Sunday, July 16, 2006

MS 33-36

33. The assembly of the faithful should, as far as possible, have a part in singing the Proper of the Mass, especially by use of the simpler responses or other appropriate melodies.
Of all the chants for the Proper the one coming between the readings as a gradual or responsorial psalm is particularly significant. It is intrinsically a part of the liturgy of the word and thus is to be sung with the whole assembly sitting, listening, and even, if possible, taking part.

This is a tricky one. When the Propers are actually done, they usually take the form of a non-congregational setting. When the people are asked to sing them, some concessions are usually made in regards to the integrity of the Proper itself.

Personally, I like the idea of the congregation fully involved with the Introit and the Gradual/Responsorial Psalm, but I think that Offertory and Communion are times when the Proper would often best be left up to the choir.

34. When there is to be part-singing for the chants of the Ordinary of the Mass, they may be sung by the choir alone in the customary way, that is, either a capella or with instrumental accompaniment. The Congregation, however, must not be altogether left out of the singing for the Mass.
In other cases the chants of the Ordinary may be divided between choir and congregation or between one part of the congregation and another. The singing is then done by alternating verses or in any other way that takes in most of the entire text. It is important in any such arrangement, however, to attend to the following. Because it is a profession of faith, the Credo is best sung by all or else sung in a manner that allows the congregation's proper participation. Because it is an acclamation concluding the preface, the Sanctus should as a rule be sung by the entire assembly along with the priest. Because it accompanies the breaking of the bread, the Agnus Dei may be repeated as often as necessary, especially in concelebrations and it is appropriate as well for the congregation to have a part in it, at least by singing the final Grant us peace.

The document makes an assumption that is nearly always ignored in practice: a sung Credo. Not only sung, but with the people involved.

I must admit, I've never even been to a mass where the Credo was sung, much less had it sung under my musical leadership. It just seems too long and unwieldy to pull off successfully. Has anyone ever tried the setting by T. Marier in HPSC in which the entire thing is sung recto tono on a G while the organ changes harmonies underneath? I'd like to see how that works sometime . . .

As far as the Sanctus, this debate has come up before in other venues (and maybe this one as well, I can't remember). This document affirms the use of the Sanctus by all assembled; choral settings would not be normative, nor even desired it seems.


35. The congregation should join the priest in singing the Lord's Prayer. [22] When it is in Latin, it is sung to the traditional melodies; the melodies for singing it in the vernacular must have the approval of the competent territorial authority.

Nothing raises the roof like the chant "Our Father" . . .

36. Any one of the parts of the Proper or the Ordinary in a low Mass may be sung. Sometimes it is even quite appropriate to have other songs at the beginning, at the presentation of the gifts, and at the communion, as well as at the end of Mass. It is not enough for these songs to be "eucharistic" in some way; they must be in keeping with the parts of the Mass and with the feast or liturgical season.

Once again, how does this play out in the current liturgical landscape when we don't really have "low" masses anymore? According to this paragraph, the "low" masses have different musical guidelines than those of the "high" or "solemn" mass which we discussed previously.

22. See Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instr. Inter Oecumenici, 26 Sept. 1964, no. 48 g.

6 Comments:

At Monday, July 17, 2006 8:40:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey Tucker said...

On section 34, the crucial phrase here is this one: "In other cases.." The first paragraph describes the full polyphony Mass: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus. Responses, hymns, etc. are done by congregation. The use of this is affired by MS, and this law remains in force.

The next paragraph begins "In other cases," that is to say when such a full polyphonic setting is NOT employed, THEN the singing is divided.

There is no question that this was carefully intended by the authors of the document. Fr. Robert Skeris, in a lecture at the latest CMAA colloquium, described all the debates and battles over this. There were those who of course wanted to jettison the use of full polyphonic Masses, but the structure and language of this section--which affirmed full choral Masses and also permitted other approaches--was their defeat. In other words, anyone who claims that the polyphonic Sanctus is not permitted cannot rely on MS for support.

 
At Monday, July 17, 2006 8:48:00 AM, Blogger Cantor said...

JT, interesting observation. I don’t think I’ve ever discounted the licit use of a choral Sanctus by MS; GIRM, though, explicitly states it.

One wonders what congregational singing would be like with a fully polyphonic Ordinary. The people probably wouldn’t sing the Proper, either; they might sing the acclamations/greeting/etc., and the responsorial psalm and alleluia could still fly.

 
At Monday, July 17, 2006 10:47:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey Tucker said...

Or, as you point out above, a sung Credo with the congregation. We did that in D.C. using Credo I (in the new rite), and it worked very well.

I do think we need to be careful in citing that section of the GIRM on the Sanctus as excluding the possibility of a polyphonic Sanctus, since that would amount to the claim that the world's most famous Catholic liturgies at the Brompton Oratory or St. John Cantius or even in the Vatican are violating liturgical law. It seems much more reasonable to see MS as prescriptive and the GIRM as descriptive. Even the Pope has spoken explicitely about the particular matter of the Sanctus.

 
At Monday, July 17, 2006 10:56:00 AM, Blogger Cantor said...

....and the point I’ve made several times is that the GIRM, then, needs to be changed. It explicitly states that the Sanctus is sung by all. Until that time, we must abide by it - which does mean, yes, that the liturgies at St. John Cantius et al are violating liturgical law. (In my time at SJC, it didn’t strike me that “full, conscious, and active participation” was a big concern for many laity or clergy there.)

Which musical setting of the Creed did you use? I am hesitant to believe it would work in St. Random Parish, at least right now, but it’s gotta start somewhere/sometime.

 
At Monday, July 17, 2006 11:11:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey Tucker said...

Oh we used Credo I.

It is easy to pick up.

You know what is a wonderful Credo that is overlooked? Credo IV. We've worked it up and sung it for preludes but not yet as the actual Credo.

A plus side of the strange situation in which we've found ourselves--in a time when all but a few know nothing of the chant tradition--is that we can start new and try some of these settings out. We don't have to be forever stuck with Credo III, as some PV rite parishes are.

 
At Monday, July 17, 2006 11:12:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey Tucker said...

Oh we used Credo I.

It is easy to pick up.

You know what is a wonderful Credo that is overlooked? Credo IV. We've worked it up and sung it for preludes but not yet as the actual Credo.

A plus side of the strange situation in which we've found ourselves--in a time when all but a few know nothing of the chant tradition--is that we can start new and try some of these settings out. We don't have to be forever stuck with Credo III, as some PV rite parishes are.

 

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