Whither the “Reform of the Reform”?

Yesterday fell into place quite nicely for me and my family – Cathy attended the Anima Women’s Network conference in the morning, then we met with friends in Federation Square for lunch (in time to see the Focolare Youth Community do a “flash mob” dance), and went to the Fred Williams exhibition at the National Art Gallery. Then, as I was planning to go to my “church-in-law” with my wife and family for Mother’s Day, in took the opportunity of going to mass at St Aloysius in Caulfield for their first “Reform of the Reform” mass – the Ordinay Form done in traditional mode. This will be a standard form of the mass at St Aloysius for the Saturday Vigil in time to come.

Happily, in celebration of the announcement on Friday of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, there were a goodly number of folk from the Ordinariate group available. After the mass, I said to the Anglican priest, Fr Seeton, “That’s the first time I have ever experienced the Mass done that way in the Catholic Church”. He replied: “That’s the way the Anglo-Catholics have been celebrating the Novus Order for decades.” Of course, with one difference, we now have a new translation that is far more in line with the language of the BCP than the old one.

Speaking of the new liturgy, today I was worshipping, as I said, at my family’s Lutheran Church, where they used their “Service Alternative Form”. The LCA also has two forms of their eucharist. The old one, sung to Gregorian tones, is based on the Common Service from the late 19th Century (which was itself based on the liturgical work of Wilhelm Loehe in the mid 19th Century in German, who did a lot to restore the traditional liturgy to the Lutheran Churches of Germany and the United States). The new form is, as said, the “Alternative Form”, which follows the American Lutheran Book of Worship, and hence uses the old ICEL translations. Various modern settings exist for this service form, none of them Gregorian. While their old form uses “and with your spirit”, the new form uses “And also with you”. The old form has “I believe in one God” and the new form has “We believe…” The old form has “Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts” and the new form “Lord, God of power and might”. I certainly found it a little bit jarring, after more than a year of using our new translation (which is very close to the Lutheran traditional service), to have to go back to the old ICEL translations.

Anyway, I am sure you are all really wanting to know: What did they do at St Aloysius in this “Reform of the Reform” mass? And that’s really the point of this post, because there is more than one way in which this has been envisioned. There is, for instance, the “Oratory style” mass, which uses the Ordinary Form, but completely in Latin. That would have been a natural fit for St Aloysius, because it is an Extraordinary Form parish. But perhaps just a little bit confusing for regular parishioners, as they would probably have had some difficulty knowing whether the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form was being used if the OF was not done in English – which is, of course, what they did.

There are some things all ROTR’ers agree on: the Eucharistic Prayer should be said “ad orientem” being the main one, but also, kneeling for Holy Communion and reception on the tongue, use of the proper chants, and a Gregorian setting. After that… Well, it depends what elements of the new you want to import into the old and vice versa.

For instance, communion in both kinds? Surprisingly, given that many “Summorum Pontificam” priests don’t usually have communion in both kinds even when they celebrate the Novus Ordo in their parishes, Fr Tattersall decided to go with communion in both kinds via intinction. Fr Andrew Wise, the Dean of the Sale Cathedral, was assisting with the cup and, as Fr T went along the communion rail, he held the cup while Fr T intincted the host and placed it on the tongues of the communicants. This is probably a good decision, I think. It modelled how intinction should be properly done, and showed that there is an alternative to the use of an “extraordinary minister” (or three or a dozen) for the cup. It also meant that one cup and one cup only was required to be consecrated (and a small amount of wine at that).

There were other choices to be made. Sure, the Eucharistic Prayer would be said from the altar “ad orientam”, but what about the opening rites? The prayers of confession at the start of the service were done from the steps of the altar, but then Fr Tattersall moved to his chair while the Choir led us in the Lord have mercy and the Gloria, and he chanted the collect from the chair. All this could have been done from the altar, as in the Extraordinary Form. I was a bit surprised that Fr T didn’t take this direction.

Then, what about the Prayers of the Faithful? The EF doesn’t have them, of course, but the OF does. However there were no prayers of the faithful last night. Not sure why this choice was made.

Then the whole posture thing. Josh and I have commented on our blogs before about the interesting phenomenon of mass attenders who usually attend OF masses trying to use OF postures when they attend an EF mass. I discovered last night plenty of folk trying to do the opposite, ie. using EF postures during the OF mass. A small case in point is that half the congregation knelt for the blessing at the end of mass.

Other than that, all the rest of my observations concern musical issues.

When I entered the church, I was handed a copy of the Vatican II Hymnal, a handsome volume prepared by the Corpus Christi Watershed folk in the states. This was all I was given – no bulletin or outline of directions. I was told that the relevant page numbers were on the hymn no. board. And indeed they were: the numbers 4, 119, and 217 were on the board (I may have remembered these incorrectly – no matter, I am simply using them as examples). Page 4 turned out to be the order of service – in both Latin and English. Page 119 (or whatever) was the St Ralph Sherwin setting of the Ordinary. Page 217 was the propers. Okay – a three finger job, given that the book has no ribbons to act as bookmarks. As it turned out, page 217 was for Year A, and it was only at the readings (these are included in the VII Hymnal) that I realised that Year A was in fact page 219.

The choir (a three person job) entered with the other ministers in the procession singing the Entrance Chant in English. But it wasn’t the translation from the New Roman Missal, nor was it any setting that I could find on my collection on my iphone (neither the American Gradual, nor the Anglican Use Gradual). The Choir also sang the Responsorial Psalm (using an Alleluia as a response rather than the musical setting included in the Vatican II Hymnal – and then a setting that wasn’t one of the 10 or so Alleluias in the front of the VII Hymnal, so that wasn’t really very helpful for a congregation trying to join in with it), and the Gospel Acclamation (using the same Alleluia setting – which I still hadn’t been able to pick up). They didn’t sing the Offertory Chant, although the VII Hymnal includes one. They did sing a Communion Chant, but again, the antiphon wasn’t the translation from the Missal (which is what the VII Hymnal includes). They did okay, but the singing was a bit uncertain. Nevertheless, it was in English and the words were easily understandable. I think if you are going to hand out a particlur hymnal as the resource for use in the service, it would make sense to use the translations for the chant that are actually included in that hymnal.

Again, one thing that EF mass regulars are not used to doing is joining in with the choir in singing the Ordinary of the Mass. That, and the fact that a not-very-well-known mass setting was used could explain for the rather uncertain congregational singing. The mass setting was the St Ralph Sherwin setting, which is freely available on the net and is included in the Vatican II Hymnal. It is quite nice, and I notice that quite a few US congregations are using it. Perhaps it was chosen because of the dedication to an English saint (for the occasion). Still, it was entirely unfamiliar to the congregation. Perhaps with regular use they will pick it up, but I did wonder why they didn’t just make it easier on all of us and just use the standard Gregorian setting available in the Roman Missal, which can be sung to both English and Latin, and is becoming well known around the Archdiocese (Sherwin is only set for the English).

Then too, another point that was confusing is that the choir (and organist) obviously intended us (the congregation) to sing the Gloria and Creed antiphonally with the Choir (something we only picked up slowly as we went along). This is quite traditional, but the setting as printed in the VII Hymnal doesn’t indicate when the choir is to sing and when the people are to sing, so we had to guess by listening to the organist (louder for the people’s parts). BTW, the Creed is not included in the Sherwin setting, so we used Credo I as pasted into the back of the Hymnal – although no one ever told anyone that that was where it was to be found (I am a great explorer of new hymnals so I noticed it there before mass began). Again, using the normal Gregorian setting for the Gloria would have made this easier for those of us who were at least to singing it this way.

There was one hymn – Soul of My Saviour – which was sung after communion. This was sung well, but the number for it was not put up on the hymnboard. You just had to recognise it, and quickly look it up in the index to the Hymnal, if you didn’t know it off by heart. There was no final hymn after mass, just an organ postlude – I would have liked another hymn.

All in all, the service was quite nice, and shows one direction in which the “Reform of the Reform” can go. But I would still have preferred the usual celebration of the OF that we have at St Philip’s in North Blackburn where I usually worship. We have the option of kneeling to receive communion there, and perhaps one day Fr D will re-introduce “ad orientam” celebration and perhaps on occasion we can have the singing of the Proper chants as in the Missal. Of course, last night was just the first time that this had been done at St Aloysius, and it may take time to settle in. My suggestions for the future would be:

1) Include all details of the service (page numbers and hymn numbers etc) in a small bulletin sheet
2) Use the chants in the translation and the setting in the Vatican II Hymnal since this is the resource the people have in their hands
3) Use the standard Gregorian setting, which will allow the option of using the Latin Ordinary chants from time to time (which are all printed in the VII Hymnal anyway)
4) Sing the Offertory chant according to the translation in the VII Hymnal
5) Include prayers of the faithful
6) Conduct all the entrance rites from the altar
7) Add a hymn at the end of mass – even if it is simply a Marian antiphon

About Schütz

I am Catholic, married to Cathy, father of Maddy & Mia. Since 2002, I have been the Executive Officer of the Ecumenical & Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I was once a Lutheran pastor, but a "year of grace" and soul-searching led me into the Catholic Church. It was a bumpy ride, but with the support of my (still Lutheran) wife, I was finally confirmed on June 16, 2003.
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17 Responses to Whither the “Reform of the Reform”?

  1. Tony Bartel says:

    One of my favourite musical settings is the one you mentioned from the 1973 Lutheran Hymnal. I am probably biased because it is what I grew up with. My grandfather, who was a pastor, used to chant everything appointed by the minister to be chanted. It was beautiful and everybody responded, even in little country churches like Bow Hill and Forster.

    On the few occasions in recent years when I attend a Lutheran service I have been disappointed to find it is not in use.

    There is a chant setting for the new Alternative Service which can be found in the Lutheran Book of Worship. But it doesn’t hold a candle to the older setting.

    • Sue Westhorp says:

      Tony, I too grew up with the page 6 setting and have always loved it – so much so, that I wrote 3-part descants for the Gloria and the Sanctus that we use at Midnight Mass each Christmas. We also chant the liturgy unaccompanied at this service. The page 6 setting will always be the ‘real one’ to me :)

      • Schütz says:

        Welcome to the Commentary Table, Sue! Someone please pass the port bottle in her direction!

        BTW, the p6 translation of the liturgy is so close to our current Roman Missal translation that when they had the competition for new settings, I played around for a while with the idea of submitting a version based on the p6 chants. The Sanctus would need no modification at all.

    • Fraser Pearce says:

      Pop into Bethlehem when you’re next in Adelaide Tony, and there’s a good chance you’ll get p 6. It’s even better when Matthias Prenzler is leading the liturgy!

  2. Ttony says:

    Wither? Or did you mean Whither?

  3. Gareth says:

    Your choice heading had me worried as well, but good to hear things are off to a good start.

    Would agree with all your suggestions besides maybe point 5 – has ‘potential’ to turn into farce (eg praying a long list of left-wing causes). If it has to do to be there, make it short and sweet.

    • Peter says:

      “Praying a long list of left wing causes”
      Priceless Gareth,but fear not.These priests are as solid as rocks.
      There is probably as much chance that a prayer for the return of the Spanish
      Inquisition will be recited.

    • Schütz says:

      There are many simple litany/bidding forms of the prayers of the faithful which can be chanted to great effect. The POTF in most NO masses today doesn’t follow the rubrics. The petition is supposed to be phrased as a bid (“Let us pray that…” or “Let us pray for….” or “For x, y, z, we pray to the Lord”) rather than an actual prayer addressed to God. In this case, the shorter and simpler the better.

  4. matthias says:

    I have been in Tassie the past week. Can you confirm if the ordiniariate will be based in Glenhuntly

  5. Joshua says:

    My earlier comment seems to have gone astray!

    Basically, having the Prayer of the Faithful – of which several suitable examples exist in the back of the Missal – is certainly a normal part of Mass on Sundays and Feasts, if not at all weekday Masses (GIRM 69 states that “[i]t is desriable that usually be such a form of prayer in Masses celebrated with the people”); BUT there is no rubrical justification for saying the first part of OF Mass at the altar (unless it is a “private Mass”, that is, one celebrated with only one minister and no people attending – see GIRM 256 – when he may do so): the priest is to be at the chair for the Collect, so Fr T. (of course) was quite correct on that point – the celebrant kisses the altar, then goes to the chair for the sign of the cross and what follows (GIRM 50). The OF follows the example of EF Pontifical High Mass in this, since the bishop remains at the throne for the first part of Mass, only ascending to the altar at the offertory. The understandable confusion arises because the priest may remain at the altar to say the Prayer after Communion and the concluding parts of the Mass (GIRM 165), and – if the priest have no server – it is more convenient (though strictly unrubrical) to stand at the altar in order to read from the Missal at the start of Mass, rather than try and hold it in one hand (which makes it impossible to pray in the orans position with outstretched arms).

  6. John Nolan says:

    Not one person in a hundred knows the correct postures for the EF Sung Mass. Most adopt the Low Mass postures and kneel for most of it. I suspect this is not because they agree with Fortescue that Missa Cantata is really a Low Mass, but simply because the Low mass is what they are used to. Some use the OF postures which are actually more correct. It is generally agreed that the congregational postures for the Missa Cantata should be the same as for the Missa Solemnis, that is, to stand for the Collect, to sit for the epistle, gradual and alleluia/tract, to stand for the gospel and Credo but to sit when the priest sits (the same applies in the Gloria), to sit for the offertory (standing when incensed) and to stand at the preface dialogue, kneeling at the Hanc igitur and standing after the elevation of the Chalice (in the NO you remain kneeling until the end of the EP), only kneeling after the Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum and standing for the Postcommunion, kneeling for the blessing but standing for the last gospel (genuflecting at ‘et Verbum caro factum est’).

    Unfortunately when I stand after the elevation of the Chalice I tend to stick out like a sore thumb, but if I remain kneeling until the Pater Noster I am importing OF habits into the older rite.

    The ‘Prayer of the Faithful’ or ‘Bidding Prayers’ are an unwelcome intrusion. You have just sung ‘et vitam venturi saeculi’ and you are brought down to earth with petitions based on last night’s TV news and anodyne drivel about peace and justice. A priority of any ROTR must be to kick them firmly into touch along with EMHC and serviettes. And polyester vestments. And ‘folk’ groups. And rambling ‘homilies’ that go on for so long that the priest uses EP II to get the rest of the Mass over as quickly as possible. In fact, most of the wretched innovations of the last 45 years. Life’s too short to have to suffer them.

    • Peter says:

      Wonderful suggestions John,however,I doubt that any of these improvements are likely to be implemented any time soon.
      All we can do in the meantime is offer up our pain as a penance for our sins.

  7. csteward says:

    Many thanks for the comments. I just wanted to clarify a few aspects about the liturgy.

    1/ Announcements about the location of the credo were given only minutes before Mass so I can only imagine you were not in attendance then.

    2/ I don’t quite understand your comments about the Propers -firstly 1/ Those
    sung were the same as in the V2 hymnal. It seems you had turned to the
    wrong page (you mentioned page 217 in your article) and it was page 495.
    The responsorial pslam and gospel acclamation were never sung but the
    double alleluia from the traditional Propers i.e. Graduale Romanum. The rationale for this was explained on the website some weeks before the event. There is no official translation of the Propers in English, hence the slightly different text to that in the V2 Hymnal for these 2 Propers. The text for the other 3 Propers (introit, offertory communion) was identical to that in the V2 Hymnal. The aim of this Mass is to enrich the OF by using the traditional Propers of the EF – a brief description is given on the reform website for the reasons for doing this. In particular using the gradual would mean using one of the oldest chants of the church which ties in nicely with the idea of a mass trying to highlight “sacredness through continuity”. Perhaps it might be advisable to have a short sheet explaining this to the congregation in future. I have no great enthusiasm however for creating further pew sheets – hence the reason for an all-in-one book. There’s nothing messier than people fiddling with bits of paper in Mass.

    3/ The choice of Ordinary is always open for question whether we’re talking about EF or OF. The musicians and others involved find the Ralph Sherwin Mass superior in many ways to the clunky version in the Missal (which has tried to alter gregorian melodies to fit the english texts with what I find a very bland result – it is preferable to create new melodies to fit the new english texts but based on gregorian foundations – in other words, the Ralph Sherwin Mass is technically “chant-like” but not true gregorian chant which really requires Latin). The Ralph Sherwin preserves those gregorian modes however and was designed specifically to match the words of the new translation – I myself find it more tuneful and bright compared to the ICEL Ordinary (which is largely based on the chant requiem Mass so not really appropriately for Eastertide anyway). I’m sure new settings of the Ordinary will be looked at in the future but at this stage, I think its important the congregation get used to singing this Mass. Latin Ordinaries are certainly not out of the question in the future I would imagine.

    4/ The offertory chant was not sung – that was unfortunately a case of miscommunication. It will be sung this week. The double Alleluia was directly from the Anglican Use Gradual for the 6th Sunday after Easter (with slightly different translation to that in the V2 Hymnal). The other Propers were on P 495 of the V2 hymnal, the music coming from the Simple English Propers.

    5/ All the details of the service were included on the noticeboard, except the communion hymn (that was unfortunate and will be fixed in future).

    6/ Entrance Rites – Fr Tattersall was closely following the correct rubrics here.

    7/ Recessional – yes, there will be those in the future, but the organ postlude is a very viable option, and to many, makes more sense at the end of the Mass – it is certainly not a Catholic tradition to be singing hymns at this point – only in recent times has it become common. In addition, there was a very good organist available (from the Cathedral) who had prepared a postlude, so it seemed preferable to make use of him rather than he playing to a virtually empty church (everyone having left). Its also important that the congregation don’t “save themselves up” for a proposed recessional, but focus on singing the actual Mass.

    Thanks again for your comments – there was an excellent turnout (around 120) and hopefully things will grow over time.

  8. Fraser Pearce says:

    a long time between drinks…

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