Thursday, October 14, 2010

More of My Liturgical OCD

I don't think I've posted this before.

One of my pet peeves about the Novus Ordo is the sometimes incomprehensible inconsistency whereby only certain parts of the Ordinary are sung, or where some things are spoken even though other parts are sung or chanted on a tone. The same thing goes for the use of Latin vs. Vernacular. I'm all for the use of the vernacular, and am perfectly comfortable with all Latin too, but what I absolutely hate is the random sprinkling of just a little token Latin that some parishes try to do (especially around Advent and Lent).

If one part of the Ordinary is sung, they all should be. No more spoken Gloria but sung Agnus Dei. Likewise, if one part of a logical grouping is in Latin, they all should be. No more vernacular Kyrie with Latin Sanctus or inconsistent stuff like that. Definitely not, like, a sung Latin Sanctus with a spoken Latin Agnus Dei, with a sung vernacular Kyrie, but spoken vernacular Gloria and Creed, etc (which I've actually seen!)

And for God's sake: if one of the Collects is chanted on its tone, they all should be. How many times at Mass do I have to hear the "Opening Prayer" chanted, but then by the time the Post-communion rolls around the priest merely speaks it as if he just forgot what he did at the beginning or ran out of steam?? With the readings too and the dialogue parts. No more arbitrary combinations of sung vs spoken, Latin vs vernacular! Certain combinations should be approved only.

At the Old Mass, of course, either everything is sung, or everything is spoken. There are no random arbitrary combinations. For either liturgy, I would propose the following schema for combinations of sung/spoken and Latin/vernacular:

Low Mass

1. All Latin

2. All Latin except for the Propers (ie, all unchanging parts in Latin). To be encouraged as eventually the most common form.

3. Mostly Vernacular but with Kyrie, Gloria, Creed, Sanctus, [Silent] Canon, Pater Noster, Agnus Dei, and Ite Missa Est in Latin. Likely would remain the most common for a long time.

4. All Vernacular except for [Silent] Canon (#4 to be discouraged and phased out eventually.)

Note: A "partially sung" Mass, as is common in the Novus Ordo, should be allowed, but classed as a Low Mass. In other words, the Kyrie, Gloria, Creed, Sanctus, Pater Noster, Agnus Dei, and Ite Missa Est may be sung by the congregation while the priest reads them, even though the rest of the Mass and the Propers be merely spoken. This would replace the former principle of allowing the singing of hymns during Low Mass. However, it is only to be allowed if those parts of the Ordinary are sung in Latin. In other words, the all vernacular #4 (which would be discouraged and to eventually phased out soon enough anyway) would always remain an entirely merely spoken Mass.

High Mass

1. All Latin

2a. All Latin except for the Propers. The Minor Propers are encouraged to use a melody recognizably similar to and adapted from the Graduale melody; each country should approve an official "Vernacular Graduale" for this purpose. The Minor Propers may also use, however, a simpler unofficial melody for the vernacular text. They may even be chanted on a tone or adapted to a small set of stock-melodies, though this is not to be considered ideal.

2b. All Latin except for the Lessons and Collects (chanted on their tone nonetheless). Minor Propers in Latin according to the official Gregorian melody from the Graduale. Psalm verses associated with the Minor Propers may be chanted on their tone in the vernacular. This is for the parish that still wants/needs the longer Propers in the vernacular, but is willing to take the shorter Propers in Latin for the sake of maintaining the authentic Gregorian melody.

3a. Mostly vernacular but with Kyrie, Gloria, Creed, Sanctus, [Silent] Canon, Agnus Dei, and Ite Missa Est in Latin. The Minor Propers are encouraged to use a melody recognizably similar to and adapted from the Graduale melody; each country should approve an official "Vernacular Graduale" for this purpose. The Minor Propers may also use, however, a simpler unofficial melody for the vernacular text. They may even be chanted on a tone or adapted to a small set of stock-melodies for the first few years of the transition.

3b. Mostly vernacular but with Kyrie, Gloria, Creed, Sanctus, [Silent] Canon, Agnus Dei, Ite Missa Est, and Minor Propers in Latin. For the parish that still wants/needs the longer or less-memorized texts in the vernacular, but is willing to take the Minor Propers in Latin for the sake of maintaining the authentic melody. Thus, if this combination is to be done, it should only be if the true Gregorian melody from the Graduale is used for the Minor Propers. Psalm verses associated with the Minor Propers should, however, be chanted on their tone in the vernacular.

(A hypothetical #4, all vernacular except for the Canon, should not be allowed for High Mass)

So there are six acceptable internally consistent language combinations ranging from All Vernacular [except canon] to All Latin. And, really, there are only three main combinations (seeing as All Vernacular is being phased out): All Latin, Latin with Vernacular Propers, and Vernacular with Latin Ordinary.

Options 2b and 3b wherein the Minor Propers are in Latin even though the other Propers are in the vernacular for the High Mass are merely variations of 2a and 3a for the sake of maintaining the Gregorian melody, thus requiring the Minor Propers to be treated separate from the others and put in Latin. Such combinations do not exist in the Low Mass because they only make sense in a situation where the Minor Propers are going to be
sung. When they are going to be spoken anyway, it makes no sense to separate them linguistically from the Major Propers.


You will also notice three acceptable internally consistent singing combinations. Two Low Mass options: all spoken, or spoken with sung Ordinary. And the one High Mass option: all sung (with the various options for the melodies of the Minor Propers).

At least, I think, some sort of set combinations like this would make things a little less arbitrary. If I have to sit through one more Novus Ordo with a random Latin Sanctus (and no other Latin), or where what is sung and what is spoken has no particular logic behind it...I'm going to scream. I know there is this idea that "some is better than none" when it comes to Latin and music in the Mass, but sometimes that isn't really true. If you can't even make the matching parts match...don't even bother. I also always want to shout that if people can stand the Agnus Dei in Latin during Lent, that probably means they could handle it all year!

5 comments:

sortacatholic said...

Your plan is ambitious but not altogether tenable. The best you'd get at most places is 4 for Low Mass and (3a) for High Mass. "Liturgically advanced" parishes and certain cathedrals might get up to 3 (Low) and 3b (High) for feasts and solemnities.

It's important to remember that the majority of the clergy today (even monsignori and bishops) cannot even pronounce Latin properly. Sure, many priests in the "old days" were functionally illiterate in Latin. Still, many of them could pronounce the words. If the Canon in Latin is made mandatory again (good idea), many priests will have to be taught how to recite the Canon syllabically. This training worked for ABBA, but will it play with the priesthood?

The Church desperately needs an moral overhaul. While I agree that some liturgical changes would be nice, the current focus must be on saving the priestly institution itself.

Anonymous said...

I was at the cathedral today, and surprise, they did this exact kind of thing. They have the luxury of being attached to an all boys school and so the senior boys choir does a very good job singing at every noon Sunday Mass.

But it's an incoherent mess. The Kyrie is simply spoken as "Lord have mercy" while the Gloria is sung De Angelis. The Sanctus is in English so every can, presumably, sing along, whereas the Agnus Dei is chanted by the choir.

The prayers were all simply spoken, save the Per Ipsum.

The presiding priest had a thick Indian accent, so it was difficult to understand him anyways. Were he speaking in Latin, at least it could have been an sacred incomprehensibility.

When they dress up the Mass in the garb of tradition, something still feels wrong. How we can go from the cardboard "Lord have mercy,,," to the Gloria of the Angels to the skeletal well-wishing collects is perplexing. And worse, when the choir does have the chance to sing superbly, the entire Mass has at this point, basically stopped. The priest is standing around during the Ordinary, staring at his feet because his role has been so reduced and his prayers are said in a manner of seconds.

But hey, its all so we can participate, no? But we can't. No one knows the Gloria or Agnus Dei in Latin, so we basically just put praying the Mass on pause and listen to the lovely three minute interlude.

It's hopelessly confused.

Anonymous said...

wow, I wish I could edit out my numerous grammatical errors.

Andrew said...

I would much prefer this sort of arrangement to the current NO style of doing just any old thing you feel like. Most NOs, even those which are supposedly solemn, have the feel of something like a Low Mass w/ crappy music. Its like the worst of the '50's times ten...

This is also what is nice about the stratification of the TLM, if you don't have enough clerics, servers, choir members, etc. for a Solemn High, you don't try to do some butchered sorta-Solemn High you just bump it down to the next level of solemnity you can pull off. If it ends up being a Low Mass then so be it.

Who Am I said...

Low Masses have got to go.

They're "ok" for normal weekdays, but on a Sunday, come on people, get with it.

I've seen my share of mishaps at TLMs so let's not pretend everything is pristine there either.

You're not supposed to strut with the incense, you're meant to process with it. You're carrying with you all the prayers of THE SAINTS for crying out loud.