Sunday, July 09, 2006

MS 27-32

III. Singing During Mass

27. As far as possible, eucharistic celebrations with the people, especially on Sundays, should by preference take the form of a Mass with singing, even more than once in the same day.

Right on.

28. The distinction between solemn, the high, and the low Mass, sanctioned by the 1958 Instruction (no. 3) remains in force, according to tradition and current law. But for pastoral reasons degrees of solemnity for the sung Mass are proposed here in order that it will become easier, in accord with each congregation's capability, to make the celebration of Mass more solemn through the use of singing.

These degrees must be so employed, however, that the first may always be used without the others, but the second and third never without the first. Thus in all cases the faithful are to be brought to take part fully in the singing.

It was my understanding that this first sentence distinguishing solemn, high and low masses had been rendered obsolete by the advent of the "Novus Ordo"--can anyone verify this?

As far as the aforementioned "degrees" go, these have been clearly ignored since the document was released. If the first degree was used by itself in any parish in the US, it would be a very strange experience for your typical Sunday worshipper.

29. To the first degree belong:

a. in the entrance rites

-the priest's greeting and the congregation's response;
-the opening prayer.

b. in the liturgy of the word

-the gospel acclamations.

c. in the liturgy of the eucharist

-the prayer over the gifts;
-the preface, with the opening dialogue and the Sanctus;
-the Lord's Prayer, with the invitation and embolism;
-the greeting May the peace of the Lord;
-the prayer after communion;
-the final dismissal.

In general, to this first degree go the priestly prayers as well as the dialogues with the people. This is curious to read since most priests I have come across rarely sing their parts of the mass.

(Note: What are the "gospel acclamations" in this context? The Gradual/Responsorial Psalm and the Alleluia seem to be contained in the third degree . . . ")

30. To the second degree belong:

a. Kyrie, Gloria, Agnus Dei;

b. profession of faith;

c. general intercessions.

Most of the Ordinary is included in this degree besides the Sanctus which is contained in the first.

31. To the third degree belong:

a. songs for the entrance procession and for communion;

b. chants after a lesson or epistle;

c. Alleluia before the gospel;

d. songs for the presentation of the gifts;

e. the Scripture readings, except when it seems better not to have them sung.

And to this degree goes the Proper. Notice again the order of the degrees, keeping in mind that the second degree should not be sung without the first and the third without the second and third:

1) Presidential Prayers and Dialogues

2) Ordinary

3) Proper

Of course we automatically notice that the degrees are normally inverted in the typical parish. I would say that the Proper (or the hymns substitued in their place) are nearly always the first thing to be sung, while the Presidential Prayers and Dialogues are almost never done, except during an important feast.

I must admit I found the contents of the degrees jarring when I first encountered them since they were so foreign to my own liturgical experience. Yet pondering them further, it is interesting to note that a mass with only the first degree sung could be a very prayerful and powerful liturgy done with little or no accompaniment.

32. In some places there is the lawful practice, occasionally confirmed by indult, of substituting other songs for the entrance, offertory, and communion chants in the Graduale. At the discretion of the competent territorial authority this practice may be kept, on condition that the songs substituted fit in with those parts of the Mass, the feast, or the liturgical season. The texts of such songs must also have the approval of the same territorial authority.

Normally I would say that this paragraph is the one that opened the floodgates for "Kum-ba-ya" and the like, but considering that I doubt many read this document at the time, I think the substitution of other hymns for the Propers was brought about elsewhere.

We're still waiting for the "competent territorial authority" to approve these songs.


At Sunday, July 09, 2006 7:58:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe the "Gospel Acclamations" would be the following:
V.Dominus vobiscum.
R.Et cum spiritu tuo.

And the Laus tibi, Christe after the Gospel.

This would fit into the category of Dialogues.

At Sunday, July 09, 2006 6:22:00 PM, Blogger Cantor said...

Yes, that is what I was going to write.

At Sunday, July 09, 2006 6:24:00 PM, Blogger Cantor said...

If the bishops get serious with making a “white-list” of non-ecclesiastical, non-Scriptural texts to be sung, this is going to change the profession of liturgical music immensely. In effect, the texts of the music in any Catholic hymnal will be the same.

And would this have a stifling effect on creation of hymns? *Someone* created “Veni Creator Spiritus”....under such a “white-list”, will it be legit even to use it locally?

At Tuesday, July 11, 2006 10:16:00 PM, Blogger Jeffrey Tucker said...

I asked around about this "Low" and "High" Mass issue. Here is answer I received:


To my knowledge the more colloquial term "high mass" has always been used for what was officially called the "Missa Solemnis" in the old rite, the Mass with a priest, deacon, and sub-deacon. The opposite was the "low mass," the simpler version without the deacons, choir, and the more ornate musical selections. Whereas there was to be only ONE "high mass," today any of multiple Sunday masses can be equally solemn, with deacons, concelebrants, incense, sprinkling rite, choral music etc.

As the term "high mass" seems to excite many of the more liberal liturgists, we simply call our more festive celebrations "Solemn Mass," a term that is also used in Rome and on EWTN respectively for their broadcasts. Interestingly enough, many Catholics elsewhere have retained the term "high mass," e.g. in Germany most parishes still have only one "Hochamt" on Sundays.

Strangely enough though, the current documents still mention a "Principal Mass" [sic], e.g. celebration of Palm Sunday, as if there was one mass that is to be "higher" than others...

At Wednesday, July 12, 2006 5:50:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey Tucker said...

By the way, I'm confused about the translation you use here. Paragraph 28 in the Adoramus version says

28. The distinction between solemn, sung and read Mass, sanctioned by the Instruction of 1958 (n. 3), is retained, according to the traditional liturgical laws at present in force. However, for the sung Mass (Missa cantata), different degrees of participation are put forward here for reasons of pastoral usefulness, so that it may become easier to make the celebration of Mass more beautiful by singing, according to the capabilities of each congregation.

At Wednesday, July 12, 2006 9:21:00 AM, Blogger PrayingTwice said...

The translation I am using is from

At Wednesday, July 12, 2006 10:32:00 AM, Blogger Todd said...

This liberal has no problem with "High Mass," given the understanding that every celebration of the 1970 Missal seems to be intended to be so. When people ask me about that, I tell them Catholics aspire (or should aspire) for excellence in every Mass.

At Wednesday, July 12, 2006 11:14:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey Tucker said...

Well, if it's no problem, and a colloquial usage in any case (I would still love to see the Latin of Music Sacram), it strikes me that there are strategic advantages in calling a Mass with sacred music a "High Mass." People still remember this terminology, and, as Todd says, it does cause people to aspire to something grand.

At Wednesday, July 12, 2006 2:39:00 PM, Blogger Dad29 said...

IIRC the license for 'hymnody' long preceded MCW; hymns were used during Low Masses back as far as 1965.

Thus, likely was allowed by the Const. on the Liturgy.

At Wednesday, July 12, 2006 2:43:00 PM, Blogger Cantor said...

dad29 - Hymnody was allowed pre-V2 because the priest still recited the Proper, and that was what counted, as I understand things.


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