Moving beyond the Simple English Propers
  • The whole point of having the various "options" for liturgical music is to allow us to sing according the skill and ability of the available people.

    The problem is that people only aim for the very minimum standard in church music. about 12 months ago I went to a wedding where the responsorial psalm, alleluia, and ordinary were all said, but then a soloist with an organist sang at the entrance, offertory, communion, signing of the register and the recessional.

    Most people really have no clue when it comes to church music, which is why I am thankful for things such as this forum, the CMAA, the SEP, Chabanel Psalms, and so many other resources which are now available. This sort of grass-roots revival of church music would not be possible without the internet, giving us the ability to create and publish music directly from composer to musician.
    Thanked by 1Chris_McAvoy
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    The problem is that people only aim for the very minimum standard in church music.

    Martin, you would benefit by divesting yourself of that prejudice and by extention devoting yourself to persuading colleagues to, as Jesus said. live life to the full.
    Regarding their having a clue, that's up to you. (Yes, I'm a poet, did know it).
    How far can you spread your sphere of influence?
  • One thing that has surprised me greatly about this thread is that there seems to be a genuine willingness, on the part of some, to uphold a hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity with regard to the Roman Rite, which has always been a chanted rite with Gregorian melodies and psalm tones, in spite of whatever regional aberrations might have crept in, particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries (the situation to which Pius X was addressing himself, and then, of course, Vatican II). If we want the hermeneutic of reform in continuity with the one Church, that means taking very seriously the structure, texts, and music of the rite as it has come down to us at the eve of the Second Vatican Council and in its non-abusive manifestations after the Council. Not just as an ideal, or as a point of departure, but as a living center, a realistic paradigm, a gift and a task.

    Hence, fully admitting that it's wonderful and useful to have such a variety of good and great sacred music at our disposal, in many languages and with many acceptable texts (not to mention the vast world of instrumental music), would it not be strange if the unity and universality of the Roman Rite did not, each and every time, clearly emerge out of the very ceremonies and chants of the liturgy, and if the rich resources of music did not serve to augment and ornament that rite? This does not necessarily mean a predominant, much less exclusive, use of the Graduale Romanum, but it does suggest that not singing the Propers and the Ordinary regularly to chant melodies, and at least sometimes in Latin (say, at the highest feasts of the year), would definitely be a sign of a hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity. Can that really be denied?

    Yes, there's plenty of work to be done on the ground level, in ongoing catechesis, musical training, and the winning of good will; and, as people are often quick to say, we mustn't let the best be the enemy of the good. However, there is a forgotten truth in the contrary: let not the good become the enemy of the best, as I explored in this piece at NLM back in September:
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,465
    Rather, they are striving to implement the teaching of Holy Mother Church by correcting the bad, enriching the good, and crowning it all with the best.

    Thank you, Professor, for this stirring injunction from your article and also for putting that tiresome phrase to rest: The perfect is the enemy of the good.

    I've been hit over the head with that more times than I count, when most of the time I'm not seeking perfection at all but something just a little bit better than the status quo, whether it be sacred music, the education of my children, the Mass we attend, the books we read, the movies we watch, the clothes we wear, or even the food we eat.

    That has been my quest (and the quest of every Catholic) for the last 25 years as a parent: trying to pick out the good, the true, the beautiful and the holy amid the evil, the banal, the false and the ugly.
    Thanked by 1francis
  • It isn't a prejudice. It's my general observation having spent over 10 years doing music on suburban parishes. As I mentioned in the very same paragraph, it is often at the stage where the ordinary is said and the four songs are sung/played often having little to no relevance to the liturgy.

    Perhaps I came across as unsupportive of the SEP. This couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, it was myself who pushed for the SEP to became the default music for the annual ACSA conferences.

    My comments about the minimum standard were reflective of the situation im parishes whoch serve up 4 hymn sandwiches. In the parish where I have just taken up post as assistant organist, the Sunday evening choir has sung the exact same 4 hymns throughout the year only punctuated with Christmas Carols at the end of the year.
    Thanked by 1Chris_McAvoy
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Martin, everything stated within this forum has a foundation in prejudice. Jesus just asks us to bypass them whenever possible.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,136
    hartleymartin writes:
    In the parish where I have just taken up post as assistant organist, the Sunday evening choir has sung the exact same 4 hymns throughout the year only punctuated with Christmas Carols at the end of the year.
    Boy, I was surprised to hear the same hymns 3 or 4 weeks in a row at one parish!
  • Wow.....the ame 4 hymns EVERY week? I guess that gets the people singing, but it certainly doesn't reinforce the readings for each respective Sunday. My priest recently told me that he didn't mind if I did the same hymns over and over, but I can't justify singing and Ordinary Time hymn for Advent, etc. Tomorrow we are singing "Rejoice, Rejoice Believers" which most of the PIP's will not know, but I can't justify singing "Praise to the Lord" on Guadete Sunday. I can't help but wonder if the objective here is to get the people singing or to force them to read the lyric. If we use the same hymns over and over, then the message is lost out of redundancy and people will sing like robots and not in true worship.
    Thanked by 1francis
  • It seems to me that "singing the same hymn" is not in itself inappropriate or untraditional. The same seasonal psalm can be chosen at least for many Sundays in a row, exactly to encourage participation. The one hymn that really belongs in the Mass is sung every Sunday except in Lent and Easter. The hymn sung at Compline is the same every day, and the hymns sung at ferial Lauds and at Vespers are the same every week. (Not to mention Iste confessor twice on easily half the feasts...!)

    Of course the problem with repeating other hymns at Mass is that those are already in place of the proper antiphons, and repetition in this situation takes us even further from the traditional warp and weft of proper and ordinary.
  • Jack said
    I repeat that chant in vernaculars is not a bridge behind one to be burned when reaching the promised land of Latin:

    The promised land is the vernacular. Latin became the liturgical language because it was the vernacular. The Gospel was sung in Greek and then repeated in Latin because few people understood the Greek. Today the vernacular has shifted to different native languages yet Latin remains, but its role has changed to an important unify-er, and it diffuses tribal competition between the diverse vernaculars. Latin and English share the same sounds , phones, phonemes, prefixes, roots. It is these similar sounds that are the source which generate melodies, melodies that often trace the tongues movement as we articulate a series of sounds. Similar sound should therefore share melodic shape. Accents and semantic value of word order is the new territory.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,136
    "Latin and English share the same sounds..." is a reason in favor of English, but it doesn't provide a reason for vernaculars in general.

    I suppose there are some faithful who want English to extend its cultural empire-building and become the worldwide language of the Church too.
    Thanked by 1Chris_McAvoy
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    The English language has a cultural empire built som'eres? Who funded it, ABC/Disney, where can I go see it? Is it anything like building a Gothic cathedral in central Africa or a canton in China or Switzerland? And if this empire of English is the promised land, will everyone speak like Californians? Will we have to listen to prophecies by Al Sharpton or Rand Paul?
  • FYI, most byzantine rite churches dont even use propers at all. Or if at least we can say that in many cases what usually remains of their proper today, their troparia and kontakia or so simple and short that its easy to miss them. In the 17th century they had their own equivalent of a "graduale romanum" but somehow in the course of 4 centuries it became forgotten, abandoned or overly simplified, yet the ordinary remained in use continuously as it is today. Today the byzantine rite remains in need of reinvigoration through having it's historic propers and their melodies published again for use in parishes. It is truly a deficiency with the modern form that this rite typically takes, which is otherwise close to perfect.

    The average "divine 'eucharistic' liturgy" consists mainly of a more complex equivalent to the "ordinary of the mass" and very little "proper". Ironically the parts of their "mass ordinary" are ironically often referred to as hymns and found in a book sometimes termed a "hymnal".

    But this folks is by no means equivalent to your average OCP hymnal.

    ;-) hehehehehe...

    Nevertheless, this is the type of deliciously tasty hymn sandwich that 250,000,000 people find richly edifying. All it could use is more emphasis on the proper.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,136
    Chris, practices vary. Among the Melkites in this area (Eastern New England), troparia and kondakia are sung in a non-trivial way (not recto tono), and communion proper texts are often sung, though they are usually adapted to an ordinary melody. But there must be more than that to the propers, I suppose?
  • Ralph (et alia),
    The position that Latin used to be the vernacular, therefore Roman liturgy should be in the vernacular is a myth that has been exploded many times, most recently (and definitively) by Fr. U. Michael Lang in his superb book The Voice of the Church at Prayer (Ignatius Press). Liturgical Latin has always been a high, sacral register, and it was not long before it escaped the complete comprehension of the common man. Nevertheless, the fixity of the liturgy guaranteed a widespread understanding of what was happening in it -- far better, one suspects, that today's multitudes who, despite hearing the liturgy in the vernacular, do not seem to know the ABC's of their catechism or even that the Mass is the representation of the holy sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. And we can also see throughout history the use of ancient ("dead") languages in Eastern Christendom, as well, even though there has been a greater tendency in the East to use the current vernacular.
    Beyond this, there is the simple fact that Pope Pius XII taught in Mediator Dei that the Holy Spirit has providentially governed the development of the liturgy of the Church, and that the use of Latin was part of this providential design. In other words, it was not, and cannot be held to have been, an error in any way, shape, or form. This teaching can also be found in other popes, such as Bd. John XXIII. It would be very difficult to find a way to squirm out of it.
    The Second Vatican Council therefore suggested a wise middle course: the parts of the liturgy that are always or nearly always the same, such as the Ordinary and the Canon, should remain in Latin and the people should learn these parts in Latin, while the parts that change, such as the daily prayers and readings, could be in the vernacular. Unfortunately, the Council was ignored on this point, and we are reaping catastrophe and confusion today.

    Thanked by 1francis
  • PS. Here is a good piece by Fr. Thomas Crean, "On the Use of Latin in the Liturgy," which defends the practice with many arguments and responds to objections.

    But I truly can't recommend highly enough Fr. Lang's book:
  • The position that Latin used to be the vernacular, therefore Roman liturgy should be in the vernacular is a myth . . . . Liturgical Latin has always been a high, sacral register, . . .

    It was in a high register of the vernacular, in the same way that a presidential proclamation or a William Jennings Bryan speech is in a high register of its respective vernacular. As to its being a sacral register, most scholars would say it has more in common with contemporary legal Latin than religious Latin.

    ... and it was not long before it escaped the complete comprehension of the common man.

    What's "not long"? Even if one were talking about a scant 250 years, while that might not look like "long" at the remove of nearly two thousand, it's the age of the United States from the French and Indian War to today. Not exactly a flash in the pan, is it?

    Beyond this, there is the simple fact that Pope Pius XII taught in Mediator Dei that . . . the use of Latin was part of this providential design.

    I don't recall seeing that in Mediator Dei.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,445
    Liturgical Latin has always been a high, sacral register, .

    Decidedly not the case. Compared to Classical Latin it is simple and straightforward.
    Perhaps not the speech of everyday people, but much more Gettysburg Address than King James Bible.
    Thanked by 1MarkThompson
  • rogue63
    Posts: 410
    If the liturgical language moves out of the comprehension of the faithful, then it's Gnosticism. There's a learning curve about liturgy, certainly, but Christians don't have secrets. We have mysteries.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,136
    Liturgical Latin has always been a high, sacral register, .

    Decidedly not the case. Compared to Classical Latin it is simple and straightforward.
    Perhaps not the speech of everyday people, but much more Gettysburg Address than King James Bible.

    The answer to this question is to be found in the studies of Christine Mohrmann, whose lectures at Notre Dame on Christian Latin as a sacred, hieratic language adapted to the Church's purposes were published in book form in 1959; the introduction to the book is on-line at , and a reprint of the book can be purchased from that same web site (
    Thanked by 1JulieColl
  • I agree with ProfKwasniewski that the Holy Spirit preserved latin for important reasons. Though I wouldn't think that the Holy Spirit desires to preserve latin to be used at all times exclusively for the entire church in the entire world.

    In theory, could not english also be an unchanging liturgical language equal to latin within a particular culture thousands of miles from Italy?

    English such as this:

    22 So he ate and was filled, and the beloved one kicked; *
    He waxed fat; he grew thick; he grew broad;
    23 and he forsook God Who made him, *
    and departed from God his Saviour.
    24 They provoked Me with strange gods,
    and vexed Me with their abominations.

    25 They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; *
    to gods whom they knew not,
    26 That were new and newly come up, *
    of whom their fathers knew not.
    27 The God that begat thee thou hast forsaken, *
    and hast forgotten the Lord that created thee.

    28 And the Lord saw it, and was jealous, *
    and was provoked to wrath by His sons and daughters.
    29 And He said, I will turn My face from them, *
    and I will show what their end shall be;
    30 For it is a (perverse) froward generation, *
    children in whom is no faith.

    31 They have provoked Me with that which is not God; *
    they have angered me with their vanities;
    32 And I will move them to jealousy by those who are not a nation; *
    with a foolish nation will I provoke them.
    33 For a fire is kindled in Mine anger, *
    and shall burn unto the lowest hell;
    Incrassátus est diléctus et recalcitrávit: * incrassátus impinguátus dilatátus.
    Derelíquit Deum factórem suum : * et recéssit a Deo salutári suo.
    Provocavérunt eum in diis aliénis : * et in abominatiónibus ad iracúndiam concitavérunt.

    Immolavérunt demóniis et non Deo : * diis quos ignorábant.
    Novi recentésque venérunt : * quos non coluérunt patres eórum.
    Deum qui te génuit dereliquísti : * et oblítus es Dómini Creatóris tui.

    Vidit Dóminus et ad Vidit Dóminus et ad iracúndiam concitátus est : *
    quia provocavérunt eum fílii sui et fílie.
    Et ait Abscóndam fáciem meam ab eis : * et considerábo novíssima eórum.
    Generátio enim pervérsa est : * et infidéles fílii.

    Ipsi me provocavérunt in eo qui non erat deus : * et irritavérunt in vanitátibus suis.
    Et ego provocábo eos in eo qui non est pópulus : * et in gente stulta irritábo illos.
    Ignis succénsus est in furóre meo : * et ardébit usque ad inférni novíssima.

    Are these not equally elegant and equally orthodox texts?
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,927
    There you go blaming the Holy Spirit again for centuries of inertia in the western church. LOL.
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • Here are the parts of Mediator Dei I was thinking of:

    60. The use of the Latin language, customary in a considerable portion of the Church, is a manifest and beautiful sign of unity, as well as an effective antidote for any corruption of doctrinal truth. In spite of this, the use of the mother tongue in connection with several of the rites may be of much advantage to the people. But the Apostolic See alone is empowered to grant this permission. It is forbidden, therefore, to take any action whatever of this nature without having requested and obtained such consent, since the sacred liturgy, as We have said, is entirely subject to the discretion and approval of the Holy See.

    61. The same reasoning holds in the case of some persons who are bent on the restoration of all the ancient rites and ceremonies indiscriminately. The liturgy of the early ages is most certainly worthy of all veneration. But ancient usage must not be esteemed more suitable and proper, either in its own right or in its significance for later times and new situations, on the simple ground that it carries the savor and aroma of antiquity. The more recent liturgical rites likewise deserve reverence and respect. They, too, owe their inspiration to the Holy Spirit, who assists the Church in every age even to the consummation of the world. They are equally the resources used by the majestic Spouse of Jesus Christ to promote and procure the sanctity of man.

    More potent still are the words of Bd. John XXIII in his Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia of February 22, 1962 (note that date!):

    Thus the "knowledge and use of this language," so intimately bound up with the Church's life, "is important not so much on cultural or literary grounds, as for religious reasons." These are the words of Our Predecessor Pius XI, who conducted a scientific inquiry into this whole subject, and indicated three qualities of the Latin language which harmonize to a remarkable degree with the Church's nature. "For the Church, precisely because it embraces all nations and is destined to endure to the end of time ... of its very nature requires a language which is universal, immutable, and non-vernacular."

    Furthermore, the Church's language must be not only universal but also immutable. Modern languages are liable to change, and no single one of them is superior to the others in authority. Thus if the truths of the Catholic Church were entrusted to an unspecified number of them, the meaning of these truths, varied as they are, would not be manifested to everyone with sufficient clarity and precision. There would, moreover, be no language which could serve as a common and constant norm by which to gauge the exact meaning of other renderings.

    But Latin is indeed such a language. It is set and unchanging. it has long since ceased to be affected by those alterations in the meaning of words which are the normal result of daily, popular use. Certain Latin words, it is true, acquired new meanings as Christian teaching developed and needed to be explained and defended, but these new meanings have long since become accepted and firmly established.

    Finally, the Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic, and non-vernacular.

    In addition, the Latin language "can be called truly catholic." It has been consecrated through constant use by the Apostolic See, the mother and teacher of all Churches, and must be esteemed "a treasure ... of incomparable worth." It is a general passport to the proper understanding of the Christian writers of antiquity and the documents of the Church's teaching. It is also a most effective bond, binding the Church of today with that of the past and of the future in wonderful continuity.
    (fulltext at

    Magisterial statements like this can be multiplied -- and we can even find defenses of Latin in the liturgy in the Popes after the Council. So, I'm not quite sure why there's even a debate here at CMAA about whether Latin is appropriate and fitting for the liturgy. Really, as Fr. Z has often said about Gregorian chant, Latin needs no defense; it is the language of the Roman Rite, just as chant is the Roman Rite's native music. What needs defending is the use of other music and other languages. And I don't disagree that such a defense can be made, and that developments in the spheres of music and the vernacular are good, as far as they go. But it's by no means self-evident that doing everything or even most things in the vernacular is good, or is even tenable for a Roman Catholic.
  • rogue63
    Posts: 410
    Why should Christ's Church speak in "noble, majestic and non-vernacular language" when Christ himself did not? Christ came among us speaking our languages---Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, and probably some of the hated Latin of the conquerors. Christ didn't speak Germanic languages, or East Asian languages, because they wouldn't have been understood. How is Christ's liturgy supposed to be separated from Christ himself?
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,927
    I understand the attachment to Latin, as well as, the beautiful music written with Latin texts. I have heard of the universality of Latin, but it seems to me that Latin was if anything, universally unintelligible to the average pew sitters. One of the first things Cyril and Methodius did when evangelizing the Slavs, was to translate the Bible and the Liturgy into their languages so they could understand them. I can't find any reasons for liturgical languages in modern times, other than nostalgia and romanticized longing for the supposed grandeurs of the past. I did mention preservation of the excellent music with Latin texts. That much I do support.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,742
    ...the Church's language must be not only universal but also immutable.

    One might be forgiven for thinking Hebrew & Koine would serve the purpose better than the Nova vulgata. In any case,
    the immutable word of God exists in English already.
  • @Rogue and others, yes, Jesus spoke several languages (unlike most English-only Americans- we are the global oddballs!) but does that mean we should forget that He also attended temple worship and so used the sacral language of His time?Latin remains the sacral language of the Latin Rite. Latin, not my beloved vernacular or anyone else's.

    When I travel and speak with Catholics of good will from different parts of the world, I hear over and over again how they wonder if American Catholics think too highly of their brand of Catholicism, their American language, music, etc. It disappoints me to think I may have to concede their point.
    Thanked by 3CHGiffen gregp francis
  • Ignoto
    Posts: 126
    Thank you for your post, Professor Kwasniewski.

    The excerpts you cited helped me think about Mediator Dei and the propers in relation to the GIRM.

    It looks like #60 of Mediator Dei focuses on the idea that the use of Latin is a "sign of unity" and an "antidote for any corruption of doctrinal truth" and that vernacular translations are to be approved by the hierarchy.

    That section of Mediator Dei seems to correspond to Canon Law, which also mentions the idea of requiring approval for vernacular translations of liturgical texts. Canon 826 §2 says: "To reprint liturgical books, their translations into the vernacular, or their parts, an attestation of the ordinary of the place where they are published must establish their agreement with the approved edition."

    By taking this idea of ecclesiastical approval into consideration when reading GIRM #48 and #87, it may be that Options 1 and 2 do not mention securing approval because they refer only to the verbatim texts printed in the official liturgical books (English from the Roman Missal and Latin from the Graduale Romanum or the Graduale Simplex). On the other hand, since Options 3 and 4 mention chants that require approval from the "Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop," these may be the categories intended to include Propers with "unofficial" English translations of the Graduale Romanum or Graduale Simplex texts (per Canon 826).

    I agree with Jeffrey Tucker, who says that "What we need to be talking about is the texts and that’s where it has to begin." In light of the Mediator Dei and Canon Law excerpts mentioned above, it seems prudent to begin with texts that have been approved by the hierarchy.

    I also agree with Dr. Mahrt, who argues against the "sole criterion of the text" and says that the propers are a "synthesis of word and melody suited to a liturgical function." Perhaps this synthesis is one way of describing the "spirit" of Gregorian chant that Pope John Paul II mentioned when he said, "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 GIRM #48 and #87, I think that if an approved text is present and the music is imbued with the "spirit" of Gregorian Chant, then the vernacular Propers may have a greater likelihood of possessing all three qualities of sacred music as described by Pope St. Pius X (sanctity, intrinsic beauty, and universality).
  • Here are the parts of Mediator Dei I was thinking of:

    That's the same part I was thinking of. It just doesn't say what you promised it did, namely, "that the Holy Spirit has providentially governed the development of the liturgy of the Church, and that the use of Latin was part of this providential design."

    More potent still are the words of Bd. John XXIII in his Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia of February 22, 1962 (note that date!):

    The tragic problem with Veterum Sapientia is that it is full of factually erroneous claims, such as "the Church's language must be . . . immutable," "Latin is indeed . . . set and unchanging," and " the Latin language . . . is a general passport to the proper understanding of the Christian writers of antiquity" (that would be Greek; hardly anybody wrote in Latin). It's really a disappointment.
  • We're once again stuck on Latin v. Vernacular arguements.

    The way I have always understood this:

    1.) Graduale Romanum
    2.) Graduale Simplex
    3.) Another Gradual (Latin)
    4.) Chant Propers in English (various settings)
    5.) Other music

    In other music:

    1.) Latin Polyphonic settings of the gradual texts
    2.) English Polyphonic of the same
    3.) Other Suitable texts (Often taken from Psalms or Gospel Passages)
    4.) Hymns

    Under Hymns:

    1.) Chant Hymns, Latin
    2.) Chant Hymns, Vernacular
    3.) Metrical Hymns, according to Season or readings
    4.) Metrical Hymns, general

    And lastly, Instrumental music on the organ.

    I have always understood that you aim for the highest possible type of music, with due consideration to the available resources and the ability of the choir.

    At the moment, I'd get no-where with the Graduale Romanum in about 90% of the places where I take care of liturgical music. The best that some can manage is traditional hymns and some basic latin chants for the ordinary.

    I usually draw from a variety of hymns, chant collections and simple motets to put together something worthy of the worship of God. It isn't the best, but it is the best that I can put together and it leads people in the right direction of worship.
  • rogue63
    Posts: 410

    Who said English is a beloved vernacular? It's a mongrel throw-together---barely a language, not at all resembling the strictly conservative tendencies of Icelandic and Norwegian and certainly not possessing the liquid beauty of Latin and French, and still missing the lovely precise articulation of modern German. English is difficult to sing well, and I don't particularly like its clumsy constructions; inflected languages communicate more information with more precision. It's the first language God gave me, so I must use it when I go to the bank or talk to my wife.

    And furthermore, Christ was worshipping as a Jew---not as a Christian. The Temple veil was rent at his death, and Christians have no need of secrets---we have mysteries instead. I think the Roman Church committed to a mistake a long time ago with its insistence on Latin language.
  • Is 16th century English of the douay rheims or KJV Bible a liturgical language or is it a vernacular? Or is it somewhere inbetween the two?

    Why do the Eastern Orthodox Churches not tend to have these differing viewws over liturgical language very often? Why do most of their liturgies seem equally dignified and equally representative of the same faith and theologiy irregardless of the dozens of languages used?

    Perhaps it is because they have less legacy from the neverending offensive against protestant influence. They take a different view all together, one that is slower to gain acceptance amongst the RC. For it is true that the use of "vernacular language" was a hallmark of protestantism and potentially a way to assert individual theooogical deviations (even despite martin luther and the first 100 years of lutheranism maintaing over half their liturgy latin). But the Eastern Orthodox move past this view and seem to find a good middle ground, dont they?

    Charles says: "
    One of the first things Cyril and Methodius did when evangelizing the Slavs, was to translate the Bible and the Liturgy into their languages so they could understand them. I can't find any reasons for liturgical languages in modern times,
    " I say: that translation of slavonic was still an elevated liturgical language, not so different than the 16th c. english of anglicanism, I question whether it is fair to call this a vernacular. It was not everyday speech, but speech that was more intelligible than latin to educated slaves. More intelligible yes, not not easily intelligible per se.

    By the way there are disgruntled Rusyn and ukrainian americans out there who are just as upset about having church slavonic practically banned from their US churches as latin is from the Roman churches.

    What I support is to have a liturgical language that is closer to the vulgar tongue most commonly used in a large geographic region, continent or country, not any average mans speech.

    Over time, the language must be consistent for hundreds of years.
    It's not so much that don't support latin as being used, as that I support other "liturgical languages" being used. I like to think theres room for this holding this personal view within orthodox catholicism.

    I used to attend a Greek orthodox church and they sang half their music in half their liturgy, the same music, same everything, equally in both greek and english - why does this not work as a model for the Roman Catholic Church???

    Indeed, the same debate goes on. Lessons are being learned, but yes it seems a bit tedious. As for myself, I support a middle position. 100% latin mass is OK with me some of the time or all of the time. But my ideal remains to have other ancient languages be used also. The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and St. Peter seems to help that middle position find a place to exist more consistently where elsewhere it is more exceptional.
  • It would appear to me that the church intends that parts of the mass that do not change should be primarily said in Latin and that the changing parts such as the scriptural readings and the propers be permitted in the vernacular.

    Other common texts such as the Ave Maria could be retained in Latin. I'm yet to meet someone who wanted the Schubert or Bach/Gounod Ave Maria translated for their wedding, or to have the Franck Panis Angelicus rendered in English.

    Having a mass entirely in Latin doesn't bother me. I'm a Latin Scholar. It didn't bother me before I became a Latin Scholar, but I can see how it may bother some people.

    However, I find it strange that people seem to want to sing in Italian and Spanish all the time when they don't speak those languages either!

    At my old Parish Church, we used to sing Christmas Carols in several Languages. One year I sang "Silent Night" in English, German, French, Italian, Maltese and Vietnamese.

    It's so strange that people like to do this, but would refuse to sing "Adeste Fideles"
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,927
    Cyril and Methodius were highly educated Greeks. Although they knew Hebrew and Arabic, they translated liturgy and scriptures for the Slavs from Greek, not Latin. Even most of the Latin speakers in the west once knew Greek, which was more of a universal language in the empire than Latin. Of course, by their time there was no longer an empire in the west. Old Church Slavonic is an elevated form of language, but would you expect otherwise from well educated men like Cyril and Methodius? Interestingly, Slavonic languages are similar enough that various nationalities can understand them to greater or lesser degrees. As our older folks have died off, most of our Divine Liturgies are now in English. We occasionally use OCS for a few Ukrainian families that have emigrated from that part of the world.

    In my Latin parish, we sing Latin ordinaries during Advent and Lent along with some Latin text choral music. No one complains or asks for more and we don't run it in the ground. The Latin-only people are at the EF mass anyway, which is probably where they should be.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    This is purely annecdotal, but it has influenced my thoughts on the use of Latin in the Latin Rite (all uses).

    An elderly lady I know and her late husband (both 'retired' choir-members) would take a trip every summer for a couple weeks. Both grew-up speaking French and English, they were passible in conversational German; but wherever they went - Germany, Austria, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Poland, Wales, Canada, Boston, Yonkers - they could participate in the Mass with "full, active, and concious" participation, by following in their Missals and by singing the chants of the Ordinary in Latin. That is, until the Vernacular Novus Ordo came in.
  • Mark,

    The reason I quoted the two paragraphs of Mediator Dei is that Pius XII argues against the false antiquarianism of those who would say: "Just because the early Christians did X, therefore we should do it too." And his argument is that what has developed in the Church's liturgy over time should be taken seriously as the work of the Holy Spirit. Of course, this does not extend to every little detail (like the cut of a chasuble), but something as massive and central as the Latin language in the liturgy is not just some incidental detail of the Roman Rite and its kindred rites in the West.

    Folks, we are talking about nearly 1,500 years of the public worship of the Mystical Body of Christ on earth -- at least the Western regions of the earth! It's disgraceful how willing some people on this forum are to dismiss that tradition and the papal defenses of it. Unequivocally in favor of Latin and Gregorian chant are St. Pius X, Pius XI, and Pius XII; but many favorable statements can be found in Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, and probably the others, as well, if one took the time to search their writings. This is not a body of doctrine that is, as it were, marginal, inconsistent, and tentative.

    The theologians (e.g., Journet, Fenton) teach that it is the conclusions of the Magisterium that we should adhere to, not necessarily the reasonings given for the conclusions. Hence, even if one might quarrel with some of John XXIII's premises, his conclusions remain intact; and it should be pointed out that Veterum Sapientia has never been abrogated, just like St. Pius X's ban on the use of the piano in church in Tra le Sollecitudini has never been abrogated (unlike his ban on female choristers, which Pius XII, if I'm not mistaken, lifted).

    Musicians who are not Catholic are not bound to hold anything at all about chant, Latin, or the nature of liturgy, but we who are Catholics are bound by the Magisterium on just these things (even in matters not per se irreformable); and even granting the relative flexibility and variety to be found in the magisterial texts, there are certain definite principles of liturgical music repeated many times, and certain practices recommended many times, in such a way as to lead us all onto a wide plain of common understanding and worship. It is not a wide-open territory where our private speculations and preferences can frolic ad libitum.
    Thanked by 1Chris_McAvoy
  • Ignoto
    Posts: 126
    just like St. Pius X's ban on the use of the piano in church in Tra le Sollecitudini has never been abrogated

    It looks like you're referring to section VI. Organ and instruments in Tra le Sollectitudini:

    19. The employment of the piano is forbidden in church, as is also that of noisy or frivolous instruments such as drums, cymbals, bells and the like.

    How does  Sacrosanctum Concilium   relate to the idea that the use of the piano and other non-wind instruments has "never been abrogated"?

    120. In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and to higher things.

    But other instruments also may be admitted for use in divine worship, with the knowledge and consent of the competent territorial authority, as laid down in Art. 22, 52, 37, and 40. This may be done, however, only on condition that the instruments are suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful.

    Similarly, Pope John Paul II seems to have affirmed Sacrosanctum Concilium  in his Chirograph...for the Centenary of the Motu Proprio 'Tra le Sollecitudini' on Sacred Music :

    14. Again at the practical level, the Motu Proprio whose centenary it is also deals with the question of the musical instruments to be used in the Latin Liturgy. Among these, it recognizes without hesitation the prevalence of the pipe organ and establishes appropriate norms for its use[42]. The Second Vatican Council fully accepted my holy Predecessor's approach, decreeing: "The pipe organ is to be held in high esteem in the Latin Church, for it is the traditional musical instrument, the sound of which can add a wonderful splendour to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up people's minds to God and to higher things"[43].

    Nonetheless, it should be noted that contemporary compositions often use a diversity of musical forms that have a certain dignity of their own. To the extent that they are helpful to the prayer of the Church they can prove a precious enrichment. Care must be taken, however, to ensure that instruments are suitable for sacred use, that they are fitting for the dignity of the Church and can accompany the singing of the faithful and serve to edify them.

    I am a proponent of using the organ in church as well as a staunch proponent of following the Magisterium. However, based on my reading of these two documents, I am not understanding the idea that the use of the piano in church has "never been abrogated."
  • Tra Le Sollectudini is a Motu Proprio and is such is effectively LAW.

    As far as I can tell, the prohibition on the use of the Piano in church has never been abrogated by any relevant documentation issued since.

    Hence why I speak a great opposition of using the piano in church. In any case, a skilled organist can do the work of an entire band. Why do you think that we had Wurlitzer organs in theatres in the silent movie days? Orchestras were too expensive and pianos were limited in their volume and tonality.
  • Tra Le Sollectudini is a Motu Proprio and is such is effectively LAW.

    It's not effectively law. It is law. However, Sacrosanctum Concilium is an Apostolic Consitution which is not only more recent, but of a higher "rank" than a motu proprio. It lends the ability to admit other instruments to the territorial authority. At least in the USA, this admission has come on more than one occasion.
    Thanked by 2Ignoto Paul F. Ford
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,927
    Those old documents have been superseded by more recent documents. Another complicating factor is that now the conferences of bishops can make liturgical and musical decisions, since the authority to do so has been given to them. It ain't your grandpa's moto proprio anymore. LOL. The church and the world have changed since then.
  • Let me put it this way. When there's a decent organ in the church I will play it and ask why on earth would you be trying to put anything else on?
  • Anyway, getting back to the main discussion, I'm preparing music for a 3-day retreat in January. I'm going to have SEP, BFW, GS and GR chants made available for the day, as well as a selection of suitable hymns. I will have Chant Ordinaries and some of the more common congregation mass settings as well.
    Thanked by 2Ignoto Paul F. Ford