What would you do?
  • henry
    Posts: 223
    Just came home from choir rehearsal. This is a bilingual choir (English/Spanish) which I've directed for 16 years. For quite awhile we've included Latin (although the Spanish-speaking don't like it), and more recently we've been doing Latin refrains with verses in English/Spanish. An example is Nos Autem for the Entrance Song of Holy Thursday. We sing the refrain in Latin, and then alternate the verses between English and Spanish, using the psalm tone from the Graduale Simplex. Anyway, tonight one member said that some people don't like this practice because they don't understand Latin or just don't like it. I've been worried about being too Latin heavy during the Triduum, but it's so hard to find music that respects the antiphons, and bilingual Masses make it even more difficult. Should I stick with my program, which uses the antiphons given to us by the Church, or be "pastoral" and program more lively music ? Sometimes I feel like such a dinosaur.
  • G
    Posts: 1,391
    I have no advice, but you have my sympathy and prayers.
    My parish is in a similar state, but it is no longer my responsibility.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • You are not a dinosaur. They are. How I abhore bi-lingual Masses. Half the congregation only understands half the Mass. Priests seem to be OK with having folks read translations for this, but not for Latin. What a shame.
  • Compelling, complex and confounding connundrum, Henry...and I'm not being flippant.
    And it's interesting to me personally as our parish will celebrate its first multilingual Triduum liturgy on Maundy Thursday. Though we have both Spanish language coros and a LaHu ensemble, only the English scholas and ensembles have included bilingual (English/Spanish or English/Latin) pieces in OCP's repertoire.
    What came as a pleasant surprise is that the pastor came to the conclusion that rather than to fragment the celebrant's collects, orations and prayers among all the languages, that it would be optimal to sing those portions of the Mass in LATIN! Ergo, chanted Greek/Latin Ordinary for sure.
    My inclination is to avoid "retrofitting" multiple languages with the Propers. The question of "liking" that solution or not is, as you say, not a part of the equation; it is about respecting the integrity of each chosen sung entity. If the appropriate Processional antiphon/verses has chant settings in Latin, English or Spanish, choose one of those and stick with it if there is some sort of articulated need to divy up portions among languages. I don't agree necessarily that "respecting" the assigned Propers means ignoring or shunning certain well-crafted bilingual tunes such as Hurd's UBI CARITAS (tri-lingual) or Schiavone's AMEN:EL CUERPO DE CRISTO all the time. It certainly isn't illicit, though we all here agree it isn't optimal, or "the paradigm."
    Though I personally do not prefer the concept of mixing vernacular languages in the Mass, this occasion presents itself as an opportunity to bring home the other concept of the universal tongue of Mother Church among the diversity of the Faithful.
  • Maureen
    Posts: 671
    The Spanish speakers don't like it???

    Okay, I realize that they may have received teaching that Latin is for dinosaurs, or they may be tired of singing in yet another language they imperfectly know. But still, Latin I would think would be much more comfy than English. Like singing in Old English or Middle English, for English speakers. Comfy.

    Are there different Latin pronunciations in Hispanic areas, which they previously got used to? Is it possible that following an Italianate pronunciation is what's straining them? (Fighting the battle of Spanish vs Latin phonetic spelling? I mean, I know I fought Classical vs Church Latin, and it was a real cognitive challenge for a bit.) Would they be more positive about singing Hispanic Latin authors, like Prudentius or more recent ones from the New World, and could that be used as a sort of grease to the wheels or gateway drug? Or is this really an objection to chant or classical music, more than to the language, and they're just fixing on the language because it stands out?

    I would say that, while making it clear that you mean to retain Latin (and English and Spanish), it wouldn't hurt to ask what all your choir members find difficult or unlikeable about singing in non-native languages, in general and specifically, and ask for suggestions as to what could make it easier. Giving people the feeling that they're helping to steer the bus may help them enjoy being on board. (And hey, you might get some good insights and some good suggestions. Probably you will.)

    After listening to them, do at least one thing that responds to what they said, and tell people that this is your response to X, specifically. (You can do more than that, or ignore more than that. And your response doesn't have to be what they said, but it should clearly address a problem.) Then they will know that you didn't just ask them as an exercise in futility. Meanwhile, you won't feel so much like you're dealing with a faceless mass of choir members, because probably you'll have heard all different Stuff.
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    So much depends on the support of your Pastor. In the end it will come down to him, b/c you can bet the disaffected will take their complaints to him.
    Here the Bishop's rule for our Diocese= English first, Spanish second, Latin third. The only choir capable of this is the traditional Cathedral Choir. After trying to integrate the 'Pop' and Spanish choir a few years ago into Triduum, and almost wholesale departure of traditional Mass members to other churches when they found out what was going to happen, we have now gone back to the Cathedral Choir doing all of Triduum. We sing the Psalms at Vigil alternately in Spanish English or bilingually using Spanish Respond and Acclaim. I have heard compliments from the Spanish congregation here. They really appreciated hearing the Psalms in their language. I mostly leave the Latin to the choir, aside from Mass parts (Chant Mass) Any Introits or graduals will be chanted in English according to one of the Dr.Fords. I have also used the Bob Hurd Missa del Pueblo Immigrante. I know it's not very authenticate, but our Spanish congregations are just not up to much more. And now I hear we will be adding another Mass in Spanish to Sunday Mass schedule b/c it's standing room only at the Noon Spanish mass. Who would have thought it only a few years ago here in the foothills of the Smokies?

    Donna
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Are there people from other ethnic gruops in your parish, like Orinetals (I am one)? If there are, manybe preferring one foreign lanugage over other languages, might keep those people from your choir. If the parish wants to be inclusive of all the ethnic gruops and fair, it should be Latin, the Mother language of the Church. I don't know why anyone would object the concept of we are all children of God, and belong to one Universal Church, and try to learn at least one language that is the Church's , instead of trying to learn ten different languages which may not still be enough. Of course once in a while you could add hymns in other languages, if you want to. But please remember that there are true minorities of the monirity who want to be included also.
  • j13rice
    Posts: 36
    henry, I think you have a good argument that what you are doing best serves your congregation as well as the Mass, so I say stick to it and let the music speak for itself in the context of the Mass.

    It doesn't really matter what your choir likes and dislikes. They need to know that what you are making decisions based on the spiritual well-being of the parish, not the personal preferences of choir members or individuals in the congregation. Do they enjoy serving the needs of the parish, or not? That would be the real question. You are the music director and you have determined that this is the best course of action. You have good reasoning behind you, grounded in tradition and rubrics of the Church. Now, you might find that whatever you choose to do doesn't work well for Mass itself, and then adjustments can be made for next year. But for now I say stick to your guns, and ask the choir members to give you and the music a chance to work.
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    Wait, so they don't like Latin because they don't understand it, but they're okay with either English or Spanish they don't understand? that's kinda weird.

    At my home parish the Divine Liturgy is jointly in Serbian/Church Slavonic and English. Multiple languages can be done naturally and nicely, so long as people are familiar with the order of the liturgy and have missals with translations. But the Divine Liturgy is exactly the same every Sunday, even the litanies, with just a few propers which are sung by the choir or priest in English or in both English and Serbian. Therefore when it goes from one language to another, it is obvious what is being said because it's the same every Sunday. As long as you know "Lord have mercy," "to thee, O Lord," and "Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit..." you can follow along with the Liturgy in any language. (in this case, "Gospodi pomiluj," "tebje Gospodi," and "Slava Otcu i Sinu i Svatomu Duhu...")

    Considering the somewhat fluid nature of the Novus Ordo--it seems different every time I see it--using multiple languages makes things sound confused. You can't always tell what is going on because sometimes it's this way, sometimes it's that way... so here's where a unifying liturgical language, Latin, is a Godsend. (I've been to a Spanish-English bilingual Mass and it sounded confused to me. Also they had a mariachi band playing so I literally had to stop myself from bursting out laughing in the middle of Mass.)

    Latin is wonderful and it's not that hard to figure out what's what. "Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus" is VERY OBVIOUSLY "holy, holy, holy" ... I mean, seriously. And people ought to know the translations of the ordinary by heart anyhow. I would keep the ordinary and even the priest's prayers in Latin, everything that does not change from day to day, and then just do the propers in English or Spanish mixture. I would understand complaints if the propers were consistently in Latin and no translations were given -- I mean, it is best to understand as much of the Mass as possible.

    You can't do every language for everyone. Best to keep it within your tradition. Then on Pascha you can whip out the paschal troparion in every language imaginable (I've heard it in Yu'pik eskimo, Japanese, Swahili...) and people can have fun with different languages. It would be impossible to keep that going during the whole Mass all the time though.
  • I'd be very concerned that this is coming from one member.

    Two people on a large choir can destroy the entire program, I have seen it done. Beware if they are not part of the group that they say is unhappy. That's te first key that there is manipulation possibly underfoot.
  • I find it very interesting that only we in the OF are being confronted by these rather distressing turns of event. The EF is so clearly delineated....
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    Hmm, what do you mean? There were (and are) plenty of people who still complain about the Latin of the EF.
  • In the EF:

    The language is Latin. People's complaints cannot change that.

    The Music is approved by the Church. People's complaints cannot change that.

    Guitars, shakers, drums, the piano....and a myriad of other things including rain sticks, are not may not be played at the EF Mass.

    They are not complaining about the Latin of the EF, they are complaining about the EF and there is no negotiating room to make them happy.
  • Donna....

    Can you direct me to the rule of the Diocese? I have not seen this. I would think that all musicians working paid or unpaid would have gotten official notice of this.

    A highly-placed priest has informed me otherwise, so I am...confused.

    Does Canon Law permit a Bishop to ban Latin?
  • Donna,

    A highly-placed deacon told me unofficially that the number of spanish=speaking congregants in this Diocese exceed the english-speaking ones.
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    Frogman, I don't think this is a rule written in stone. It is the Bishop's preference. I have this from an unimpeachable source with whom I have been consulting about Triduum this year. And I can certainly understand it, whilst wishing for a leetle bit more enthusiasm for Latin. I have started using more Latin in the past year, with no complaints so far. I think you have to accept that the level of education or perhaps sophistication musically in the Spanish congregation, prevents a lot of things that we both might like when doing a bilingual Mass. I'm not maligning the Spansh cong, they are wonderful people who will do anything for you, but the tune 'Blowin in the wind' is one of their 'traditional' songs
    I was told last week, that another Spanish Mass will be added to our Mass schedule, b/c of overcrowding at the Noon .
    Donna
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    Noel
    The Bishop has not banned Latin. Should have said that. He wants the assembly parts mostly in English. He certainly has not restricted what the choir sings, or the Chant Mass that we sing during Lent. nd we sing quite a bit in Latin during Triduum.
    Donna
  • I was told that Latin was perfectly acceptable here except at one parish where the singing of it was very poorly done...
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    I know nothing about that
    Donna
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    The Music is approved by the Church. People's complaints cannot change that.

    Guitars, shakers, drums, the piano....and a myriad of other things including rain sticks, are not may not be played at the EF Mass.


    Ideally it would be the same for the Novus Ordo, wouldn't it.

    Complaints shouldn't change something that is good, only what is bad. Unfortunately the Novus Ordo-fed congregations have mostly lost the sensum fidelium which would dictate what is and is not good. Although there are some that have it--like those who protest the remodeling of beautiful churches.
  • In the end, it usually works like this. The hispanic congregation (generally, mind you) will only tolerate Mass in Spanish or English if it's the only one (like Easter Vigil). The English speakers only want English and "put up" with the Spanish for Holy Thursday (while some love it and see it as a way of welcoming the Spanish congregation to "their" Mass). Everyone objects to Latin because they have been taught that it represents the old way that was rejected at Vatican II. Ironically, Latin could unite a language-separated parish, but this course is rejected. I have to say that I hear the most grumbling on Holy Thursday, more so than the rest of the year. What happened to the ethnic parishes? That seemed to work for a good century.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    "Anyway, tonight one member said that some people don't like this practice because they don't understand Latin or just don't like it. " henry

    This might help?

    "Gregorina chant can reveal , even to someone who does not know Latin, the underlying idea that governed the choice of a given text and inspired its melody....St. Teresa of Avila, referring to the prayer of quiet: "Thus, when in this state of Quiet, I, who understand hardly anything that I recite in Latin, particularly in the Psalter, have not only been able to understand the text as though it were in Spanish but have even found to my delight that I can penetrate the meaning of the Spanish."
    From Houlier's book, Reflections on the Spirituality of Gregorian Chant.

    (I also make sure we provide all the translation of Latin chant we sing both to congregation and the singers, helps them from complaining of not understanding.)
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,193
    I'm in a polyglot parish myself. It is made up of three distinct congregations: 1) "off-the-boat" Poles (who may have lived in the US for many, many years) who speak Polish as their primary language and speak English in broken fashion only; these folks cling tenaciously not only to the national Polish traditions and customs, but are also very stubborn about the variations of customs, dialects and hymn tunes that come from their particular villages versus those of other villages; 2) Polish-Americans who are second or third-generation American born to "off-the-boat" Poles who know enough of the language to be able to sing the hymns and follow along during the Mass in Polish; they have been raised steeped in the culture and may or may not speak both Polish and English with equal fluency, often they can read it (that is, pronounce it), but don't understand the spoken language (during the homily, etc.); and 3) English-speaking folk who can neither speak or read Polish with any level of fluency. Many of them are Polish "in name only." These are Catholics who attend the parish because of the strong orthodox traditions that are maintained there, or have family ties to it, and may enjoy the Polish customs despite their inability to understand the language.

    I have heard random complaints and been given various instructions regarding the use of Polish and Latin at Masses. Some folk who are not Polish and cannot read or speak it are resentful at times of the heavy use of Polish music at "mixed" celebrations (Christmas Midnight among them). The Poles don't want (or don't like) the use of Latin at the Polish Language Mass with the exception of the "Asperges me" and "Vidi aquam", which were retained when the NO was instituted. The entire remainder of the Mass is in Polish including homily and announcements. We use a polyglot missalette that provides the readings in Polish on the left-hand page and English on the right, but the hymn texts aren't translated. The remaining Masses are in English, with some Latin being slowly introduced.

    The parish is familiar with, and frequently sings, the Missa Jubilate Deo and the Gloria from Mass XIII, and the "O salutaris Hositia" and "Tantum ergo" texts sung at benediction, but beyond that their Latin repertoire is non-existent.The Mass schedule is such that what would likely be the highest-attended and likeliest to provide an opportunity for a greater use of Latin is the 10 AM, which is the Polish language Mass, and is the least-attended. The choir for that Mass is a loosely-organized group of folk who gather before Mass and sing everything, but they do not rehearse, and therefore there is no opportunity to introduce new material without great effort. No other organized and rehearsed choir sings regularly on Sundays; they only prepare and sing for select "solemn high" celebrations (Christmas Midnight, Easter Sunday, Confirmation, 40 hours devotions), and the participants need to be able to at least pronounce Polish because of the use of the language in these celebrations. Those who struggle with Polish I'm sure find participation in this "seasonal choir" frustrating at times. There had been attempts to start a regular choir for Sunday 12 Noon, but either the people weren't willing to commit to every Sunday, didn't like the time, or weren't willing to commit to any kind of regular program-year-based rehearsal schedule.

    I have no desire to run down the Polish traditions or indeed even the celebration of a Mass in the Polish vernacular. Quite the contrary, I'm truly enjoying learning about these customs and traditions, the various devotional practices, and even learning how to read (pronounce) and loosely speak the language. What I do find frustrating is that it would appear that the balance between serving a wider parish of people who don't speak Polish is getting bound up and bogged down by the ethnic Polish identity expressed in the language used at Mass, rather than recognizing that the church no longer serves Polonia exclusively and would probably become more attractive if we embraced a "reform of the reform" mentality that employed more use of Latin while still preserving Polish devotional practices and customs without being bound to the language alone.

    Again, this is a wonderful parish. I'm afraid they run the risk of becoming hollowed out as the younger generations of Poles and non-Polish folk become frustrated with the culture barrier and their inability to fully participate in the various liturgical celebrations because of this barrier.

    It is not for me to propose a solution, or even suggest that my observations are accurate. I find it interesting that while many ethnicity-identified Irish, German and Italian parishes have over the years become exclusively Hispanic as the ethnicity of the neighborhoods changed, our parish is slowly losing the strength of its ethnic identity not by an influx of another ethnicity, but because the language itself presents an impediment.

    That said, I wonder that if we adopted the model many EF parishes use, i.e., everything in Latin with the use of good polyglot hand missals, and the readings, homily and announcements delivered in English and/or Polish, many of these problems might be resolved.
  • I can say that i would be completely happy with one Latin Mass, with appropriate music every Sunday. If the rest of the parish wants to worship with bongos and waving of arms, so be it. I suspect that as people consider things more closely they'll take a look at the Latin Mass.
  • mahrt
    Posts: 516
    If it is the choir that does not like Latin or does not understand it, then some simple steps might alleviate that problem. I used to rehearse Latin propers without any translation, and then one somewhat outspoken person kept asking, what does that mean? So I began to translate each text before we sang it. One member was good in Latin, and I would often ask her to translate. But i also asked the group to translate. Most of them could not, but I pointed out some of the most common words and a few of the most common cases for nouns. More of them volunteered to translate some words. One person went to the local college and took some Latin courses, she did not stop until she had a master's degree in Latin. More recently, one member volunteered to lead a Latin group, meeting once a month and learning basic grammar, translating the propers for the upcoming Sundays. At this point the translation exercises are a group effort. One needs a little break between pieces, so that the little time it takes is hardly lost time at all.
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    As a professional singer and choir director, one of the most important things I learned early on--always know every single word you are singing in a foreign language, including 'a', 'the' and 'and' . If you don't know the words, you can't communicate the music, no matter if the translation is printed in the program.

    Donna
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    My children's schola learned "O paniss dulcissime" a few weeks ago. It's really a simple chant that we can do solfege easily (mostsly stepswise motion with emphasis on tonic and dominant.) We also talked about the meaning of individual words, (their book has word by word translation), and then we discussed about the meaning of the 'sweetest bread...' and our faith in the real presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. I was so proud of them that they knew so well about their faith. Last week, they sang it so beautifully in the Mass after the communion.

    With adult and children's schola I try to do as much as I can about the meaning of the each word and the general meaning, but most important thing is that we know we are praying to God. And even if we didn't have chance to learn all the words at the first time singing, it seems that the more we sing, the more we discover the deeper meaning of each chant.

    We have Latin class that many of my schola take once a week, and some of my children's schola learn Latin at home (homeschooled). But I found singing chant also helps them to expand their vocabularies in Latin. Latin may not be easy, but like my 11 year old boy says, it's like learning about God; you don't know everything at first, but every time you study and sing, you discover and learn more. I think that's one of the reason I like singing chants than other songs.
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,193
    Donnaswan,

    How does your assertion regarding knowing every single word down to "a", "and" and "the" square with Summorum pontificum, wherein the Holy Father only requires that priests who celebrate the Mass in the EF be capable of pronouncing the words, not posses "fluency" in Latin?

    I understand the importance of knowing the translation and being able to explain it. However, doesn't providing translations in the bulletin, or even in a hand missal, advance the use of liturgical Latin in both forms of the Mass equally well?

    Another thought: The notion that not being able to understand every word being sung (in Latin) became the primary weapon of the progressives who agitated for use of the vernacular throughout the Mass. The idea was that if the people would only understand what they were singing, every word of it, their "full, active and conscious participation" would be facilitated and their faith would be deepened. We know this is not true, that in fact the understanding of core doctrines of the Faith have been severely diluted by use of the vernacular, and the people's understanding and knowledge of Church Teaching has been severely enfeebled. We know also that cognitive pedagogy is not a part of (or a requirement for) actuosa participatio populi, and while fluency in Latin is a great help, it is not necessary in order to transmit the meanings of words being sung more effectively. On the contrary, it is my personal belief that the very nature of chant itself carries the transmission of meaning regardless if the singers understand every word they're singing.
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    I'm simply saying it is better to understand what you are singing. Is it better NOT to understand what you are singing? Is it better NOT to know than to know?
    Surely knowledgeis better than ignorance. I don't agree that it can sort of seep in w/o having some idea of what you're singing about! Actually, I was thinking of singing art songs more than Gregorian Chant, but I do think one is better off knowing, than not knowing. I am a lover of words first, then music.

    Donna
  • Text: Words: © 2007 by Vincent Uher, Licensed here under Creative Commons, Attribution - Non-commercial 3.0

    BEAUTIFUL SAVIOUR, MIGHTIEST IN MERCY

    Beautiful Saviour, Mightiest in Mercy,
    Light piercing darkness, Joy beyond all sorrow,
    Wounded for healing, Dying for our saving,
    Victim and High Priest.

    Son of the Father, Child of Mary Mother,
    Just Joseph's dear boy, Cause of Great John's leaping,
    Mary's Deliverer, Truest friend to Laz'rus,
    True God, our High King.

    All laud we bring now praising our Belovèd,
    Christ Jesus, Saviour, Victor, and Redeemer
    Judge of the Living, Judge of the departed,
    Come quickly, Jesus.

    Working with a very good high school choir, we have been singing this hymn, set to a tune of my own. They have been complimentary about the words and music over the past 5 rehearsals. Yesterday I asked them what each phrase of verse 2 referred to. MY exact words were, what is verse 2 about?

    They were taken aback, as I was when I found out they didn't have a clue. A careful reading of it and thought brought out what these phrases meant, bit by bit. Socrates would have been proud. "Who is child of Mary Mother?"

    The practice of printing the music within the staves of music combined with the large number of hymns of varying quality of text and music have numbed congregations.

    I suggest that singing in Latin may be more meaningful than in English...even if none of it is comprehended by the choir because when they sing Latin they know the words are sacred.
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    But, Noel, now they know what the second verse means. Isn't that better? I always, always ask the kids what a phrase or even a word means. Then the next time they see it they know and understand more. I even do this with my adult choir.
    Doesn't it give you cold chills when you sing 'sanguine' in the Ave verum? What if you didn't know what that word meant? That's when you realize that Mozart or or whoever wasn't just putting together pretty sounds.

    Donna
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    Also see another thread here- Translation of Latin antiphon

    Donna
  • They understand the second verse....but what about all the other second verses they have sung over the years?

    I was once voicing an organ for Carlo Curley for a recital. Had the pedal really booming away....he came in and had me reduce it, saying, "Less is more."
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    It's laudable if you know everyword, but there are lot more involved in singing chants and make it meaningful than just knowing the words, especially the attitude of the singers, humility. (Also I believe people with deep faith can give more meaningful translation.)
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    "...because when they sing Latin they know the words are sacred."

    I couldn't agree more. Allow me to share this most holy prayer:

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. Ut wisi enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exerci tation ullamcorper suscipit lobortis nisl ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis autem vel eum iriure dolor in hendrerit in vulputate velit esse molestie consequat, vel illum dolore eu feugiat nulla facilisis at vero eros et accumsan et iusto odio dignissim qui blandit praesent luptatum zzril delenit augue duis dolore te feugait nulla facilisi. Nam liber tempor cum soluta nobis eleifend option congue nihil imperdiet doming id quod mazim placerat facer possim assum. Typi non habent claritatem insitam; est usus legentis in iis qui facit eorum claritatem. Investigationes demonstraverunt lectores legere me lius quod ii legunt saepius. Claritas est etiam processus dynamicus, qui sequitur mutationem consuetudium lectorum. Mirum est notare quam littera gothica, quam nunc putamus parum claram, anteposuerit litterarum formas humanitatis per seacula quarta decima et quinta decima. Eodem modo typi, qui nunc nobis videntur parum clari, fiant sollemnes in futurum.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I'm sure Noel's choir kids knew the words in the 2nd verse in English, but didn't know what the 2nd verse was about.
  • I don't make fun of prayers in your non-Catholic church that you are employed by...

    You and Trautmann can share a bench.

    The use of this Latin text is used as a filler for graphic designs since even the most inebriated ad exec will not start arguing about the ad copy when the ad designer is only seeking approval for a page layout...why Latin? Dead Language.

    You can chant the classic Winnie Ille Pu in a Catholic church anytime you want. The people won't know you are being disrespectful. But God will.
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    I did not say that knowing what the words mean is the end-all and be-all. It is the BEGINNING of understanding and interpreting and singing the chant.

    Donna
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,471
    Blasphemy against Winnie the Pooh? What has this forum degenerated into? Is outrage!!!!

    For what it's worth, I like to be able to understand the words, too. If it is not in English, a translation underneath or near the text is a very good thing to have.
  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    FNJ, they might become suspicious, though, when one reached the immortal passage: "'Heffalumpabat', dixit Christophorus Robinus. 'Eum me vidisse non puto'.
  • True, so true...
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    If you want to make fun of the "Star Trek Canon" (one of the EPs in the newer Book of Common Prayer), be my guest.

    My point (believe it or not, some people have other things on their minds than denominational sniping) is that Latin is not a guarantor of orthodoxy. An ill-informed person could, for example, sing Regina Coeli on Good Friday (a bit hard to buy due to the Alleluias, but you get my point perhaps). From my own experience, I once heard the singing of Serdeczna Matko, a Polish hymn to Our Lady of Sorrows, on Ascension Sunday! Not Latin, but again, the point was "they don't need to know what the words mean, so we can sing something vaguely Marian for May".

    Latin is a wonderful language, and David is precisely correct that one experiences the meaning of the language in a clear way without understanding a word, if it is a well-written piece of music. I suggest that to stop there, however, is laziness. People can get much more out of a text if they know the meaning. This may require close readings, as with the hymn cited. But the opportunity should be presented to people whenever possible.
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    And I'd like to go back to David Andrew's point about priests not having to be fluent to chant the Mass in Latin. To me, fluency implies that you can carry on a conversation in the language. Not the same as being able to chant Mass well. I hear many priests singing Mass in Spanish, but only one or two who actually are fluent in the language when they speak. Listening to them give a homily in Spanish is painful for all listening to them.

    Donna
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,193
    Gavin, we're not talking about any text rendered in Latin, humorous as your Winnie-the-Pooh reference was.

    We're talking about the Latin texts appointed for use in the Mass, as appointed in the approved liturgical books. One doesn't need to be fluent in Latin to know that the Regina Coeli is NOT assigned for Good Friday. Open any Liber Usualis, Gregorian Missal, Missale Romanum, etc., and you will not find the Regina Coeli appointed for Good Friday.

    I go back to my original argument: Summorum pontificum does not require that priests be fluent in Latin in order to celebrate the Mass according to the EF. They're expected to be capable of knowing how to "Say the Black and Do the Red." I'd be willing to guess, going back to my Regina Coeli argument, that they learn how to "Do the Red" NOT by reading the rubrics in Latin, but by reading a reliable translation. It is a reasonable expectation that the priest will take the care and have the sense to consult reliable instruction books so as to be able to "Do the Red" as if they had read the rubrics in Latin, just as it is reasonable that a musician will have taken care to read instructions and rubrics that would lead them to avoid singing the Regina Coeli on Good Friday, regardless their fluency or lack of fluency in Latin.

    I think we need to be careful that we don't turn "fluency" in Latin into the "gold standard" for faithful execution of sacred music in the Mass as spelled out in the various instructions and legislative documents. I doubt many of us, with the exception of Dr. Ford and Dr. Marht, among a select few others, have read the documents in the original Latin, and yet we're fully capable of properly rendering the music of the Mass having read reliable translations of these documents. As I said, it was precisely because people weren't "fluent" in Latin that the progressives made the claim that people weren't able to properly participate actively in the Mass and therefore agitated for not just the vernacular, but for all of the liturgical and musical abuses we've been fighting against for the last 40 years.

    It seems to me that making too strong of a case for fluency in Latin risks causing one to fall into the sin of pridefulness. If one is fluent in Latin, more's the better, but don't make the better the enemy of the good by suggesting that those of us who aren't currently fully fluent in Latin are lazy, flawed or incapable of assisting at Mass by executing the music as directed by the Church.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I agree with what you've written there, David, and I agree that we should avoid making too strong a case for fluency. At the same time I simply wish to point out the benefits of deep knowledge of various aspects of the liturgy (Latin, English, modal theory, history, etc), lest the bare minimum of being able to pronounce Latin (a fine qualifier for saying the EF) should become the practical standard in parishes. As anything, it's a very fine line to walk between encouraging growth and avoiding intimidating the unenlightened. The main reason I love being a music student is that I have yet to learn anything truly useless; everything comes back sooner or later.

    Regarding choirs, I think those word-for-word translations are superb for accomplishing a greater intimacy with the Latin language. For example, I recall singing Durufle's Requiem in November, where the conductor reminded us in the Offertory that musically "ore leonis" is the mouth of the lion opening up.
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    Gavin- Yes! So much more exciting when you know what you are actually singing about, esp. the lion's mouth. Why would anyone NOT want to undestand what they are singing? Grrr.

    Donna
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    I don't think people here are advocating fluency in Latin, per se. What they are advocating is fluency in the Mass. For example, when you sing the ordinaries in Latin, you OUGHT to know what they mean, shouldn't you, in English? They're not saying that everyone should be able to read Cicero or Augustine as well. They're saying that when you say the Mass in Latin (as a layperson or priest) you should know what you are saying. So for a priest saying the EF, he doesn't need to know maybe every tiny little thing, but he should at least know the ordinaries and the canon, etc., by heart. When he's saying, "hoc est corpus meum," shouldn't he be aware of the English translation?! Fluency in Latin would mean he could grab Augustine's Confessions and read it; fluency in the Mass means he knows what goes where and what it means. If we were singing the Creed, shouldn't we know what we're saying when?

    Another example. I know the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom pretty well by heart. At my Serbian Orthodox parish, they do about half English, half Slavonic/Serbian (Slavonic being their liturgical language). I know what I'm saying when I say Gospodi pomiluj (Lord have mercy), or Slava Otcu, i Sinu, i Svatomu Duhu... (Glory be to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit)... I couldn't even say hello in Serbian but I know what I am saying when I am in the Liturgy.

    Are some of y'all really saying it is not better to know what you're singing means? Or are you just saying it's not necessary? In that case we're talking past each other, because we are saying it's BETTER to know what you're saying (although for the ordinaries at least I would say it is necessary to know what they mean).
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    "Are some of y'all really saying it is not better to know what you're singing means? "NO

    "Or are you just saying it's not necessary" I don't think anyone here is saying that either.

    I sing chants even if I dont' understand EVERYword, I go to Ef Mass even if I don't undrstand every latin prayer. (I know what we are singing about and praying about, and know some words but not everyword. It seems that my spirit understands them better than my intellect, but with vernacular I think it's the opposite.)
    But I also learn more everytime I hear and sing, because the beauty of chants and the liturgy gives me the desire to LEARN the sacred language that draws me close to God. This is essential part of deepening my faith.
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,193
    I want to be more literate (not fluent, literate) in eclessiastical Latin. I'm fairly good at it already because I've been singing Latin for a number of years, and because of the many cognates that are shared between Latin and English.

    I certainly take time to discuss the meanings of Latin texts with those choirs who I train.

    I'm not advocating laziness or lack of care with respect to continually learning the meanings of the texts we sing in Latin. Should we make a policy that only those who possess a high degree of literacy in Latin should be permitted to sing in scholas or lead them?

    Are some of y'all really saying it is not better to know what you're singing means? Or are you just saying it's not necessary? In that case we're talking past each other, because we are saying it's BETTER to know what you're saying (although for the ordinaries at least I would say it is necessary to know what they mean).


    Why would anyone NOT want to undestand what they are singing? Grrr.


    Donna & Jam- Do you really believe that there are people here who are even suggesting this?

    *sigh*
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    Maybe we're using too strong of language? I think there's definitely some talking past each other going on.

    It is clear that some of us emphasize complete understanding more than others. Nevertheless, we do agree that understanding is good, right? And understanding completely is even better?