I picked up this story on Fr Z’s blog recently, who linked to this post by Jeffrey Tucker on his blog “Chant Cafe”: “Dramatic Changes in Music Rubrics for New Missal”.
Tucker is a great advocate of (1) banning all metrical hymnody at mass and (2) reviving in its place the traditional Gregorian chants for the liturgy. We do not entirely agree with him on his first “great object”, but we do agree that something should be done along the lines of the second.
Nevertheless, we think he is being rather hopeful when he claims that there is a “dramatic” difference between the old GIRM and the new one, a change which he sees as favouring the traditional chant over hymnody. And we are not alone in this skepticism. Fr Anthony Ruff OSB (who recently packed his bat and ball and walked off the field in protest at the new missal translatoin) agrees in this post on the PrayTell blog.
Keep in mind, folks, that both these guys are Americans writing about the US version of GIRM. It is one of the rather untidy facts of the continuing liturgical confusion in the Church that the Vatican releases a standard GIRM and the local Bishop’s Conferences each make their own version of it. Ironically this is one case where the local Bishops Conference trumps the original Vatican version – although it must be said that the Vatican has to approve the local variation/translation before it is allowed to be enacted as liturgical law.
In any case, the Australian version of GIRM still uses the word “song” (rather than “chant”) to translate “cantus” in the fourth option for the Entrance Chant given in paragraph 48. Nor do we yet have a definitive list of “approved” songs from our Bishops Conference (I don’t think they have one in the US either): a fact which makes compliance with this fourth option rather difficult. But compliance with options 1-3 is not simple and straightforward either.
I haven’t seen the new missals, so I don’t know how they will handle the “Entrance Antiphon”, “Communion Antiphon” etc. But GIRM, whether the Vatican, US, or Australian version, clearly favours the use of the traditional chants in some form or other at the Entrance, the service of the Word, the Offertory and the Communion. The problem is that no one appears to have gone out of their way to make these chants readily available to parish priests or musicians. The missals we are currently preparing to throw away – sorry, I meant “put in the archives” – failed us miserably on this score by only giving the “antiphons” to the chants for these parts of the liturgy, without any indication that they were in fact “antiphons” to something else (which was missing from our books). In a recent class on the new translation of the liturgy, I pointed out to my students the requirements of the GIRM regarding these chants at Mass, and they were truly surprised: they had never even heard of the “Entrance Chant”, let alonge the Offertory or the Communion Chant.
Would it not be a wonderful thing if the traditional psalm verses and antiphons for the Entrance, Offertory and Communion chants were made as clear and accessible as the Psalm chant currently is in our missals and parish musical resources? The settings need not be Gregorian (Jeffrey would not approve!), but could be in the variety of forms that we currently have for our Psalmody. Is there any reason, indeed, why paraphrases of the psalm texts and antiphons in hymnic form could not be used? (Again, I know, Jeffrey would not approve).
I have lately made it my practice, when chosing music for the liturgy when I am rostered on as cantor in my parish, to consult the various online available resources regarding the traditional chants, and attempted to find music that at least approximates these chants. I have found the following resources helpful:
Does anyone know any other good sources available on the internet?
UPDATE: Charles from Boston wrote in to draw our attention to “The Simple English Propers” for the Ordinary Form of the Mass. It’s available in book form from Amazon for about $17 and free to download from the Musica Sacra Website. They even have “practice videos”!
Robert has also given us the link to the Chabanel Psalms, another good resource.