How shall we choose?: propers in the NO and the drive of lectionary based music
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,117
    The title alone might be enough to drive one to the EF but the question remains. Much of the material guiding RC worship these days is "lectionary" driven, that is to say, music connected to the readings. But I maintain this is at the heart of the struggle within the NO. Propers do not inform any kind of decision making guide except for those who make it their priority. Clerics expect musicians to choose based on the "lectionary". But a simple reading of the propers would indicate otherwise. Do we find ourselves in between a rock and a hard place in this task?

    As an example: As we read the "Bread of Life" discourse these weeks in August, my clerics were encouraged to notice the propers in the context of their homiletic preparation. Not even an acknowledgement of their place, not even the responsorial psalm as an assist for their homilies. In a passing comment, my pastor in a moment of revelation stated the question," Why would these propers even matter to me?" While I appreciate his magnificent efforts for his homilies (very well constructed and very orthodox), the clue is still missing. He clearly sees the liturgy around the lections and sees all things descending from them.

    I appreciate the lectionary for some aspects and know there will not be any change soon,but have we bought some form of "sola scriptura" into the Roman rite? Do we worship the readings as exclusive revelation of God? Have we become, dare I say, "protestant" in our sense of the importance of scripture as it relates to the liturgy?

    Your thoughts are encouraged and permitted.....
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,102
    " . . . my clerics were encouraged to notice the propers in the context of their homiletic preparation."

    By whom?
  • Actually, I would say that by ignoring the propers in our liturgies we are not giving scripture the importance that that we should, because a vast majority of the propers (there are a few exceptions) are taken directly from the scriptures. By insisting that the music must somehow relate to the readings of the day alone, we are actually narrowing ourselves to at most three or four passages (if you count the responsorial psalm), instead of exposing ourselves more broadly to biblical texts by using the propers.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,117
    They were encouraged by me Liam.
  • I don't think that we should attribute any amount of concern for scripture as a 'Protestant' preserve. It is meet and right that we Catholics should know scripture and revere it even more than Protestants. Our faith is built on what scripture reveals and preserves for us, in addition to Tradition and the magisterium. It was the apostles, after all, who wrote the scriptures, and the Church which decided on the canon. This is not a Protestant preserve. Scripture is God's gift to the world, and one of the Church's crown jewels. It is not to the Church's credit that at times in history a study of the scriptures by non-clerics was mightily discouraged and that men were burnt at the stake (the savage acts of extraordinarily twisted and paranoid minds) for translating them into the languages that people spoke. The mass consists of two parts, word and sacrament, and neither part is complete without the other. Never treat scripture as though it were a merely incidental component of our Faith.

    As for the propers, I do not see any necessary conflict. It is deeply lamentable that the post-Vatican II praxis has resulted in the almost total ignor-ance of the propers. It is imperative that we restore them to their appropriate place. It is appropriate that they be re-arranged as necessary to the end that they compliment the lectionary. No hymns should be sung in place of them, perhaps in addition to them, but not in place of them, because they are intrinsic to the Roman rite, which is incomplete, emmaciated!, when shorn of them. It might be appropriate for the propers to be the subject of homilies at times, in addition to the lectionary at others. I can see this as an added choice for those who preach.

    But as for 'protestantising', this is a sad and lamentable attitude towards any attempt at a more profound knowledge of scripture on the part of every Catholic. There is nothing, nothing at all 'Protestant' about knowing and treasuring scripture. There is everything Catholic about it. Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, knew and quoted scripture backward and forward. It seems to me that we, in The Imitation of Christ, should do the same, should follow his example.

    And, I think that Kevin has just above made a praiseworthy observation: namely, that the propers themselves are scripture, and may amplify the scriptural sources for homilies, as well as, at times, amplify the lectionary itself. Further, preaching on the propers could only enrich our knowledge of scripture and have the added advantage of revealing the riches of the intact Roman rite.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,593
    It is appropriate that they be re-arranged as necessary to the end that they compliment the lectionary.


    This!

    Whether we like it or not, the lectionary has become more important. We should all know scripture, to be sure and I agree with Jackson on this. I do have my days when I think we are being scriptured to death. But it is what it is. Unless those propers can be tied to the lectionary, they may correction: will face extinction in most places.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,102
    The unidentified subject in passive voice just seemed very strange.

    If the propers are being used, they are indeed suitable for consideration for the homily.
  • Connecting the music with the propers almost immediately reduces the chance the the congregation will sing the hymns.

    As Charles knows, a small group of hymns encourages singing. A small group of hymns makes it impossible to come close to matching the lectionary. Well, that's not true. You could work to match the number of the times "THE " appears in a hymn with the same same word in the propers, using the total number of words in the hymns and the total number of words in the propers and calculating the percentage of use as a guide to "matching".

    The propers, which the congregation had no participation in, were replaced by hymns. The more hymns you sing the fewer people participate.

    Captain John Yossarian, front and center please.

    Is using hymns that are vaguely related to a proper not worse than paraphrasing the psalm to make it singable?


    Thanked by 1Chris Allen
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,117
    I think Charles is right insofar as the lectionary HAS become the driving force in the liturgy. I used the polemic"sola scriptura" intentionally as to drive home my point that the readings have become the centerpiece of the liturgy and everything else functions off of the readings. I believe we have demagogued the scriptures. Granted, I agree, "Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ." But somewhere along the line, we have made them carry the weight of the liturgy, insofar as homiletic and planning is concerned.

    And so I continue to ask the question: in the NO are the readings are the deciding factors in choosing music? Based on the many place of guidance that are offered by publishing houses, planning sites and books, the readings ARE the no. 1 factor for choosing music and the propers are negligible. And the propers are an afterthought.

    My clergy certainly think this way.
  • With all due respect (plus some extra) to Kevin, it doesn't seem to me that the lectionary has evolved into a disproportionate aspect of the liturgy. As Catholics, we cannot possibly have sola scriptura or sola sacramentum - we must, in order to be verily Catholic, have both. The profound power and import of the Blessed Sacrament which follows the proclamation and assimilation of scripture cannot possibly, to me, be overshadowed. Quite the contrary, it puts the lectionary in context and perspective. The Sacrament (being Jesus) is, after all, the fulfillment of the word. The word defines our covenant relationship with God. The sacrifice and sacred banquet consummate it. This is a balance that is essential to a proper understanding and 'full' participation in the ineffable drama that unfolds right from the very moment and act of invocation that begins each mass. One who doesn't 'get' this doesn't really 'get' the mass.

    Whether one chooses music in relation to the propers or the lectionary (whichever) it only serves to cast a facet of light on how we receive the sacrament on any particular day, and how we go out, depart, with informed spirits to be the salt of the earth. It seems to me that the one inevitably informs the other. We receive Jesus in the sacrament, and the lectionary is how that that Jesus speaks to us that day. Well chosen music, it seems to me, will manage to tie these aspects together. This, I believe, is the particularly important and deep role of wise choices regarding offertory anthems or hymns. Offertory anthems, in particular, should always have theologically 'meaty' texts and musical weight, gravitas.

    Neglect, or demeaning of the word is not Catholic; but has led to the still not uncommon practice of coming late, 'eating', and running. We are, after all, supposed to attend and 'consciously' (and conscientiously!?) participate in the entire mass, not just the elevation, or the communion, or the anaphora. Such really is not at all truly fulfilling one's obligation. (And, oh, how I loathe that word 'obligation' and all its baggage. I go to mass because I love it.)
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,912
    Have we become, dare I say, "protestant" in our sense of the importance of scripture as it relates to the liturgy?


    Almost exactly the question raised by Dobszay's critique of the Bugnini Mass.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,912
    It is appropriate that they be re-arranged as necessary to the end that they compliment the lectionary.


    Dobszay disagrees with that, and claims that there is no historical foundation in the Roman rite for such 'concordance.'

    Which is NOT to say that there is no such in the EF; there is. See, e.g., the Propers and readings for 14/15/16 after Pentecost for which all the assigned Scripture is thematically related, at least in a broad sense.

    That 3-year cycle has created an interesting problem, eh?
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,224
    Dad29, if one reads the text for a Mass in the usus antiquior (sometimes two or three times over) for the majority of Sundays one will see that the propers, orations, and lections do indeed fit together, but not in a way that is purely didactic or meant to be incredibly obvious.
    Thanked by 1Salieri
  • smvanroodesmvanroode
    Posts: 778
    I truly believe that to many today each element of the Mass should communicate a central 'theme' drawn from the readings of the day, especially the Gospel. This is encouraged by the principle of harmony by which the Old Testament readings have been chosen for any particular Mass (especially on Sundays).

    In the Netherlands, this idea of harmonizing all elements of the Mass was even applied in the 1979 translation of the Roman Missal, to which dozens of orations (collect, prayer over the offering, prayer after communion) were added that were based on the Gospel reading of the day. In many parishes the second reading from the Epistles or Acts is even omitted, just because its 'theme' doesn't accord with that of the Gospel and the orations. Within this context it isn't surprising that the propers are regarded by many as absolutely irrelevant to the Mass.

    However, this is not how the Roman Rite works. In Ordinary Time, the Mass has no distinctive character. The texts of the propers are more closely related to the liturgical action they accompany (with the Communion as an exception). They are less didactic and more ritual. They add to the rich biblical palette which highlights all kinds of different aspects of the same mystery of Christ within the same Mass. To me, choosing only hymns that are closely connected to the readings is therefore in a way a spiritual impoverishment.
    Thanked by 2Salieri G
  • Interesting!
    One might observe with certitude that hymns (not to mention 'hymns') as they are chosen in the majority of parishes are indeed an impoverishment, since the most important criterion in most places is merely a hymn that 'people know' rather than one that relates to lectionary or propers or collects or anything else. Still, I see what you are saying and agree that it is a cogent observation. So, there is not only impoverishment in the sense in which you intend, but, also, impoverishment of repertory that relates to anything at all outside itself. Now!: if we really celebrated The Roman Rite (EF and OF) with integrity we would have anthems/motets and propers sung by cantors or scholas or choirs, and ordinaries and responsories sung by the people and the problem of hymns (and 'spiritual songs') would not exist!

    And, I wonder about the omission of the epistle of which you speak. Do they really do this? It surely can't be licit? One sometimes gets the impression that our European cousins are even more 'liberal' than we in the things that they 'do to' the mass. And to think that many of us grew up admiring our European homelands as paragons and paradigms of culture!
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,093
    Surely the principle of the choice of music should be no more (or less) restrictive than for the homily. And that is supposed to be (GIRM #65)
    an explanation of some aspect of the readings from Sacred Scripture or of another text from the Ordinary or the Proper of the Mass of the day
    Thanked by 2MatthewRoth eft94530
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,593
    an explanation of some aspect of the readings from Sacred Scripture or of another text from the Ordinary or the Proper of the Mass of the day


    Sermons are often anything but. Amid the sports analogies, social engineering, incoherent rambling, and attempts at being funny, the scriptures are often referenced only in passing, if at all.
  • In the Novus Ordo the choice of hymn or alternate song as a proper (eg at the Entrance or at Offertory) is supposed to be according to the "sacred action or the day or the season", as smvanroode says above. This is quite clear from the rubrics, eg #48. The choice has nothing to do with the theme of a reading.

    Because the Communion really is a reception of Christ, the words of the Communion antiphon often (although not always) reflect Christ's words of the Holy Gospel. That's not an exception, it's the rule being followed.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen MatthewRoth
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,357
    It's good to keep in mind that choosing hymns and songs based on the Gospel and other lessons is an improvement over what happens in most places: four random songs that have nothing to do with anything.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,912
    if one reads the text for a Mass in the usus antiquior (sometimes two or three times over) for the majority of Sundays one will see that the propers, orations, and lections do indeed fit together


    I know. I've read them.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,912
    Not only "nothing to do with anything," Adam; the MD at a local parish went with the Star-Spangled Banner on Pentecost this year because Memorial Day.

    And he skipped the Sequence altogether. Not patriotic enough, I guess.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,224
    Also, using the words of Scripture which form 99% of the propers (only the Salve Sancta Parens comes to mind as an exception) is a vast improvement ocer using a hymn that is at best a paraphrase of a Scriptural text.
    Thanked by 1noel jones, aago

  • Not patriotic enough, I guess.



    The Church isn't a patriotic association, nor a nationalistic one. Too many -- no, that's too weak -- an alarmingly high percentage of directors of music and liturgy committees see the secular calendar as the guide, and the cesaropapist as the rule.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    "Why would these propers even matter to me?"

    Because they are the liturgical action.
    Thanked by 1Chris Allen
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,224
    Chris, the readings for one of the Sundays in OT (I think year A) include a reading from Wisdom on forgiveness. That Sunday coincided with 9/11, and our deacon preached...and said later he forgot it was 9/11. There were matters of forgiveness much more important than 9/11 that he thought about.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,117
    Jackson's words above about the balance between word and sacrament are a marvelous construction to the question.

    But those of us here are for a reason: because we take seriously Holy Mother Church's call to sing her texts that she asks us to sing and do so in a way as to encourage prayer and discipleship. We find in chant the great vehicle to do this.While I appreciate Adam's response in terms of better "planning" by using the lectionary, it only partially addresses the problem.

    Those of us "living" in the NO have this problem for a variety of reasons. Expectations on the part of clergy who have not a clue about the ritual nature versus the didactic nature of the liturgy. Perhaps our catechesis has been so bad as to warrant turning the liturgy into a catechetical session because its the only chance we(as in clergy and others)get.

    Perhaps what is really at the heart is the "function" of the music in those places we stick hymns as a substitute for the propers. I know for my place its to "augment" the lections and amplify them. But we miss the rich palette that is the propers when we do so. We remain in the 1970-80s and the era of the "hymn" sandwich.

    From the bourbon lands.....
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,102
    The hymn sandwich, FWIW, predates the Council.
    Thanked by 2Adam Wood Gavin
  • I have many, many times heard a sermon which building on the day's lectionary readings. I have never that I can recall had one based on the day's propers.
  • PaxMelodious,

    You make a distinction which lacks substance: the lectionary is a portion of the proper for each Mass. If a sermon was building on the lectionary's readings, it was based in the propers.

    That said, would I love to hear a sermon preached on something other than the Gospel or the Epistle at an OF Mass? Absolutely. It would, however, have to be NOT based on Jim Henson or Akunamatata.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Chris makes an important point -

    Greater (or Major) Propers = the lectionary and the proper collects.
    Lesser (or Minor) Propers = Introit, Gradual Responsory (or Resp. Ps.), Alleluya and Verse, Offertory Antiphon, Communion Antiphon.
  • Kevin in Kentucky brings up an important negative dynamic that almost always happens when a new medium arrives. The new medium for Catholics is liturgy in the vernacular. The dynamic is our obsession and self indulgence with it. This creates an inertia, and for a time we loose sight of the message and purpose. I like to experience Mass as a real time event rather than a wordy tribute or memorial. The Mass is an event where the real passion, crucifixion, real salvation happening before my eyes and is validated in an eternal context of revelation. It is the fulfillment of all scriptures where elect disciples are nourished and loved. In other words if I had lived at the time of Jesus I would have rejected Him, but the Mass lets me experience the incarnate Christ revealed in glory. In the recent weeks as the bread of life discourses were the readings I found no problem with introits' antiphons and especially verses that plead for protection from enemies as they are proclaimed when the priest follows the crucifix to the altar of sacrifice. The message that a sacrifice is taking place. Priest , altar and crucifix - right from the beginning (of Mass) - in principio verbum erat- the words are becoming incarnate. We sing propers with the congregation at one of our Masses . last week's program

  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,655
    At the Cathedral of Phoenix we've heard homilies based on Introits before. I would never try to suggest to a priest what to preach on though, unless I were an expert in homiletics. Likewise, I would hope he would not try to suggest what I play for a prelude, unless he were an expert in organ music.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,229
    It is interesting that many hymnals have gone entirely to the lectionary as a basics for music. I think of Worship IV which is based greatly on the lectionary even to the point creating an entire body of new hymns - but most by protestant writers.
    Historically are not the prospers older?
  • Matthew,

    You wouldn't tell him what to do. I understand. Could you, on the other hand, ask him to preach a series on, for example, the rubrics of the Mass or the various parts or something, with an eye to increasing actual participation? The opportune time to do this would be in the weeks before Advent, or as a series of Lenten sermons, or even not as a sermon, but as a study-group replacement for CCD?

    I asked my pastor recently to speak on the exact nature of Papal Infallibility. He didn't preach on it, but he sent me a very good article by Msgr Clifford Fenton.


    Cheers,

    Chris
  • G
    Posts: 1,389
    the MD at a local parish went with the Star-Spangled Banner on Pentecost this year because Memorial Day.

    And he skipped the Sequence altogether. Not patriotic enough, I guess.
    Oh, are we neighbors?
    I have many, many times heard a sermon which building on the day's lectionary readings. I have never that I can recall had one based on the day's propers.
    That is a shame, (putting aside for a moment that the scripture readings are also propers,) because they are very rich as a source and subject for the homily.
    I had a visiting priest thank me once, after Mass, because his prepared homily had many references to the psalm, which he had feared in advance he would need to omit or re-work on the fly.
    He told me ours was the first parish at which he had preached in quite a while where we used the correct lectionary psalm.
    We also had an associate who often related the Introit to the OT readings in his preaching, despite the fact that our pastor would never allow the Introit to actually be used.
    And that is supposed to be (GIRM #65)

    an explanation of some aspect of the readings from Sacred Scripture or of another text from the Ordinary or the Proper of the Mass of the day

    Good point - the Ordinary texts should be spoken about from the pulpit more, IMO, not just when a complain or compliment about the translation is being leveled.
    I am certain no one who was there will ever forget Mons. Wadsworth's superb homily on the dialogue "peace be with you" on the feast day of St. Irenaeus in Salt lake City.
    And one Trinity Sunday I heard a great sermon on the trebled "sanctus" of the angels in the presence of God.
    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • dhalkjdhalkj
    Posts: 53
    The RM Communion for Week 27:

    Though many, we are one bread, one body...

    gives you a chance to sing a particular song you might have heard about every year, not just when it comes along in the readings on Corpus Christi Year A every three years.
  • gives you a chance to sing a particular song you might have heard about every year, not just when it comes along in the readings on Corpus Christi Year A every three years.


    Thanks for bringing this up. Are we all in agreement that music that is not sung frequently should only be sung by the choir?

    Anyone interested in creating a "black market" of alternate musical settings of texts that people have become attached to that have weak music?
  • This is going to sound awful...but...

    Last Sunday's introit was Respice, Domine, "Remember, O Lord, Your covenant, and do not abandon the souls of Your poor..."

    The Bread of Life was all over the readings. The Responsorial Psalm was Psalm 34.

    So, obviously, the Processional Hymn-thing (sung immediately after the Introit) was "The Cry of the Poor." Introit idea in the antiphon, Lectionary/Eucharistic psalm in the verses.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,912
    Oh, are we neighbors?


    SE Wisconsin