Solemn Mass in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, “ad orientem”, in Latin with Gregorian Chant at St Brigid's Fitzroy this Sunday!

Solemn Mass in the Ordinary Form/Use of the Roman Rite (Novus Ordo) “ad orientem”, in Latin with Gregorian Chant at St Brigid’s Catholic Church, Fitzroy North On the last Sunday of each month.

Next Mass: Sunday, 30 November 2008 at 6pm (1st Sunday in Advent)

On the last Sunday of each month, St Brigid’s Parish offers Mass in a way that more closely follows the teachings of the Second Vatican Council in its document Sacrosanctum Concilium. Solemn Mass in the Ordinary Form/Use of the one Roman Rite (the Novus Ordo) is celebrated in Latin, with Gregorian chant and in an “ad orientem” posture for the Liturgy of the Eucharist: where Priest and Congregation together face liturgical east toward the Tabernacle.

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7 Responses to Solemn Mass in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, “ad orientem”, in Latin with Gregorian Chant at St Brigid's Fitzroy this Sunday!

  1. Joshua says:


    From your attendance at this Mass, could you comment on these points:

    What parts (if any) are in the vernacular – in particular, are the readings and General Intercessions sung in Latin, or read in English?

    (I assume the Homily is NOT in Latin!!!)

    Are lay readers used, or does a vested lector read the first and second readings, and does the Deacon read the General Intercessions?

    I take it that, as the Propers are sung in chant, the Responsorial Psalm – God be praised – is replaced by the Gradual.

    Is Communion given out to a mainly kneeling or a mainly standing congregation?

    Just curious!

    It is good to see that a proper Reform of the Reform liturgy is being celebrated in Australia. (I was privileged to attend one at an ACSA Conference in Sydney a few years ago.)

  2. Schütz says:

    I have only attended one of these, unfortunately. Family and parish and work committments and distance from home have kept me from attending more.

    1. What parts (if any) are in the vernacular – in particular, are the readings and General Intercessions sung in Latin, or read in English? (I assume the Homily is NOT in Latin!!!)

    In fact, the homily and the intercessions are the only bits in English. I have argued for the readings to be in English, but they just provide the translation in the service order.

    2. Are lay readers used, or does a vested lector read the first and second readings, and does the Deacon read the General Intercessions?

    When I went, they had a deacon involved to read the gospel – I can’t remember if he did the intercessions. The readers were vested and chanted the readings, but I don’t know if they were “lectors” or “lay”.

    3. I take it that, as the Propers are sung in chant, the Responsorial Psalm – God be praised – is replaced by the Gradual.

    That’s how I remember it.

    4. Is Communion given out to a mainly kneeling or a mainly standing congregation?

    Kneeling, I think. Can’t quite recall…

  3. Joshua says:

    Thanks, David –

    you confirm that the liturgy is indeed done in good spirit.

    Having the lectors vested (instituted or not) is a very important aspect that differentiates reading at Mass from some secular function.

    I have often wondered where the cult of the lay reader came from – it turns the first part of the Mass into a sort of festival of lay empowerment, and I believe impels similar distortions in the second half (superfluous ministers of communion, etc.). All reading at Mass should be done by lectors – after all, we have a rite for their installation, why not use it?

    And instead of bellyaching about how women would then be excluded, it must be noted that this would give the minority in the congregation – men – something to do other than take up the blessed collection!!! Far from our churches being male-dominated, blokes are the ones who stop coming because of the feminized style (e.g. constant exhortations to be nice, as if that were the acme of virtue).

    FWIW, I suspect the main reason for having the lessons in Latin is to chant them more solemnly – forgetting that the High Anglicans did this perfectly properly in English.

    Furthermore, at a 1962-Missal Mass, the readings can likewise be done (said or sung) in the vernacular – even before Summorum Pontificum, Jarrett sang them in English at the monthly Latin Mass in Hobart in the late 1990’s, and I have heard tell it is done in the vernacular in France – at SSPX Masses.

  4. Schütz says:

    Would you believe that at my wife’s Lutheran parish the lay readers and communion assistants are always vested, and on occasion (eg. Christmas Eve) the Gospel is chanted?

    FWIW, I suspect the main reason for having the lessons in Latin is to chant them more solemnly – forgetting that the High Anglicans did this perfectly properly in English.

    Yes, and as Lutherans we chanted the whole liturgy in Gregorian Chant in English too. Catholics just never made the transition to chanted English at the time of the “revolution” (as PE, aka the artful dodger) puts it. Perhaps this is because in general they were not chanting it before the “revolution”…

    We do idolise those times a little.

  5. Anonymous says:


    As I co-ordinate the Masses, I thought it would be useful to highlight its features.

    The watch-words are reverence, promotion of the sense of the sacred, following the wishes of the fathers of the Second Vatican Council authentically interpreted, the Holy Father’s teaching and example and continuity with Catholic Tradition.

    – Mass is offered “ad orientem” for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This single change is the most important for re-orientation of heart and mind to God and to overcome some of the dubious theology and psychology that is continuing to make its presence felt in the celebration of Holy Mass.

    – Mass is chanted throughout, but not, as you would expect, the Confiteor or Canon and certain prayers whose nature it is, not to be chanted

    – Mass is offered in Latin

    – the vernacular is used only in the prayers of the faithful and the sermon. David rightly points out that Sacrosanctum Concilium averted to the possibility of vernacular in the readings, but we choose not to as a way to proritise solemnity, secondly, to encourage the practice of chanting readings (a skill we needed to learn and practice and which seems a very narrowly-known skill), thirdly because our priest, knowing his Latin and Greek very very well, is able to preach drawing on the words of the Vulgate itself. In the circumstances, then, we feel that we give up a richness by chanting in the vernacular, for marginal benefit (given that all translations are available in the Latin/English mass booklets). Also, as anyone who has attempted to set Gregorian to a language other than the Latin for which it was built for will tell you, it doesn’t fit quite as well and distorts the musical line that is essential for Greogorian to have its full effect. It requires a lot of work to get it sounding acceptable. It’s not “plug and play”. Our limited resources and time are best devoted to other things, such as the Ordinary and Propers. We have no philosophical objection to chanted vernacular, obviously, and prefer to see chant in the vernacular to add solemnity than no chant at all. Indeed, we encourage and implement it at other Masses, where there is felt to be an imperative for the vernacular. But, we also offer something you don’t get anywhere else, to our knowledge, and people comment it is one of the more distinctive, enriching and beautiful features of what we offer.

    – the Ordinary is sung to the Gregorian settings proper to the season. Sometimes, time and rehersal limitations requires composite Gregorian Masses (eg Kyrie from Orbis Factor, Gloria from de Angelis etc), but the rubrics permit this and we try not to change ordinaries too often so that the People can join the chant that is proper to them.

    – we sing the Propers from the Graduale Romanum for Introit and Communion. Where possible we also sing the Gradual/Tract (not the Responsorial Psalm which is really meant for reading not chanting), Alleluia and the Offertory from the Graduale Romanum. As you would appreciate, the highly melismatic chants take a very long time and skill to learn and execute well. The Novus Ordo 3 year lectionary makes matters worse with its variety and endless options! So, when time, resources or difficulty does not permit, we will choose the approved Solemes Version abrdiged chantes for Graduals/Tracts, Alleluias and psalm tones when necessary.

    – the prayers of the Faithful are fixed, as it was more likely to be the intention of the fathers and takes a lead from the method of the Great Petitions of Good Friday (prayers for the Pope, civil authorities etc). We eschew the making up of prayers on the spot

    – from the first Mass, we encouraged the people to receive Holy Communion on the tongue whilst kneeling, according to the traditional practice. We do not impose this. However, we notice that everyone receives in this way, unless they are new and “go first”. People have said they enjoy being free and un-self-consciously able to receive in this way

    – taking up the traditional practice of only using hymns “outside” Mass in the technical sense, we use only one hymn: the recessional. Often this is a Marian hymn, though not always and is almost always in English. Our selection focuses on traditional hymns, that in our experience, are unlikely to get much of a look in elsewhere but which are an important part of the repertoire, but often not widely sung because they come from traditional hymnals – not “Gather” or modern commerical hymnals that focus on hymns composed after 1965 or Australian hymns. Yesterday’s, for example, was Conditor Alme, Gregorian Mode IV from the Oratorian’s The Catholic Hymnal and set in English.

    – we try to use the more beautfiul vestments, subject to what the parish has availabe. When David visited us, the selection was limited and what most would recognise as “Novus Ordo vestments”. We now have a few Roman Chasubles at our disposal too, and are probably one of the few places in Melbourne where that can be seen in active use. Probably the only place in a Novus Ordo context.

    – the schola cantorum is vested in cassock and surplice, in accordance with the tradition. The schola also chants the readings from the ambo and we are lay, not instituted lectors, however, obviously only vested persons enter the sanctuary. When we have a Deacon he chants the Gospel

    – booklets are provided that seek to be as simple and as beautiful as possible. The traditional missal settings of a delicate type-face, font and formatting in red and black are used, subject to cost. When they use art-work, they use classical engravings or traditional missal etchings, not what is popularly and widely known as the “children’s stick-figure drawings” that appear on many parish bulletins of a certain vintage.

    Where there is legitimate choice to be had, our approach is, if you like to coin a phrase, to adopt a Preferential Option for Tradition. So, if there is a legitimate degree of lee-way on something, we will choose the more traditional option (a classic example is certain options given in the Chant books: we will go back to the Extraorindary Form as see what it stipulated there, and choose that).

    The limitations we face are:

    – time and resources. We are not professional musicans. We have day jobs!
    – there are not many of us, and we do all the preparation ourselves
    – the Mass has to find a place in a busy multi-lingual and multi-community parish schedule, at 6pm once a month is all we can manage. Ideally, we could offer it every Sunday (particularly at a more convenient time) so people could make a conscious decision to access this ever week. Although that would require a huge resource committment.
    – it would be nice to always have a church like St Mary’s West Melbourne, where we were asked to help offer a Latin Novus Ordo in this form in preparation for World Youth Day. The acoustic was magnificient and the congregation found the experience very uplifting.

    So, I think you can also see that we are giving people an idea of how the Mass could be celebrated to get closer to what is an authentic wish of the Council. The Council willed certain things. They were not done. Worse still, other things were done in the Council’s name that – whether intentionally or unintentionally – had the effect of harming belief, orthodoxy and orthopraxis.

    We try and do our little bit to show what can be and with very limited resources. It’s not beyond any parish to do what we do. Indeed, we are happy to consult with anyone on how to implement this.

    I hope this helps. Visit us at

  6. Joshua says:


    Thank you for your very fulsome and courteous response.

    I hope no comments of mine were misconstrued as any negative criticism of your project, which is eminently praiseworthy (how sad, though, that what should be the norm is now the oh-so-rare exception!).

    Having to often assist at Missae cantatae at the last minute, I am all too conscious that the music at our EF Masses is often not as good as it should be – you sound as if you do a far better job!


    Three issues:

    1. Tell more about the Prayers of the Faithful, please!
    2. Hopefully, as it is his proper ministry, a Deacon if present reads those Prayers.
    3. I am aware that even in English the Canon may be sung (and Ordo Romanus I suggests that it was in much earlier times, prior to becoming silent): I have seen Solemnes settings thereof… comments?


    As you say, Mass ad orientem is the single most important desideratum.

    To quote Melancthon (! it is a blog open to things Lutheran if catholic, after all), “In a time of confession nothing is an adiaphoron” – so in the present crisis, when belief in the Sacrifice of the Mass even more so than the Real Presence is obscured among too many, to their great spiritual detriment I would contend, it seems to me that the direction the priest faces at Mass is not a mere adiaphoron, a thing neutral, but something that has strong influence for or against acknowledgement of the Sacrifice of the Mass: so we should urgently pursue “turning the altars round”, to reinforce belief in this almost-forgotten doctrine (although the very words of the Eucharistic Prayers explicitly mention it to be a sacrifice, wierdly enough very few seem to hearken to them and learn this point).

    David – your thoughts as an ex-Pastor and celebrant? Do you think this axiom is relevant?

  7. Anonymous says:


    No, none or your comments were misconstrued. I just tried to give you a complete response. Thank you for your encouragement!

    Yes, I can’t quite understand why this isn’t done elsewhere. Well, I can, of course, but that’s another discussion.

    Music wise, we do all we can. It’s essential that the Introit and Communio come from the Graduale Romanum as the minimum. I’m confident that once we come round to a Mass we have offered before, knowing these already will give us time to concentrate on the Gradual, Alleluia and Offertory, so that – over a period of years, if the Lord grants us good health, good priests, a home and singers! -we’ll be able to learn most of the entire propers’ settings. Which, of course, will double for use with the EF too.

    Prayers of the Faithful: This is a demonstration of how we a building knowledge bit by bit and refining our offering of Mass in this form. New Liturgical Movement had a discussion of this issue in the last few months. You might wish to do a search there. But, essentially it was concluded that the real intention of the Bidding Prayers/General Intercessions was for a fixed format much like the Good Friday General Intercessions (assuming, of course, that the Intercessions were needed at all, because, after all, the Canon includes everything we could wish the pray for). That said, if there is an imperative for Prayers of the Faithful, a fixed format could be found in certain places. The Anglican Use has a version (which I have not dug up yet) from their Book of Divine Worship, and the Uniate and Orthodox too, I’m led to believe. These could be used. However, I felt safer ground lay in a local version: the so-called “1965 Interim Missal” (the TLM translated into English with those early simplifications) was published in Melbourne in a prayer book of which I have a copy. The Imprimatur is Dr Symmonds. It contains the prayers we have started to use the last few Masses.

    In all honestly, it had not really occurred to me that the Prayers of the Faitful are proper to the Deacon, but I guess that is correct. In any event, most of our Masses haven’t been lucky enough to have a Deacon present, so the issue has not arisen.

    Sung Canon: I knew that comment would be picked up! Yes, clearly in the Novus Ordo the Canon can be sung (rather than said) and arguably a prior tradition exists. Nevertheless, continuity suggests its nature is to be said sotto voce. And it was with the Novus Ordo that it was permitted it to be said aloud. I would like to “hear” a silent Canon in the Novus Ordo eventually. That would be a great great help, together with ad orientem.

    I would also like to see Vernacular Masses celebrated this way. That would really be an entry point for most people!

    However, we seem very “conservative” in Australia and a little too reticent to move on some of these issues.

    Certainly, David draws attention to the Archbp Hart re-introducing the 7 candles and altar crucifix. This is a great start and mirrors what the Holy Father is doing. Although, in St Peter’s we must remember he is already celebrating ad orientem, even when facing the people.

    Personally, I would like to see this move as being an interim measure toward ad orientem, with catechesis for the move. Perhaps David can also comment on whether the appearance of the crucifix at the Cathedral was accompanied by such.

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