Howell and the Betsingmesse
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,019
    Picking up on Jeffery Quicks comment
    The lead article by Rev. Clifford Howell SJ is a bit frightening; he was very clearly setting up the musical ideal for the Novus Ordo Mass, a decade before the Council.
    The musical ideal of the NO is surely not the problem. Howell proposes following Pius Parsch in developing English vernacular settings of the propers to accompany the Solemn Mass. Had this been done before the Council we would have had no need for the dross music which came in the mid 60's.
    If the Council's ideals of participation had been put into practice before the structural changes resulting in the NO had been proposed, the lack of enthusiasm at the 1967 Synod of Bishops might have cohered into active opposition.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,019
    Oops, I should have restated the link to that issue of Caecilia
  • NihilNominisNihilNominis
    Posts: 558
    Remember, so much of the vernacularist movement was content to dump the legacy of sung liturgy, already so far from the hearts of many of the faithful, in favor of bland recitations. In a certain sense then, winning permission actually to translate liturgical texts into the vernacular, and then to have these set to the traditional chant melodies and modes with the intention of singing them solemnly, was enormous victory. As was the postconciliar notion that the "normative" Mass is sung and solemn as feasible.

    Don't ever forget, Cardinal Heenan's big objection to the demonstrated normative Mass was precisely the fact that it was not a Low Mass. He thought that the men were attached to the silence and austerity of the simple read Mass, and that this feminine sung thing could not appeal to them.

    Yes, it was more widespread, but the fact that the church continued to produce a full set of sung liturgical books throughout that period, does not mean that their use or worthy rendition was universally widespread at the time. In fact, consider the short span of time between the acceptance of the chant revival, and the issuing of the new gradual, and the experiments of the kind that we are reading about in this article.

    However, the great difference then to now, is most likely the fact that religious vocations were much more widespread, and so communities that were singing the integral office were a little more common place.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,079
    Or perhaps men were attached the relative brevity of the Low Mass.
  • Nihil,

    Can you help me understand Cardinal Heenan's objection. I've read the story before (and I think I even had a version of it in a biography of Evelyn Waugh), but what's presented in the account I'm familiar with is, [I'll paraphrase]: If that's what liturgical reform looks like, we want none of it. Given the context in which it was presented, the logical conclusion is "No one will recognize it as the Mass", and only those who are emotively connected to the Mass will find any value in what we just saw. I didn't get the impression that it was about music.
  • NihilNominisNihilNominis
    Posts: 558

    But after studying the so called Normative Mass it was clear to me that few of them can have been parish priests. I cannot think that anyone with pastoral experience would have regarded the sung Mass as being of first importance.

    At home it is not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men who come regularly to Mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday in the Sistine Chapel (a demonstration of the Normative Mass) we would soon he left with a congregation mostly of women and children. Our people love the Mass but it is Low Mass without psalm-singing and other musical embellishments to which they are chiefly attached. I humbly suggest that the Consilium look at its members and advisers to make sure that the number of those who live in seminaries and religious communities does not exceed the numbers of those with pastoral experience among the people in ordinary parishes.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,019
    From a recent comment by @tomjaw
    Colin Mawby has related a number of conversations he had with the Cardinal on this topic. If I remember correctly the Cardinal was not happy with the fussiness of the new form, the micro managing of the congregation, you must do this you must do that, you must all do the same thing.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,863
    I think Cardinal Heenan's objection needs to be taken in context.
    1. At that time it was common for working men to use their lunch break to attend Mass during the week, my father remembers c. 1950 the churches in the City of London were packed for the lunchtime Masses.
    2. Other working men would normally attend Mass in the early morning before going to work.
    3. The Cardinal must have seem the crowds of men standing at the back of many churches, he too would of known the pressures these men faced to be at work on time, and not to give up what little family time they had.
    These men need a Mass that was short and to the point, they did not have the time for a longer Mass with Hymns and a procession of laymen (in the end it ended up as laywomen) wandering up to take turns on the Sanctuary.

    This is not to say that these men were the whole picture, we had the Blessed Sacrament Guild, at their annual Sung Mass the Cathedral was standing room only, and this was for the men, the women and children were outside! The Cardinal would have known how many men took an active part in the Liturgy, the servers, the male schola, etc. These people focused on the effective running of the Liturgy with all the rules and regulations. The sort of activity that appeals so well to the man.

    A Liturgy that excluded the men either by its length and its insistence on an active participation alien and unwelcome to the working man, also managed to exclude the liturgically active men with a constant barrage of changes, to a time honoured routine.

    I should also point out that Westminster Cathedral's choirs, were on the hit list of the progressives and without Cardinal Heenan the choirs would not exist today, where another group of talentless philistines are also trying to destroy one of the finest set of liturgical choirs.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,019
    Heenan also founded a cathedral choir in 1958 soon after arriving as Archbishop of Liverpool, adding boys and a choir school in 1960, before he had a completed cathedral.
    As for the NO, his prediction has proved correct, at least in England. He was well read in psychology, and had lived as pastor through six years of war in which almost every building in the parish had been damaged by bombing, with many of his flock wounded or killed. He understood that a significant part of his flock wanted to pursue their private devotions and not engage in communal activity, and very definitely would not be coerced.
    Neither do many people take an intellectual interest in liturgy, or liturgical music. We may entice them with devout worship, but the response can only be left to be freely given or withheld. A quick skim through Fr Howell's The Work of Our Redemption suggests that he was also aware that a forced response is spiritually uselessdestructive.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw Elmar
  • Joseph Michael
    Posts: 207
    In addition to the interesting article by Howell, the advertisement for the "new" St Pius X Hymnal caught my eye. This may have been the high water mark for American Catholic (choir) hymnals of the 20th century. Everything that the reviewers, Paul Hume etc., said about this book holds true, today.
    Thanked by 1Jeffrey Quick
  • Could the singing of chant been effeminate, at the demonstration Mass?
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,019
    The chant was taken from the Graduale Simplex, which had only been published six weeks before. I doubt whether any of the bishops had experienced this sort of cantor/congregation/schola singing at Mass. The bishops were the congregation, whether their singing was effeminate I could not possibly comment. They were in a somewhat ludicrous situation, trying to imagine themselves as a typical parish, and ignore the setting of the Sistine Chapel.
  • Hawkins,

    Ok. Let me rephrase. Would the music (being sung by Italians in an enormous chapel) be sufficiently far from the experience of the English Catholic working man that Cardinal Heenan could have thought "It's all men singing, but only Italians sing like this!"
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,019
    I am still trying to understand what Heenan's point was. I received a copy of the Heenan/Waugh correspondance in today's post, so I may be better informed in a few day's time. My current hypothesis is that he feared the reforms would force busyness on the congregation and that that impression was reinforced by the demonstrated Missa Normativa and its expectation that the congregation would sing. Both Low Mass and Solemn Mass leave the congregation free to engage in whatever mental way they choose. If you are in the pews for Solemn Mass you will be expected to stand sit or kneel together (I remember finding the bobbing up and down onerous), but a significant proportion of men would stand at the back or the sides.
    He would probably have objected to the Betsingmesse on the same grounds.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw