Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Trying to get it right, only for it to go wrong

In my previous incarnation as the Head of Music in a Catholic Secondary School, oh so many times did I play the introduction for a hymn, only to be the only person in a School Hall or Church to actually sing the first verse. This is the musical equivalent of being punched in the face by 400 people. (No, I've never even been punched in the face by one person, I'm just guessing.)

On the flip side, at WYD 2000, I seem to remember someone doing a hymn practice for 2.1 million people on the Sunday Morning, saying that we would get so much more out of it if we all sang. As I munched on my pilgrim biscuits, bleary eyed, I wondered at how like me that guy sounded. Slightly pleading, slightly exasperated.

Now this may seem to fly in the face of the previous post, but vernacular hymns as I may have said before. What's that all about? I play a vanishingly small selection, but it does seem that the present Proper-free NO Mass derives from Low Mass with hymns.

It wasn't meant to be lik this.

Look what the CMAA submitted to VII in 1963

4. Regarding the music at Low Mass:

This Society respectfully urges that consideration be given to maintaining the sung mass as the norm for congregational service, and where necessity demands, that provision be made for a simplified form of sung Mass that requires only the service of a trained cantor to supplement the singing of the congregation. The singing of hymns at low Mass, a solution suggested by the 1958 decree, is not completely satisfactory, because it remains extraneous to the action at the altar.

Why sing, when what you are being pleaded/bullied into singing is not part of the Mass anyway?

How did we get to a point where you sing four hymns and none of the Ordinary?



Mac McLernon said...

Heheheh... I've just been warning my students about using abbreviations in exams, unless they're ones on the exam paper... I was trying to figure out which pope's name you missed typing when I realised that VII was Vatican II and not somebody-the-7th!


Patricius said...

"How did we get to a point where you sing four hymns and none of the Ordinary?"
That is the sixty-four million dollar question- not least because it flies in the face of what the liturgical reform was supposed to be about. Singing hymns can hardly be said to be actual participation in the mass simply because they involve the introduction of extraneous material. It always seemed a fair criticism of the way things were before the reforms when people would say the rosary during mass rather than following the actual prayers of the mass for instance. Singing hymns with only a tenuous connection with the parts of the mass or its proper readings seems equally unjustifiable.

berenike said...



Thank you.

(goes off to bed feeling all emotional)