Moving beyond the Simple English Propers
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  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,597
    This has been the weirdest thread in the history of this forum...

    Well.... Maybe the cope one... But other than that.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,005
    I think we are in two different camps on some issues. Some, like MACW, are in an EF community and see their practices as some kind of norm. It is a norm, for them, but not for the rest of us who neither aspire to, nor even want, EF masses. Granted, we all know what the other extreme offers, and I am pretty sure most of us want none of that. My own aspirations are to make the OF masses in which I work, the best English masses possible, using an Anglican model as my guide. That is not MACW's norm, not should it be, but is the norm in my parish. Considering alternatives, it is not a bad norm, but it isn't transitional. It is exactly where we want to be and intend to stay for the time being. If some future director wants to take this foundation and build on it, more power to him/her/it/them.
  • The level of defensiveness is astounding.
    Going back to MJM's original post, agreed, again, in toto. It was a point that needed to be made. Thanks, Matthew, for doing that.
  • Charles W, please don't speak for me. I've worked in an EF environment fairly recently- not even 5 years yet. I remain quite connected to the goings on in my diocese, teach diocesan chant classes, and have no intention of stopping that. I've also been a DM at two fairly average parishes before that.

    I'm not in an Anglican camp, or and EF camp. I'm just Catholic. Beware of putting people in camps in order to explain away their position.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,005
    Not trying to put you in a camp, although the thought is tempting...LOL. (Purple Bold)

    We are in different situations and have different goals - largely, I think, based on where we are and the people we are working with. That's why I find it strange when anyone presumes to hold up something as a standard for the rest of us. Perhaps that is not what you intended, but things are different in your place and mine, that's for sure! The standard in one place may not work in practice in another location.

    As Chonak, I believe, noted, the GR is not a standard but the default music for the Roman Rite - more so for the Traditional Roman Rite than the current Roman Rite, or so I have found.
  • Agreed that what works in one place might not work in another, as I've repeatedly acknowledged.

    Disagree that there is no standard, default, received set of prayers.

    It's not about me or Mahrt or CMAA or you or your pastor or me or my pastor. The paradigm, the standard, the ideal, the default model, etc., whatever term you choose, is there for everyone to know and love amd take as their patrimony as Catholics. Its in the current GIRM, and it's just part of the Church's treasury of sacred music.

    If the chants in the GR were not the ideal, why do transitional editions like the SEP take them as such, and model their compositions in the likeness of the authentic chants?
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    This has been the weirdest thread in the history of this forum...

    Not by a long shot, Mat-ieux! ;-)
    Let's all take a breath, lay down our muskets, remain in a circle and sit down for a kumbaya moment.

    Good. This thread is a about the very lifeblood of CMAA, hence the blood pressure was bound to rise with MJM's conjecture and pondering. Kathy P was quite right in calling this an extremely important discussion.

    Where I believe we derail the consistent and cogent dialectic of the argument(s) is when we seem not to really read, re-read, comprehend and acquire a true appreciation of the content of each post presented. I think we skim through each other's thoughts, not for a specific reason, but out of convention and convenience. I get MACW's POV in toto. I get MJM's fairly benign question and also have the surety of knowing he and Adam B are tight as thieves! (Congrats to Matthew, btw, on working with Bp. Olmstead and crew!)

    I also agree with my namesake brother CW that CatholicLand isn't flat, is literally larger than the known universe and what we think now we know, may become detritus through anything from a black hole, a stellar implosion/explosion, or a slow burn to a dwarf star to a cold artifact.

    I am reminded of a line from Kushner's play ANGELS IN AMERICA wherein the angel declares that the engine of the universe is ecstatics. In Christian terms, that would be "love." Put the two in union you get Therese of Avila and Bernini. I've been reminded time and time again by many here and many who've left from public presence here that charity is to be found often in uncomfortable fraternal correction. Yes, true that. But such charity can be leveled without any discernable evidence of love towards the object of correction. That is not, I believe, what Christ ultimately desires from our labors and disputes and reconciliations. Not tolerance, but love.

    "Cantare amantis est" adorns the Cafe mission hub. Let's remember that here as well.
  • Deleted
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,005
    As Melo writes, CatholicLand is most definitely not flat. And while the GR may be an ideal, in current legislation it is one of several ideals, including another suitable song - love it or hate it, that phrase has changed everything in practice.

    Yep, we are where we are, doing the best we can with what we have - unless someone has a better idea.
  • Ignoto
    Posts: 126
    If the chants in the GR were not the ideal, why do transitional editions like the SEP take them as such, and model their compositions in the likeness of the authentic chants?


    Perhaps the answer can be found in the words of JPII:

    With regard to compositions of liturgical music, I make my own the "general rule" that St Pius X formulated in these words: "The more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savour the Gregorian melodic form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple"[33]. It is not, of course, a question of imitating Gregorian chant but rather of ensuring that new compositions are imbued with the same spirit that inspired and little by little came to shape it.



    For new compositions, the ideal is the spirit  of Gregorian chant, which, as David astutely said, is "beautifully rendered and yet designed to honor the rhythm, flow, syllabic stresses, cadencial patterns, etc. of English similar to the way in which Gregorian chant functions for the Latin language."

    And as Melo posted from JT's interview, it's "really urgent that we stop thinking about the problems of the music in the Mass as a war between styles....What we need to be talking about is the texts and that’s where it has to begin."

    If the Proper text is there (which also includes the licit RM text) and the style is "imbued with the same spirit that inspired [Gregorian chant]," then that music will have made a "great contribution," as David said, "to advancing the cause for reverent music at Mass in keeping with our unique identity," and it truly is a "huge improvement," as JT said in his interview.



  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    My own aspirations are to make the OF masses in which I work, the best English masses possible, using an Anglican model as my guide.


    I think Charles W's comment might be a potential point of convergence. For instance, at our EF Mass, the priest in charge gave us an Anglican hymnal in which we've found so many beautiful processional and recessional hymns.

    Added to that he gave us a video of the Anglican use parish, Our Lady of the Atonement, in San Antonio, Texas, as an encouragement to us to help bring the congregation to a fuller participation in the singing at Mass.

    In our EF Sung Mass, our congregation sings two vernacular hymns, the ordinary of the Mass, and are encouraged to sing the Introit and Communion antiphons so I think Charles would find more sympathy to his own particular model of the OF liturgy among EF Catholics than he might realize.

    As the eminent English priest, Fr. John Parsons, pointed out, if carried out correctly according to the wishes of the Church, the EF can offer every bit as much congregational participation as the OF, so the question must be asked: if both "camps" represented here are trying to encourage fuller congregational participation and traditional sacred music, what disagreement do we really have?
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,005
    JulieColl, I never understood why, when vernacular masses were allowed in the 60s, we didn't use an Anglican model instead of starting from scratch. The Anglicans had already done the work, and beautifully at that.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,304
    when vernacular masses were allowed in the 60s, we didn't use an Anglican model instead of starting from scratch


    Anglicanism has not always and everywhere been beautiful and High Church. It was barely recognizable as liturgical in most places before the Oxford movement and remained so in many until the POST-V2 liturgical movement inspired a wave of liberalish catholicizing in mainline Protestant congregations.

    Even many Anglican/Episcopalian churches that seem to have a veneer of traditionalist Catholic practice have a host of embedded weirdnesses that make no sense without reference to a Puritan past or a knowledge of how badly understood Roman practices were.

    This was especially true in the U.S., which seems to have wagged the dog on the Englishing of the Roman Rite.

    And there's the history of extreme enmity between the Church of England (and the English government) and the Catholic Church (and governments of Catholic countries such as France, Spain, and Ireland) that now seems like a distant memory but would have been less than a generation removed from the elder fathers of the Council (not to mention the fact that those are people who generally have a better sense of cultural history).

    Yes, there was the English Missal- but that was never official anywhere. Yes, there were a lot of Romanizing Anglicans- but they were Romanizing, not bringing their own special English twist on Catholicism. AND - the elements from Roman practice that had been adopted by Anglican clergy were precisely the things that the progressive reformers after the Council were trying to get rid of: elitism, complexity, ritualism, ceremony, birettas, ornate vestments, extra candles, High Mass...

    It all seems simple in retrospect: after the Protestant "Christian Right" in the US and England has aligned itself with the Catholic Church in the last quarter-century over sexual morals and ethics and the Liberal "Mainline" has aligned itself with the progressive Catholic left wing on issues of inclusiveness and the use of giant puppets.

    But recent history obscures the history and the reason that English speaking Catholics did not look to Anglicanism as a model: it simply wasn't seen as one.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,005
    Perhaps not the model I may have wished for. You would have to admit The Hymnal 1940 beats the daylights out of Gather Comprehensive, any day. Do you think Joncas, Haas, and other "Catholic" composers can approach the quality output of the great English anthem writers? I never said the Anglican model was perfect, but it did have some advantages.
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    Thanks for the inside peek into the Anglican experience, Adam. I'm not too familiar with anything but the music. We have an Episcopal (High Anglican) parish in our village and the Sunday morning liturgy and evening Vespers are lovely. We've often wished they were an Anglican-use parish so we wouldn't have to trek into Queens for the Latin Mass every Sunday, but perhaps it's just as well after reading your post. : )

    The difficulty here in the Northeast is that when the Latin Mass was made available after Summorum Pontificum, the only memory most folks had of the pre-conciliar liturgy was of a 20-minute silent Low Mass. No one I've ever spoken to here about the Latin Mass before the Council remembers a High Mass.

    It's that poverty of musical expression that inspired our pastor at our Latin Mass, for instance, to reach for another model, one that would appeal to people coming from the OF and which is within most people's musical capabilities.

    It's an excellent starting point, at any rate.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,304
    Anglicanism serves as a great model now. 50 years ago, especially in the US- not so much.
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    Actually, I can easily imagine the Anglican-use model going mainstream in another decade or so and serving as a common focal point for the EF and OF---and, while each form would retain its own language and ceremonies, having a parallel musical structure could be a useful bridge between the two.

    I'm not advocating a hybrid of the two forms by any means, but there's nothing wrong with pursuing a path towards mutual enrichment and understanding.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • I'd love to see more Anglican and English Catholic hymns in more mainstream parishes. They're generally quite beautiful. I would resist all English all or mostly English ordinaries and propers (which I'm well aware is what is happening now) because that would mean losing great treasures and it would liturgically cut off English speakers from the rest of the Church in terms of our public worship. Given political realities, if we isolate ourselves in language, we also risk schism, such as the emergence of a national church.

    The Latin OF (or EF) with vernacular hymns has the potential to appeal to the local community as well as keep the local connected to the universal.

    Time will tel whether the Latin OF is given enough of a chance. That's out of my hands.

    The only thing I can do is sing and train others. I'm really grateful to be able to pray it and teach lots of people various ages Gregorian chant. Who knows how long I'll be able to do that, but I'm grateful for what I can do now. I've found that lots of people can sing chant and come to be attached to it. That's if- a huge if, I know!- they're allowed to be taught the chants that as theirs as Catholics. So much hinges on pastors and seminaries. Such are the times in which we are living.
    Thanked by 1JulieColl
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,075
    Part of the problem in the US is the general attitude of obstructionism regarding anything not American English. As one who is married to a French woman and a house that regularly speaks and reads English ,French and Latin, I am sad to say that we have encountered people who are vocal in their disgust about anything not in English. Catholic education could assist and should assist, but at least in my part of the world, "if it ain't English, its darrrrn bad". This spring I will offer a class on "Church Latin for Dummies." We'll see where it goes. My attitude is : you want Latin, start teaching it
    If you want to reach the ideal, you are going to have to teach. Singing and playing is the least of the problems.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,230
    I'd love to see more Anglican and English Catholic hymns in more mainstream parishes. They're generally quite beautiful. I would resist all English all or mostly English ordinaries and propers (which I'm well aware is what is happening now) because that would mean losing great treasures and it would liturgically cut off English speakers from the rest of the Church in terms of our public worship. Given political realities, if we isolate ourselves in language, we also risk schism, such as the emergence of a national church.


    BINGO.

    Wisdom from on high.

    Unfortunately the National Church has already been established for a century.

    http://www.amazon.com/American-Church-Remarkable-Uncertain-Catholicism/dp/1586177575
    Thanked by 1JulieColl
  • mahrt
    Posts: 508
    I am thoroughly edified by the discussion here; I don't sense contention and hostility, but rather earnest commitment to the advancing of the beauty of the liturgy. The means of achieving this of necessity vary substantially from place to place.

    I have always thought that the criterion of Pius X, reiterated by John Paul II, that Gregorian chant is the paradigm for all sacred music; whatever kind of music approaches the sacredness and beauty of the chant is to be desired. I would even say it is the ideal to be aimed for, to be kept in mind, to be experienced on occasions, to be studied, to be cultivated, and hopefully sometime to be attained. SEP, perhaps even Rossini, but more so Lumen Christi, Weber, and several other worthy achievements all participate in this criterion. I would still say keep in mind the ideal; this means hearing it, singing it, experiencing it; otherwise it will be an ineffective ideal.

    I have been privileged to conduct a choir singing full Gregorian propers for an OF Mass; I do not find that the new English propers quite match up to this; they are, rather, relative goods. My own suggestion is to include some Latin Gregorian chant in every liturgy, perhaps one of the simpler Ordinary chants, or a communion chant, in a liturgy that includes other kinds of propers. Over the years, it may be possible gradually to incorporate more of these chants.

    I would argue against the sole criterion of the text: the propers are a synthesis of word and melody suited to a liturgical function. The value of the English settings is that they participate in Pius X's criterion--they approach the ideal of a synthesis of word and melody suited to the liturgical action; they are not just any old setting of a normative text.

    If the propers are ever to replace the four-hymn sandwich, it will be in the context of a Mass in which the people regularly sing the ordinary, whether in English or Latin. This is their most appropriate function, since these pieces are the liturgical action at the moment; the propers accompany other actions, either as processional chants or as meditation chants complementing the lessons, and are more appropriately sung by the choir, in my opinion.

  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    There you have it, straight down from the mountain and the burning bush.
    Now, don't chortle silently to yourself while thinking "I knew I was right after all! ;-)
  • Much to my surprise, many of the SEP chants, which were reproduced in the liturgy book for the ACSA2013 conference, were sung by the congregation. Many of them were from very traditional communities and had a basic ability to read chant notation. Those who could not sing the chants joined in the hymns.
  • I guess the conversation here is a bit silly, important, but silly.
    I am happy and the Church is happy if anyone uses the SEP instead of no propers, yes.

    My feeling is however, that there could in fact be a single person or two or three who sings most of this elaborate music.

    The true problem is that no one will give the power to sing what ought to be sung to the people who have the talent, and or will not pay them.

    Think of all the talented artists in the world, think of how few of them are actually employed in Roman Catholic Churches today? Especially in english speaking (Irish clergy dominated) North America.

    Is this not a scandal? Are they employed and respected more in anglican, episcopal and eastern orthodox/eastern catholic churches?? YES THEY ARE.

    I think this is not so much a matter of elitism as a problem of the recognition of roles not being granted. When in the history of the church before the reformation was church music handled as it is now? Their is a role for lifelong church muscians who sing sophisticated elaborate adult music - not kindergarten music.
    In any other profession this would not occur.

    We don't go up to the average nurse in the hospital and expect them to be the surgeon and tell them we're simplifying the role of operating so they can remove the kindey without killing the patient since they have no training in it. (let's not bring up nurse practicioners ;-) No one would expect this, no stands for this. Why is that?

    The Simple English Propers continue the kindergarten mentality. Which is fine for those who don't have the role of church music as their vocation and profession in the truest historic sense. They dont go to the root of the problem. The root of the problem is a refusal to truly take sacred music properly in the Roman Catholic Church.

    That's it, it is not done. Not much left to say.Until church music is handled as it was before the reformation, not much progress will ever be made.

    When I worship at an average diocesan latin rite parish, realistically I expect no propers.

    When I worship in an SSPX chapel at a high mass, ideally I expect latin propers.
    When I worship at a Personal Ordinariate church, ideally I expect english propers.


    In neither case do I expect the quality or melodies to be different, should they be using the same lectionary (sadly those don't always coincide).


    The Latin rite is permanently divided into different cultural expressions, in my opinion.
    I feel quite certain Latin rite in China is never going to embrace latin to the extent of the USA no matter how much Mary Ann Carr or myself would expect them too. It would be silly to expect such. For European dominant/colonial societies perhaps it is an expectation that is feasiable.

    As we speak now, about a half million Guatemalan mayas are having the byzantine rite liturgies translated into mayan. I wonder will they ever embrace latin chant?

    I think that the less one is able to understand the words, the less language matters.
    The more that it is syllabic and not melismatic, the more there will be room for other liturgical languages besides latin (notice that I did'nt say room for "vernacular vulgar tongues").

    To the extent that the USA is a very multicultural society, and or that latin is a more musical language, the majority of music exists in it and that it can be seen as unifying beyond a single culture, it makes sense to place emphasis on latin.

    English is now a language spoken by 2 BILLION PEOPLE !

    Therefore it is not unrealistic to expect similar things from english. Could 16th c. english (or perhaps 7th c.?) being in the process of becoming a bonafide "unchanging" liturgical language as well ? It certainly is for the Anglican use ordinariates.

    I dont know how much language matters.
    It matters as much as people want it to matter.

  • Jani
    Posts: 386
    Chris McAvoy, I think, as you said, better SEP than no propers. Thing is....many of us are just now in the kindergarten phase and speaking for myself, I will move on as soon as I am able. I'm a volunteer, have NO credentials, but I DO have a burning desire to do right by both my Church and our Lord, and both myself and the parish will move on as we are able. Patience, people!
    Thanked by 1canadash
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    As we speak now, about a half million Guatemalan mayas are having the byzantine rite liturgies translated into mayan. I wonder will they ever embrace latin chant?


    Chris, I read your post with great interest, and this passage struck me. From what I understand, the use of Latin spread to South America several centuries ago with the missionaries in the Age of Exploration in the 1600's and 1700's.

    I remember reading in Pope Benedict XIV's (1749) encyclical on liturgical reform, Annus qui, that not only was Gregorian chant in use in Paraguay, but also the use of accompanied chant:

    "The use of harmonic or figurative chant and of musical instruments at Masses, at Vespers and other Church functions is now so largely spread that it has also reached Paraguay."
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    I think there is an analogy here. Ten years ago, if you had asked Catholic musicians if they used the Propers, the response would have been an almost-universal "huh?". All the arguments advanced now against the Propers of the Graduale Romanum could have been applied, with equal or greater force, back then.

    And while they are certainly nowhere near universal, they are certainly on the radar of many more people now - witness this forum. I think that if we continue to work and show their beauty, more and more people will come to appreciate them. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but we have done our best, praise God.
  • Prof. Mahrt, thanks for weighing in on this subject. I truly appreciate how you are able to get to the heart of why there is an ideal, and discuss the roles of the chants. I also take your point about learning and singing the authentic propers even if you can't sing them, just to familiarize oneself and move toward the ideal. I'm very glad I took to heart your counsel and began exploring the propers. When a job came around that (most gratefully) allowed me to sing and teach the propers, I was ready.

    Greg, really important point. I had not heard of the propers 10&1/2 years ago. Then I went to a Colloquium, and my experience was profound. As recently as 7-8 years ago I remember hearing Prof. Mahrt discuss why the Gradual and Alleluia were so important. At first I was almost offended, thinking, "Hey, I sing responsorial psalms and some of them can be beautiful." Then I started actually studying and singing and hearing Graduals and Alleluias and wouldn't have those chants relegated to history for anything. They are the crown jewels of our treasury of our inherited sacred music.

    I think that if we continue to work and show their beauty, [propers' beauty] more and more people will come to appreciate them. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but we have done our best, praise God.



    My thoughts exactly. Do what we can and keep our eyes on heaven.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    I think Pr. Mahrt's most salient point (which I noted as well as regards Tucker's presumptive point about the texts being a sole criteria, ala a Metallica Introit) is that the setting of the text must emphatically echo the catholic/orthodox ethos. That will remain a problem for many to absorb and accept, and one which many of us have conveniently forgotten that Vatican II pioneers such as Lucien Deiss did actually pay attention to forty five years ago. Others have randomly contributed to the body of proper paraphrase literature as well in the interim.
    But it is edifying that Mahrt realizes that small steps in this last decade, as well as huge ones at FSSP and other joints, have been made.
    Just chant it.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • I want to push back on the idea that the chant melody is just as proper as the text. Some posts above even referred to the SEP as falling in category 3 (another collection of psalms and antiphons) or 4 (alius cantus). Not so! The GIRM says that the first option is:

    the antiphon from the Missal or the antiphon with its Psalm from the Graduale Romanum, as set to music there or in another setting; (my emphasis)

    The SEP are clearly another musical setting of the Graduale chants, thus option #1. Obviously, the Graduale chants are privileged - they are the authentic chant repertoire. However, there is no reason to list the SEP or any other musical settings of the proper antiphons as "alius cantus" or some other less-favored option.

    Option one of the GIRM includes the SEP, as well as polyphonic settings of the proper antiphon from any era and IN ANY LANGUAGE. Unless we are arguing that translating from Latin makes an antiphon no longer proper?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,016
    Fair point. Category 1 includes Rossini and polyphony--a very big tent, musically. And the Missal chant is mentioned before the Gradual, which is interesting.
  • One of the posts kirchenmusik mentions was mine. I was referring to the Latin and Canadian versions of the GIRM, which don't offer this choice. The Latin says "extans in" and the Canadian says "from" the graduals, in both versions without suggesting other settings. Also, there are no translations, hence no vernacular, except when the Gradual proper is also the Missal proper.

    I really like, and use, many of the currently available English propers, chant like and otherwise. I just don't want to argue the GIRM alone to prove they "should" be used instead of hymns. However, down there in the US you can, if you want.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,005
    I just don't want to argue the GIRM alone to prove they "should" be used instead of hymns. However, down there in the US you can, if you want.


    I don't make that argument anymore, since it is a no-win. Hymns are now entrenched and are not going to disappear. I have cut the number of hymns to three, often two, and work around them with Propers.
  • Could it be a case of
    Tricksy Translators?

    Could the GIRM in Bolivia mean something quite different from the GIRM in Thailand, or the GIRM in Switzerland?

    Does that mean that option 1 for Windsor, Canada, means chants from the Gradual but that Joe B in Detroit, USA, can put his (rather deliciously funny) jazz styled chants on par with the Gradual?

    Hmmmmm. I might switch to jazz after all in that case.

    [this entire post has been in purple bold]
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,005
    Probably GIRM differences promulgated by the individual conferences of bishops, which have that authority. I know that, for example, even the Ordo we use is only approved for 10 or so southern dioceses. Ordos in other regions of the U.S. could be different - I don't know that they are, but they could be.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,597
    If you have the choice of heading to a random church in Windsor, Ontario and a random church in Detroit, Michigan (which are right next to each other), go with the Detroit one. Your odds of finding decent music is much better in Detroit. Unless it's 2pm in the afternoon on a Sunday.
  • donr
    Posts: 940
    @MaryAnn Carr Wilson Just an FYI to make things purple just go to the add
    <font color="purple"> Purple </font>
    tags around the words you want to be purple
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,597
    I think it's a far better joke when the person doesn't know how to do the purple. I refuse to learn for this very reason.
    Thanked by 2Andrew Motyka ryand
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    You refuse to learn because you're obstinate.
    I'm at least like John Adams.
    Obnoxious and disliked.
    'Cept by my Abigail/Wendy.

    Dagnabit, I had to edit this after reading; I really don't know if she likes me.
  • donr
    Posts: 940
    There are just too many times when people think others are being serious when they are really not. A little purple goes a long way.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Ignoto
    Posts: 126
    Some posts above even referred to the SEP as falling in category 3 (another collection of psalms and antiphons) or 4 (alius cantus). Not so! The GIRM says that the first option is:
    the antiphon from the Missal or the antiphon with its Psalm from the Graduale Romanum, as set to music there or in another setting; (my emphasis)


    Graduale Romanum = Latin

    setting = take a given text and put that given text to music

    Unless we are arguing that translating from Latin makes an antiphon no longer proper?


    No argument about the "properness" of a proper.

    But might we agree that if one translates a text from the Graduale Romanum into another language, then the newly-translated text is no longer considered to be Latin?

    If the Church hierarchy wanted to offer the option for non-Missal translations to be categorized as Option 1, then that passage from the GIRM would have likely read something like this: "the antiphon from the Missal or the antiphon with its Psalm from the Graduale Romanum or the Gregorian Missal or another translation approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, as set to music in those books or in another setting."

    (I'm half-joking, half-serious)


  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,304
    The rule was clearly written by someone(s) who didn't know what they were talking about. So trying to parse out the legalistic meaning in order to arrive at the spirit of the thing is a fool's errand.

    The legal reality is you can sing just about any damn thing you want. The spirit of the rule is that Propers have precedence, and that you should do the best you can.
  • Ignoto
    Posts: 126
    The spirit of the rule is that Propers have precedence, and that you should do the best you can.


    Absolutely! I completely agree with you there, Adam.

    Since Kirchenmusik brought up the Option 1 / Option 3 question, it is important to acknowledge that the authority to translate a liturgical text under Option 1 is not given to just anyone. In the United States, that mandate was given to the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship.

    (Even the Solesmes monks state that the "only function" of the translations in the Gregorian Missal is to "faciltate comprehension" and that those translations are "in no way intended for use in the liturgy." Indeed, where applicable, the Gregorian Missal has been updated in its 2nd edition to include the officially-approved translations given in the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal.)

    If I am understanding Kirchenmusik's statement correctly, the assertion is that Option 1 includes a translation of these liturgical texts into any language, regardless of whether or not those translations have been officially approved.

    Please let me know if I am misunderstanding Kirchenmusik's statement. Otherwise, I would appreciate having some documentation to back up this assertion, because I would like to have a better understanding of this situation.

    My understanding has always been that if the text is not one of two choices, English RM or Latin GR, then when one attempts to "categorize" the musical setting of the Proper, the setting would be categorized under one of the other options.



  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    I wish my friend, a priest who was a Benedictine monk and chantmaster for many years, could weigh in on this discussion. He told me once that he was commissioned by his order to translate the propers of the Graduale Romanum into English, using the same melodies. He labored on the project for a number of years before concluding that it could not be done.

    He left the order and became a diocesan priest and has not sung the propers for many years. Knowing his background, I asked him during Lent last year if he could sing the Resurrexi since I was having trouble with the tristrophas, and I will never forget the way he took the music in his hands and the reverence and love with which he looked at it.

    Despite being a stoic German by nature, he did get emotional for a little bit but then he started tentatively to sing with a few stops and starts, and, after a few moments, was chanting like a pro. It was the most amazing experience, like watching a great old ship's engine rumbling to life after years of disuse. (One interesting thing: he would not sing the Alleluia since it was still Lent, but only used the vowel sound "A")

    What most impressed me was the obvious devotion he had for the propers. After two years of singing them at our EF Missa Cantata, I'm becoming "addicted" to them as well. The melodies seep into your soul; the Latin words and phrases and the idioms start influencing your language and the themes fill your soul with wonder. The EF propers have become my spiritual life, and I couldn't imagine life without them.

    Now that I have a Liber Usualis, I'm starting to realize how it has shaped the theology, spirituality and language of the Catholic Church over the centuries. So many connections are being made when I read the chants.

    One last thing: I love the poetry of Karol Wojtyla and now I'm able to recognize that his lexicon as a poet is taken from the Liber, and no doubt his other writings as well.

    What I'm trying to say is the Liber Usualis is a profound musical, literary, spiritual and theological treasure for the Church, and even if one cannot use it all in its original form, at least parts of it should be incorporated into one's spiritual and liturgical life.
  • To second Adam, I am not trying to make a legal point - obviously, we can sing about anything in reality. HOWEVER

    I think that the text is the central thing - the primary purpose of sacred music being the artful proclamation/praying of integral liturgical texts. I think it is a dodge to bring up official translations - if indeed we ever get an official English Gradual, then fine. But until then, if the antiphon is translated into English it is still the same antiphon (text).

    So to clarify, on a legal level maybe you could (or would feel the need to) argue that SEP falls under one of the other categories, simply to show that it is licit without question. But on the level of common sense, an English translation of the Gradual antiphon gets the option 1 official text sung in its proper liturgical place.

    We can even get a step closer by using the Missal antiphons where they are the same as the Gradual. And this is the chief failing of the SEP - now that we do have some official English translations, it would be better to use them.

    Why is it important? I think we are in danger of shooting ourselves in the foot when we view every single thing besides a Graduale proper as a mere place holder without much value. I am arguing for the inherent value of singing an English version of the Graduale antiphon - monophonic or polyphonic. Because that is still singing the liturgy, in a way that some other psalm/antiphon or hymn is not. And the fundamental formational task for this generation is to allow it to seep into Catholic consciousness that there are proper texts we should be singing.

    A little more nuance helps on the practical parish level, rather than a black-and-white "Graduale vs. Everything Else". For example, Ordinary Time 32 B+C communio = Psalm 23. If I schedule "The King of Love My Shepherd is" or "My shepherd will supply my need" I have accomplished something closer to the ideal than I would by throwing in a generic "alius cantus" communion hymn. Especially if (as we do at my cathedral) the SEP is sung beforehand with verses. It hopefully makes a connection in the mind - "oh, the antiphon and hymn are the same psalm". There are more levels of nuance in music selection than a two- or four- option GIRM instruction can make explicit.
  • Ignoto
    Posts: 126
    For example, Ordinary Time 32 B+C communio = Psalm 23. If I schedule "The King of Love My Shepherd is" or "My shepherd will supply my need" I have accomplished something closer to the ideal than I would by throwing in a generic "alius cantus" communion hymn.


    I completely agree with you there, Kirchenmusik! Thank you for all of your clarification.
    Thanked by 1Andrew Malton
  • I've come to this discussion late, but I have to say that Professor Mahrt's contribution is the one that resonates with me as most true, comprehensive, balanced, and Catholic. He did not dismiss Propers in English as an unworthy or untenable enterprise, but he did rightly note that our own tradition has bequeathed us a body of sacred chant especially suited for the liturgy, and that this has to remain a real and true body of music for our worship today (as many magisterial documents say, most recently Sacramentum Caritatis), not merely a model or inspiration, much less a museum piece.

    It seems to me extremely dangerous to say that singing the text of the Propers is so important that it trumps or relativizes the question of style or musical clothing. The relationship of text and music is like that of soul and body, or the divine and human natures in the Incarnate Word. This is not to say there can be no development, adaptation, variety, or inculturation, but one cannot stray so far from the original chant of the rite that one is virtually dwelling in a different world. As John Paul II taught, the fundamental unity and identity of the Roman Rite should shine through any particular celebration of it, and this is accomplished not only through text but through music, as Sacrosanctum Concilium reminds us.

    That is why, too, I applaud Prof. Mahrt's advice to seek always to include some authentic chant in any sung liturgy, with the goal of eventually making it a regular and welcome part of the Mass or the Divine Office.
  • FWIW I have a chant schola and we sing Graduale chants every Sunday. However, that is only at one Mass and there are five a weekend here. There is no way that my large, mixed adult choir will be singing Graduale propers in the near future - or maybe ever, with the exception perhaps of some of the shorter communios. Chant is better suited to a schola that can focus on it and become adept at reading and interpretation. Could the larger choir learn all of that? Of course. Would it alienate many (most) of them to spend large periods of choir time learning a new notation and repertoire? Yes, in this case. The Graduale is not a battle I am willing to fight, when I already have a 40 voice choir with a large repertoire of excellent sacred music. In the same way, I do not push a lot of Renaissance polyphony on this choir as it takes forever to learn and is harder for them to approach in terms of vocal tone. Of course, we have Sicut Cervus and a couple others, but largely stick to Classical and later repertoire. I also have an excellent schola cantorum that sings exclusively Renaissance polyphony. I experience the most musical success and highest choir morale when I match different genres with different ensembles.

    What's the point of all this? My large adult choir picks up the SEP easily, and enjoys singing those chants. And to the extent possible, we then match the text with pieces from our repertoire. I don't see this particular choir (our primary ensemble) moving towards the Graduale, which I feel would be a radical shift in their choral experience and would create major rifts. In moving this particular choir beyond the SEP, I don't see the Graduale on the horizon. My actual ideal would be modern proper compositions imbued with the chant tradition, and suited for a large adult choir. Until then, I see great value in a steady diet of excellent sacred music - matched, as much as possible, to the texts of the Graduale antiphons.

    I don't see the Graduale as the only legitimate endpoint - I'll put it that way. And again, we have those chants every week here.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,016
    This is a fair point. Choral polyphony is another legitimate "endpoint" to the provisionary use of various simplified propers.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen francis