Friday, August 05, 2011

Links to Chants

You can find chants and music for Sundays and feasts at:

There are links for both the Ordinary and the Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite.
I cited Johnny Hixson's quotation of Pius XII on Facebook in the previous post.  I seemed to have elicited some hot responses.  I apologize for having thrown lighter fuel on the fire.  My previous posting was a little more nuanced than my Facebook response.

My dislike for low masses is personal not something I would like to impose. And I would, of course, make exceptions for private masses and extraordinary circumstances. A Chinese priest hoping to say mass before the commissar caught him might, like our Irish and English ancestors, want to be quick and quiet about it. (Think of Tom Day’s Why Catholics Can’t Sing.) I would also like to ban all high masses that are not chanted even though it means no Byrd, no Tallis, no Palestrina, and no, sigh, Mozart. I can love them in the concert hall and on CD, but there is no room for the congregation when the mass becomes a concert.

I still have bitter memories of 15 minute speed masses from the fifties. I am not saying all masses were that way, but a mass production mentality was too easy a temptation. (Sorry about the pun.) When I see younger clergy like Fr. Lies or Bishop James Conley celebrating the liturgy using the Missal of John XXIII with a spirituality nurtured by the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, I can understand how that spirituality then animates their celebration of the Ordinary Form. It is a reflection of the human condition that we needed forty years in the liturgical desert before we were able to rediscover the Roman Rite with fresh eyes and hear it as we chant a new song.

There is no reason why, with a modern, educated laity, that all masses can’t be chanted with the congregation chanting the Gloria, the Credo, the Pater Noster, the responses, etc. whether using the Missal of John XXIII (1962) or that of Paul VI (1970). Indeed the new English Missal will even facilitate the congregation’s chanting the Propers in English! I prefer Latin, of course. There will be no excuse for Marty Haugen or the St. Louis Jesuits, not that I expect to see them banned unfortunately.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Senseless Antiquarianism

Anachronism in the reform of liturgy is no virtue.

Organic development is no vice.

Johnny Hixson quotes Pius XII on Facebook:

"Thus, to cite some instances, one would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive table form; were he to want black excluded as a color for the liturgical vestments; were he to forbid the use of sacred images and statues in Churches; were he to order the crucifix so designed that the divine Redeemer's body shows no trace of His cruel sufferings; and lastly were he to disdain and reject polyphonic music or singing in parts, even where it conforms to regulations issued by the Holy See."
        -Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei, November 20, 1947

A few observations:

I have not checked the accuracy of the translation, but"straying from the straight path" sounds too much like a Maoism.  Pius forgive me (or is it your translator?)

In paragraph 64, Pius XII rejects "senseless antiquarianism."  I agree.  Mr. Hixson's quote is from Paragraph 62 and should be read in this context. Benedict has explained this with great theological insight both now and before his papacy.  Renewing the liturgy is central to renewing the church.  Wrecking the liturgy to reconstruct some scholar's mistaken imagining of how the primitive church must have performed the liturgy is not renewal.

In the context of all three paragraphs of Mediator Dei, Pius rejects those who attack as inauthentic any development of the liturgy after that of the primitive church, i.e., as reconstructed in the mind models of scholars.  He himself reformed the Holy Week liturgy which is how it came to its form in the Missal of John XXIII: the 1962 Missal commonly used as the missal in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

Personally I believe that the idea the altar should be a Renaissance dinner table is anachronistic. Whether the table is like Michelangelo's Last Supper or Luther's Tisch, it is neither like what Christ sat at nor like the altar in the Jewish Temple. Both are Renaissance projections back to the first century: "senseless antiquarianism."

Personally I love sacred polyphony, but prefer chant in mass and think every mass should be chanted. I would eliminate low masses other than private masses and under extraordinary circumstances. Music after Praetorius, even that of divine Mozart, robs the congregation of its rightful role.  This is a tragedy of the reductionist reforms of Trent. It is even true even of my beloved Renaissance polyphony.  Am I throwing the baby out with the bath water? Tallis forgive me!