Musicam Sacram: Gregorian Chant should have pride of place in liturgy when it is celebrated in Latin
  • Andrew R. Motyka writes about a fascinating topic today regarding the Propers as presented at the latest NPM convention. He also discusses Musicam Sacram’s statement (and John Paul II’s reference to it): that Gregorian Chant should have pride of place in the liturgy when it is celebrated in Latin.

    This is very interesting and insightful:
    http://www.ccwatershed.org/blog/2013/aug/7/reading-honestly/
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  • I think the most obvious and contextual reason would be that the above mentioned statement in MS was referring to liturgies of the Latin rite- no?

    Off the top of my head-
    We can infer this because
    1) conciliar documents did not envision the sacred liturgy would be celebrated entirely in the vernacular, nor that they would need to be entirely in Latin, though they could be. What happened was... different from what SC envisioned concerning some incorporation of the vernacular. And MS was written in relation to SC, in order to expound on/clarify musical matters.

    2) we have instruction after MS specifically promoting Gregorian chant, such as the 1974 letter to bishops promoting basic Gregorian chant repertoire to be sung by the faithful in OF liturgies.

    It seems to me that anyone who'd interpret that one statement as excluding or limiting Gregorian chant from OF liturgies celebrated largely in the vernacular would simply need to read of reread other documents before and after Musicam Sacram.
  • quilisma
    Posts: 123
    Following on from what MaryAnn said. SC 36 is important here. It says:

    "Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites."

    Ok, there's always that one of those "get-out" type statements that litter the document, by that I mean, "Particular law remaining in force", but the intention seems clear.

    The second para of SC36 is about increased use of the vernacular but the third paragraph is a masterpiece of ambiguity....saying basically that the 'competent (and we take this in the loosest sense of the word) territorial ecclesiastical authority' can choose how much, or how little of the vernacular should be employed, whilst respecting the first 2 paragraphs of this norm. Now how one arrives at 0% latin whilst, at the same time, preserving Latin in the Latin rites, is beyond me.

    Of course, 'preserve' has several senses, but the sense that has been taken up in this case would seem to be more along the lines of:

    a. keep safe from harm or injury

    rather than:

    b. maintain or keep alive (a memory or quality)

    Q.
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,895
    It could also be that some of the "competent territorial ecclesiastical authorities" have attempted to preserve the Latin language in the Mass in the second definition given above (keeping it alive), but the "2% club" (see the book When Sheep Attack) complained so much there really wasn't much choice other than to eliminate Latin from the liturgy. I know that's a cynical viewpoint, but it's also the reason I can't do some of the things I really want to at my church, such as play the organ in the choir loft (I have to play the new Roland electronic keyboard that is positioned in the front of the church, no idea why, and no reason given, but the organ in the loft works fine and produces a serviceable sound, even though it is a Hammond). I am of the opinion that it is because of the "2% club" that much of what we know of as high liturgy is not done in many churches across this country: they don't want it. There are of course many reasons for this, but my main conclusion is that for them, there is some "bad taste" associated with Latin, organ, and high liturgy in general. I have often heard the statement: "I thought we got rid of all that in the 60s."

    Interestingly enough, when I play the Roland keyboard, I use one of the full organ preset sounds and nobody complains, only when I play the organ in the loft. Go figure that one out.
  • SkirpRSkirpR
    Posts: 853
    Yes, where prejudice against Latin exists, it seems very much to do with feelings about what Latin represents rather than any cogent thoughts about the pros and cons of using Latin itself. It's been said before. A lot of liturgy done before the Council was not good, and a lot of people associate Latin with poorly done liturgy they didn't completely understand in a language they couldn't understand. I mean, really, what could be better than that?

    This is why, as some others on this forum, I never make recourse to the argument that Latin is some sort of magical language that helps our liturgy by making it less understandable / more mystical. Not only do I not understand this view (but I can allow for how some may), but rather, it is simply not helpful to our cause in a majority of situations. I've found arguments toward both tradition and - to musicians - particularly the musical tradition of the pieces to be more successful.
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  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,445
    My favorite argument for the use of Latin is how inclusive and liberal it is. How wonderful it is to have a congregation made up of people who speak English, Polish, French and Spanish (yes, we do have have some French and many Spanish speaking parishioners at the Polish parish) as native languages sing Gloria VIII TOGETHER in Latin!

    To be honest I've never realy understood the 'magical' approach to Latin. I do, however, understand and agree with the idea that ritual and liturgical language should be distinct from everyday language - I am sure that the average person going to Eucharist in 1560 didn't speak 'Prayer-Book English' in the pub - simply because what is being done is not some everyday occurence; it's the same reason why formal governement pronouncements are still written in 17th-century-speak.

    Latin (or Greek, or Old 'Slawonik', or whatever) has the ability to do this better because it is not a vernacular language, and therefore not part of vernacular culture with all that that entails.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,054
    I think it is possible for a congregation to understand liturgy in Latin. But first, they need to understand it in their native language. That clears up much of the understanding issue. No, there is nothing magical about Latin, and many congregations don't have the diversity requiring an inclusive or universal language. I wouldn't exactly call the ICEL translation everyday speech, or street English. It is a great improvement over the dynamic equivalency that we had before the revised missal.
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  • I keep coming back to what I learned reading Christopher Page, namely that the progressive "silencing" of lay singing participation (during the middle centuries of the first millennium, and thereafter), which is unmistakeable in the historical record and needs an explanation, came about exactly because of the preservation of Latin tradition while the vernacular was changing, to the point that the laity could no longer sing the chants, didn't know how, and weren't expected to learn.

    Which seems a pity. This has nothing to do with the "street language in the liturgy" canard.
  • SkirpRSkirpR
    Posts: 853
    I keep coming back to what I learned reading Christopher Page, namely that the progressive "silencing" of lay singing participation (during the middle centuries of the first millennium, and thereafter), which is unmistakeable in the historical record and needs an explanation, came about exactly because of the preservation of Latin tradition while the vernacular was changing, to the point that the laity could no longer sing the chants, didn't know how, and weren't expected to learn.


    I think it is possible for a congregation to understand liturgy in Latin. But first, they need to understand it in their native language. That clears up much of the understanding issue.


    From these two statements, I deduce that the introduction of the vernacular to the liturgy has the potential - if it is handled well - to do more, in the long view, for active participation even in Latin.

    I find it odd that a few discussing this same thing over at PT seem to make the argument that your average congregation has no idea what "Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis" means, when they sing it in an otherwise English Mass where they have always previously sung "Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us."

    Hmmm, just a hunch here, but maybe that's what the Latin means?
  • SkipR, precisely one intended application of vernacular. Agreed.

    I have to say it cracks me up when people pick the original MS quote of this discussion to mean,
    WOO HOO! VINDICATION! THIS IS THE GET OUT OUT OF LATIN FREEEEEEEEE CARD I'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR ALL ALONG!! TAKE THE SHACKLES OFF, BABY!
    Ummmm. Yeah. Like such types were ever bothering to learn, teach and foster the inclusion Gregorian chant anyway!
    It's really kinda hilarious.

  • Exactly. Taking that one line out of MS and reading nothing else of it makes it nonsensical, like anything else out of context.

    I think there is a legitimate discussion to be had about why the stipulation of "in Masses said in Latin" was inserted in the first place. If Gregorian Chant is the native music of the Roman liturgy, why not in the vernacular as well? Is it a tacit statement that the vernacular liturgy is no longer the Roman Rite? I find that hard to believe. So what is the point?
  • SkirpRSkirpR
    Posts: 853
    Evolving from my comments on your actual blog entry, perhaps it has to do with what I gather was a strong opinion in the 1960s among many that vernacular chant wasn't possible. I thought I remember reading a quote by Bugnini that he had hoped the Missal antiphons would be set to music by composers. But yet, the GIRM and OCM take the angle (if not making it abundantly clear) they are only for spoken Masses.

    It just seems like with all the options that evolved into the 1970 Missal, there was a lot of ambiguity in the air for what "normal" would look like. It's hard to legislate something when you don't know what it is yet.
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,191
    This is not surprising in the least. As I have mentioned before, when I attended the 2007 NTM convention in Indianapolis exactly on the heels of the promulgation of Summorum pontificum, I attended a workshop celebrating the anniversary of Musicam sacram. During that session we were told by a noted liturgical scholar that Musicam sacram was irrelevant because it was written in reference to the pre-conciliar Mass and not the Novus ordo and therefore we were to ignore it.
  • So, promoting the idea of
    NOTHING TO SEE HERE. NEW CHURCH NOW. LET'S JUST MOVE ON

    didn't satisfy, and now it's more like

    UM, ACTUALLY, MUSICAM SACRAM IS TOTALLY RELEVANT!! IT'S YOUR

    GET OUT OF JAIL/ LATIN/ GREGORIAN CHANT FREE CARD! PHEW. NOW THAT'S OUT OF THE WAY, AND LET'S JUST MOVE ON!


    I wonder how such brilliant minds will interpret MS in five more years. LOL!
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  • SkirpRSkirpR
    Posts: 853
    Yes, it's incredibly awkward. As I've said before: Musicam Sacram was written for the old rite, so it only applies to EF, except it was written after 1962, so EF communities ignore it. But it doesn't apply to the new rite, except when we want it to. How frustrating is this?

    ...attended a workshop celebrating the anniversary of Musicam sacram. During that session we were told by a noted liturgical scholar that Musicam sacram was irrelevant...


    This would be comical if it weren't so sad. Seems like easy prep-work. I should propose whole bunches of workshops on things and then simply get to the conference and say they're not relevant.
  • MS was written to expound on SC and precede the missal revision(s). So it applies to the OF, and deals with how the reforms were intended to take place.

    It's a brilliant document in that it gives a game plan for how to move to a sung liturgy.

    As far as EF communities ignoring it, well, I don't see how one stays frozen in time but then again I do see that the problems of misapplied reforms are deep enough to go to great lengths to avoid...

    The situation can't and won't last forever. We just need to solve the whole liturgical identity crisis, and when we do things will be a lot healthier. MS was supposed to help with the changes, but went largely unneeded. I don't know why, and didn't come into existence until the next decade
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,054
    Not taking sides, but I was told that the authority for liturgy has been turned over to national bishop's conferences. For example, USCCB regulations replaced those older documents. If true, it doesn't mean we can't examine them for whatever good we can get from them. But they are not legally binding. Since I don't deal with the EF, I look to GIRM for guidance, not MS. Those older documents sometimes legislate on parts of the mass that have been dropped from the current liturgy.
  • Gregorian chant is a particular sacred repertoire. Sometimes it's obligatory (in the old rite at least) and more often not, but there is no doubt what it *is*. When the documents say Gregorian that's what they mean, and adding "when in Latin" merely clarifies the situation.

    Vernacular adaptations or new plainsong compositions are not Gregorian chant and are not what even the GIRM is referring to except as "other chants". All the SEPs and choral Graduals and flowing waters and plainsong psalms (including my own) are all "other chants" ; Gregorian chant is to be preferred where suitable.

    Of course, if the liturgy is being celebrated entirely in the vernacular, Gregorian chant is incongruous. A decision is then needed: celebrate mostly in Latin, or choose other songs as may be appropriate. Surely the primacy of Gregorian doesn't trump the use of vernacular.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,054
    Surely the primacy of Gregorian doesn't trump the use of vernacular.


    Agreed. I often say to those who maintain the older chants can't be adapted to English, look at what the Anglicans did with them.
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  • SkirpRSkirpR
    Posts: 853
    Of course, if the liturgy is being celebrated entirely in the vernacular, Gregorian chant is incongruous.


    I'm with you completely except for here. To my sense, there is far greater aesthetic loss to singing a vernacular adaptation of a Gregorian proper than there is to presenting the orations, readings, dialogs or canon in the vernacular. That's not to say I don't believe such adaptations are a bad idea or to be avoided, but simply I wouldn't have a problem with the Latin Gregorian propers in an otherwise vernacular Mass, provided the congregation understood why they were in Latin and were provided a translation.
  • Ahem!
    'Of course, if the liturgy is ... celebrated entirely in the vernacular, Gregorian chant is incongruous.' NO, NO, NO! This is WRONG!

    There is nothing at all approaching incongruity in the singing of Gregorian chant in a vernacular mass... if the chant has been adapted to the vernacular. And, we have a variety of such adaptations available, from the Anglican Use Gradual, the Palmer-Burgess Plainchant Gradual, Bruce Ford's American Gradual, Fr Columba Kelly's work, Paul Ford's work, Adam Bartlett's Simple English Propers, et al. There is no incongruity at all. There is, rather, the continuum that is meet.

    Where the incongruity arises is when some think that they have arrived when they sing LATIN chant at vernacular masses. Now, this is VERY incongruous indeed: an artless pastiche.
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  • If that is our guiding principle, MJO, then you might as well flush the entire Gregorian repertory right now, as the likelihood of a Latin OF becoming even remotely accessible to the average Catholic simply isn't going to happen.

    It means that the authentic Gregorian melodies and text will go unused outside the EF.
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  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,895
    If that is our guiding principle, MJO, then you might as well flush the entire Gregorian repertory right now, as the likelihood of a Latin OF becoming even remotely accessible to the average Catholic simply isn't going to happen.


    Unfortunately, this is true. The average OF parishioner either doesn't know the difference, or has chosen the OF because of the vernacular use and 4-hymn sandwich (which, of course, presents them with the opportunity to hear music somewhat according to their tastes, which have developed in the OF since they were a child).
  • Yes, but I disagree that Gregorian Chant at a vernacular Mass is incongruous at all, much less "artless pastiche." The documents of Vatican II, including the current document being discussed here, encourage the use of Latin, even in the vernacular Mass.

    I find it hard to believe that the same section of Musicam Sacram that encourages Gregorian Chant also lays out guidelines for its utter destruction. There has to be a better interpretation than that.
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  • Gregorian chant at a vernacular Liturgy excludes the faithful from active participation by singing (which is the primary meaning of a.p. as is well known). That's why I said it was incongruous. Better is to sing vernacular plain song which is inspired by the sacred chant, if the liturgy is in the vernacular. However, the liturgical law (eg GIRM) don't say that, it just prefers Gregorian, and then "or some other suitable chant", and SEP or FW are most suitable indeed. And so is a fine congregational song or "hymn". Always provided their texts have been approved.

    I thought we were discussing Musicam sacram, not the Council. But anyway the Council "encourages" Latin to be preserved in exactly two places, both of which are immediately followed by encouragement of the vernacular. It may be that preservation of Latin was an unexamined given, but it's "reading in" to make the Council documents be favoring Latin liturgy explicitly.

    On the other hand, neither the Council nor MS seems to envisage a wholly vernacular liturgy, so we cannot really go there for hard rules about sacred music in our situation. In fact, we have to go the GIRM. And if you compare texts, it's not hard to see that MD and DC have been quoted and adapted into the provisions of the GIRM anyway.

    I would be very happy if there were normative English chant propers.
  • SkirpRSkirpR
    Posts: 853
    Gregorian chant at a vernacular Liturgy excludes the faithful from active participation by singing (which is the primary meaning of a.p. as is well known).


    Some may debate this, but I will add, that depsite the objections of even some very highly-respected members of CMAA, I find nothing wrong with a "stuffed" Mass including a congregational hymn/acclamation and a schola-sung proper Latin Gregorian chant, particularly at the Introit and Communion, should the timing be well planned and executed by the celebrant and musicians. This allows the people to sing and the proper music to have its proper place.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    Gregorian chant at a vernacular Liturgy excludes the faithful from active participation by singing (which is the primary meaning of a.p. as is well known)


    I have to assume this is intended as humor...
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    depsite the objections of even some very highly-respected members of CMAA, I find nothing wrong with a "stuffed" Mass including a congregational hymn/acclamation and a schola-sung proper Latin Gregorian chant, particularly at the Introit and Communion, should the timing be well planned and executed by the celebrant and musicians. This allows the people to sing and the proper music to have its proper place.


    This would be my personal preference for musical programming.

    (I didn't say "I think it's the ideal or best thing." Just what I would personally like.)
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,054
    I frequently mix Latin and English. During Advent and Lent, I use only a Latin Ordinary, and the congregation sings it easily. Other times, I may use Latin chant pieces with the choir and cantors. I don't expect the congregation to sing those since they don't have copies to sing from.
  • Not that time.

    If you sing Latin propers, the faithful understand that they should participate by listening. This has been true in the Latin church for something over 1,300 years.

    I also have no problem with such stuffing, or other ways to mix Gregorian with vernacular plain song. In two places where I sing, the Communion is often a Latin antiphon with English verses, and the Introit often the English text to a psalm tone followed by the Gregorian introit.

    Nevertheless, the people don't sing then, they listen.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    If you sing Latin propers at a vernacular Liturgy, the faithful understand that they should participate by listening.


    Ah. Yes- but the Gregorian Ordinaries can be very congregational.

    Also, I mostly thought this was the humor:
    singing (which is the primary meaning of a.p. as is well known).


    but I apologize if you meant that sincerely.
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  • I guess "well known" is a bit of a stretch! but the rest is true. Singing the pertinent responses (and paying sufficient attention to know when to) is what actuosa p was originally meant as.

    I was, yes, thinking about the propers. The ordinary is another matter, but note that the OF rubrics say nothing about Gregorian for them. They should preferably be sung, is all, and the music in the new Missal is adapted to the vernacular, of course. Why is it more (?) "congregational" to sing the ordinary in Latin than in vernacular plain song?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,802
    The propers are (in general) material for the choir anyway, because they change, sometimes daily.
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,895
    I frequently mix Latin and English. During Advent and Lent, I use only a Latin Ordinary, and the congregation sings it easily. Other times, I may use Latin chant pieces with the choir and cantors. I don't expect the congregation to sing those since they don't have copies to sing from.


    Ah, I would do exactly the same thing, however Father would chide me for doing so: the congregation, according to him, should sing. I once programmed a Gloria that was new, and did it for the first time at Christmas Mass. It was glorious and was wonderful music! However, Father said it wasn't good to do that, because nobody had a chance to learn it, and therefore could not sing with it (even thought we were just doing it once as a special piece for Christmas). The point being that some pastors, who are in fact in charge, whether we like it or not (most of the time we do though :) ), will expect that every possible moment the congregation could sing, the opportunity to do so should not be hindered in any way, such as not expecting them to sing because they were not provided with copies of the song. My pastor would say that they should have been provided the copies to sing from, and would ask me not to do the Latin chant pieces unless I plan to distribute a worship aid that has the song on it. Of course, I would oblige.

    However, you do make a good point in an indirect way: it's ok for the congregation to not sing sometimes, especially during Church seasons that are more introspective such as Advent or Lent. The problem is that your boss might not agree with you depending on where you serve, and in that case, you must oblige.
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  • Some who differed with my above comment didn't read it carefully and failed to notice that I, unlike them, did not equate the Latin tongue with Gregorian chant. There are, of course, those who do this, and do it not without some scholarly justification. However, many of us have sung Gregorian ordinaries adapted to English by Anglicans (who else!) all our lives; and, our choirs and scholas have sung Gregorian propers adapted to English for quite a few generations. Gregorian chant does NOT relegate the congregation to second class citizenship. It can be, and very often is, sung quite well in English or Latin form by those of them who have been blessed with choirmasters who care enough about them to teach it to them. The notion that the congregation are not capable of singing Gregorian chant is a laughable falsehood.

    As for singing Latin ordinaries at English masses: I suppose that this does, after all, make as much sense as singing English ordinaries at Latin masses.
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  • SkirpRSkirpR
    Posts: 853
    As for singing Latin ordinaries at English masses: I suppose that this does, after all, make as much sense as singing English ordinaries at Latin masses.


    Was this supposed to be mildly sarcastic? If so, it's nearly deserving of purple. And if so, we'll have to agree to disagree, but you made me smile.

    However, you do make a good point in an indirect way: it's ok for the congregation to not sing sometimes, especially during Church seasons that are more introspective such as Advent or Lent.


    I would be careful of this. It's a great way to get chant in the door, but it runs the risk of people thinking, okay, "I guess I'll give up the songs we like for Lent, so I'll sacrifice and put up with this chant until Easter and then I won't have to deal with it until Advent."
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    Also, to say that Gregorian music ONLY exists in Latin is sort of like saying that if you play Bach on a piano, it isn't really Bach.

    When precisely did new composition stop being authentically Gregorian?
  • SkirpRSkirpR
    Posts: 853
    Also, to say that Gregorian music ONLY exists in Latin is sort of like saying that if you play Bach on a piano, it isn't really Bach.

    When precisely did new composition stop being authentically Gregorian?


    You're my forum bro, Adam, but I don't think this quite compares. Bach on the piano still retains all the same pitches and rhythms. If there's a pedal part you need to rework in order to play it on the piano, well then it's not Bach - it's Bach, arr.

    Unlike metered music, most of what I feel is the most successful vernacular adaptations of Gregorian chant have notes added, removed, altered. That - to me - makes it Gregorian chant, arr., not Gregorian chant period.

    As for new things like SEP, they're formulaic. At best, good centonization. Nothing wrong with that, but I think most musicologists would not call it Gregorian chant. Chant style, yes, but original Gregorian chant no. Or to put it this way, if I were to write a piece in 16th-century counterpoint style, it wouldn't really be a piece of 16th-century counterpoint, would it?
  • SkipR -
    No, I was not (well, not totally) being sarcastic. One situation is quite as logical as the other. If you smiled, though, I would assume that you apprehended the verity of my assertion and perceived the absurdity which it implied. (At any rate: thanks for your friendly retort.)

    As for the purple: I don't know how to do that.
  • Ignoto
    Posts: 126
    He also discusses Musicam Sacram’s statement (and John Paul II’s reference to it): that Gregorian Chant should have pride of place in the liturgy when it is celebrated in Latin.

    This topic is very interesting to me, as I have been pondering this very issue since I realized a couple of months ago that the "services sung in Latin" phrasing was present in JPII's Chirograph. In that thread the comment was made that the "in Latin" qualifier "found its way into the text of Pope John Paul II."

    I've been thinking about that qualifier a lot, and it seems to me that there must be more to this situation than the idea that this phrasing merely "found its way" into the Chirograph. After having read through the Chirograph several times, I am starting to think that Pope John Paul II's phrasing was consciously significant. I think he wrote it that way for a reason.

    Throughout the Chirograph, Pope John Paul II repeatedly states that the music must correspond to the liturgical action, but he also cautions against having extremes on either side. He says A) that "elitist forms of 'inculturation' which introduce into the Liturgy ancient or contemporary compositions of possible artistic value, but that indulge in a language that is incomprehensible to the majority, should be avoided" and also says B) that there is a "need to 'purify worship from ugliness of style, from distasteful forms of expression, from uninspired musical texts which are not worthy of the great act that is being celebrated'."

    In #7 of the Chirograph, he begins with a sentence that makes a significant statement, using the phrasing "special place": "Among the musical expressions that correspond best with the qualities demanded by the notion of sacred music, especially liturgical music, Gregorian chant has a special place." Then, he quotes from two documents to provide some background and history: A) the idea of giving Gregorian chant "pride of place in liturgical services sung in Latin," and B) the idea that the Church still "proposes [Gregorian chant] to the faithful" as her own, considering it "the supreme model of sacred music." Finally, he ends point #7 with this conclusion: "Thus, Gregorian chant continues also today to be an element of unity in the Roman Liturgy."

    Parsing the concepts in #7, Pope John Paul II seems to be saying that whereas Gregorian chant was stated in Musicam Sacram as having "pride of place in liturgical services sung in Latin," in vernacular Masses today, Gregorian chant continues to be an "element of unity" with a "special place."

    He emphasizes in #8 the "importance of preserving and increasing the centuries-old patrimony of the Church" (i.e. Gregorian chant) but specifies in #10 that "in addition to Gregorian chant and polyphony she admits into celebrations even the most modern music."

    I agree that individual sentences of a document should not be quoted out-of-context, but rather, considered in the context of the document as a whole. Since Pope John Paul II was so well-traveled, this document was written in the context of his years of experience with a variety of vernacular Masses. It is in that context that he states: "In this perspective, in the light of the Magisterium of St Pius X and my other Predecessors and taking into account in particular the pronouncements of the Second Vatican Council, I would like to re-propose several fundamental principles for this important sector of the life of the Church, with the intention of ensuring that liturgical music corresponds ever more closely to its specific function."

    I would like to see additional discussion about the idea that the Chirograph is one of the most important documents to consult today.
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  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    Or to put it this way, if I were to write a piece in 16th-century counterpoint style, it wouldn't really be a piece of 16th-century counterpoint, would it?


    But that is a style that includes the name of the time period it was written.

    When did new Gregorian chants stop being Gregorian?
  • When precisely did new composition stop being authentically Gregorian?


    That's like asking precisely when the Baroque period ended and the Classical began. There may not be a firm date, but it's clearly around a certain time.

    Gregorian Chant has always been understood as Latin plainsong from a specific period in time, usually composed anonymously. You can call vernacular plainsong Gregorian Chant all you like, but it doesn't make it so.
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  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,079
    I think this thread has pretty serious implications, does it not? What are we to make of this?
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    "When did new Gregorian chants stop being Gregorian?"

    When they weren't written by Gregory.

    Seriously though, I view the term "Gregorian chant" as labeling a repertoire, rather than identifying a style.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    When they weren't written by Gregory.

    This is kinda my point.

    Seriously though, I view the term "Gregorian chant" as labeling a repertoire, rather than identifying a style.


    The repertoire includes what? Precisely.
    And when the monks at Solesmes add to it, does it expand?
  • Just as there is a difference between what an average layperson might call "Gregorian chant" and what, I dunno, Mocquereau might have called "Gregorian chant le chant grégorien," I think we can recognize that there may be a difference between what a purist or an academic understands by the phrase and what was intended in the Chirograph or in SC 116.

    I take it that what is important about Gregorian chant in the liturgy is a combination of (1) the musical style, and (2) its historicity. This would mean that newly- or recently-composed Gregorianesque music would be fitting for the liturgy in terms of style, but would gain in value the more they are (or become) part of the authentic tradition of the rite.

    It is disturbing, as Kevin in Ky. hints, that a board full of people promoting Gregorian chant should not actually know what precisely is the signification of the term "Gregorian chant," nor even if there is broad academic consensus on the question. Then again, I do not believe that the references to Gregorian chant in the Church documents really intend to implicate a precise or academic sense of the phrase.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    It is disturbing, as Kevin in Ky. hints, that a board full of people promoting Gregorian chant should not actually know what precisely is the signification of the term "Gregorian chant," nor even if there is broad academic consensus on the question. T


    That seems overly alarmist (and perhaps fussbudgetly) for at least two reasons:

    1. The fact that there is discussion here about anything is hardly indicative of the state of things. I could have said above that I think "The Rocky Road to Dublin" is an authentic Gregorian Chant. It shouldn't be troubling that someone could be wrong (even if it's ME)- I mean, it's not like you have to take a test before posting here.

    2. Even if the argument/debate/disagreement over what does and does not to constitute "Gregorian chant" is academically authentic (that is, involving people who aren't arguing simply from ignorance, as in point [1] ), that should not be disconcerting in the least. Most All serious fields of academic inquiry contain varying degrees of conflict and disagreement, even often about very basic or fundamental things. This is particularly true with regards to something like, "what phenomenon are included in this group of things." (Remember Pluto?)
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,569
    They weren't written by Gregory. Let's abandon that myth.

    The term "Gregorian chant" is a genre, not a historical time period, as far as I'm concerned. I'd go to a jazz club that promoted hard-bop even though the musicians might be half the age of the genre and playing entirely original compositions, and have no qualms calling what I heard hard-bop. Similarly, I'd program one of Ostrowski's ordinaries and consider it "Gregorian" even if The Great has not given an earthly blessing to its composition.

    I pray for the intercession of Saint Wiki to put an end to this silliness.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregorian_chant
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,079
    Actually, what I am more interested in is the question of Gregorian chant at masses in the vernacular. The genre is what it is. More importantly is these readings of Musicam Sacram, the chirograph of JPII and its relation to Sancrosanctum Concilium and this so called qualifier. I personally am 20 years at my place until a NO mass in Latin will be celebrated. Does that constitute that I should not use the Graduale until then. Just where are we going?
    Thanked by 1Andrew Motyka
  • I think that regarding 'Gregorian chant' as a genre, rather than as chant arising from a specific era or exhibiting certain stylistic characteristics makes the most sense. Chant scholars do, incidentally (and, I'm sure that many here are aware of this) think of the earliest chant as Franco-Roman or Carolingian (very, very little of our chant repertory is accepted with certainty to be earlier than the VI. or V. centuries) and, sensibly, do not even pay lip service to the Gregorian myth. The term 'Gregorian', then, is really a catch-all for chant that evolved from that crucible. It seems, by convention, to include chant not only of the earliest era, but chant of the much later mediaeval era, and even newly composed chant.

    This makes sense. If I, or you, were to write a symphony which followed strictly the form and style of a Mozart symphony, and did so with such skill that some would even think it Mozart's work, we would have no qualms in calling it a 'classical' symphony. It most certainly would not be post-romantic or modern: it would be classical - or at least neo-classical, although one would never mistake Prokofiev's famed symphony with its nod to classicism as really 'classical': it is, though, classical in spirit, a classical-revival, neo-classical, and does not pretend to be strictly classical, although in an accepted wider sense even Bartok is 'classical'.

    Thus is it with chant. Using 'Gregorian chant' as a conventional signifer for liturgical chant of the Roman Catholic church which exhibits the stylistic and formal characteristics of early Franco-Roman chant makes sense. There may be some who would insist that Fr Columba's masterful chant compositions are not 'Gregorian'. They would, I believe, be mistaken. We have adopted and adapted Gregory's name for the entire Roman liturgical chant genre. In doing so, we give a nod to the touching Gregorian fable, while being aware that there is no such thing, strictly speaking, as Gregorian chant.
    Thanked by 3ryand CHGiffen dad29
  • smvanroodesmvanroode
    Posts: 721
    As far as I can see, Musicam sacram #50 refers to liturgical actions sung in Latin, not to Mass entirely celebrated in Latin:

    In actionibus liturgicis in cantu lingua latina celebrandis:
    a) Cantus gregorianus, uptote liturgiae romanae proprius, principem locum, ceteris paribus, obitineat. Eius melodiae in typicis editionibus extantes opportune adhibantur.

    The English translates "In sung liturgical services celebrated in Latin", but I understand the Latin to refer to liturgical actions, like the entrance, Gloria, offertory, Agnus Dei or communion. If at these actions the liturgical texts are sung in Latin, Gregorian chant has the first place. (The official Dutch translation gets this right.)

    So Gregorian chant could well be combined with other liturgical actions being celebrated in the vernacular.