a letter of November 13, 2002, and in virtue of the faculties granted to this Congregation by the Supreme Pontiff JOHN PAUL II, we gladly confirm and approve the English translation of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, excerpted from the third typical edition of the same Missal, as in the attached copy.

    Two copies of the printed text should be forwarded to this Congregation.

    All things to the contrary notwithstanding.

    From the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, March 17, 2003.

    Francis Cardinal Arinze

    Franciscus Pius Tamburrino
  • I know this sounds stupid...but could you explain two things? I know there must be logic, but it took me 30 years to find out that a couple meant 2, a couple of potato chips, a couple of year. Logic of:

    All things to the contrary notwithstanding.


    All things being equal.
  • marymezzomarymezzo
    Posts: 236
    Ed (eft94530) wrote: "Hymns are SATB, motets are SATB, propers are unison, therefore hymns and motets are not propers."

    With respect, the musical setting--number of voices--has nothing to do with it. If it's a setting of the proper text, it's a proper. Byrd's Gradualia is a lovely collection of polyphonic propers. Many other composers have used proper texts in polyphonic settings.

    The propers are all about the text. Yes, the Gregorian chant propers are ideal--but I can see no earthly reason why capable ensembles shouldn't sing polyphonic propers.

  • Here is the original Italian of the Notitiae 5 (1969) 406:


    Da più parti è stato chiesto se è ancora valida la formula della Istruzione sulla Musica sacra e la Sacra Liturgia, del 3 sett. 1958, al n. 33: “In Missis lectis cantus populares religiosi a fidelibus cantari possunt, servata tamen hac lege ut singulis Missae partibus plane congruant.”

    La formula è superata.

    È la Messa, Ordinario e Proprio, che si deve cantare, e non “qualcosa,” anche se plane congruit, che si sovrappone alla Messa. Perché l’azione è unica, ha un solo volto, un solo accento, una sola voce: la voce della Chiesa. Continuare a cantare mottetti, sia pure devoti e pii (come il Lauda Sion all’offertorio nella festa di un santo), ma estranei alla Messa, in luogo dei testi della Messa che si celebra, significa continuare un’ambiguita inammissibile: dare crusca invece di buon frumento, vinello annacquato invece di vine generoso.

    Perché non solo la melodia ci interessa nel canto liturgico, ma le parole, il testo, il pensiero, i sentimenti rivestiti di poesia e di melodia. Ora, questi testi devono essere quelli della Messa, non altri. Cantare la Messa, dunque, e non solo cantare durante la Messa.

    Documents on the Liturgy 1963–1975: Conciliar, Papal, and Curial Texts(Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1982), edited and translated by Thomas C. O’Brien of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, 4154 (p. 1299):

    Query: Many have inquired whether the rule still applies that appears in the Instruction on sacred music and the liturgy, 3 Sept. 1958, no. 33: “In low Masses religious songs of the people may be sung by the congregation, without prejudice, however, to the principle that they be entirely consistent with the particular parts of the Mass.” Reply: That rule has been superseded. What must be sung is the Mass, its Ordinary and Proper, not “something,” no matter how consistent, that is imposed on the Mass. Because the liturgical service is one, it has only one countenance, one motif, one voice, the voice of the Church. To continue to replace the texts of the Mass being celebrated with motets that are reverent and devout, yet out of keeping with the Mass of the day (for example, the Lauda Sion on a saint’s feast) amounts to continuing an unacceptable ambiguity: it is to cheat the people. Liturgical song involves not mere melody, but words, text, thought, and the sentiments that the poetry and music contain. Thus texts must be those of the Mass, not others, and singing means singing the Mass not just singing at Mass.
  • Noel Jones asks for an explanation of the two phrases: "all things to the contrary notwithstanding." and "all things being equal."

    The Latin for the first is "contrariis quibuslibet rebus non obstantibus," a phrase in canon law, and means that all preceding provisions about the matter are abolished.

    The Latin for the second is "ceteris paribus," a "disclaimer frequently needed to qualify otherwise overstated claims, which are thereby qualified to apply only across a normal range of cases. By extension, ceteris paribus laws or generalizations are ones applying only when other things are equal." (see

    The latter phrase is often confused with another Latin phrase, "mutatis mutandis," "things having been changed that have to be changed’; that is, with the necessary alterations."

    Any clearer?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    The GIRM supercedes previous legislation, and the GIRM allows hymns and songs. That settles the matter, I think, until the next GIRM.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    Ok, just now getting back to this. My remark about motets was off the cuff. I was not suggesting that the Concilium prefers plainsong to polyphony but rather that the proper texts have priority over hymns. MaryMezzo is of course completely correct. I didn't intend to introduce confusion as regards this clear point.

    And Kathy, I think everyone has memorized the GIRM by now. That it allows hymns and songs is not unknown. But the revelation (to me anyway) that Bugnini's Consilium itself says that hymns should not displace propers is striking, and provides further evidence in my own mind that there was a strain within the Council and post-Council that had the goal of reducing rather than increasing the status of vernacular hymnody in Mass. To me, this is remarkable, and it provides guidance for future development.

    In other words, I'm not arguing that "the liturgical law forbids hymns." That would be a stupid argument. I am arguing that a there was a consistent strain of thought alive during and after the Council that was attempting to do something about the problem of vernacular hymnody replacing the Mass texts themselves. And here we have a clear statement from the architects of the new Mass that hymns over propers is really a way of cheating the people out of their Mass. It is ripping out parts of the Mass and replacing them with something extraneous to the Mass.

    Do you see how this turns conventional wisdom on its head?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    Sure. But, if you look at the title of this discussion and your opening salvo, and your first several comments, can you see that they can be easily read to mean "the liturgical law forbids hymns"?

    As someone who writes hymns, deliberately (insofar as the Mass is concerned) as a halfway step, until the reform of the reform takes place LEGISLATIVELY in the Missal, I am continually annoyed by this rather pompous denigration of hymns. Hymns are in the Mass, hymns are in the New Testament. Hymns are encouraged by the New Testament. They are not the root of all evil.

    I work hard to restore the propers in my parish. But right now, there is more than one fight. One of the fights, prudentially, necessarily, is bad hymns vs. good hymns. That may not be your fight, but it's part of the actual fight of the reform.

    I'm very tired of being labelled the bad guy by people whose side I'm on.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    Well, @Kathy, I assure you that I intended no personal insult. You are not a bad guy. Also, the PBC is filled with hymns, so it is not the case that anyone views hymns are the root of evil. It is simply a matter of the priority and place of proper texts. Should hymns displace propers? That is the issue here, and I think the above suggests that there is a continuing postconciliar strain of thought that suggest that the answer is no. That does not mean that there is no place for hymns.

    I can also assure you that the bad vs. good hymns fight is something we all deal with, but this is a fight that is assisted by an emphasis on proper texts. This emphasis gets us away from the decades-old struggle over what many people view as a fight over taste, and I have little hope that the casting of the debate in terms of "my favorites vs. your favorites" is going to get us where we need to be. Good hymnody has a more suitable home in the framework of a liturgy attentive to the liturgical text itself. The further we move away from propers the more we get into a struggle over which radio station we should be listening to or what we should download to our MP3 players. We've been down this road for many long years.

    By the way, this bad vs. good hymns issue is something that predates the Council by many long years, and there is strong evidence that the Council itself hoped to get beyond this debate by a new emphasis on proper texts and the priority of singing the Mass. This was the point of my post, however predictably reckless my language may have been.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    Jeffrey, you are currently promoting the idea that hymns "cheat" the people.

    I wish you would promote the propers, which are inherently attractive, rather than making it a hymn vs. propers battle.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    I completely agree, Kathy and Jeffrey, that you the question is never "hymns or propers?" but "how can we have both the propers and better hymns?"

    What I like about advocating the propers strongly is that it changes the terms of discussion. If the propers are put in their rightful place, then the whole issue of hymnody becomes much more manageable. Right now the common practice is hymns hymns hymns (and not really 'hymns', technically) everywhere you turn, which makes weeding that field a very big job. Worse, there are few actionable standards from the Church to act as guides. Result: flummoxed people, and a stably chaotic status quo.

    Strong advocacy of the propers right now might help reduce the size of the problem. If we can do that in a way that also promotes excellent hymnody, great. The question is how to do that in a way that doesn't suggest that "all hymnody, all the time" is the best organizing principle?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    Another problem with an undifferentiated downgrading of hymns is the tendency to despair of critical evaluation of them. It doesn't have to be nothing but preference! And we have at least 10 years, I would guess, in which non-proper, congregational song of some kind is going to be "situation normal" in the majority of parishes. That's ten years of faith formation, which can be heretical, lame, or excellent. So distinguishing the quality hymns matters!

    But again, in my parish, the sooner we move to propers the better. Save the hymns for the Liturgy of the Hours and devotions.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    And let me say this yet again: the issuing concerns the replacement and displacement of propers with hymns. The cheating line is from the Consilium; it is not mine. I don't know how I can make this more clear, save recording it on an MP3.
  • I firmly support hymns as the most effective manner of personal devotion in the vernacular, and the reestablishment of personal devotions of all forms: Forty Hours, Novenas to the Sacred Heart, Mary...on and on. And hymns have a very proper and central part of this devotion.

    In addition, replacing bad hymns (both musically and theologically) is a very firm step in the right direction.

    Every parish should have a Sunday Mass at which you might sing [ducking] On Eagles Wings, as long as there is also on at which there is sung only Gregorian Chant Propers and Ordinary...and one where mainly protestant hymns are sung...that should be replaced with good hymns...
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    marymezzo: "musical setting--number of voices--has nothing to do with it"


    Jeff T posted his discovery.
    Jeff T posted a comment.
    I misread his comment and replied about text-swapping.
    Jeff T thought he was misunderstood.
    I considered the possibility of misunderstanding, re-read his comment,
    realized that I had not given the strength deserved to "charming" and "the problem today",
    posted my goofy logic which I had read into his comment,
    voiced exasperation at myself (Sigh), and apologized (Sorry).
    Jeff T further defended himself (which became necessary because I had put words in his mouth).

    So here again: Sigh. Sorry.
  • Ultum videlicet
  • francis
    Posts: 10,703
    my take:

    Hymnns should NEVER replace Propers. Hymns are good used in THEIR proper place. Hymns are good for other devotions too. This is not about hymns being 'bad' this is about hymns replacing the text of the Mass. That is just plain bad liturgy.


    Now back to my question of practical reality. We can talk like this all day long, but Kathy's point is where the rubber meets the road. LEGISLATIVELY has to happen in the Missal. I know the theory inside and out, but getting that to HAPPEN in our parishes is where the machine breaks down. Who has suggestions, ideas and strategy for IMPLEMENTATION?

    In my post here, we have moved one of the hymns out of the sandwich by presenting the choir, the schola, a solo, etc. I have not introduced the Offertory Proper as of yet, but now the congregation is used to having the choir sing something at Offertory. Do they REALLY CARE if the text is the proper or not?! NO! They don't have a clue. So the next step is to introduce the Proper. One Proper at a time, slowly and surely. The American Graduale should have been composed BEFORE we took the Mass in the vernacular. Now we have to backpedal. BFW, a wonderful bridge as a solution to the problem. With everything, its the all or nothing mentality that kills any chance of local reform.

    What are your thoughts and solutions?
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    In 1996 my predecessor shifted the Mass-with-choir Offertory music from hymn to a choir-only piece (anthem). In 2003 another shift occurred, with CPDL resources enabling the choir to present motet propers. Recently this has occurred a little more frequently. Perhaps twice in 2008 we have used the chanted proper (Latin antiphon text, English psalm verses).

    My predecessor started a music column in the weekly bulletin to address several needs: facilitate parishioner singing by listing the hymns (some found it difficult to read the hymn numbers from 20 pews away), avoiding offertory and communion hymn announcements, providing composer biographical info and piece info. I continue the column for the same reasons, and every time there is a Latin text it is provided with an English translation. At the same Mass since Epiphany 2007, the Communion music begins with a cantor chanting the Gregorian Missal proper (Latin, English translation, Latin) by a cantor while the priest and EMHC and choir receive, then the hymn intro begins and choir leads the hymn; the text and translation are in the bulletin every week, e.g., The Communion Antiphon (Graduale Romanum Chant Proper): Cantate Domino, alleluia; cantate Domino, benedicite nomen eius; benenuntiate de die in diem salutare eius, alleluia, alleluia (Sing unto the Lord, alleluia; sing to Lord, bless his name; proclaim his salvation day after day, alleluia, alleluia). This receives "pride of place" occurring after the hymn list and before any other info.

    Earlier this year (OT-6-B) I was actually able to provide all three Propers in the music column because a hymn was close to the Introit, the choir sang the Offertory motet, and the cantor sang the Communion chant.

    Most weeks are spent trying to refine the "pick-n-stick".
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,951
    I don't believe the question is, "Can hymns replace propers?" but rather the fact is that hymns have replaced propers. I am slowly beginning the process of reintroducing propers next month, beginning with communion. But the hymns are not going anywhere anytime soon.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    The Susan Benofy article is also located at

    The behavior seems to be shaped by non-official documents.
    Benofy identifies some sources of hymn promotion in the USA 1964-1967 despite the Council documents.

    It would be good to locate all the GIRM versions online (1969, 1970, 1973, ...)
    to facilitate comparison of what was permitted by whom and when.

    It is clear that something definitely changed in the official USA position
    between 1975
    and 2003
  • Richard R.
    Posts: 774
    Propers booster though I be, if I may interject a point of semantics: I don't think it's fair to say hymns have "replaced" propers; more correctly, hymns are sung "in the place of" propers. Hardly a modern innovation. One hears reports of hymn-like things being sung in the place of the Ordinary chants centuries back here and there. The multivalent approach to liturgy, so striking in Eastern Rite liturgies, is not foreign to the Roman Rite, and so long as the priest does his job at the altar, there is no question of the propers being "replaced". The focus, then, should be on the priest doing his job, rather than unduly fussing about what people sing when.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623

    1. Clearly, just have someone sing the proper texts, starting now. Psalm tones in English, then proper melodies in English, and so on. It takes no more than a minute.

    Why do this? "Because the Church asks us to."

    2. "Isn't that going backward?" On the contrary, it's finally going forward.

    I can't stress this enough: our vision is the actually forward-looking vision. It's the protestantizers who are backward. We have to take this term "progress" back! There is no going "forward" without chant, the propers, and singing the Mass.

    Repeat: there is no going "forward" without chant, propers, and singing the Mass!

    That is how the Council, and tradition, defines our going "forward."

    If we do not articulate that at every opportunity, we will continue to be put on the defensive and easily characterized as either sticks-in-the-mud or obstacles to progress.

    So that is two recommendations: Just Do It, and Seize the Initiative.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    'The focus, then, should be on the priest doing his job, rather than unduly fussing about what people sing when.''
    Richard, I'm sorry but I don't understand what you meant by that. Did you mean we should focus on the priests' job, or he should focus on his job, which is beyond our control.
    Also, I thought all the prayers in the mass, albeit different degrees, are important including Propers, how they are sung and when. If we start doing what individuals want to do, including one's prayers instead of the Church's, the liturgy will eventually collapse (i believe our Holy Father metioned about this somewhere in his book.)
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,176
    In the EF, the priest recites the propers regardless of what the choir sings or when.

    On the other hand, in the OF, if the propers aren't sung by the choir, they probably aren't being said; the gradual and offertory texts don't even appear in the Roman Missal, and the entrance and communion antiphons printed there are at times not identical to the (ahem) authentic ones in the Graduale Romanum.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Thanks, chonak. I understand now. I'm so glad we can still celebtate EF, although not in my parish ...yet.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    yes, but that still leaves the OF puzzle. This is especially an issue at Offertory, but it affects everything. In some other thread Pes talks about the modal Mass, and it is really good to keep our eyes on that. In other words, how is the parish down the street doing with its music vs. the ideals imagined by the Consilium? Here is where the real distance is.

    By the way, RR's point is reinforced by Ruff, who documents a long post-Trent history of vernacular hymnody at Mass, though he points out that the Vat never approved it and always discouraged it. Still, his evidence from Catholic hymnals is overwhelming.
  • Maureen
    Posts: 675
    Well, the obvious solution is to have Kathy write hymn versions of all the propers, and then have Solesmes fit all the famous hymns to chants of the propers.

    You can start by singing Amazing Grace to the tune of the Exultet.

    Everybody happy. :)
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    "There is no going "forward" without chant, the propers, and singing the Mass. "

    Wonderfully said, Pes!! This has been my point for a few years now!
  • Steve CollinsSteve Collins
    Posts: 1,021
    Proper "hymns" can be easily achieved, especially if we can possibly get away from NAB, RSV-RC, ICET texts for the Psalms. There have been translations of the Psalms set to strict poetic meter for at least 2 centuries. Some border on paraphrases, but others are quite accurate, even if the work order includes certain "poetic license" that our ears are not accustomed to today! I have a number of Psalm-Hymnals. I also have Doxology verses in almost every hymn meter. Many of the NT Canticles are included in the collections. So, if we can get over the translation issue, we don't even need to reinvent the wheel here.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,951
    "You can start by singing Amazing Grace to the tune of the Exultet."

    I would rather sing Amazing Grace to the tune of the Gilligan's Island theme. ;-)
  • francis
    Posts: 10,703
    I would rather not sing Amazing Grace. The tune OR the text.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I also second what Steve says, and I'd also point out that this is a long tradition (Puer nobis nascitur and so on). However the main problem isn't even hymns v. propers. It's that the propers are completely IGNORED. Let's move forward, and make sure there's not a single musician in a Catholic church who doesn't know about them.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    So this is a good place to mention Christoph Tietze's Hymn Introits for the Liturgical Year. I don't have it, so I can't comment on the settings. He has published all the prefatory material at googlebooks.

    For the Offertories, I'm not sure. There's the Offertoriale Triplex, but no analog to Tietze's work. Where I live, the offertory is approached as "time for some sort of choral number, preferably long enough to cover a sometimes time-consuming offertory collection." Not exactly optimal.

    The Communion propers are short, masterful, and really should be sung in Latin with psalm verses at the earliest opportunity.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,703
    I would set an excellent translation of the propers if there was one and it would not be revoked in five years.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    You know, I'm rather tired of the non-stop whining over the propers. We all know what's wrong. So, gang: what have you done to FIX it? Not theories, not "I think this is the only way to go", not criticisms of other people's solutions, but what exactly have you done to follow the dictate in law and spirit that propers must have precedence? Let's encourage eachother to put the propers in the proper place (pun intended) rather than pile on about how terrible it is to not use all of them.

    I'll go first:
    Last parish, we always used the proper psalm and alleluia verse. At Communion we sang a responsorial psalm, with the goal being to increase the frequency of changing it until the congregation could sing the proper text. At daily Mass, the pastor and congregation would chant the proper introit to a simple tone. At the early Mass, the cantor chanted also the introit and communion in English. I also, when picking hymns, always select them in light of the propers.

    Another thing I tried was getting the congregation to chant the introit at the early Mass. This was an experimental thing and didn't last. We used a very simple tone with only four notes, but no one would sing it unless the pastor rehearsed it (as in that day's text, with the same tone every week) with them. I would say don't try it, but our colleague Marajoy has had a smashing success doing the same thing (with much more difficult tones, might I add) at her church.

    Let's stop whining and start fixing this!
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    7:30 Mass: removed hymns, sing introit, offertory and communio
    8:45: founded children's schola to sing introit and communio in addition to hymns and marian antiphon at Communion
    10:30: added Rice introit and Communio. Working on polyphony
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    Also, changed the first Comminion hymn to a Psalm at most Masses, and added the Communio at the Spanish Mass.