Sixfold vs. Ninefold Kyrie
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    My question here is simply this: Is the ninefold Kyrie really a trinitarian reference (i.e., 3 x 3)? And by comparison, is it unfair to say that the sixfold Kyrie is sort of a dumbed-down (or at least oversimplified) "call-and-response" approach which both loses the reference to the Trinity and which robs the Kyrie from its asking-for-mercy purpose (through its relative brevity)?
  • Brief answer: yes. The reduction from a nine-fold to six-fold Kyrie reflects the general rationalization of the modern liturgical reform, but even in the reformed liturgy permission is granted to sing each acclamation more than twice where the nature of the musical setting requires it (as in some of the more elaborate chant settings).
  • Paul_D
    Posts: 133
    Brief answer: no. It is a gross oversimplification to reduce the goals of the liturgical reform to “general rationalization.” Such oversimplifications are really counterproductive and too often lead to little more than quibbling over insignificant matters. One clearly-stated goal was to allow the rites to shine forth with noble simplicity. Not all simplification is rationalization. Is everything which is thrice-stated intrinsically a reference to the Trinity? It could be, but is not apparent in the text. Seriously, how is two iterations a “dumbing down” of three? Can you seriously demonstrate that this Kyrie is “robbed” of its “asking for mercy purpose”? The reduction of iterations is also likely an expression of the reform’s desire to simplify the opening rites and expand the liturgy of the word with a richer selection of scripture. So I think it’s really counterproductive to ignore some very solid (and likely inspired) motives of the Ecumenical Council and trivialize the nature of the changes; that is truly dumbing something down.
  • JahazaJahaza
    Posts: 468
    Not all simplification is rationalization. Is everything which is thrice-stated intrinsically a reference to the Trinity? It could be, but is not apparent in the text.

    That thought process would seem to be a form of rationalization. The reference to the Trinity is not explicit in the text, therefore it should not be taken as such symbolically.

    Seriously, how is two iterations a “dumbing down” of three?

    Because it simplifies a more complex structure into a repetitous call and response?

    The reduction of iterations is also likely an expression of the reform’s desire to simplify the opening rites and expand the liturgy of the word with a richer selection of scripture.

    In what way is the subsitition of a six-fold Kyrie neccesary in order to expand the Liturgy of the Word? (If the reason is to save a minute amount of time... well that would be an example of dumbing down the liturgy.)

    So I think it’s really counterproductive to ignore some very solid (and likely inspired) motives of the Ecumenical Council and trivialize the nature of the changes; that is truly dumbing something down.

    This change in the liturgy was not made by the Council and even if it was, it's not the sort of doctrinal action that is protected from error. Even if the Council had explicitly said "Reduce the Kyrie from Ninefold to Sixfold," it could have done so in error. Given that it will be near impossible to provide any evidence that this change was "inspired," to reach the higher standard that it was "likely inspired" will, I think be at least nine-times more difficult. :)
  • Paul_D
    Posts: 133
    May I address your objections to my reply?

    That thought process would seem to be a form of rationalization.

    A rational “though process” is not necessarily “rationalization”. Taking the text as the primary (though not necessarily exclusive) determinant of the form is consistent with Catholic tradition, not mere rationalization.

    The reference to the Trinity is not explicit in the text, therefore it should not be taken as such symbolically.

    Compare your statement with what I said. “Not necessarily” does not equal “should not.” Some rational thought is helpful here.

    Because it simplifies a more complex structure into a repetitous call and response?

    Funny – say it thrice three times and it’s a “complex structure,” but say it thrice two times and it’s “repetitious.” Don’t take it personally, but that’s illogical and irrational.

    In what way is the subsitition of a six-fold Kyrie neccesary in order to expand the Liturgy of the Word? (If the reason is to save a minute amount of time... well that would be an example of dumbing down the liturgy.)

    It’s not “necessary,” but it can be valid. Pius X tells us that excellence of forms is characteristic of the liturgy (and must therefore be a quality of Sacred Music). Proportion is characteristic of good form (Aquinas). So if one reforms the liturgy to shift a perceived over-emphasis on opening rites compared with the liturgy of the word, is it both a rational and esthetic effort to balance these forms. I’m not sure why this has to be a bad thing.

    This change in the liturgy was not made by the Council and even if it was, it's not the sort of doctrinal action that is protected from error. Even if the Council had explicitly said "Reduce the Kyrie from Ninefold to Sixfold," it could have done so in error. Given that it will be near impossible to provide any evidence that this change was "inspired," to reach the higher standard that it was "likely inspired" will, I think be at least nine-times more difficult. :)

    “Error” implies that this change is a break with revealed truth essentially contained in the structure of the Kyrie. Well, you would have to prove that the nine-fold form is divinely inspired to ground this assertion, and until I hear that from the Big Guy, I’m not buying it. Is that irrational?

    Hope you don't mind this little sparring, which I rather enjoy, and is done with all due respect.
    Thanked by 1canadash
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,682

    My personal preference is a nine-fold Kyrie, but were I writing a setting (even if it were chant) for the OF, I would stick to six-fold since that's what the current Missal calls for.

    I think folks who are used to a lotsa-chant-infused OF (that only used 6-fold), upon going to an EF Mass for the first time will really find the nine-fold odd.. I mean, the congregation singing "Christe..." before the choir? It would seem bizarre! Yet, somehow, it seems to fit. There's a nice symmetry that appears...
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,994
    My personal preference is a nine-fold Kyrie, but were I writing a setting (even if it were chant) for the OF, I would stick to six-fold since that's what the current Missal calls for.

    My own Kyrie setting (at CPDL, soon to be incorportated into a new Mass setting I'm composing), can be used either as a 9-fold (default) or 6-fold setting. In the 9-fold setting, the first invocation of each of the three sections is repeated and the congregation may join in the repeat. Once (at least) the melody is learned, there is an option for the first invocations to be sung by Priest/Cantor/Choir with everyone responding.

    I finished the Gloria for this new Mass on Leap Year day (except for a few tweaks), and I can send a copy to anyone interested. It's an SATB setting with organ, although just the melody may be sung by Cantor, Choir, or Congregation.
    Thanked by 1canadash
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,682
    The nice thing about writing in the post-Summorum Pontificum world is that you don't have to assume that your works will necessarily only be used primarily in the OF and thus EF options like CHGiffen's are a very appropriate thing for a composer to write.
  • Nobody asked -- but there's nothing wrong with a threefold Kyrie save that nothing says you can do it. Anglicans have done it for centuries and it does indeed have noble simplicity.

    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    Thanks, everyone. The matters at hand are clearer to me now… much appreciated!
  • St Gertrude, Mass in Heaven with the Lord singing the Kyrie:

    http://sanctaliturgia.blogspot.com/2006/07/exhortation-to-hear-mass-devoutly.html
    http://www.catholictradition.org/Gertrude/saint-gertrude11.htm

    « On "Gaudete" Sunday, as St. Gertrude (...) and as He (The Lord) sat on His royal throne, St. Gertrude cast herself at His feet and embraced them.
    Then He chanted the "Kyrie eleison" in a clear and loud voice, while two of the princes of the Choir of Thrones took her soul and brought it before God the Father, where she remained prostrate.

    - At the first Kyrie eleison, He granted her the remission of all the sins which she had contracted through human frailty; after which the Angels raised her up on her knees.
    - At the second, He pardoned her sins of ignorance; and she was raised up by these princes, so that she stood before God.
    - (missing 3rd Kyrie...)

    Then two Angels of the Choir of Cherubim led her to the Son of God, who received her with great tenderness.

    - At the first Christe eleison, the saint offered to our Lord all the sweetness of human affection, returning it to Him as to its Source; and there was a wonderful influx of God into her soul, and of her soul into God, so that by the descending notes the ineffable delights of the Divine Heart flowed into her, and by the ascending notes the joys of her soul flowed back to God.
    - At the second Christe eleison, she experienced the most ineffable delights, which she offered to the Lord.
    - At the third Christe eleison, the Son of God extended His hands and bestowed on her all the fruit of His most holy life and conversation.

    Two Angels of the Choir of Seraphim then presented her to the Holy Spirit, Who penetrated the three powers of her soul.

    - At the first Kyrie eleison, He illuminated her reason with the glorious light of divine knowledge, that she mights always know His will perfectly.
    - At the second Kyrie eleison, He strengthened the irascible part of her soul to resist all the machinations of her enemies, and to conquer every evil.
    - At the last Kyrie eleison, He inflamed her love, that she might love God with her whole heart, with her whole soul, and with her whole strength.

    It was for this reason that the Choir of Seraphim, which is the highest order in the heavenly hosts, presented her to the Holy Spirit, Who is the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity, and that the Thrones presented her to God the Father, manifesting that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God, equal in glory, co-eternal in majesty, living and reigning perfect Trinity through endless ages. »


    Thanked by 2Felicity JulieColl
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,743
    I have heard, and don't know if it's true, that the "Kyrie" in the west was much longer before Trent. Trent did its own "reform" of the liturgy, so it would seem possible. I know the "Kyrie" in the eastern churches is much, much longer than nine repetitions.
  • ClemensRomanusClemensRomanus
    Posts: 1,018
    Both St. Gregory the Great and the Ordo Romanus primus suggest that the Kyrie was repeated until the pontiff signaled the choir to move one. Presumably the Christe was the same.
    Thanked by 1E_A_Fulhorst
  • Paul wrote: "So if one reforms the liturgy to shift a perceived over-emphasis on opening rites compared with the liturgy of the word, is it both a rational and esthetic effort to balance these forms. I’m not sure why this has to be a bad thing."

    I have only gone to OF Masses in my life, with perhaps 3 or 4 exceptions, but I find it hard to believe that this "shift in emphasis" has born fruit. Perhaps we ought to appeal to God's mercy a little more. Heck, Pope John Paul II said during his pontificate that the west "has lost the sense of sin". We don't even think we sin; check most parish's confession lines.

    Also, I'll give you the two readings, the Gradual or Resp. Psalm and the Gospel Reading if you give me the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. Has taking this away, (amongst the other beautiful prayers now absent, like the Offertory prayers in the EF) from the Opening Rites helped people to perceive the tremendous majesty of God? Has it helped foster a love of the priestly vocation? Has it helped people understand the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist?

    Your argument that we gave up something in order to achieve something else seems strange to me. Why can't we have both? I'm not opposed to people knowing their Bible better, nor am I an EF-only person. I wish I could attend more, but that's besides the point. But emphasizing God's mercy and our need for it is something we better get crackin' on, and I mean quick. We only have one lifetime, and our eternity is dependent, both on this gift of God, but also our seeking it and taking it.

    Thanked by 1miacoyne
  • Paul_D
    Posts: 133
    I think that if we had had 40 years of properly-celebrated rites, we would not be having this conversation. Repetions or the lack thereof, and relative lengths of this or that become moot when the rites are trivialized, as they too often have been. For example, a properly-celebrated penitential rite includes a pause to truly recall sins and feel sorrow. Sadly, that's been all too rare. The hoped-for "noble simplicity" of the opening rites has been mucked up by ad-libbed opening remarks or even (insert worse-case scenario here ... "Does anyone have a birthday?"), perfunctory penitential acts, and schmaltzy Carrie E. Lasons. The rite, done right, is the solution.
  • But Paul, how does omitting the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar equal "noble simplicity" and how does it detract from a greater emphasis on the Liturgy of the Word? I think it's robbed us of great theological insight. If the Liturgy exists for the "glory of God and the edification of the faithful" I would propose that a moment of silence (also a time to totally space out) is less fruitful than a time to understand our unworthiness before God. I agree then; if it's 6 or 9 it doesn't matter. The prayers at the foot of the altar will have also served to edify us and catechize us to our unworthiness before God and to appreciate in more depth His abundant mercies.
    Thanked by 1canadash
  • Paul_D
    Posts: 133
    JIF, You never know ... we may live to see some things restored to the NO. I see the conciliar reforms as a kind of “system reset”, or spring cleaning, which can get a little overzealous (e.g. Now I know why I was keeping that extra can-opener ... now that I have to open the cat food.) In the context of this discussion thread, I posit that if such restorations come about, it will be due to solid theological reflection and pastoral value, and won’t be helped along by quibbling and faulty reasoning. Your suggestion that we have lost something by the removal of the prayers at the altar is worth consideration. It reminds me of the sentiments expressed by those who have studied the funeral rites, and believe there is truly something lacking in the revised rites of Christian burial. I believe we will see a revision of the funeral rites before the decade is out.
    Thanked by 1canadash
  • @ClemensRomanus:
    Today is the feast day of Pope St Gregory the Great and the (pre-1960) Matines say:

    « Reading 6
    Gregory adorned the Church with holy customs and laws. He called together a Synod in the Church of St Peter, and therein ordained many things; among others, the ninefold repetition of the words Kyrie eleison in the Mass, the saying of the word in the Church service except between Septuagesima inclusive and Easter exclusive, and the addition to the Canon of the Mass of the words M Do Thou order all our days in thy peace. »

    Source: http://divinumofficium.com/cgi-bin/horas/officium.pl
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Gregory_I
  • mahrt
    Posts: 517
    I suspect that the six-fold Kyrie was inspired by the low Mass, in which the priest says Kyrie eleison and the people respond Kyrie eleison and then Christe, etc. The six-fold Kyrie thus makes sense in a spoken Mass, or even one in which the priest sings Kyrie and the people respond singing Kyrie, for which, however, I think there is no historical precedent.

    This is one of many instances in which the low Mass became the norm for the sung Mass, something not supported by the Council. Thus, for a sung Mass, I always use the nine-fold form, something that the rubrics permit. There is a practical reason for this, especially for congregational singing. For those who are hesitant to sing an unfamiliar chant, by the third time around, they lose their hesitancy. I have observed this in rehearsing a congregation; the first time is feeble, the second, medium, and the third, more confident. This would apply as well to a performance that was not prepared by a rehearsal. The rubrics permit the nine-fold form for musical reasons; I think that this is a strong musical reason.
  • CGM
    Posts: 583
    Dr. Mahrt - Thanks for your response. But how does a congregation get to sing any part of a ninefold Kyrie three times? How is a ninefold Kyrie usually done?

    A. (chanted)
    Kyrie: Choir/Congregation/Choir
    Christe: Congregation/Choir/Congregation
    Kyrie: Choir/Congregation/Choir

    B. (chant & polyphony in alternatim)
    Kyrie: Congregation (chant) / Choir (polyphony) / Congregation (chant)
    Christe: Choir (polyphony) / Congregation (chant) / Choir (polyphony)
    Kyrie: Congregation (chant) / Choir (polyphony) / Congregation (chant)

    C. (chanted)
    Kyrie: Cantor/Choir/Congregation
    Christe: Cantor/Choir/Congregation
    Kyrie: Cantor/Choir/Congregation

    D. (chant w/ polyphony)
    Kyrie: Cantor (chant) / Congregation (chant) / Choir (polyphony)
    Christe: Cantor (chant) / Congregation (chant) / Choir (polyphony)
    Kyrie: Cantor (chant) / Congregation (chant) / Choir (polyphony)

    Are there other options? I don't see the congregation singing anything three times in any of these permutations...
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,894
    Though I'm sure Dr. Mahrt can answer for himself, you've left out another option:
    Kyrie: Congregation/Congregation/Congregation
    (etc.)
    It's interesting that you assume there needs to be a responsorial element in the Kyrie. I can't check my docs right now, but I don't remember a "gotta" there.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,994
    I agree with you, Jeffrey!
  • From Explanation of the Prayers and Ceremonies of Holy Mass by Dom Prosper Guéranger, translated by Dom Laurence Shepherd, Monk of the English Benedictine Congregation, 1885:

    KYRIE.
    Next follows the Kyrie, which, at a High Mass, is said at the same side of the Altar, where the Introit was read. The Priest is accompanied by his Ministers, who do not go to the middle of the Altar, until he himself does; meanwhile, they stand behind him, on the steps. In a Low Mass, the Priest says the Kyrie, in the middle. This prayer is a cry of entreaty, whereby the Church sues for mercy from the Blessed Trinity. The first three invocations are addressed to the Father, who is Lord: Kyrie, Eleison; (Lord, have mercy). The following three are addressed to Christ, the Son incarnate: Christe, eleison. The last three are addressed to the Holy Ghost, who is Lord, together with the Father and the Son; and therefore, we say to Him also: Kyrie, eleison. The Son, too, is equally Lord, with the Father and the Holy Ghost: but, holy Church here gives Him the title of Christ, because of the relation this word bears to the Incarnation. The Choir, too, takes up the same nine invocations; and sings them. Formerly, it was the practice, in many Churches, to intersperse them with words, which were sung to the same melody as the invocations themselves, as we find in several old Missals. The Missal of St. Pius the Fifth did away, almost entirely, with these Kyrie, called, on account of these popular additions, Farsati, (in French, farcis). When the Pope celebrates a Solemn Mass, the singing of the Kyrie is continued during the act of homage which is paid him on his throne: but this is an exception to the present observance throughout the Church. The three invocations, each repeated thrice over, (as now practised,) are like a telling us of our union, here below, with the nine choirs of Angels, who sing, in heaven, the glory of the Most High. This union prepares us to join them in the Hymn which is now to follow, and which these blessed Spirits brought down to this our earth.
    Thanked by 1miacoyne
  • Paul_D
    Posts: 133
    With no offence intended, I find it ironic that a thread began with a presumption of rationalization in reforming the Kyrie has produced a textbook example of rationalization in favor of the 9-fold Kyrie! Dr. M, I’m personally all for either form of the Kyrie, but the non-sequiturs of your argument make it less than convincing. Concerning Gueranger’s interpretation, such allegorical understandings are spiritually helpful, but they are generally read backward into the liturgy, and the Church does not ground her theology of the liturgy on them, perhaps especially because some elements of the liturgy are changeable, as evidenced in the history of the Kyrie.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • I follow Mahrt's hypothesis exactly. It makes perfect sense considering the preponderance of the low Mass before the most recent council. There is an awkward confusion even today during the Kyrie at a spoken low Mass- I've often experenced it myself.

    Mahrt also observes that the sixfold Kyrie has no probable historical basis. Can someone point to where the sixfold existed before the council?

    As far as who sings what in a chanted ninefold Kyrie, it works several ways, and the congregation can always be included in the singing if they so choose.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,115
    @ MaryAnn

    Was it twofold in the litany of the saints? That's the first thing that came to mind.
  • Also you can find it in the '62 missal during the end of the requiem.
    But neither that nor the litany (Holy Saturday) are are found in the penitential rite. So why was it changed?
  • Dr Mahrt is surely correct in his assertion that there is no historical precedent in the Roman Rite for a sixfold Kyrie in the Mass. Dom Gueranger's allegorical interpretation of the Kyrie is part of a long Tradition of understanding the elements of the Mass. True, some elements of the liturgy are changeable, but the reduction of the Kyrie did not reflect an organic development, nor does it seem particularly necessary, since an exception to the six-fold rule had to be made almost immediately for the sake of the musical structure of many of the Church's settings from Gregorian Chant to polyphony. Also it should be pointed out that the Actus penitentialis itself is not part of the tradition of the Roman Rite before 1969, but is presumably borrowed from Protestant traditions which regarded the ancient Confiteor as clericalist and transformed the priest's prayers of preparation before the Mass proper into a corporate act of confession within the Mass, often using the Kyrie as a response to the confession of sin. To understand the way in which some of the reforms function in the present context one can often be informed by looking at the liturgical histories of some of the separated communities.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • Paul_D
    Posts: 133
    So that we understand one another, I am not of the school of thought that the Consilium which reformed the liturgy as mandated by the Council fathers made changes beyond its mandate, or somehow lacking in sound liturgical scholarship and / or theology. While experts trained and schooled in theology, history and music may propose changes for consideration at a future ecumenical council, doing the rites as given, respecting both norms (e.g. 6-fold Kyrie) and exceptions (e.g. 9-fold Kyrie) is most in keeping with the mind of the Church and leads to grace and peace and many other fruits. Trying to alter the current norm by insisting on only one form, by way of speculation, can only lead to strife.

    The “no historical precedence” argument can, if interpreted too strictly, put the concept of organic development into a straightjacket, beyond the reasonable desires of the Church fathers for continuity and reform. It seems inappropriate to claim that the rites can only be reformed if an exact replica of something can be found in history. What was revised is merely a variation on the form, and does not impact the handing-on of the Faith.

    Note that the precise rubrics for the Kyrie do not concern themselves with who sings and who responds; they are “V.” and “R.”, allowing for many felicitous realizations of just who V. and R. can be.

    The verse and response form is intrinsically organic. It also harmonizes the Kyrie with its troped counterpart in the Penitential Act. It is difficult to see this change as anything other than an expression of the clearly-stated desire of the Council to revise the rites with an eye to “noble simplicity”.

    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • ClemensRomanusClemensRomanus
    Posts: 1,018
    @Jacques Perrière

    "Having sung the anthem of the introit for the last time, the choir sing the Kyries , until the pope signs to the precentor to make an end. When the last Kyrie eleison has been sung the pope turns round towards the people and intones the Gloria in excelsis turning back again at once to the east while the choir continue and finish it."
    -Atchley, Ordo Romanus primus p.59

    "When the choir have finished the introit-anthem, they begin the Kyries. The number of times the imprecations Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison were sung was not fixed, but determined by the will of the pope (or whoever was celebrating), who signed to the precentor when he wished to change the number of times that the Kyries were repeated."
    -Atchley, Ordo Romanus primus p.64

    "As to Kyrie eleison we neither have said it nor do we now as it is said by the Greeks for among them all the people sing it together whilst with us it is said by the clerks and the people make answer and Christe eleison which is never said among the Greeks is said by us as many times as Kyrie eleison. But in ferial masses we leave out the other things which are usually said and only say Kyrie eleison and Christe eleison so that we may be engaged a little longer in the words of supplication."
    -Pope St. Gregory the Great, Letter to John of Syracuse

    "St Gregory also says that the choir sang Kyrie eleison and then the people sang it in answer and that Christe eleison was sung as many times as Kyrie eleison but in Ordo I the people have no part at all in it the Schola Cantorum or choir alone singing it ."
    -Atchley, Ordo Romanus primus p.71

    "Schola vero finita antiphona imponit Kyrie eleison. Prior vero scholae custodit ad pontificem ut ei adnuat si vult mutare numerum litaniae et inclinat se pontifici."
    -Ordo Romanus primus, no. 9

    "Now after the anthem is finished the choir begins Lord have mercy. But the precentor keeps his eye on the pontiff so that the latter may sign to him if he wishes to change the number of the Kyries and bows to him."
    -Ordo Romanus primus, no. 9, English translation
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,994
    So there was plenty of variation even in former times.
    Thanked by 2Gavin canadash
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    52. After the Penitential Act, the Kyrie, eleison (Lord, have mercy), is always begun, unless it has already been part of the Penitential Act. Since it is a chant by which the faithful acclaim the Lord and implore his mercy, it is usually executed by everyone, that is to say, with the people and the choir or cantor taking part in it.

    Each acclamation is usually pronounced twice, though it is not to be excluded that it be repeated several times, by reason of the character of the various languages, as well as of the artistry of the music or of other circumstances. When the Kyrie is sung as a part of the Penitential Act, a “trope” precedes each acclamation.
    (the emphasis is mine)
    GIRM 2012

    Could someone help me with my two questions please?

    1. Is Kyrie still a part of Penitential act when it's sung after the Penitential Act?

    2. Where can I find words," noble simplicity" in Church's document?
    (I want to read it in the context for a better understanding. Sometimes it seems that we can make mistakes in taking out some words out of the context; such as 'permission of using vernacular' in Holy Mass, when the Church actually acknowledges the lawfulness and efficacy of a sacred rite celebrated in Latin (from GIRM), some thought we abandon Latin. Also on 'external participation,' some or many forgot' to remember that she emphasizes the internal participation.

  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,994
    From The Roman Missal:

    7. The Kyrie, eleison (Lord, have mercy) invocations follow, unless they have just occurred in a formula of the Penitential Act.

    My interpretation is that (whether it is included in the the Penitential act itself or not), the Kyrie (in some form or another) is always part of the Penitential act and, in the case where 7. holds, it simply concludes the Penitential act.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I think it's very sad that many Catholics don't get to experience the beauty of nine fold Kyrie and appreciate it these days. When Kyrie is sung after the absolution, it seems to have more distinctive role and form as an Ordinary part, like Sanctus, Agnus Dei.

    After I learned to sing Gregorian chant, I discovered nine fold Kyire. (since my parish never did it.) I taught it to my children's schola, and they have been singing nine fold Kyrie for last four years. I explained to them about how we take time to ask for His mercy, especially before we receive our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, as well as about nine choirs of Angels. Although the children were somewhat confused at the beginning, like anything new, they learned that they have to be actually alert and engaged in singing it nine times (alternating between boys and girls.) And now they get very disappointed if we have to sing only 6 fold.

    Although in the early church when the liturgy is not yet organized and many things were going through various changes and tried out, chanting Kyrie in the traditional Mass of the Roman rite that we have inherited is done in nine fold. Maybe nine fold Kyrie helps us to remember that we cling on to God's mercy and its beauty, especially in time where 'the sense of sin' has been lost and depending on God's mercy.

    Since the new GIRM seems to encourage nine fold Kyrie more than before, maybe parishes can do 6 fold during Ordinary time and progamm nine fold Kyrie at least during Lent and Advent, (since Gloria is not sung during those seasons, the extended time may not be the issue. And since we do extra good things during Lent, and it is encouraged to continue them even after the Lent, the spirit of nine fold can be carried to 6 fold in Ordinary time and appreciated it in a deeper manner.), and have polyphonic settings for major feast days?
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    "maybe parishes can do 6 fold during Ordinary time and progam nine fold Kyrie at least during Lent and Advent"

    This strikes me as an incredibly practical suggestion.
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    Has anybody pointed out the ninefold as a reference to the nine choirs of angels?

    I just recently learned that myself.
    Sorry if its been said already. This thread is too long for me to read at the moment!

    I was always struck by the beauty of the 3x3x3 of a ninefold Kyrie, but apparently there are other significant reasons that it should be preferred (ie; choirs of angels)
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen JulieColl
  • Has anybody pointed out the sixfold as a reference to the six days of Creation, demonstrating that all created things rely on God's mercy and must humbly beg for it? Sorry if it's been said already.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • 1. I fully agree that musical settings of the Kyrie composed to accommodate a nine-fold text ought not to be altered so that the six-fold text can be used with them; but

    2. The Kyriepetitions were not originally understood as addressed to the Trinity, according to Jungmann and other liturgical historians. All the petitions were understood to be addressed to the Son. And even if they were addressed to the Trinity, why would six invocatioms (two for each Person) be less appropriate than nine (three for each person)?

    3. The Kyrie was not historically part of a penitential rite. Before it was used in the liturgy, it was, according to Jungmann, used to acclaim the Emperor (like "Heil Hitler," I suppose). When it was so used, it may have expressed humility, but it did not express penitence. In the Roman Mass it was first used as the response in an intercessory litany, the Deprecatio Gelasii," which was inserted before the collect during the reign of Pope Gelasius to replace the Solemn Collects at the end of the Liturgy of the Word, the form of intercession previously used in the Roman rite. By the time of Gregory the Great the litany had been dropped. The Kyrie eleison response survived as a vestige.

    4. Some liturgists think that because the Kyrie was first used as a response in a litany, keeping it made no sense once the litany had been dropped. I suspect that some of the revisers who objected to the "stand-alone" Kyrie thought that if it had to be retained at all, it could be made tolerable by being incorporated into one of the forms of the Penitential Act.

    5. I would argue, however, that the Kyrie was used as an acclamation before it was used as a litany response, that for a thousand years it served as the "Opening Acclamation" of the Roman Mass, and that it can well continue to serve as such.

    6. The Roman Mass never included a Penitential Act until after Vatican II. The Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, of late medieval introduction, were private prayers of the ministers and not part of the public rite. At High Mass the choir sang the introit and often part of the Kyrie while they were in progress. I join with those "progressive" liturgists who decry the new rite's "cluttered vestibule." (See Ralph Keiffer's article, "Our Cluttered Vestibule," which appeared in Worship in the seventies.) The incorporation of a penitential petition into the Prayer of the Faithful, proposed at international conferences of liturgists in the 1950s, would have been a better idea than the introduction of a Pentitential Act at the beginning of the Mass. The Penitential Act was added only at the behest of Paul VI, who said insistently--several times--"Put a confession at the beginning."
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    re: the 6 days of creation -
    It seems like a bit of a stretch to me, especially considering that there was a 7th day. Is the 7th day (Sabbath) when we sing about the previous 6?

    Numerology can get pretty abstract and "prove" almost anything, from any particular angle. It can also prove nothing, because it can be so easily abstracted.
    (See: Contemporary evangelical "prophets" who have predicted the rapture inaccurately how many times now?)


    For the "sixfold" Kyrie:
    I'd find it a more convincing analogy to note that it is a simple call/response between the cantor and congregation, which happens THREE times. That's an easier proof than 6 days out of the 7-day creation story. That's a pretty desperate grasp for meaning.

    Rather than call it sixfold, perhaps three(x2)fold?
    Much more significance in that.


    It's like trying to prove 2 as a significant number because there were 3 wise men!
    Does the 3rd sing about the previous 2?
    Or are there simply 3?
    Perhaps if we multiply 2x3, we can justify 6 wise men.
    Or, if we add them, we can say that there are 5.

    Let's just say that there were 3 wise men and get on to more important things.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,994
    This is rather like the

    Theorem: Every whole number is interesting.

    Proof. Clearly 0 is interesting (it's the smallest whole number), 1 is interesting (it's the only number which when multiplied by another number gives that other number as the result), 2 is interesting (it's the smallest prime number), 3 is interesting (it's the smallest odd prime number), 4 is interesting (it's the smallest composite number), etc. We established that the collection of interesting whole numbers is a nonempty set, but we have yet to prove that every whole number is interesting. So, suppose to the contrary, that not all whole numbers are interesting. Then there must be a smallest whole number that is not interesting (from what has been said already, it is clear that this smallest such number is greater than 4). But the fact that this is the smallest number which is not interesting makes this number, in fact, interesting. So there would be a whole number which is both interesting and not interesting. This is clearly impossible, so there cannot be any whole numbers that are not interesting. Q.E.D.
    Thanked by 3ryand canadash Felicity
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    Amen.
    Amen.
    Amen.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,743
    I think the whole subject is silly. Any kyrie would be an improvement on what is usually heard in many places. It often goes, "The weather is partly cloudy and dry, Lord have mercy." "There's a potluck at 2:00 p.m., Christ have mercy." All done minus any confession of sin.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,956
    Well, the Confiteor is one of the three options for the rite, so if you don't hear it, that doesn't imply anybody is being disobedient about the liturgy.
  • hartleymartin
    Posts: 1,447
    Two mass settings which get around this problem are Bevenot's "Mass in Mi" and Wittal's "Mass of St Boniface", both of which have the 9-fold kyrie.

    Bevenot wrote a few masses. I'm most familiar with his Mass in Mi, but he also wrote a Mass in Re, which I have and a Mass in Fa, which I have not yet seen. His mass settings were written for a monastic setting where one choir would sing the first Kyrie, the second choir the second kyrie and then both choirs together for the third. Something similar happens in the Agnus Dei, and it is quite effective. (Also, not hard to teach!)
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,134
    I don't think that we can put any specific theological implecations on the number 3, any more than we can put theological significance to any other number. But I will say this :

    Last night I rehearsed Kyrie XI with my choir in preparation for our Solemn EF Mass on Sunday. We will sing in direct alternatim, men and women. Our usual practice (OF) is this:

    Kyrie : Men; All
    Christe : Women; All
    Kyrie : Men; All (Last Kyrie)

    When we sang it nine-fold last night, everyone's eyes popped out and jaws dropped. They were shocked by the beauty of it; by the symmetry, the balance, the overal harmony of the shape of the music. This proves to me that even though this is one of the Kyries and may be sung six-fold, the music demands that it be sung nine-fold, simply from an aesthetic point of view. I hope we will be able to sing it nine-fold from now on.