Are orchestral masses intended for liturgical use?
  • Geremia
    Posts: 194
    Were orchestral masses, such as Mozart's Requiem or Missa Brevis, intended for liturgical use? Verdi's Dies Iræ seems too bombastic to be used during a Requiem Mass.

    cf. Pope St. Pius X, Tra le sollecitudini:
    VI. Organ and instruments

    15. Although the music proper to the Church is purely vocal music, music with the accompaniment of the organ is also permitted. In some special cases, within due limits and with proper safeguards, other instruments may be allowed, but never without the special permission of the Ordinary, according to prescriptions of the Caeremoniale Episcoporum.

    16. As the singing should always have the principal place, the organ or other instruments should merely sustain and never oppress it.

    17. It is not permitted to have the chant preceded by long preludes or to interrupt it with intermezzo pieces.

    18. The sound of the organ as an accompaniment to the chant in preludes, interludes, and the like must be not only governed by the special nature of the instrument, but must participate in all the qualities proper to sacred music as above enumerated.

    19. The employment of the piano is forbidden in church, as is also that of noisy or frivolous instruments such as drums, cymbals, bells and the like.

    20. It is strictly forbidden to have bands play in church, and only in special cases with the consent of the Ordinary will it be permissible to admit wind instruments, limited in number, judiciously used, and proportioned to the size of the placeprovided the composition and accompaniment be written in grave and suitable style, and conform in all respects to that proper to the organ.

    21. In processions outside the church the Ordinary may give permission for a band, provided no profane pieces be executed. It would be desirable in such cases that the band confine itself to accompanying some spiritual canticle sung in Latin or in the vernacular by the singers and the pious associations which take part in the procession.

  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,373
    Use your own professional judgement. What is appropriate for liturgical use has varied from place to place and time to time. Certainly, Pius X's take on all this is dated and many would differ with it. You know your situation, audience, pastor and may be the best person to determine whether or not to use it. My own opinion is that some of those orchestral masses are better stage works than liturgical accompaniments.
  • All of the Mozart Missae breves were intended for liturgical use and regularly used in his day. The concept of the purely concert Mass was a 19th-century innovation.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,177
    Two words 'Progressive Solemnity'...

    So a sung Mass during the week on a feria, would be chant from the Gradual Romanum

    On Sundays perhaps a polyphonic ordinary or Propers.

    On Easter Sunday at the Cathedral Pontifical High Mass, orchestral setting of the Ordinary with full orchestra...
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,097
    They were indeed intended to be used. Haydn has many delightful masses too. They were, however, a product of their time, as much as any mass setting from the 70's; the only difference is the quality and texture. After TLS, the emperor requested an exemption so that orchestral masses could still take place in Vienna, and the exception was granted.

    Having sung Haydn masses and a Beethoven Mass (all three with full orchestras, two in live liturgies in Vienna / Eisenstadt) I can tell you that few things are as glorious as a Gloria with full chorus and orchestra. It's pretty epic tbh. Seems fitting considering the text. Same goes for some Agnus Dei's that are very plaintive in the strings; it's very emotional because the music is can be so profound and moving.
  • Chaswjd
    Posts: 148
    The original Gloria from the Haydn Klein Orgel Mass makes a joyful noise and keeps the trains running on time (for those for whom this is a significant concern).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8X9diDcj9Pg

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GO3WjU_cR4
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,097
    You linked the sanctus, but it's just as fun :)
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  • Depends on the composer and composition. I could be mistaken, but I don't think Haydn, Mozart, or Schubert wrote any Masses for the concert hall rather than actual liturgical use. At least one of Bruckner's premiered as a church concert rather than liturgically. Beethoven I'm not sure about. Verdi definitely concert and entirely unsuited for Catholic liturgy. See the comments in another recent thread:
    https://forum.musicasacra.com/forum/discussion/19434/
  • Verdi's Mass settings were composed in a manner nearly indistinguishable ( by normal people) from that he used for his operas and his patriotic stuff. Accordingly, Verdi has little place within the liturgy.

    Whether TLS allows Mozart, Haydn or Beethoven is a matter of interpretation, and probably careful discernment.

    Most modern settings, involving either bands, or noisy and frivolous instruments (because they're trying not to sound "churchy" should fail the common sense liturgy test.
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  • DL
    Posts: 23
    When Austrian chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss was assassinated, the members of parliament all went to hear Toscanini conducting the Verdi Requiem at the Staatsoper, because it was easier than arranging an “official” state requiem Mass to which many of them wouldn’t go.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,100
    At the V International Music Congress in Milwaukee, we sang Bruckner's E minor Mass and a new (English!!) Mass by Hermann Schroeder. (Yes, Charlies, at two different Masses).

    One particular Archbishop despised Mozart's "Coronation" so I programmed it for a major parish celebration for which he was the celebrant. Came off very well indeed.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,100
    @serviam: The Beethoven in C is certainly 'church-able.' The D? I doubt it. But singing that monster DOES give you a real feel for what the glory of God is all about.
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  • CharlesSA
    Posts: 147
    @tomjaw

    I would not argue by any means at all that using polyphonic propers or ordinaries is wrong.

    That being said, I really shy away from the idea that the often ordinary and often lower quality chant pieces should be sung but the often more beautiful and elaborate ones that we find for some solemnities should often be replaced by polyphony. Yes, some Sunday chants and even some of the chants from the Common of Saints are very beautiful too. But people should know (I think it should even be argued that they have a right to) or be more familiar with (for example) the Easter Sunday or Pentecost Sunday chants than any polyphonic settings of the same. Furthermore, with regards to the Chant Ordinaries, they can be used themselves as a version of "progressive solemnity" in the sense that people will associate certain seasons or more solemn feasts with certain chant Mass settings.

    I realize most would disagree with my mindset on this, and that is fine. I just think it's really sad that people would think that just because it is a solemnity that this or that beautiful proper chant especially should even be considered for a polyphonic replacement.
  • CharlesSA
    Posts: 147
    I guess to give my opinion about the specific question of the OP - well certainly orchestral Masses were intended for liturgical use by their composers. The real question is whether they actually should have been used or allowed for liturgical use and you'll find a variety of opinions about that. I think that the Church's position on the matter (and we can exclude the allowances/practices of the past 60 or so years just to make it easier...) is a little different than it would have been a few centuries ago, which is understandable due to the many developments in music during that time.

    I think (i.e. it is my opinion that) it is good to recall that when polyphony was first developing and starting to replace chant, the Church (the Roman pontiffs at least) was very wary of it and sometimes even spoke against its use. I am foggy now on why exactly that was - it has been quite a while since my college music history course and reading the documents - but I suspect that it would behoove us in our own day to let some of the principles behind their reasoning inform our own principles and opinions with regard to whether or not chants should be replaced by anything.
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  • certainly orchestral Masses were intended for liturgical use by their composers
    Except when they weren't, which is indeed the case with some of them, which were always intended as concert works.
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  • CharlesSA
    Posts: 147
    Except when they weren't, which is indeed the case with some of them, which were always intended as concert works.


    Sorry, I thought about adding a clarification/qualification to that claim but obviously I didn't and should have:

    I think it is safe to say - obviously I will be corrected if I am wrong - that the vast majority of Masses composed before maybe the 19th century were intended for liturgical use. Probably all of the ones before the 17th century. After the 19th century, definitely more "concert Masses" as others have noted.
  • A good rule of thumb - if your composer brother goes to the trouble of rearranging your Gloria so that the text is comprehensible to the average ear in the pew. . . Then your mass setting was probably intended for liturgical use.

    (The priest who taught music at seminary claimed that none of the mass settings after the end of the Roman school were intended for Mass. He also claimed that Martin Luther forbad the use of the organ, and that the Oxford Movement “wasn’t all that important to the history of the Church.” Sterling example for the priests of the future.)
  • Chaswjd
    Posts: 148
    "A good rule of thumb - if your composer brother goes to the trouble of rearranging your Gloria so that the text is comprehensible to the average ear in the pew. . . Then your mass setting was probably intended for liturgical use."

    Actually, I think the Klein Orgel mass was intended for a particular liturgical use. Sadly, clerics who feel that music unnecessarily prolongs things are not merely a late 20th, early 21st century phenomenon. Haydn's simultaneous setting of the Gloria text allows for the entire thing to be done in under a minute. I believe that in the Vetus Ordo what counted was the recitation of the Gloria by the celebrant, not the singing by the choir. So if he could get through it in under a minute . . . (But I could be wrong on that point.)

    My particular ordinary does not like long musical settings. He also has the habit of taking a lot of time with his homily. But to make up for it, he sails through the Eucharistic Prayer at speeds resembling those of an auction caller. I have often thought that use of the Haydn Klein Orgel Gloria would help him keep the trains running on time.
  • Gotta love the old "the extra 15 seconds it takes to sing the Paternoster is unacceptable, but I'm going to ramble-preach for 30 minutes with no coherent point" approach.
  • Gotta love the old "the extra 15 seconds it takes to sing the Paternoster is unacceptable, but I'm going to ramble-preach for 30 minutes with no coherent point" approach.


    Exactamundo.

    Trad priests: Let’s complain about how awful it is that the worship of God takes second place to the instruction of Man in the New Mass!

    Also Trad Priests: *proceeds to make all masses low in order for enough time for the hour-long self-indulgent word vomit that is called a homily*
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  • vansensei
    Posts: 176
    An orchestral Mass was just sung this last week at Mater Misericordiae in Phoenix -- a First Mass of Thanksgiving for a new priest of the Fraternity.

    link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8ZtPXNsOcg
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,611
    Depends on the circumstAnce, placement of musicians, acoustics, composer, style, language, and more.
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  • Yes, many (vast majority) were intended for, and used regularly in, liturgies. The evolution of the oversized concert Mass is more of a Romantic-era phenomenon and the exception rather than the rule. Almost none are intended for the Novus Ordo though, because it did not exist during the heyday of the orchestral Mass. The structure of the old Mass is different, and more conducive to elaborate choral/orchestral Ordinaries.

    Obviously, a Palestrina offertory or a gregorian chant introit were not intended for the Novus Ordo either. The difference is that those can smoothly incorporate into the structure and flow of the NO. That to my mind is the larger issue; not orchestration or musical style.

    That said, it is licit to use orchestral Masses in both EF and OF today (see Musicam Sacram). So it becomes a pastoral/musical judgment with many variables.
  • The Gloria and Agnus can work quite well, but I would reserve a polyphonic Kyrie and Sanctus-Benedictus for grand occasions. Of course, modern Ordinaries have little to offer when it comes to the M.A., so you're likely best sticking with some sort of chant-based setting for that as well. I like Simplex or New Plainsong unaccompanied for English, or the option C with my adapted Maundy Thursday setting for Latin. (Using the same melody for all three M.A. options in the Solesmes book was a grave mistake.)
  • An orchestral Mass was just sung this last week at Mater Misericordiae in Phoenix -- a First Mass of Thanksgiving for a new priest of the Fraternity.
    Indeed it was! Mozart's Missa Brevis in D, K. 194, which is actually shorter than some of the a cappella polyphonic Masses we do. We had originally planned it for Easter of 2020, but then there was this new virus. The two epistle sonatas got off to a rough start, but I was pleased with the Mass itself, even more so the psalm we did at the offertory. The rehearsal recording is better, in my opinion, because of both mic placement and an empty church, but the Mass itself is also on YouTube. The music was very well received, and I think the Mass made quite an impression on the hired instrumentalists.
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