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.
You are being far too generous. More like Disney movie show tunes.
Or they just like it better. 60’s priests are notorious for that.
For a while the band at our former parish was using an adaptation of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” for the Hallelujah. Not only were the original lyrics sexual in nature, but everyone not familiar with Cohen’s work was reminded of Shrek.
Even Anglican? Not my taste, but it does flow quite well and it's not hard compared to some other forms.
I’m just praying for a local Anglican parish with a dignified reverent liturgy to cross the Tiber. Then it’s “Adios payasos!”
The man who sometimes fills in for us at the Spanish Mass has used an arrangement of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” for the Alleluya. Sears this poor old Confederate soul ...
How would the Mexicans feel if we used the tune of “Ballad of the Alamo,” huh?
Even so, was a baptized Christian and besides, Taize is what I call, starting, begining, or introduction to chanting.
Do not be surprise if the introit will be done very briefly to be used to serve as an introduction to a hymm.
J: And Matt Maher:
B: Even so, was a baptized Christian and besides, Taize is what I call, starting, begining, or introduction to chanting.
I can understand and appreciate all of that. My point is, why? There are 2,000 years of Catholic musical patrimony that we have had left to us. Although there are truly many non-Catholic composers who wrote incredible works, why must those works be performed during a Catholic liturgy? Is there such a lack of authentic Catholic work that a hole exists that must be filled by a non-Catholic?
This is nothing against the non-Catholic. In fact, many of their works bring tears to my eyes they are so beautiful. (The epitome of this is Handel's Messiah)
But the question I'm left with is why during the liturgy? If there is a hole in our own patrimony, so be it. But surely after 2,000 years there shouldn't be a hole.
(The modern archetype of this is the unfortunately ubiquitous Mass of Creation -- written by Marty Haugen....a Lutheran. There are perfectly competent Catholic composers out there even now. Look at James MacMillan as an example)
Because pretty much EVERY Roman Catholic parish insists on offering only short bus liturgies. They show no respect for the intelligence of the parishioners. They are like Cain offering up the crap.
The Requiem IS a Mass.
In the classical music sense, yes. Really, though, and having performed it more than once with multiple interpretations, it's really more theatrical than reverent and was part of a movement that was corrected in the 19th century when chant was once again emphasized over "performance" level pieces, which the Mozart Requiem clearly is. This is part of the reason that classical music doesn't have so many Masses in the eras since.
Heh. That line's a keeper. I tend to stay out of these music conversations. This is my church choir, http://www.cantoresinecclesia.org/pages/main_pages/about_us.html
Agreed, this also tosses Gounod, et al, out of the picture.
My larger point is that there is a definite place for Gregorian and other forms of chant and there is a definite place for hymnody, regardless of the Christian source. My own hymnal has hymns from Ephraem Syrus, Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Ralph Vaughn Williams, Charles Wesley, Martin Luther and many many Roman ones. I am happy to see the Roman congregations being encouraged to move from the trivial show tunes now in use back toward reverent hymans. I am not so happy to see the Roman Church use this as one more way to exclude anything not explicitly produced by a Roman. It’s just not charitable and it really does rule out some of the most beautiful and reverent music ever composed.
No, but, leaving the late 20th century crap out of the argument, from time to time there are pieces that fit the Mass of the Day better than anything else that are not Catholic in origin. I.e., ANYTHING by Felix Mendelssohn who wrote a beautiful oratorio called "St. Paul" that has more than one movement that's in the standard repertoire. There's other pieces of his, including Hark, the Herald Angels Sing that work just fine and not many people complain about them. Most of them are done as anthems, or special pieces, not hymn singing. Doing without the spirituals and that sort of thing is probably not going to hurt anything.
If the goal here is pure, Catholic chant, it's going to be a bit of an uphill battle unless the parishes are willing to spend the money on musicians who know what they're doing. It's not as easy as it looks and after singing other genres accompanied, learning to connect the line and maintain pitch a cappella ain't easy. It takes a while to make it sound inspirational and there are choirs that can wreck chant. I heard it earlier this year and it was bad enough that there was banning involved.
Beware of idealizing this. It's a lot of work and it's going to take the bishops' taste to change before it all gets worked out.
As a bonus, include that insipid hymn that re-uses the theme from the 4th Movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony (Joyful, joyful, or some such title). Why somebody would use a melody written to support a poem by Schiller as the basis for a "spiritual" song is beyond me. (And, yes, I dearly love the symphony, but within a Catholic Church? Really?????) -- read up on Schiller a little bit and my objection may not seem so ridiculous.
Secondly, after decades in being in church choirs - some really good, some not - the protestant stuff, for the most part, but not all, really doesn't fit and a lot of times the lyrics are theologically wrong. Nothing against the music, it's just a reality.
The point in this thread is that there are parts of the Mass that have been suppressed in the last 50 or so years - the Introit, the Offertorio and the Communio - that the General Instructions now state MUST be put back in and the preferred musical conduit is chant. These are not hymns. They are antiphons with psalm verses. Hymns are to take a back seat. The article says nothing about the recessional, so I suppose hymns can be sung there, but the antiphons are not to be replaced.
My current choir has a director that has a HUGE collection of music and we actually did gorgeous settings of the Offertory Antiphons during Lent. There's also several standard chant settings for all of it.
It'll be interesting to see how this all shakes out.
I've seen several different sets of lyrics for this one - and, yeah, it's not really religious. I like to call it the Illuminati Theme Song.
David Haas has a couple that aren't bad. I'd add Richard Proulx to the list. Half the time he just set words to tunes we already know. Lazy, lazy.
Every Catholic should know the Gloria by heart and say or sing it joyfully. The entire thing! More of us would if they didn’t keep changing the tune and the words so we can’t feel familiar and comfortable with them.
My latest Mass misadventure: I have begun resisting pressure by not holding hands during the Our Father. I just hold my hands up in front of me, put my head down, close my eyes, and pray it. Last week, while in this posture of prayer, I had a fellow parishioner come across the aisle and tap me on the arm and make me hold his hand!
Why on Earth do our bishops tinker with custom like this? We should all be using our bodies in the same way at every Mass in the country. Isn’t it incorrect to hold hands during the Our Father?