Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Horizontalizing of Mass

Here's a quote of interest, from a Milwaukee parish bulletin. We think that it is inadequate due to the pervasive horizontality of its language; while citing US Bishops' language, it totally ignores that of Pope St. Pius X.

"The Entrance song (or gathering song) is much more than merely an accompaniment to the procession of ministers. It is our first communal statement of that unity and an opportunity for the congregation to make a bold profession about our commitment to each other and our church. It is also a time to open our arms to visitors and those who are not fully members of our faith community. ....We welcome visitors to our church just as we would visitors to our homes. The entrance song also helps us focus on the particular feast or liturgical season and as such, the character of the song...often changes to appropriately...reflect the season."

Compare Mgr Peter Elliott from Ceremonies of the Roman Rite (1994):

"The procession assembles: (thurifer), cross-bearer, candle bearer, lector...all proceed to the sanctuary at an unhurried pace, while the entrance hymn is sung.

Notice that Elliott presumes that the entrance hymn accompanies the procession. He does not assign "values."

Compare Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite (1950):

Regarding the Gallican Rite (~400AD through ~800 AD):

"The Mass begins with a fourfold song sequence. First there is a psalmody, which, like the Roman Introit, accompanies the entrance of the clergy.

Jungmann does not assign "values" either; but in context, it is clear that the procession is significant and that the texts reflect the joy and solemnity of the occasion: the Mass.

However, the entrance rites were an accretion in Rome and in the East.

"In olden times the fore-Mass began abruptly with the lessons or readings. This was certainly the case in the Orient, and must also have been true in the West until far into the 5th Century.

But in the Eastern Rite,

"After the bishop had entered the Church....a priest, a deacon, and another cleric, each in turn, intoned a psalm, to each verse of which the people responded with a refrain....This forms the heart of the so-called 'enarxis', or opening. Here we find...three antiphonal songs composed mostly from the psalms. [After this] the Little Entrance follows. The clergy ....form a procession, [carrying the Gospel-book]. The Introit of the Roman Mass corresponds to this first entrance,...For this Little Entrance is accompanied by a special chant (eisodixon = introitus), which is usually followed by some other hymns (troparia) and finally by the trisagion...

[Later, after the reforms of the 16th Century] "...the natural consequence of all this evolution was a change in the role of the introit; the introit would have to be sung, but not as an accompaniment to the few steps....the introit became an introductory chant..."

Finally, still from Jungmann:

"But when we view the structures, [and understand that the area in which the ministers prepared for Mass was] at that time situated mostly near the entrance of the basilica, and when we take into account the number of clergy [in Papal Mass], it becomes quite clear that the procession of the clergy...was an act of great importance and significance.

And this was not always the province of the laity:

"...Even in the Roman liturgy of later antiquity this entrance chant, the introitus...was already arranged as an art-chant performed by a special group of singers....[and] varied according to the festivity. The texts for these songs were taken essentially from the psalter.

Evidently hymnody was not favored by Rome:

"The new hymnody, composed on the principle of meter and strophe, which was introduced about the time of St. Ambrose, was not admitted to the Roman Mass for over five hundred years. At Rome a strict rule was observed in the face of the wild and crafty song-propaganda of Manichean and Gnostic groups: We use only the songs dictated by the Spirit of God Himself."

That 'songs....Spirit of God...' means the Psalms. We need not comment on the song-propaganda foisted on Catholics today; it is gratingly apparent in many cases.

So far, we have found nothing which corresponds to the "merely an accompaniment" description offered in the parish's manifesto. Jungmann and Elliot both assert or imply, to the contrary, that the procession of the priest (or Bishop, or Pope) is of great significance and was accompanied by Psalmody where, if the congregation participated at all, it was with responsorials. Jungmann also notes that later, the entrance song was generally sung by trained singers. "Hymnody" was clearly disfavored--in fact, it was proscribed.

The US Bishops in the General Instruction (2002) acknowledged that the entrance song was not, however, strictly an accompaniment to the procession.

47. After the people have gathered, the Entrance chant begins as the priest enters with the deacon and ministers. The purpose of this chant is to open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical season or festivity, and accompany the procession of the priest and ministers.

48. The singing at this time is done either alternately by the choir and the people or in a similar way by the cantor and the people, or entirely by the people, or by the choir alone. In the dioceses of the United States of America there are four options for the Entrance Chant: (1) the antiphon from the Roman Missal or the Psalm from the Roman Gradual as set to music there or in another musical setting; (2) the seasonal antiphon and Psalm of the Simple Gradual; (3) a song from another collection of psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) a suitable liturgical song similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop.

But the Bishops said something else of importance: the LAST option--the LEAST favored-- for an entrance song is 'a suitable liturgical song' (hymn). The first option is the Introit Psalm, whether in Latin or English.

In Sing to the Lord, the US Bishops used the same language:

142. After the entire liturgical assembly has been gathered, an Entrance chant or song is
sung as the procession with the priest, deacon, and ministers enters the church. “The purpose of
this chant is to open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, introduce
their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical season or festivity, and accompany the procession
of the priest and ministers.”

And they again expressed a preference in "what" should be sung:

144. The text and music for the Entrance song may be drawn from a number of sources.

a. The singing of an antiphon and psalm during the entrance procession has been a longstanding tradition in the Roman Liturgy. Antiphons and psalms may be drawn from the official liturgical books—the Graduale Romanum, or the Graduale Simplex—or from other collections of antiphons and psalms.

b. Other hymns and songs may also be sung at the Entrance, providing that they are in
keeping with the purpose of the Entrance chant or song.

In brief, it is intellectually honest to assert that the Entrance Song is both an accompaniment to a very important procession and a means of fostering community. It is also honest to state that such music is not necessarily sung by the congregation (as implied by the parish's manifesto).

But the Entrance Song is more than accompaniment and unification: it is an occasion to begin conforming oneself to Christ in sacrifice offered to the Father. Thus it is also intellectually honest to stipulate that this song should have, in text and music, a gravamen appropriate to the occasion. That is why the Church points to Gregorian Chant as a model, and why she eventually favored trained choirs for this work.

The words of St. Pius X were certainly not in the minds of the US Bishops, nor of the parish's scribe. It was Pius' contention that sacred music should 1) glorify God and 2) raise the minds and hearts of the Faithful to God.

Quite a change, eh?


Dan said...

I wish the Churches would actually mean that the opening song is a welcoming song.
Here in Las Vegas, we have the most unwelcoming group of Catholic Churches in the country. Unless you belong to a clicque within the Church, you are not welcome.
Kind of explains why I don't go to Catholic Church anymore here in Las Vegas.
That and the constant greed of some churches and the liberal mantra at others.

Dave said...


St. Bridget roman Catholic Church
220 N. 14th St., Las Vegas, NV 89101-4312
Latin (ordinary form) 9:30 am

John Foust said...

Buy More Ammo!