Skip to comments.Dramatic Changes in Music Rubrics for New Missal
Posted on 07/11/2011 2:47:29 AM PDT by markomalley
Some of the most advanced thinkers in the world of music and liturgy have long identified the critical problem in Catholic music today. They have pointed out that the Mass itself provides for the texts and the music for the Mass, but in the General Instruction on on the Roman Missal, there appears a loophole. Musicians can sing what is appointed, or (option 4) they can sing something else, and that something else is limited only by what the musicians themselves deem as appropriate. What this has meant, in effect, is: anything goes. This is why it often seems that when it comes to music at Mass that, well, anything goes.
Im happy to report that the legislative ground has just shifted, and dramatically so. The new translation of the General Instruction removes the discretion from the music team to sing pretty much whatever it wants. The new text, which pertains to the new translation of the Missal that comes into effect on Advent this year, makes it clear beyond any doubt: the music of the Mass is the chanted propers of the Mass. There are options but these options all exist within the universe of the primary normative chant. There can be no more making up some random text, setting it to music, and singing it as the entrance, offertory, or communion.
I have no doubt that the practice of singing non-liturgical texts will continue but it will now continue only under a cloud. If Im reading this correctly, any text other than an appointed text for the Mass will now fall outside the boundaries provided for by the authoritative document that regulates the manner in which Mass is to proceed.
We can be sure that gigabytes of digits will be produced with the intention of explaining to me and everyone why what we can clearly read below does not really mean what it seems to be saying, that there has been some mistake in phrasing, that taking this literally is only the penchant of traditionalists, and that the prevailing practice surely has equal normative status. Nonetheless, the text is there, clear as a bell, and will be printed in all editions of the Missal that is now in preparation.
Catholic musicians of the world, the GIRM would like you to meet a new friend: the propers of the Mass.
Let us compare old and new:
47. After the people have gathered, the Entrance chant begins as the priest enters with the deacon and ministers. The purpose of this chant is to open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical season or festivity, and accompany the procession of the priest and ministers.
48. The singing at this time is done either alternately by the choir and the people or in a similar way by the cantor and the people, or entirely by the people, or by the choir alone. In the dioceses of the United States of America there are four options for the Entrance Chant: (1) the antiphon from the Roman Missal or the Psalm from the Roman Gradual as set to music there or in another musical setting; (2) the seasonal antiphon and Psalm of the Simple Gradual; (3) a song from another collection of psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) a suitable liturgical song similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop.
48. This chant is sung alternately by the choir and the people or similarly by a cantor and the people, or entirely by the people, or by the choir alone. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, there are four options for the Entrance Chant: (1) the antiphon from the Missal or the antiphon with its Psalm from the Gradual Romanum, as set to music there or in another setting; (2) the antiphon and Psalm of the Graduate Simplex for the liturgical time; (3) a chant from another collection of Psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including Psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) another liturgical chant that is suited to the sacred action, the day, or the time of year, similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop.
61(d). [T]he following may also be sung in place of the Psalm assigned in the Lectionary for Mass: either the proper or seasonal antiphon and Psalm from the Lectionary, as found either in the Roman Gradual or Simple Gradual or in another musical setting; or an antiphon and Psalm from another collection of the psalms and antiphons, including psalms arranged in metrical form, providing that they have been approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop. Songs or hymns may not be used in place of the responsorial Psalm.
61(d). [I]nstead of the Psalm assigned in the lectionary, there may be sung either the Responsorial Gradual from the Graduale Romanum, or the Responsorial Psalm or the Alleluia Psalm from the Graduale Simplex, as described in these books, or an antiphon and Psalm from another collection of Psalms and antiphons, including Psalms arranged in metrical fonn, providing that they have been approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop. Songs or hymns may not be used in place of the Responsorial Psalm.
74. The procession bringing the gifts is accompanied by the Offertory chant (cf. above, no. 37b), which continues at least until the gifts have been placed on the altar. The norms on the manner of singing are the same as for the Entrance chant (cf. above, no. 48). Singing may always accompany the rite at the offertory, even when there is no procession with the gifts.
87. In the dioceses of the United States of America there are four options for the Communion chant: (1) the antiphon from the Roman Missal or the Psalm from the Roman Gradual as set to music there or in another musical setting; (2) the seasonal antiphon and Psalm of the Simple Gradual; (3) a song from another collection of psalms and antiphons, approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) a suitable liturgical song chosen in accordance with no. 86 above. This is sung either by the choir alone or by the choir or cantor with the people.
87. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, there are four options for singing at Communion: (1) the antiphon from the Missal or the antiphon with its Psalm from the Graduale Romanum, as set to music there or in another musical setting; (2) the antiphon with Psalm from the Graduale Simplex of the liturgical time; (3) a chant from another collection of Psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including Psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) some other suitable liturgical chant (cf. no. 86) approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop.
Now, I know what you are already thinking. You see a way around all this. Any pastor or musician can just decide to call the groovy tune that is chosen a chant. Heres my chant, says Lady Gaga. Its true that you could ignore the whole of English usage and call anything a chant, and I can also call my hat a banana and no one can stop me.
In like manner, you can ignore all the clear import of the mandates here pounce on the slight bit of liberality and say, hey, whos gonna stop this? All of that is true. And so it is when dealing with children when you step out of the house for a bit: you can give the clearest instructions possible, a comprehensive list of dos and do nots, and yet somehow they will find a way to get around the rules. All of this is true.
In other words, it will still not be possible to bring an end to the pop music with random texts at Mass by waving this at your pastors face. It seems to me very clear that vast swaths of existing music used in the English speaking world are soon to be regarded as illicit. I dont think there is any other honest way to read the new GIRM. There is very little if any room for anything now but the propers of the Mass.
Im not naive and neither are you: the other songs will continue. Even so, they are not long for this world. The Church now speaks and sings with a clear voice; we can choose to sing along or sing some other song of our choosing.
Here is a fair-use excerpt scan sent my way.
...but, like the author, I am not so naive as to think this will make any difference at all. After all, who cares about rules when we have far more important issues of inclusiveness and accessibility to consider.
The self-so-called "Ministers of Music", and other devotees of Oregon "Catholic" Press, members of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, and similar malefactors, are among the most obtuse people you will ever meet.
That's from the 2003 rubrics.
Guess what a lot of "ministers of music" inflict on congregations?
Yeah, that's right. Banal songs and gross (nearly unrecognizable) paraphrases of the Psalm.
The real scandal, here, is that their Pastors let them get away with it.
They’re also really ignorant. One thing that I have noticed, moving among them (I’m not a musician but am related to one!), is that many of them have no background in music and those that do are often former elementary school music teachers or even simply former teachers who happen to have played the electronic keyboard for the 4th grade pageant.
Seriously, I know that several of the churches around here have such people, and from what I have heard from people who have attended the NPM conference, that’s pretty typical.
So it’s no surprise that our music is at 4th grade level at best. The bizarre thing is that in most cases, these people are not volunteers but are actually paid by the parishes for doing this amateurish garbage. Also, some of them aren’t even Catholic and don’t even pretend to know anything about the Catholic musical tradition.
They seem to be more comfortable with show-tunes.
I was going to say...if you have a music book for Mass that consists of 75% feel-good “gathering” dreck written in the 70’s and 80’s...are they going to get rid of those sorts of song compilations?
“They seem to be more comfortable with show-tunes.”
Yes, absolutely. ~Happy ditties that are more pop than sacred.
Yesterdays Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 came out sounding like a dirge from Les Miserables. I could just see Jean Valjean with Cosette on his knee.
Very little in the current liturgical music is actually worship.
5. The Church has always recognized and favored the progress of the arts, admitting to the service of religion everything good and beautiful discovered by genius in the course of ages -- always, however, with due regard to the liturgical laws. Consequently modern music is also admitted to the Church, since it, too, furnishes compositions of such excellence, sobriety and gravity, that they are in no way unworthy of the liturgical functions.
Still, since modern music has risen mainly to serve profane uses, greater care must be taken with regard to it, in order that the musical compositions of modern style which are admitted in the Church may contain nothing profane, be free from reminiscences of motifs adopted in the theaters, and be not fashioned even in their external forms after the manner of profane pieces.
6. Among the different kinds of modern music, that which appears less suitable for accompanying the functions of public worship is the theatrical style, which was in the greatest vogue, especially in Italy, during the last century. This of its very nature is diametrically opposed to Gregorian Chant and classic polyphony, and therefore to the most important law of all good sacred music. Besides the intrinsic structure, the rhythm and what is known as the conventionalism of this style adapt themselves but badly to the requirements of true liturgical music.
17. It is not permitted to have the chant preceded by long preludes or to interrupt it with intermezzo pieces.
18. The sound of the organ as an accompaniment to the chant in preludes, interludes, and the like must be not only governed by the special nature of the instrument, but must participate in all the qualities proper to sacred music as above enumerated.
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.
20. It is strictly forbidden to have bands play in church, and only in special cases with the consent of the Ordinary will it be permissible to admit wind instruments, limited in number, judiciously used, and proportioned to the size of the placeprovided the composition and accompaniment be written in grave and suitable style, and conform in all respects to that proper to the organ.
(BTW, for those who say that Vatican II did away with all of that, please refer to Sacrosanctum Concillium (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy):
…Holy Scripture, indeed, has bestowed praise upon sacred song, and the same may be said of the fathers of the Church and of the Roman pontiffs who in recent times, led by St. Pius X (speaking of the above Motu Proprio), have explained more precisely the ministerial function supplied by sacred music in the service of the Lord.
Of course, if a more current quote is desired, you can look at this quote from Benedict XVI's Spirit of the Liturgy (p 144):
...As the Church was uprooted from her Semitic soil and moved into the Greek world, a spontaneous and far-reaching fusion took place with Greek Logos mysticism, with its poetry and music, that eventually threatened to dissolve Christianity into a generalized mysticism. It was precisely hymns and their music that provided the point of entry for Gnosticism, that deadly temptation which began to subvert Christianity from within. And so it is understandable that, in their struggle for the identity of the faith and its rooting in the historical figure of Jesus Christ, the Church authorities resorted to a radical decision. The fifty-ninth canon of the Council of Laodicea forbids the use of privately composed psalms and non-canonical writings in divine worship. The fifteenth canon restricts the singing of psalms to the choir of psalm-singers, while "other people in the church should not sing."
Naturally, we should keep in mind that the Council of Laodicea was only a regional synod and so their canons do not have the force of law outside of Anatolia, but, still, there is a very good lesson in those two canons, cited by Cardinal Ratzinger.
I was at a parish yesterday where the piano player adapted the “Sabbath Prayer” from Fiddler on the Roof for Offertory.
We can only hope. I am so tired of hippie music at Mass. every once in awhile our music ministry throws those of us who are more traditional a bone with a “Mass of Creation” selection, but we get a lot of claptrap.
What about the psalms that ARE put to music?
My pet peeve is the way the congregation is now prevented from singing anything but the refrain during the Gloria. We should all be singing those glorious words of praise to God. Instead, the Gloria is reduced to a solo moment for the cantor and we all listen passively as someone else praises God.
They are also always tinkering with the tune and the wording so the poor parishioners never get familiar enough with it to sing along and ruin their solo.
We should all be singing it, loud and proud! I refuse to stop singing it and sing all the words along with the cantor; but people look at me funny.
What about “traditional hymms”?
Our parish uses that same arrangement. The music director tried that for a while. She gave up when people kept singing the verses as well as the refrain.
Now they don't even bother trying to stop the faithful from singing the whole thing.
The (updated) GIRM allows for an appropriate hymn after the congregation has received communion (see Art. 88 on p 17 of the linked, scanned document).
Otherwise, there really should not be any place for it within the Mass. Before you complain, though, think about the tremendous patrimony of music we have that is appropriate. In other words, there really is not a huge NEED for it.
See post #10 for more. Also, I would refer you to an address made by Bishop Slattery of Tulsa last August at the Matriculation Ceremony for Thomas Aquinas College:
I know that for two generations now, Catholics have been expected to sing an opening hymn at Mass and in many parishes the faithful are regularly browbeaten to stand up and greet this mornings celebrant with hymn #so-and-so which, depending upon the parish, might be taken from the red hymnbook, or the blue hymnbook, or the nicely disposable paperback missalette. So deeply has this opening hymn mentality shaped our consciousness that most Catholics would be astounded to hear me say that hymns have no real place in Mass.
Hymns belong in the Liturgy of the Hours and in the common devotions of the faithful, but the idea that the parish liturgy committee should sit down sometime early in the month and look through a hymn book, trying to find pretty hymns which havent been overdone in the past three or four months, which explore the themes of the Sunday Masses and which brings the people together as a singing community is an idea completely alien to the spirit of the Catholic liturgy.
It is alien first of all because the singing of hymns as Sunday worship was a Protestant innovation, better suited to their non-Sacramental worship than to the Mass, and alien secondly because an opening hymn introduces - at the very inception of the sacred action - that element of creative busy-ness, which is, as we have seen, antithetical to the nature of salvation as a gift we receive from God.
What belongs at the beginning of Mass is the sung introit, that is a sung antiphon and psalm. In the Catholic liturgical tradition, these are unique compositions in which a scriptural cento is set to a singular piece of music. The melody explores and interprets the text of the cento, while the composition as a whole illuminates the meaning to be discovered later in the readings of the day.
We chant the Gloria in Latin. It is so beautiful! I won’t move from the KC area because I know how hard it is to find a church like the one we’re in now. It is truly a blessing! The few times we do go to the church down the street I am just reminded of why we left in the first place. I can live without the mandolin and bongo drums at Mass.
Maybe I should say this better, but what I meant was that by a traditonal hymm, it is one that stood the test of time, not one of those “happy-clappy” type of songs. A traditional hymm is acceptable.
Also with the adult choir that I am a part of, for Pentecost, did a beautiful chant from the Taize, which is entrance chant.
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