The Place of Music in Eucharistic Celebrations (1967 text)
  • tomsavoy
    Posts: 16
    Greetings all:

    Does anyone have a source for the original text of "The Place of Music in Eucharistic Celebrations" (PMEC)?

    God bless and thanks,

    Tom Savoy
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,167
    I found a copy on-line at archive.org, in the book "Thirty Years of Liturgical Renewal" (1987, ed. McManus).

    I took screenshots and made this PDF copy:
  • Always wanted to know how to measure what is "effective" objectively. Attendance? Volume? Feedback? How you felt about it?

    An important question, since it seems to be the gold standard of doing anything at all.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    I read one paragraph (pertaining to the entrance rites), and am gagging. Though it does explain why no one sings the kyrie.
  • "The primary goal of all celebrations is to make a humanly attractive experience."

    The PRIMARY goal. Is a HUMANLY attractive experience. Wow.
  • Chaswjd
    Posts: 258
    "The signs of sacramental celebration . . . must be good signs, simple and comprehensible . . ."

    What? Does anyone think that, if you had the intellect of St. Thomas Aquinas and spent your entire life studying the Eucharist, that at the end of it you would fully comprehend it?

    I would have thought that the whole point is God through the church has given us infinitely rich mysteries which are ultimately incomprehensible but richly rewarding for those who try.

    I have always thought that the optimism and faith in mere human ability of those who came after the Council were extraordinarily misplaced and unwarranted. This was a generation which lived through a world war and saw nuclear war and the Holocaust first hand. I would have thought those experiences would have taught them a deep skepticism about the abilities of man.
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,163
    I got the chills, reading that.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 2,056
    "Poor celebrations weaken and destroy faith".

    If faith was being weakened after a rite was changed, and there's not another cause, it follows that the rite was a "poor celebration".
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,966
    "...and there's not another cause" ... well, that's a BIG condition.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,384
    The Consilium (Bugnini et al) published Musicam Sacram in March 1967, and the US bishops produced this in November. They quote copiously from MS, but (unless I missed it) they carefully avoid most of this in MS§5
    Indeed, through [music/singing] , prayer is expressed in a more attractive way, the mystery of the liturgy, with its hierarchical and community nature, is more openly shown, the unity of hearts is more profoundly achieved by the union of voices, minds are more easily raised to heavenly things by the beauty of the sacred rites, and the whole celebration more clearly prefigures that heavenly liturgy which is enacted in the holy city of Jerusalem.

    These bishops were among those who, just four years earlier, laughed when a bishop voiced a fear of the loss of Latin. I don't think these bishops laughed because the idea was absurd, as some have suggested, they were laughing at the naivete of those who were duped.
    But I also think that these men duped Bugnini, his musical vision was of chant whether Latin or vernacular by the whole congregation, not exhibitionist crooners or rock bands.
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,163
    “The unity of hearts is more profoundly achieved by the union of voices” was transcribed directly into the rubric of the Novus Missal, where it continues to cast shade on non-congregational singing during Communion, not only solo arias but motets, anthems, and chant.
    Thanked by 1MatthewRoth
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    And yet, when I am in the pews, I always resent being expected to sing while in line, when I would prefer to gather my thoughts and prepare myself for the most intimate thing a human being can do. I especially resent it when the person behind me in line is singing loudly in the wrong key while I'm trying to receive Communion.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,384
    I think that should be another thread, I have never experienced successful congregational singing during Communion.
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 542
    I have never experienced successful congregational singing during Communion.


    I have experienced it only in a midwestern Lutheran church where I worked in college. There would be 400 people there for a liturgy; the altar rail could accommodate 50ish at a time (kneeling, all receiving both host and chalice, so each group took a while to come and go). Those in the pews sang heartily when it was not “their turn”, and some folks brought the hymnal with them, or else knew the words by heart. And by heartily, I mean I frequently had to use the Great principal chorus and swell reeds to keep them together, which kind of spoiled the devotional character of hymns one would usually choose for a lengthy Communion.

    That was a very special church, completely sui generis and with a highly engaged and devout congregation. Every Sunday, the cantor or choir sang the Communion proper, actually from Fr. Weber, and then it was a full-on hymn festival with one or two choral pieces. Never seen the like anywhere else.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • Highly engaged and devout aren't (necessarily) the same thing, since they are measures of different criteria.

    I agree, though, that our esteemed host could split this conversation off as its own thread.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,966
    I have experienced successful congregational singing during Communion. It's possible. The particulars on the ground matter.
  • I love the German approach to the Communion hymn -- the organist extemporizes during the procession itself, and then, during the Ablutions, transitions into the introduction for the Danklied, sung by everyone from their places. It means not everything needs a refrain.

    I now do this at School Masses -- the choir have to go down to receive communion first, and so I introduce the hymn at some length while they do that, and when they return, we begin to sing.

    Of course, this would be objected to on the basis of that pious 20 seconds of stark silence we are expected awkwardly to keep as the congregation kneel and the celebrant sits (or everyone sits with him, or only some, und so weiter) so we can pray after receiving Communion, continually anticipating the inevitable interruption of our private prayer by the priest's decision that "enough is enough."

    My current pastor is a delight in this way. He does the ablutions, heads back to the chair, and immediately begins, "Let us pray." No awkward silence. We had the ablutions to pray, and we can time those visually, so it's not awkward at all.
    Thanked by 1Salieri
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    Edited for clarification:

    We do Communion Antiphon (GIRM 86, 87) with verses during communion, with other choir chants/motets/organ (when permitted) to cover the procession, then do a hymn during the ablutions (GIRM 88). The nice thing about this is that it allows a good chunk of time to sing All (or at least Most) of the verses of some really great hymns (like "All Creatures of our God & King") which would not be possible if these hymns are sung for the Entrance, Offertory, or Recessional.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,966
    In the OF, the rite directs that the Communion antiphon or song (not instrumental music) begin as the celebrant communes (*not* after ) and then through the communion by the faithful, underscoring the liturgical unity of that action.
    Thanked by 1Andrew_Malton
  • 86. While the Priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion Chant is begun, its purpose being to express the spiritual union of the communicants by means of the unity of their voices, to show gladness of heart, and to bring out more clearly the “communitarian” character of the procession to receive the Eucharist. The singing is prolonged for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful.[73] However, if there is to be a hymn after Communion, the Communion Chant should be ended in a timely manner.


    At school Mass:

    Communion Chantiphon
    Hymn announced
    Extemporized, extended hymn intro
    Hymn when the choir return
  • In the OF, the rite directs that the Communion antiphon or song (not instrumental music) begin as the celebrant communes (*not* after ) and then through the communion by the faithful, underscoring the liturgical unity of that action.


    In many OF environments, where the choir receives first and does so during Mass, I would imagine this is largely logistically impossible. I know that it would not be possible at my place of employment unless the choir were to receive after Mass instead of during (which I'm fine with but which many OF priests discourage).
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,966
    In my experience, a soloist or smaller schola can lead the initial part of the singing as the rest of the choir receives, and then the rest of the choir picks up as the soloist/schola receives. (Quite possible to do with psalmody (vernacular and Latin) and hymnody; thornier if anthems are the chosen thing to lead with.) The ritual does contemplate that arrangements are to be made for the choir to receive during the communion rite, as part of the body of the faithful. (Some chorister may *prefer* to receive after Mass, but it should be their free personal choice, not that of the MD or priest.)
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 1,152
    I've never been to a Mass where the music begins as the priest consumes. It's always after he sets down the cup.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,966
    And, for the OF, that's not what the Missal indicates. It's not a secret, either. There's a deliberate choice in what the Missal directs to underscore the essential liturgical unity of the communion rite.

    "86. While the Priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion Chant
    is begun, its purpose being to express the spiritual union of the
    communicants by means of the unity of their voices, to show gladness of
    heart, and to bring out more clearly the “communitarian” character of the
    procession to receive the Eucharist. The singing is prolonged for as long as
    the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful. However, if there is to
    be a hymn after Communion, the Communion Chant should be ended in a
    timely manner.

    Care should be taken that singers, too, can receive Communion with
    ease."
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,384
    You cannot have literal unity of voices when some people are speaking, some are consuming, and many are distracted by walking, deferring to other members of the congregation, ... We are at this point of the Mass in communion with both those bodily present and the whole cloud of heavenly witnesses, but not by performing the same actions simultaneously. Even if all were willing it could not work, but some are deaf, some are dumb (or reluctant to sing), some may be blind (or have forgotten their glasses), many are illiterate; none of these conditions exclude us from the foretaste of the heavenly banquet.
    The communitarian character of the procession is expressed by the cooperation required to form and maintain it despite the dynamics of people joining and leaving it.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,966
    It's why simple psalmody (including scriptural canticles) is a model or touchstone for this part of the liturgy.
  • davido
    Posts: 886
    I’ve never understood the commitment of liturgists and musicians to #86 quoted above. As with so many things in the NO, the rubrics as given don’t work practically, seem poorly thought through, and are in poor taste. The slavish alternation of psalm verses and antiphons one repetitions of one single song for 8-10 minutes just because the book “said to” is ridiculous. It contradicts basically realities of musical form and their ability to retain interest. Not is it ever practical for a congregation (or choir) to sing while receiving communion. Singing cuts against the proper disposition to receive the Blessed Sacrament.
    As with so many NO ideas, it’s historical basis is in some mythically unprovable past and it stands against good taste and reason. Why promote it
  • nknutson
    Posts: 16
    “any combination of spoken and recited parts may be chosen.”

    Today, at St. Cunegunda’s, we’ll be singing the abridged Kyrie from Palestrina’s Pope Marcellus Mass, followed by the spoken Gloria, the Mass of Mountain Dew Liturgy for the Holy, finishing up with the Angus from Michael W. Smith and the solemn pontifical blessing will be spoken.

    It’s amazing that these documents were ever taken seriously, yet their ramifications still live on. In all seriousness, what was so bad about claritas et integritas?
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Which one is Mass of Mountain Dew? I've heard of the My Little Pony Mass, but not that one.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw LauraKaz
  • Knutson,

    My goodness! What a mixed bag you'll have.

    Why are you abridging the Palestrina? How are you doing so without damaging the piece?
    I've never heard of a sung Kyrie and spoken Gloria.
    Nor do I know the Mass of Mountain Dew Liturgy. Can you let me have a link here?
  • I think, perhaps, that his comment comment should be purple?
    Thanked by 1fcb
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,966
    "Singing cuts against the proper disposition to receive the Blessed Sacrament."

    That's just a bizarre assertion. Akin to asserting that having to pray the anaphora from the Missal does likewise. Singing is a medium of prayer.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw fcb
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,714
    @Liam
    "To sing is to pray twice"
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 2,056
    Chris:
    It starts like this:
  • Jeffrey,

    Oh dear me! Does it include clapping, and other similar behaviors?
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 2,056
    Yes. And tab for 5-string banjo.
  • Surely, you jest!