Monday, August 30, 2010

The Vexation of "Propers" at the Mass

Among those who follow such things, the disappearance of the Propers from the Mass is a vexing problem. In the ideal, the Propers are sung. The "gathering hymn" is simply NOT a substitute for them, no matter the marketing dollars (and consequently, the revenue dollars for missalette publishers) thrown around to frustrate the ideal.

From Hungary's Laszlo Dobszay come some thoughts for consideration.

Finding a resolution requires that we think over the situation carefully and formulate purposeful provisions leading to a true liturgical reform, one which extends also to the field of chant and includes both the musical material and the institutional background. Temporal constraints permit me to discuss only the first aspect, and I would like to do so in five theses.

Thesis 1 = The formula alius cantus aptus as a substitution for the Roman Gradual or the
Simple Gradual must be abolished.

Thesis 2 = The highest degree of vocal participation in the Mass proper is of course chanting
the full proprium in its Gregorian tunes. ...

Thesis 3 = Although the most splendid sonic vesture of the proper texts is contained in the
Graduale Romanum which “should be given pride of place in liturgical services,” it is also in conformity with church tradition that those texts may also resound in other worthy settings...

Thesis 4 = To churches or for Masses which are less well provided with good chanters, or
are just beginning the process of introducing liturgical chant, permission might be given to
return to the old “set principle,” which is to say using a collection of set pieces for an entire season, analogous to the Simple Gradual but based upon the traditional gradual...

Thesis 5 = The “regulated use of sets” is a step above the lowest level which could be
adopted chiefly in weekday Masses or at Masses with a small congregation. It involves congregational recitation of the antiphons, with the verse read out by a lector or server (facing the altar and not the congregation). If these texts were recited recto tono on one pitch (or even with a soft organ accompaniment), worshippers might be reminded that the text is properly a chant.

The original article, which contains valuable historical research, is available here on PP 17 ffd in the PDF pagination.)


GOR said...

Well while I miss the sung Propers at Mass, I would settle for their viva voce recitation at NO Masses. I solved that problem by following them in my Missal and disregarding the 'introduction' and assorted 'asides' by the celebrant at the NO Masses in my parish.

Of course, I read them in Latin, given that the translations bear little resemblance to the original meanings...

Badger Catholic said...

Preaching to the choir... literally. It turns out "Gooooood Morniiiiiiing!" and a big smile is not a valid substitution for the Introit.

Al said...

Speaking of propers, how many people know there is an antiphon for the offeratory like there is for the entrance & communion? No, not surprized, since virtually every missallette omits them completely since they are optional.