Silent Canon in Ordinary Form
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,560
    If I recall correctly, the beginning of the Canon during the final Sunday Mass at the Colloquium was done silently while the choral Sanctus was sung. Is there any documentation for this being allowed?

    Are there any famous churches (one of the Oratories perhaps?) that do this regularly?

    Is there any example of Pope Benedict doing this when he celebrates the Ordinary Form with a choral ordinary?

    Thank you for any information you're able to pass along.
  • The Canon of the Mass is never to be recited silently. The Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani explicitly says: Natura partium «praesidentialium» exigit ut clara et elata voce proferantur et ab omnibus cum attentione auscultentur. Own approximate translation: The nature of the presidential parts of the Mass (canon, collecta, oratio super oblata, oratio post communionem) demands, that they are recited in a clear and elevated voice, and are heard attentively by all present.
  • This is an interesting topic. I've seen this too many times by outstanding celebrants -- people with a deep history and vast learning -- to think that the issue can be so quickly dismissed with a sentence from the GIRM (the GIRM would also seem to rule out a choral Sanctus). Maybe it is forbidden but when a tradition of many hundreds of years stands as precedent, the issue is generally more complicated that can be resolved by one line from a descriptive and non-normative document.
  • I agree that it is an interesting topic. I would hope that it is not as cut & dry as the current GIRM would make it. But I've also heard comments about the Colloquium liturgies - how "different" they were, and sometimes shockingly so. The silent Canon is one of them. With more and more participants in the Colloquium and Chant Intensive workshops, maybe more time should be spent discussing liturgical details among the entire assembly. Maybe the priests should give their points of view, and other historians and "liturgists" give theirs. I'm all for most of what happens at Colloquium, and I think that Vat. II (or our implementation of it) went way too far. But doing things every summer that would seem to be outlawed by the GIRM almost demand some explanation and discussion.
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    Perhaps this discussion is about the extent to which the two forms of the Rite can inform each each other, and so develop?
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,574
    The silent Canon in the OF would be illicit, but not invalid, under current law. It would also be gimmicky. Cdl Ratzinger's musings were musings, not interpretations of current law, and it's telling to note that he has never engaged in this in public Masses in the OF as Pope.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,511
    Does anyone know whether the Pope pronounced the canon audibly at Pentecost 2009 when he celebrated Mass at St. Peter's with an orchestra and choir performing a Haydn Missa Solemnis.

    Here's a clip toward the end of that Mass.

    Oh: here's the full video; let's see how it proceeds.
    ..... OK, the Sanctus starts at 1:28 into the video, and is immediately followed by the Benedictus, then the audiblecanon.
  • I agree it needs explanation. Even if the explanation is "this is no big deal; the silent canon is not forbidden by binding law" then fine. But I would like to know. I've made inquiries but never received answers.
  • Comment deleted by author.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,634
    No, Charles, you RC's haven't yet seen a Byzantine Catholic firing squad. It's a circle! ;-)
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,560
    The question came up the other day when discussing my upcoming wedding Mass with the priest, MC and musician... We're doing a choral Mass (Byrd - which is short, and thus waiting for the Sanctus to end is no big-problem), but my mind went immediately the the Colloquium where such a thing was done where, perhaps, it shouldn't have been. We agreed that the celebrant would wait until the Sanctus and Benedictus were done until he began reciting the Canon (in Latin), however I wondered what the Holy Father did last Pentecost, which was graciously answered by chonak. Thank you all.

    Another interesting question -
    It appears in the Ordinary Form that if a Wedding Mass is celebrated during a Sunday Mass the order is:
    -Gospel
    -Homily
    -Vows and Rings and Stuff
    -General Intercessions
    -Creed

    Everything I've seen points to a flipping of the Intercessions and Creed if a marriage is celebrated.
    Anyone have any idea why...?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,511
    Well, it is stated explicitly in the Rite of Marriage at para. 29 (in my 1976 edition): "If the rubrics call for it, the profession of faith is said after the general intercessions".

    But that should be a separate thread, hm?

    About the Haydn Pentecost Mass: there was one deviation from the usual Ordinary Form praxis: the Agnus Dei was sung during the distribution of Holy Communion and omitted at its usual place prior to it.
  • Charles in Cen, so a Viennese Mass is an "untenable form" and "alien" despite the Pope's own devotion to it, and the Msgr. Schuller's having endured 40 years of slings and arrows to keep it alive? And because Todd, who wasn't even there, complained about the report of the silent canon -- used consistently by Fr. Robert Skeris in the OF -- we are supposed to be devastated? And all of this amounts to the "shooting ourselves in the foot"??

    Did you wake on the wrong side of the bed? Good grief. It is hard enough to do this work without this kind of relentless carping. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to pull together a full orchestral Mass in a colloquium with back-to-back Masses all week and do it with no employees and no budget? Do you not understand how difficult it is to be on the production side of this and yet how easy it is to sit in the peanut gallery and criticize?

    If there is any shooting going on, it is usually the case that someone is holding the gun and pulling the trigger.
  • One point about this. What is the reason for the soft voice to begin with? More than anything else in the Mass, it is a prayer to God directly, not the people. This is the understanding of anyone who says the older form, and this understanding is reinforced by the rubrics. It seems a bit strange to expect that to change with the new form. Now the prayer is for the people?
  • Does audible include a requirement that an electronic sound system be used in a large church building?
    If so, how loud would it need to be turned up?
    Must it always be at one level?
    I am trying neither to be snarky or ironic here.
    I just wonder about the implied requirement for a sound system, which I utterly reject in an indoor liturgical space.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • One point about this. What is the reason for the soft voice to begin with? More than anything else in the Mass, it is a prayer to God directly, not the people. This is the understanding of anyone who says the older form, and this understanding is reinforced by the rubrics. It seems a bit strange to expect that to change with the new form. Now the prayer is for the people?

    Jeffrey: I've heard this interpretation frequently. But the Collect (to name one) is also a prayer to God directly, and no one suggests that we ought to have a sotto voce Collect, not even to "reinforce" a proper "understanding" of the nature of the prayer (did anyone ever ask "Now the Collect is for the people?"). So although "it's meant for God" might be (and I tend to doubt it) an explanation for why the Canon is silent, it doesn't, in the end, amount to much of a justification for it.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,574
    It's a rationalization for the practice. As noted, other prayers of the Mass are offered to God directly, and are not sotto voce. Moreover, note that actually silent prayer should suffice under that rationalization, but was in fact forbidden: it had to be somewhat audible (basically, in some way by the servers).

    I can offer another rationalization: that it developed in the period when Latin was ebbing as a lingua franca (pun intended) - in late antiquity, the silent canon was regarded as an abuse, but you see its more widespread adoption in the Carolingian era - and the focus of rubrics was on what was happening in the sanctuary, allowing for greater and greater detachment from the congregation. Why waste breath using a proclamatory tone for a long-winded prayer in language increasing portions of people in the nave would no longer understand well (however conversant in Latin many may have remained in shorter prayers, it's rather obvious from the development of vernaculars that extended use of Latin was happening in a shrinking circle of people). But, when the silent canon became a polemical issue among Reformers, post-hoc rationalizations were put to good use.

    As for why the OF prescribes a more audible (if not necessarily amplified) Canon: to assist in actual participation by the faithful. It's rather simple. Following along with a missal is not the only way to do that; listening is equally valid. (I am not a person who kvells at the idea of people following along with hand missals; but, by the same token, I know the actual participation of others is more aurally and less visually based).

    What I wonder is why some feel there is a need for a silent canon to be revived. Is it that they feel the audible canon obstructs the preconciliar practice that permitted the Sanctus and Benedictus to be sung *during* the recitation of the silent canon? If so, that seems to be the tail wagging the dog.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I know this is not about Traditional Mass, but one of the many things I love in Traditional Mass is this Silent canon. This is the most sacred moment. Even a human voice is a distraction for me. Our Lord is coming in silence.
    Be Still, He is near!

    In someways it's also like having a most solemn pause (rest) in a big symphony. (I love Beethoven symphonies.) The big silence is the most dramatic moment and gets you the most attention.

    But if the rubric of NO says 'audible,' I won't ask why it has to be audible. (although I feel there are too much sounds already. Can this moment be someswhat different from the rest of the Mass to be emphasized?)
    I'm thankful that I can still attend Traditional Mass to experience the beauty of silent canon. To me, Mass is not something or event that I rationalize but something sacred that is to be experienced.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,511
    Liam's touched on an important point: the prayer is long-winded, and it is the same in the vernacular. Perhaps that's part of the appeal of the canon sotto voce. Whatever are the merits of 'hiding' part of the canon, it does seem to be a tradition in most of the Eastern churches. Perhaps someone who knows whether it's universal may say so.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,634
    If I recall, and I could be wrong, the silent canon was forbidden by imperial edict. However, "do it my own way" clergy were a problem even then.
  • I love the sung canon in the OF - it still rings in my ears from before I was a Catholic. However, I'm deeply touched by the silent canon of the EF, and also intrigued by the musical complexity the silent canon gave rise to, the very two theaters sometimes denounced. Without the two theaters, the result before linear and insufficiently complex, almost flattened. I'm not making a case for the silent canon based on its musical implications but I do think that the musical implications strengthen the case for maintaining a theater for the celebrant and separate one for the music. As a musician, I certainly sense a more relaxed and prayerful sense of space in the EF.
  • The layers of prayer involved at most points of the EF remind me of the structure of polyphony. :)
  • I believe the reason for the revival of the Canon said/sung aloud was that it is the more ancient practice. The silent Canon was a later Frankish development which crept its way into the Roman Rite. Of course, I'm greatly oversimplifying things. I'm also not advocating returning to ancient practices just because they are ancient, but I think that was the reason for the revival. I do personally prefer hearing the Canon sung, though.
  • Maureen
    Posts: 645
    If you had a small church in a house-sized space, everybody heard you. If you had a traditional Roman-judiciary apse in a basilica, it was a sound system. Once you started using other kinds of architectural forms, nobody was going to hear everything. Echos and no echo both kill the sound, and you're facing an Eastern wall, while behind some sort of wall or roodscreen or curtain!

    A quiet canon was probably a matter of facing facts.
  • I don't really see a problem with liberality here (so kill me). Yes, the GIRM, but there are many things in the GIRM that are purely descriptive and non-normative. Look at the Mass with the Pope in Westminster two days ago. Compare to the GIRM. Hardly any of that stuff is in there at all! The GIRM is a helpful description of a conventional situation, but it is not intended to be a comprehensive look at all possibilities in the Roman Rite. I'm thinking here of the Gospel procession to the middle of the nave, for example. There is nothing about that in the GIRM, but I recall a situation recently where a pastor cracked down on an associate pastor for doing this, citing the GIRM. But here watching the Pope, we see the exact same procession. My point is that we can get into a crazy form of legalism if we read the GIRM as if it is some sort of binding Constitution of the rubrics of the Mass.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,281
    I think the only problem with that (and this was brought up earlier) is that this:
    there are many things in the GIRM that are purely descriptive and non-normative...
    ...we can get into a crazy form of legalism if we read the GIRM as if it is some sort of binding Constitution of the rubrics of the Mass.

    makes it very difficult to then use the GIRM (and anything else, really) as a thwacking stick for telling people they need to do Gregorian Chant because that's what the rubrics say.
    If the silent canon and the Orchestral Mass are allowed, seemingly against the rubrics, why not the laser cannon and the Rock Mass?
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,574
    Jeffrey,

    That's all blithe and bonny, but this is not an issue where the GIRM or rubrics are silent, and cherry-picking what one thinks is "purely descriptive and non-normative" is a great way to undercut the credibility of one's argument. And remember, that approach will always be a two-edged sword.
  • Well, that might be true if the GIRM were the only thing that has ever existed. But it is not. There is also the WHOLE of rubrical tradition and Church history to draw on. We can discern the direction that liberality takes by reference to the history of the Roman Rite. We have to use our brains. No document can substitute for good sense that draws on the sense of the faith. This is why I find it ridiculous to cite the GIRM against a choral Sanctus, for example. Does the GIRM really intend to abolish a major sector of the music of the West, really intend to burn and destroy tens of thousands of treasures insofar as they pertain to liturgy? Of course not. And yet, if we read it literally and normatively, that is what we might conclude. There is no substitute for reason.
  • i don't like when people pretend the Pope is at fault for not following the GIRM. it's not that simple.
  • Jeffrey makes a valid point about liturgical precedent in tradition. The choral Sanctus is a good example of this.

    I am still not clear as to the silent canon in the OF, but the fact that the canon was silent for hundreds of years should give us pause. This situation is different from clear cut examples of liturgical abuse because of longstanding tradition.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,574
    Jeffrey,

    Your finding it "ridiculous" speaks volumes. That you might find it ultimately not the most persuasive interpretation is one thing, but to ridicule it - treating it as essentially unreasonable (rather than reasonable but ultimately not most persuasive) - is to essentially remove yourself from serious conversation by serious rhetorical overkill.
  • Liam, really? To make sure we are talking about the same issue, do you really imagine that the Catholic Church would abolish the use of the choral Sanctus? I can't imagine such a thing, and I do find the claim ridiculous. I guess I'm removed from serious conversation, and that makes me sad. I hope to get invited back at some point. I'm not terribly unreasonable on all other things.
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,281
    do you really imagine that the Catholic Church would abolish the use of the choral Sanctus?


    I think that, considering the last 50 years of Church history (notwithstanding the recent liberalizations of older forms), the idea that the Church would abolish any particular thing, regardless of its beauty, usefulness, or pedigree, should hardly be considered far-fetched.
  • I guess I'm just not cynical enough.
  • BGP
    Posts: 206
    The obsession with having every detail seen and heard by everyone in the OF is I think reason why a silent cannon would be a good thing.
    Also if one is approaching an unfathomable all powerful God to offer a sacrifice, it would be a healthy natural reaction to cautiously lower ones voice, its appropriate to not charge up to the alter and loudly announce to the Lord without "fear and trembling" what you expect of him.
    the priest is praying to God which is why it isn't necessary for everyone to hear and see everything, but it doesn't mean that its the reason for a silent cannon.

    That being said I think you haft to do what the GIRM says until it says something different.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,281
    I guess I'm just not cynical enough.

    Which is one of the things we all like about you, Jeffrey!
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,281
    Is it possible the the GIRM, being the General Instruction specifically deals with the "normal" situation of Mass (average parish, average Sunday, average community), and provides guidelines for that purpose- but could, effectively, be preempted by special occasion (of place, of time, of who is celebrating, of who is gathered, of why the Mass is being offered)?

    Just a crazy idea...
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Adam, I think you have a very good insight. I hope you come to the Colloquium next year.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,574
    Adam

    The Roman way would not think of it in terms of pre-emption (that would be very Anglospheric, not Roman), because that would imply a norm above the norm. As I've noted many times in many places over many years, the Roman way is that exceptions in non-essential matters occur from time to time (not chronically), but the exceptions are not themselves norms. Besides, the pre-emption idea is one that many people would happily use to drive a truck through the GIRM in many respects. Exceptions occur from time to time; the norm remains the norm. People from an Anglospheric legal background cannot stand this state of affairs, and want it codified and made normative because this approach is alien to our sense of How Rules Should Work.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,281
    mia:
    Thanks. Me too.

    Liam:
    Perhaps preempt was not the right phrasing.
    And I'm aware of the dangers of this line of thinking (special interest groups doing very odd things in Mass), but that would bring us back to Jeffrey's assertion to use one's reason, the same being formed by tradition and sound doctrine.
    I'm just suggesting that there is a way in which we can arrive at what I believe is an accurate conclusion (based on as-yet-undefined-logic): a choral Sanctus with a silent canon shouldn't be the norm in average OF parishes, but should be perfectly acceptable for a special occasion like the Colloquium.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    "Exceptions occur from time to time; the norm remains the norm."

    I'd ltruly love to follow that statement.
    And I sincerely like to know in NO which one is norm, singing Hymns INSTEAD of Propers or Psalms from Roman Gradual, or anything you want at the Entrance, Offertory and Communion.
    (or maybe it's from Americans who like to give equal weights on exceptions as norms, as in English translations of GIRM?)
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,634
    No, I think it's a case of do we follow rules, or do we not follow them. We accuse the ex-flower children and the "liberated" of doing as they please. What's the difference between them and us, if we do the same? We do have better music, of course! But other than that, what's the difference?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,511
    There are distinctions to be made: there is a concept in Catholic canon law of "customs contrary to law", which become acceptable practices if they are not inherently wrong, if they are approved by the competent authority and last long enough to become established. (There may be some other requirements too.) One can probably make a plausible argument for the legitimacy of the (not silent but) sotto voce Canon, the separated Benedictus, etc., on that basis. It's probably rather harder to make an argument on that basis for the use of giant puppets during a Mass. (Note: I am not a canonist and do not play one on TV.)
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,574
    Mia

    Singing hymns instead of the propers is expressly included within the corners of the norms, not an exception to the norms.

    Chonak

    The development of customs contrary to law is has been increasingly made difficult since Trent. Not impossible, but more difficult. And canonists debate the conditions necessary to establish such customs (such as that customs must arise in a jurisdiction capable of receiving a law - is that the diocese or the parish?, et cet.) The reason I am familiar with this is that I have spent a fair bit of time disabusing "creative" folks from thinking the fact that they've done something for 30 years continuously equal a legitimate custom that bears the force of a norm - it's *not* that simple. (Nor is trying to revive a former custom that has fallen into abeyance or was not proper to the jurisdiction to begin with, for that matter.)

    * * *

    So few are willing to admit they advocate practicing exceptions to norms, but rush to claim normative status for their exceptions.

    The silent canon is not necessary to the preservation of the Church's patrimony of music. Not at all. It might make it easier, but it's not necessary.

    The choral Sanctus issue is one I am sympathetic to modifying, but I believe the liturgical/theological/eschatological development the current norm represents is more valuable to the traditionally minded than some appear to realize.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    According to my GIRM (2003), No. 4 option is "A suitable litrugical song similarly approved by the Conferences of Bishops of the diocean Bishop."
    I truly hope this is what's happening as the norm in local parishes.(Bishops seem a bit behind in approving many contemporary songs, although many of them enjoy having them in Mass.)

    I'm not saying breaking rules are ok, but I think there can be exceptions in NO that follow the traditional practice that has been inherited to us in our Church, and silent canon at the Colloquium is one of those exception . Colloquium Mass followed the rules and traditions at the most in the given context, and I don't see this is a problem.
    Our Pope told us to interpret those instructions in the light of our tradition (not ancient practices of the early Church.)
    Many of us also know this quote, "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church's faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place."

    GIRM also mentions about the congregation singing at least part of Kyrie and Agnus Dei. So then it's not only choral Sanctus we cannot have, but other beautiful choral Ordinaries, as well as silent canon we cannot have in NO to follow the rules?
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,574
    Mia

    The Pope's quote is taken out of context. It's referring to the EF. Not bringing EF practices into the OF despite instructions in the OF to the contrary. When the Pope is ready to modify the instructions for the OF, he has the power to do so the usual way.

    Bishops typically approve of hymns by permitting the use of a variety of hymnals and missalettes, and very likely by delegation; the GIRM does not (unfortunately, in my view) specify the mechanism for approval (for example, making the Bishop do it himself, not delegate it to his office of worship or pastors). I would love diocesan liturgical statutes and approvals to be available online (for dioceses capable of dealing with technology in that way; mission dioceses may understandably have other priorities).

    Please note I am not criticizing what happened at the Colloquium (I've not mentioned it in any comments anywhere, to the best of my recollection). An exception occurred, it seems. The exception does not, of course, represent a norm. I don't get too riled by sensible, non-gimmicky exceptions, so long as they are not passed off as normative (and I mean that in any ideological direction, as my fellow progressives (very much including Todd - we have tangled and cooperated since the 1990s online) have learned for many years before traditionalist liturgy blogs became common) nor made chronic (which is a back-door way of trying to create a norm).
  • "Singing hymns instead of the propers is expressly included within the corners of the norms, not an exception to the norms."


    IF you choose not to follow the historical practice of the church, singing the proper in Latin from the GR, or if not that from the GS, or if not that by use of psalm tones, you may sing a hymn. It's foolish to say that hymns are the norm. Hymns are the norm of foolish people who have seized The Mass and made it their mass, with a small m.

    The fact that it is pervasive and has totally eliminated choices 1,2 or 3 prove that it is popular and was a big mistake. No one anticipated that Cathedrals would totally abandon the common practice of being leaders of the diocese and have what a Julliard voice student referred to as Minstrel Masses at all Masses and effectively ban choirs by saddling them directors of music of dubious abilities. If they can read music at all.

    Vatican II did not intend to remove the practices, but rather to expand them. The expansion has created a MacDonalds atmosphere and management. Well, MacDonalds at breakfast, something they are totally incapable of doing in a Fast Food manner....

    The riches of being the first FAST FOOD restaurant have not extended to breakfast time.

    At most parishes it's breakfast time, ignoring: "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church's faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place."
  • But Liam, I'm not sure you can so readily dismiss Mia's point. The whole point of Summorum and the Pope's comments are to push a hermeneutic of continuity, not entrench a rupture. There is a spirit of Summorum that we cannot ignore here.
  • Exactly! The "spirit" of documents like Summorum Pontificum (and it's really more of a renewal and indeed a movement than a document, isn't it?) dramatically outweighs crusty, boring old rubrical workhorses like the GIRM. You can tweak, bend, and even outright break those lame rules and regulations that Rome never should have approved in the first place, provided you're sufficiently confident that what you're doing is really better and more in keeping with the spirit of the Mass.

    Hmm, now where have I heard that theme before ...? ;-)
    Thanked by 1ClergetKubisz
  • Ha ha but there really is a spirit. There was also a Spirit of Vatican II, a wholly legitimate one. The problem was not the Spirit. It was the replacement of one spirit with something else entirely. The debate is not about Letter vs. Spirit. It is true vs. false Letter and Spirit.
  • Perhaps. But to me, the two positions you have (as I read your comments) recently espoused -- namely, (1) the GIRM is just a description of what people usually do, not an instruction or rule; and (2) the spirit, properly interpreted, of various documents trumps the rules expressly given for the liturgy -- fall, as squarely as I can imagine, in the category of "Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it."