Wednesday, March 30, 2005

LITURGY - What's with all the changes???

The above title is the title of the talk that was given to the good parishioners of Holy Ghost Church by none other than Helen Hull Hitchcock. Mrs. Hitchcock is the founding member of Women for Faith and Family, as well as the editor of the Adoremus Bulletin.

The talk was given on March 18, 2005, the Friday before Palm Sunday. We started with Stations of the Cross, at which I sang from the pew. The embarassing moment for me was loudly singing the wrong verse of the "Stabat Mater" at the 12th Station - with Mrs. Hitchcock sitting at the pew across from me.

After Stations, Fr. Finelli asked me if I could play something at the end of her talk, as they take up an offertory to defray the cost of her coming to Rhode Island (from Kansas). So, I vested, and sat in the choir area in back while she spoke.

Her speech was pretty much geared much more for the average congregant than the priest, lector, or musician. She pretty much went through the history of events starting with Sacrosanctum Concilium, that is, the Constitution of Sacred Liturgy, which, as I'm sure many know who frequent these blogs, is the document that shaped what Vatican II intended for the Roman Catholic Liturgy.

She went on to the Mass according to the 1969 Roman Missal (or is it 1970? Something like that) - mentioning how the Mass (I think more the translation into English more than the Mass itself) was "rushed", which explains why a good chunk of English was "watered down" instead of being faithful to the Latin.

Later she talks of how feminist groups pushed ICEL into the inclusive language rut that many find themselves in right now. Incidentally, Mrs. Hitchcock strongly opposes inclusive language (as do I), and basically said to the women in attendance, "Ladies, no offense, but puh-LEASE!" Her reasoning (rightfully so) was that the translation of "hominibus", that is "mankind" was intended to be a generic term for both male and female genders. This reasoning, contrary to special interest claims, is by NO MEANS intended to exclude the female race. I mean, we don't say "dogs and bitches" (no curse intended here) to mean "all of the canine species". We just say "dogs". But it even came to the point where these feminist groups wanted the Lord "neutered" with this inclusive language bit, and pretty much anything these feminists wanted, ICEL said "Yes, dear!"

Mrs. Hitchcock finally informs the people that hierarchy is smartening up. ICEL is now reformed, and dedicated to fulfill the wishes of Rome, that is, to make our English translation of the Mass more faithful to the Latin. The Adoremus site has many links to articles regarding the translation process, from Rome, from the U.S. Bishops, and even the present and former Prefects for the Congregation for Divine Worship (the former being Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, the current being Cardinal Francis Arinze). No definite timeframe yet on when this translation would be finished and be promulgated. I'd love to know when, so I can rewrite my sung Mass settings accordingly.

Once the talk was finished, the collection was taken up, and I invited the people to join in song - "The following hymn is not in our pew books, but many may remember it. Those who do are invited to join me in singing." The hymn was Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All - many sang, and without any lyric in front of them.

It was an excellent talk, a great heads up for the people in attendance - about 3/4 of the church was full.

+In Christ,

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Holy Ghost Church in Tiverton

Traditionally known as "Low Sunday", and (named after the first words of the Introit) "Quasimodo Sunday", the Second Sunday of Easter has been declared "Divine Mercy Sunday" by Pope John Paul II.

Introit: Tone 8G (9:00 - all English / 10:30 - English-Latin)
Processional: O FILII ET FILIAE - Ye Sons and Daughters (starting with verse 4) (Missalette, #69)
Gloria: (9:00/10:30) Peloquin - Mass of the Bells
Psalm: O Filii et Filiae, adapt. Page - Give thanks to the Lord for he is good...
Alleluia: from "O Filii et Filiae"
Offertory: ADORO TE DEVOTE - Godhead here in hiding (Music Issue, #483)
Sanctus: Vermulst - People's Mass
Mysterium: Peloquin - Mass of the Bells (Dying you destroyed our death)
Per Ipsum: Peloquin - Mass of the Bells
Agnus: Vermulst - People's Mass
Communion: Peloquin - Faith, hope, and love (Lyric Liturgy)
Communion Proper: Tone 8G (9:00 - all English / 10:30 - English-Latin)
Recessional: IN BABILONE - There's a wideness in God's mercy (Music Issue, #422)

On Sunday III, we'll add the Agnus from Bells, and on Sunday VI, the Sanctus. We are now going back to all-English Eucharist Ordinary, with the exception of the fourth Sunday of each month, at which we'll incorporate the Latin, now that the people have the Sanctus and Agnus (Jubilate Deo) down over the last five months. :-)

+In His Divine Mercy

Friday, March 25, 2005

LET'S PUT the HOLY back into HOLY MASS

When's the last time you've heard the words HOLY and MASS put together as a phrase? HOLY MASS! Last time I heard the expression "Holy Mass", it was in reference to the Tridentine Mass, around the time I started at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Providence in June, 1999. Holy Name is the only parish in the diocese of Providence (which covers all of Rhode Island) that has a diocesan-approved Tridentine Latin Mass. And in the promotional pamphlet for the Traditional Mass was a saying that said "Don't pray at Holy Mass, but pray the Holy Mass."

You never hear "Holy Mass" in reference to the Novus Ordo Mass. But why? Is it the Novus Ordo Mass itself that's not so holy? I would think not. A Novus Ordo Mass done right and with reverence would be by all means holy. It was intended for a much higher level of participation by the congregation. But I highly doubt that it was cause for "de-sanctification".

The possibility is that it was the way Mass is often abused. Watered down homilies. Watered down music. Altering of Mass texts. Inclusive language. Removal of sacred language to yield a modern text. All these in attempt to make the Mass "politically correct", just as "politically correct" as being "pro-choice". It's too bad. Vatican II never asked for these abuses. Don't blame Vatican II. Even in the most recent Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, chant is still supposed to hold pride of place. The Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy called for the pipe organ to be "held in high esteem". In the Mass as we know it today, it is asked that the people are readily able to at least sing the simple chants of the Mass in Latin, which is why the Bishops compiled the collection of simple Mass chants known as Jubilate Deo in 1974.

Instead, job ads in web sites like the National Association of Pastoral Musicians look for musicians who are profieicent in "organ AND piano", and in most cases, the priority seems to lean toward the piano. A good portion of these parishes hiring will have three or more Masses with music led by a different contemporary group for each Mass and only one with at least the traditional concept of a choir, accompanied by the organ. Most of the hymnals and missalettes pumped out by the major publishers contain about 30-35% traditional music, taking a back seat to the "happy clappy feel good stuff". Where's the "pride of place" in chant? Where's the "high esteem" of the pipe organ? And, yes, I've even heard stories from people saying "oh, Vatican II did away with Latin". Vatican II never abolished Latin. It's still the official language of the Church. Vatican II did, indeed, welcome the Vernacular tongues, with the intent (and hope) of at least some of the Mass (e.g., the Canon) being done in Latin.

Further, Vatican II never demanded, nor asked for the tearing down of altar rails or high altars. They did ask for an altar placed in such a way that the priest would face the people, and that new buildings that are built accomodate accordingly. But they never asked for existing High Altars of Sacrifice to be removed. Prominantly placed in the center of many of these high altars is the Tabernacle, where the Blessed Sacrament is stored.

Mass seems to center on "us" instead of centering on the Real Presence - Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. That wasn't Vatican II's doing. Look at the majority of the hymns in GIA's Gather Comprehensive and OCP's Music Issue, and you'll find out it was composers, publishers, pushy feminist groups, arrogant liturgist wannabes, etc., that has worked ever so-hard to de-sanctify "Holy Mass". Suddenly the Entrance Hymn - the Introit (from the Latin Introitus, meaning entry), that is, the Entrance of the priest (who, as my pastor, Fr. Jay Finelli, correctly states, acts in the name of Christ) became the Gathering Song - as in, the Gathering of the people. Think of the "Prayers at the Foot of the Altar" in the 1962 Roman Missal - Introibo ad altare Dei - I will go to the altar of God, the words of the priest. The Recessional became "Sending Forth". The Offertory became the "Preparation of the Altar and Gifts". The Roman Missal still states that at that time "the Offertory Song is sung". There is no "Preparation Song" as many modern day liturgists like to refer it as. It's as if all mention of offering the gifts (not just the money, but the Bread and Wine to be transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ) is lost.

Here's another spiffy example of the "about us" thing. At the end of Mass in one of my former parishes, while I was well into the postlude, a gentleman approached me and said that I was "playing too loud because the people in back couldn't hear themselves in idle chat". Since when did idle chat hold a prominent place in the House of God???

And, seriously, there is absolutely no need in many cases to have a half dozen or more Extraordinary Ministers of Communion at each and every Sunday Mass. Extraordinary Ministers of Communion (EMC's) were intended for use in Extraordinary circumstances - e.g., one priest having to give Communion to 400 congregants, which may call for one, maybe two EMC's - not because the EMC's themselves are "extraordinary".

At Holy Ghost Church, we have been in the process of what's known as Restoration of the Sacred. Fr. Finelli has done a wonderful job in his efforts to restore Mass to its rightful beauty, a beauty that leads many to leave church with the feeling that they actually went to Holy Mass. Music sacred enough for use at Mass has been in full use there now since October 2004. This was a major factor in Fr. Finelli's hiring me as music director. People are singing standard hymns that haven't been sung at Holy Ghost in a long time. In addition, thanks to an anonymous donor, we were able to have a Rodgers organ installed in December 2004, replacing a Kurzweil keyboard. The choir area was moved in August 2004 - from their "stage" near the altar to the former location of the choir room, an area still prominent enough for music ministry to take place in accordance with current liturgical documents. We're not the only parish that is restoring Holy Mass. We're still a rare breed, but many younger priests, like Fr. Finelli (ordained in 1992), are taking the cue in the right direction. I also won't take all the credit for this reform. I thank the pastor, who is righteous in conforming to the liturgy documents, who supports my work as a music director and organist, and the work of many others in their departments.

Another rare breed, a little more than a thousand miles away from me, is St. John Cantius Church in Chicago, Illinois. St. John Cantius has a little something for everybody who enters - and rest assured, it's Holy Mass. Their weekend schedule consists of two Masses in English, one Latin Novus Ordo, and two Tridentine Masses (one Low, one High).

The Adoremus Society is an excellent resourse to turn to. Its website gives links to tons of documents, pre- and post-Conciliar. The "liturgo-nazi's" are intimidated by this Society. However, the goal of the Adoremus Society, since its founding in 1995 is to restore the Sacred Liturgy. The Adoremus Bulletin has a lot of great articles. And, guess what - part of my benefit package includes an Adoremus membership - something very worthwhile to real pastoral musicians.

My good Internet friend Jason Pennington put it well on GIA's old message boards, that being "pastoral" is "not giving people what they want, it's giving people what they need."

Fr. Anthony Mancini, rector and music director at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in Providence, once had this to say at a Lenten Mission at one of my former parishes:
"God never answers my prayers!" "God indeed answers your prayers. Just sometimes God says NO!"

I implore and challenge all involved in Roman Catholic Liturgy - musicians, liturgists, and even priests - and I even challenge myself - to really be "pastoral" and restore "holy" in "Holy Mass".

Have a Blessed Triduum.
+In Christ,

Saturday, March 19, 2005


AROUND THE THRONE, A GLORIOUS BAND - the triumphant All Saints text by the late Rowland Hill, set to my own tune, simply called "A GLORIOUS BAND" is now published by CanticaNOVA Publications. To go right to the hymn description, click here, then scroll down a bit. The price is $8.50, which includes the license to make copies for your congregation. It's my first piece to leave the hands of CHRISTUS VINCIT MUSIC. Get your copy now so you'll be ready for All Saints!!!

+In Christ, through the intercession of All the Saints,

You'll Find on the Web

With just one click, you can access many great articles for the reform of the Catholic Liturgy.
Here are some cool links you can check out: - from Aristotle Esguerra's blog, "The Confessions of a Recovering Choir Director". These are articles from a wide array of authors. - Musical Musings from CanticaNOVA Publications, from many authors, including (certainly not limited to) CanticaNOVA's own Gary Penkala. - It would be well worth your while to check out the Adoremus website. Adoremus is really on top of what's been going on - articles on music, Mass translation, letters and encyclicals from our Holy Father (and many of his Predecessors), and other official documents, including a link to the GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) - or in Latin, IGMR (Instructionis Generalis Missalis Romanis). There is also the Adoremus Bulletin, which is published monthly. You can read it online for free, but it's well worth the $25 for a membership. The site will tell you the many membership benefits.

This is just the start of a recent awareness that "Restoration of the Sacred" needs to happen, and is in the works. Not to mention the same awareness coming from many of the newly-ordained priests I've run into recently, as well as some young seminarians.

Enjoy the fruits of these labors by all means.
+In Christ,


We last left off at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer. Now we're going to wrap this tour up with coverage of the Communion and Concluding Rites.


81. In the Lord's Prayer a petition is made for daily food, which for Christians means preeminently the eucharistic bread, and also for purification from sin, so that what is holy may, in fact, be given to those who are holy. The priest says the invitation to the prayer, and all the faithful say it with him; the priest alone adds the embolism, which the people conclude with a doxology. The embolism, enlarging upon the last petition of the Lord's Prayer itself, begs deliverance from the power of evil for the entire community of the faithful.
The invitation, the Prayer itself, the embolism, and the doxology by which the people conclude these things are sung or said aloud.

In many Protestant denominations, the Lord's Prayer is said, with the doxology ("For thine is the kingdom...") as the ending. As Roman Catholics, this doxology was added on with the Novus Ordo Mass. It was never used in the Tridentine Mass. The correct format in Catholic liturgy is the Lord's Prayer itself - from "Pater Noster"/"Our Father" to "Sed libera nos a malo"/"But deliver us from evil", followed by the "embolism", which the priest says the prayer "Deliver us, Lord, from every evil...", the followed by the proclaiming of the people, "For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever." The text is not to be altered.

Last half of 82. The priest breaks the Bread and puts a piece of the host into the chalice to signify the unity of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the work of salvation, namely, of the living and glorious Body of Jesus Christ. The supplication Agnus Dei, is, as a rule, sung by the choir or cantor with the congregation responding; or it is, at least, recited aloud. This invocation accompanies the fraction and, for this reason, may be repeated as many times as necessary until the rite has reached its conclusion, the last time ending with the words dona nobis pacem (grant us peace).

This prayer, sung or said by all, is a three-verse litany. Yes, three and only three verses. When sung, it is usually cantor or choir intoning "Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi"/"Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world", to which the people respond "Miserere nobis"/"Have mercy on us" the first two times, and "Dona nobis pacem"/"Grant us peace", the third time. Additional tropes detracting from the meaning of the text, such as "Jesus, Lamb of God", or "Risen Lord", or "Bread of Life and food for our souls" should be avoided. If the repetition as many times as necessary, as stated above, is a must, then the first two verses (those ending in "Have mercy on us") should be the verses repeated, with no text changes.


86. While the priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion chant is begun. Its purpose is to express the communicants' union in spirit by means of the unity of their voices, to show joy of heart, and to highlight more clearly the "communitarian" nature of the procession to receive Communion. The singing is continued for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful.
If, however, there is to be a hymn after Communion, the Communion chant should be ended in a timely manner. Care should be taken that singers, too, can receive Communion with ease.

87. In the dioceses of the United States of America there are four options for the Communion 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 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) a suitable liturgical song chosen in accordance with no. 86 above. This is sung either by the choir alone or by the choir or cantor with the people.
If there is no singing, however, the Communion antiphon found in the Missal may be recited either by the faithful, or by some of them, or by a lector. Otherwise the priest himself says it after he has received Communion and before he distributes Communion to the faithful.

In the case of the antiphon from the Roman Missal or Roman Gradual (option 1), these antiphons are generally short, and serve as just that - an antiphon. Verses from Psalms can be used, via the Simple Gradual Psalm choice (e.g., option 2) or other suitible Psalms (e.g., option 3). In the case of option 4, the "suitable liturgical song" may be a hymn by the congregation, a motet by the choir, or a responsory consisting of parts by cantor/choir and congregation.

One should take care that if option 4 is used (not the most preferred by the Church, but most popular amongst many parishes in North America), the song should be Christ-focused, even on those feasts that would pertain to Mary, unless it is prescribed in the Proper for Communion of that day. The Magnificat would be an exception of those which should be avoided, as it is not a hymn to Mary, but to God by Mary. However, such devotional pieces as "Ave Maria" and "Hail, Holy Queen Enthroned Above" should be avoided here, and perhaps placed elsewhere.


90. The concluding rites consist of:

  • Brief announcements, if they are necessary;
  • The priest's greeting and blessing, which on certain days and occasions is enriched and expressed in the prayer over the People or another more solemn formula;
  • The dismissal of the people by the deacon or the priest, so that each may go out to do good works, praising and blessing God;
  • The kissing of the altar by the priest and the deacon, followed by a profound bow to the altar by the priest, the deacon, and the other ministers.
From the Vigil of Easter to the Octave (Second Sunday), the dismissal is amended by the double alleluia in both the priest and people's parts: The Mass is ended, go in peace, alleluia, alleluia! / Thanks be to God, alleluia, alleluia!


Neither the Roman Missal nor the Roman Gradual make mention of the "Recessional Hymn". The Recessional Hymn was started by custom, probably around the time Vatican II was in the works. However, this "Recessional Hymn" was only used in the case of Low Mass. You see, it was originally intended that when Low Mass (Missa Recitata) was used, that the people were given hymns to sing - Entrance, Offertory, Communion, and Recessional, and the sung Ordinary and Proper be recited; and that High Mass (Missa Cantata) was (still is) the complete sung Mass - the Introit, Kyrie, Gloria (when seasonally correct), Gradual, Alleluia (or Tract in Lent), Credo, Offertory Proper, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Communion Proper, and Ite Missa Est, along with any other sung dialogues between priest and people.


OOPS!!! I did!

67. The purpose of the Symbolum or Profession of Faith, or Creed, is that the whole gathered people may respond to the word of God proclaimed in the readings taken from Sacred Scripture and explained in the homily and that they may also call to mind and confess the great mysteries of the faith by reciting the rule of faith in a formula approved for liturgical use, before these mysteries are celebrated in the Eucharist.
68. The Creed is to be sung or said by the priest together with the people on Sundays and Solemnities. It may be said also at particular celebrations of a more solemn character. If it is sung, it is begun by the priest or, if this is appropriate, by a cantor or by the choir. It is sung, however, either by all together or by the people alternating with the choir.

Very rare is the case of the Creed in the Vernacular sung for some reason. Perhaps it's because of its length. It could be sung, obviously, as seen in paragraphs 67 and 68 above. It doesn't have to be, but it's definitely encouraged. It would be great to see it done. In a Latin High Mass (Missa Cantata), it is always sung.

Here endeth the Lesson, and the tour of the IGMR. Any questions?

+In Christ,


In this chapter, we'll cover the Liturgy of the Eucharist from the Offertory right to the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer. In the Eucharistic Prayer is where you will find the Central Mystery of the Catholic Faith - Bread and Wine being transformed to the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, right before our very eyes.


74. The procession bringing the gifts is accompanied by the Offertory chant (cf. above, no. 37b), which continues at least until the gifts have been placed on the altar. The norms on the manner of singing are the same as for the Entrance chant (cf. above, no. 48, or blog article "Let's Take a Tour of the IGMR - Part I"). Singing may always accompany the rite at the offertory, even when there is no procession with the gifts.

This may be a hymn, a motet, or (ideally) the Offertory as prescribed in the Roman Gradual. One should, however, be aware of the nomenclature here. "Preparation of the Gifts" or "Preparation of the Altar and Gifts" is the action going on by the priest. It is still traditionally known as the "Offertory", the priest offering the gifts of Bread and Wine to Almighty God. The hymn is still called (as you see in the above paragraph) the "Offertory Chant" - not "Presentation Hymn" or "Preparation Hymn" as many pseudo-liturgists call it, but the "Offertory Hymn". Don't let the wannabes fool you.


79a. Thanksgiving (expressed especially in the Preface): In which the priest, in the name of the entire holy people, glorifies God the Father and gives thanks for the whole work of salvation or for some special aspect of it that corresponds to the day, festivity, or season.

The preface starts with a dialog (said or sung) between celebrant and congregation (The Lord be with you/And also with you/Lift up your hearts/etc.). This is followed by a prayer of thanksgiving, set usually be season or feast, said or sung by the celebrant.

79b. Acclamation: In which the whole congregation, joining with the heavenly powers, sings the Sanctus. This acclamation, which is part of the Eucharistic Prayer itself, is sung or said by all the people with the priest.

The last paragraph of the prayer of thanksgiving introduces this acclamation (the "Sanctus", or "Holy, Holy, Holy Lord") , which really, like the Gloria, is a hymn ("Now we join with the angels and archangels in the unending hymn of praise") sung by all. It should be sung straight through, and (also like the Gloria) the text is not to be altered in any way.

After the Sanctus is sung, the priest recites the first of two major bodies of the Eucharistic Prayer. There are now NINE Eucharistic Prayers for the celebrant to choose from (the original four, plus two for Masses of Reconciliation, and three for Masses with Children). The very first (beginning with "We come to you, Father, with praise and thanksgiving") is known as the "Roman Canon". Until the current Mass, this was the ONLY Eucharistic Prayer, and was simply named "The Canon of the Mass".

79e. Anamnesis: In which the Church, fulfilling the command that she received from Christ the Lord through the Apostles, keeps the memorial of Christ, recalling especially his blessed Passion, glorious Resurrection, and Ascension into heaven.

After the elevations of the Body and Blood of Christ, this Anamnesis (commonly known as the "Memorial Acclamation") is sung. The priest intones "Mysterium Fidei"/"Let us proclaim the Mystery of Faith", and the people respond by singing one of the approved acclamations. There are three in Latin, four in English. The four in English are as follows.
  1. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
  2. Dying you destroyed our death; rising you restored our life; Lord Jesus, come in glory.
  3. When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory.
  4. Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free. You are the Savior of the world.

In the ongoing re-translation process, it is said that the first of these acclamations might be eliminated. Two common communion hymns, "Keep in Mind" (by Lucien Deiss) and "We Remember" (by Marty Haugen) are just that - hymns. These are NOT Memorial Acclamations. This very common practice should be avoided by all means.

From that point, the second major body of the Eucharistic Prayer is prayed by the celebrant.


79h. Final doxology: By which the glorification of God is expressed and is confirmed and concluded by the people's acclamation, Amen.

The people's acclamation is just that - AMEN. The word "Amen" may be repeated multiple times (three is most common), though officially it is single. Other texts like "for ever and ever, for ever, alleluia" and "heaven and earth are full of your glory, hosanna on high" should not be added. Just "Amen." Further, the "Per Ipsum"/"Through him" prayer is intoned by the priest(s) only. The congregation comes in only on "Amen."

And Amen, I say to you, as we close this portion of the tour. Part four, coming soon, will guide you through the rest of the Mass - the Communion and Concluding rites.

+In Christ,

Friday, March 18, 2005


In my previous post, we covered the Introductory Rites. Here we will cover the Liturgy of the Word.


61. After the first reading comes the responsorial Psalm, which is an integral part of the Liturgy of the Word and holds great liturgical and pastoral importance, because it fosters meditation on the word of God. The responsorial Psalm should correspond to each reading and should, as a rule, be taken from the Lectionary. It is preferable that the responsorial Psalm be sung, at least as far as the people's response is concerned. Hence, the psalmist, or the cantor of the Psalm, sings the verses of the Psalm from the ambo or another suitable place. The entire congregation remains seated and listens but, as a rule, takes part by singing the response, except when the Psalm is sung straight through without a response. In order, however, that the people may be able to sing the Psalm response more readily, texts of some responses and Psalms have been chosen for the various seasons of the year or for the various categories of Saints. These may be used in place of the text corresponding to the reading whenever the Psalm is sung. If the Psalm cannot be sung, then it should be recited in such a way that it is particularly suited to fostering meditation on the word of God.

In the dioceses of the United States of America, the following may also be sung in place of the Psalm assigned in the Lectionary for Mass: either the proper or seasonal antiphon and Psalm from the Lectionary, as found either in the Roman Gradual or Simple Gradual or in another musical setting; or an antiphon and Psalm from another collection of the psalms and antiphons, including psalms arranged in metrical form, providing that they have been approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop. Songs or hymns may not be used in place of the responsorial Psalm.

First, the position of the Psalmist. The preferred location for the Psalmist to proclaim the Responsorial Psalm is from the ambo. However, note the words to follow: "or another suitable place". In many places, cantors and Psalmists can be few and far between, therefore, the organist often has to lead from the console.

When accompanying the Psalms at the organ, the best result is playing the cantor parts on the swell with fairly soft 8' stops, and accompany the congregation in its response on the great with something much fuller (not necessarily the big 8', 4', 2' combination - a good full 8' and 4' is sufficient, especially in more somber Psalms).

The Psalm should be that of the Lectionary for Mass. However, the setting from the Roman Gradual or Simple Gradual may be used. The setting found in these latter two books is known as the "Gradual", and is usually an antiphon and one verse. This should be treated just like a Responsorial Psalm may be treated - that is, the antiphon intoned by the cantor, then repeated by all, the versicle sung by the cantor, followed by a repeat of the antiphon by all.

Psalms may be in a metrical form (e.g., the Gelineau Gradual, as found in the hymnal "Worship II" and much of "Worship, Third Edition", both published by GIA Publications). At least until a new translation of Mass arrives, the Grail/Gelineau settings are still approved by the USCCB. However, songs/hymns can never fill this spot. This means that you cannot program "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace" as a responsorial Psalm. Offertory? Sure! But not as the Psalm.


62. After the reading that immediately precedes the Gospel, the Alleluia or another chant indicated by the rubrics is sung, as required by the liturgical season. An acclamation of this kind constitutes a rite or act in itself, by which the assembly of the faithful welcomes and greets the Lord who is about to speak to them in the Gospel and professes their faith by means of the chant. It is sung by all while standing and is led by the choir or a cantor, being repeated if this is appropriate. The verse, however, is sung either by the choir or by the cantor.
The Alleluia is sung in every season other than Lent. The verses are taken from the Lectionary or the Graduale.
During Lent, in place of the Alleluia, the verse before the Gospel is sung, as indicated in the Lectionary. It is also permissible to sing another psalm or tract, as found in the Graduale.

Just before the Gospel reading, the Alleluia is sung. First, it is good to point out that the Alleluia is just that - ALLELUIA. It may be sung as a singlefold, twofold, twentyfold. However, adding words to the Alleluia (as an antiphon) is discouraged (e.g., "Give thanks to the risen Lord" or "Praise the Word of Truth and Life"). Like the Responsorial Psalm, it is intoned by a cantor, repeated by all, then again by all after the cantor sings the versicle.

The versicle can be taken from the Lectionary for Mass, or the Roman Graduale. The official musical setting from the Roman Gradual (often the same setting that had appeared in the Liber Usualis for Tridentine Masses) is a single Alleluia intoned by the cantor, repeated by all, but the repeat has an extended final syllable, usually by ten or more additional notes. However, multiple alleluias (double, triple, six-fold, etc.) are also allowed.

The Alleluia is replaced by an alternate Gospel acclamation during the season of Lent. The four choices of the Gospel Acclamation in the Lectionary for Mass in English are as follows:
  1. Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
  2. Praise and honor to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
  3. Glory to you, Word of God, Lord Jesus Christ.
  4. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory.

During Lent, it is also permissible to sing another Psalm from the Graduale - known as the Tract. The Tract is just a straight-forward (not responsorial) Psalm before the Gospel. It can be sung by all, or just the choir, or alternately between cantor/all or choir/all. These vary in length - from short (Lent II) to really long (Lent I and Palm Sunday).


64. The Sequence, which is optional except on Easter Sunday and on Pentecost Day, is sung before the Alleluia.

In today's Mass, three sequences arise. The Corpus Christ sequence, "Lauda Sion" is optional. If sung, it should be done in full, though it's common to sing the last four verses ("Ecce Panis Angelorum"). The other two sequences, Easter Sunday ("Victimae Paschali Laudes") and Pentecost Sunday ("Veni, Sancte Spiritus") are required. Note that this is Easter and Pentecost SUNDAY and not VIGIL. On those two days are two seperate sets of Propers which should NEVER be interchanged. Note also that this is sung before the Alleluia. In the Tridentine Mass, it was sung after the alleluia. Efforts are being made by some to restore the sequence to that spot.

In the next chapter, we'll nit-pick through the Liturgy of the Eucharist - from the Offertory to the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer (Amen).

+In Christ,

Thursday, March 17, 2005

LET'S TAKE A TOUR of the IGMR - part I

This new series gives a piece by piece look through what's really supposed be done at Mass, according to the Instructio Generalis Missalis Romanis, that is, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, and compare these items with what goes on.

THE "Entrance Chant"

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.

First order of nit-picking: Note the nomenclature here - "Entrance Chant" or "Introit" (from the Latin, "Introitus"). Others may use the term "Processional". However, many of those who like a more contemporary worship tend to use the term "Gathering Song". Note what this accompanies. It does not accompany the gathering of the faithful. It accompanies the priest and ministers in procession to the altar. The gathering of the faithful has already happened before Mass begins. So, truthfully, use of the term "Gathering Song" would be out of the question.

Although this is usually done in the form of a hymn (option 4, as stated in paragraph 48 above) in many parishes, the preferred option is the "antiphon from the Roman Missal" or "Psalm from the Roman Gradual". Otherwise, why would this be listed first? Hymns are always the "easy way out". Don't get me wrong - they're not a bad thing. But think of this: as hymns are always printed to different tunes in most cases, the Introit from the Roman Gradual can just as easily be sung to a Psalm Tone as a hymn can be sung to a metrical tune. Though the "official" melody is hard to sing, one can use a Psalm Tone, in fact, use that SAME Psalm Tone for an entire season of Introits.

Let's rewind to the beginning of Paragraph 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." Yes, a choir can sing a choral Introit, either to a Psalm Tone as previously mentioned, or in the form of choral polyphony (aka, the "motet"). This does not detract in any manner the Church's call for "full and active participation".

Another bad practice, usually when option 4 is being used, is the cantor or commentator announcing "Please stand and greet our celebrant and join in singing our gathering hymn, number xxx". We're not greeting the celebrant at this point. That's done socially before you enter (or as you leave) the church. A hilarious point is at one church I worked at, circa 1985. The commentator was absent, and I had doubled as organist and cantor with no microphone in the gallery. The pastor made the usual pre-Mass announcements, stepped into the sacristy for about three seconds, came back out and said "Will you please stand and greet ME by singing hymn number xxx".

THE "Kyrie Eleison"

52. After the Act of Penitence, the Kyrie is always begun, unless it has already been included as part of the Act of Penitence. Since it is a chant by which the faithful acclaim the Lord and implore his mercy, it is ordinarily done by all, that is, by the people and with the choir or cantor having a part in it. As a rule, each acclamation is sung or said twice, though it may be repeated several times, by reason of the character of the various languages, as well as of the artistry of the music or of other circumstances. When the Kyrie is sung as a part of the Act of Penitence, a trope may precede each acclamation.

The "Act of Penitence" as mentioned here is the "Confiteor", that is, "I confess to Almighty God..." After the Confiteor is prayed, the Kyrie is said/sung (preferably sung). The trope method of the Kyrie, mentioned in the last sentence of the above paragraph, is the very commonly used "Penitential Rite C", where the celebrant or deacon intones an invocation such as "You were sent to heal the contrite. Lord, have mercy/Kyrie eleison", and the congregation repeats "Lord have mercy/Kyrie eleison". In either case, the Kyrie is a sixfold Kyrie (was ninefold in the Tridentine liturgy and also in the Vernacular liturgy from 1964) - intoned by the celebrant/deacon/choir/cantor, and repeated by all.


end of 51. On Sundays, especially in the Season of Easter, in place of the customary Act of Penitence, from time to time the blessing and sprinkling of water to recall Baptism may take place.

The Rite of Sprinkling can be done on any Sunday of the year, but, especially during Easter Season. At this time, the celebrant blesses the Holy Water and sprinkles it on the congregation. During the sprinkling itself, an antiphon is usually sung. Outside of Easter Season, it is usually the "Asperges Me" (Sprinkle me, O Lord, with hyssop, and cleanse us...). The verse that follows is from Psalm 51(50), "Miserere mei Deus/Have mercy on me, O Lord". During Easter Season, it is the "Vidi Aquam" (I saw water flowing, from the right side of the temple, alleluia...), and its verse is from Psalm 118 (117), "Confitemini Domino quoniam bonus/Give thanks to the Lord for he is good."


53. The Gloria is a very ancient and venerable hymn in which the Church, gathered together in the Holy Spirit, glorifies and entreats God the Father and the Lamb. The text of this hymn may not be replaced by any other text. The Gloria is intoned by the priest or, if appropriate, by a cantor or by the choir; but it is sung either by everyone together, or by the people alternately with the choir, or by the choir alone. If not sung, it is to be recited either by all together or by two parts of the congregation responding one to the other. It is sung or said on Sundays outside the Seasons of Advent and Lent, on solemnities and feasts, and at special celebrations of a more solemn character.

It is very clear here - This text may not be replaced. It may not be altered, paraphrased, or whatever. A sung setting should be through-composed (straight through), though it can be done responsorially (e.g., the "Gloria of the Bells" by C. Alexander Peloquin). The Gloria is omitted on Sundays of Advent and Lent - completely. It is, however, sung on Holy Thursday.

Part II will come soon, and will cover the Liturgy of the Word.

+In Christ,

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

EASTER VIGIL and SUNDAY at Holy Ghost Church

8 PM (Senior choir)

Exsultet sung by pastor
Readings 1, 2, 3, and 5 - all accompanying Psalms chanted a capella to tone 8G.
Gloria: Peloquin - Mass of the Bells
Alleluia: from O Filii et Filiae
Sprinkling (after Renewal of Baptismal Promises): Tone 8G - I saw water flowing (English antiphon, Latin versicle: Confitemini Domino quoniam bonus...)
Offertory: Hillert - Festival Canticle
Sanctus XVIII
Mysterium and Per Ipsum: Peloquin - Mass of the Bells
Communion: Mode II - Ye Sons and Daughters
Proper: Tone 8G - Pascha nostra
Recessional: EASTER HYMN - Jesus Christ is Risen Today
Postlude: J. S. Bach - Christ lag in todesbaden

7:30 (me, myself, and I)
9:00 (Junior Choir)
10:30 (Senior Choir)

Introit (9 and 10:30): Tone 8G - I am risen, and I am with you always, alleluia...
- 9:00 - HYMN TO JOY - Alleluia, alleluia, hearts to heaven and voices raise
- 7:30/10:30 - HOLY ANTHEM - Alleluia, alleluia, let the holy anthem rise
- 7:30 - recited
- 9/10:30 - Gloria of the Bells
Psalm: O FILII ET FILIAE, adapted by Page - This is the day the Lord has made
Alleluia: from "O Filii et Filiae"

Monday, March 14, 2005

OCP is NOT the only hidden hand behind bad music

I've taken the liberty of checking out this old article in CRISIS magazine, dated January 2002.

Yes, I agree that OCP (Oregon Catholic Press) has had a big hand in keeping the not-so-sacred styles of music in its worship aids since the late 1970's. And after a beef with Bari Columbari, the senior editor, over something I posted in one of the message boards, I sent him one heck of a review (nine pages) of their 2005 "Music Issue". He listened. He may not agree, but he listened.
However, OCP is NOT the only hidden hand behind bad music. Yes, OCP has infested the music issue with schlock by the St. Louis Jesuits, the Monks of Weston Priory, the Dameans, and (worst of all) Carey Landry. Two publishers already had them beat.

FEL Publications had a good share of garbage that dates to the mid to late '60's, with Ray Repp being its main ringmaster. World Library Publications was the first to publish the music of Joe Wise and Jack Miffleton (remember "Monday mornings, Lord, and Sunday papers", from "All I Am, I Give to You"?).

In the mid '70's, two other publishers were taking in junk, but on a smaller scale. GIA Publications was doing really well with Worship II, which was an excellent hymnal, and a really good effort to bring hardcover hymnals to Roman Catholics here in the States. Most popular of the little bit of junk was "I Am the Bread of Life". Although it had hit big with a number of folk groups in my area, it was written with a not-too-shabby organ accompaniment. I guess my fault against it is that we're singing to be Jesus in the first person - a problem with much of the contemporary fare. The other publisher in mind is the Liturgical Press, maker of the famous "Our Parish Prays and Sings" hymnal of the 60's, and the missalette "Celebrating the Eucharist". In the mid 70's, Liturgical Press released "Book of Sacred Song", which, although primarily traditional, did print some pieces that would be completely strange to Catholic worship, like "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands", and "More than Nineteen Hundred Years Ago."

However, GIA took a turn for the worse in the early '80's. Though "Worship II" was doing really good, they started out with a small book called "Gather to Remember", a book about the size of one of the original "Glory and Praise" volumes, which consisted of all folk music. They published "Worship, Third Edition" (affectionately known as "Worship III"). Though still an excellent hymnal in terms of repertoire, this new edition of Worship caught on with that poor practice of using a modern language in many of the standard hymns - that is - a language that eliminates the so-called "sexism" ("mankind", "man", etc., which is assumed, "humanity") and older poetic English ("thee", "thou", and "thy" becoming "you" and "your"). Had many of these authors of hymns be still alive, would they allow such revisions to their texts? Much of the change in text resulted in a whole new meaning of the hymn, often poor poetry, and sometimes even bad theology. Worse is the mass publishing of music by Marty Haugen and David Haas - songs (I refuse to refer to these types as hymns) which are either poor music (unsingable, too high for the average congregation, etc.) or bad theology ("A banquet hall on holy ground"). In 1987, GIA teamed up with North American Liturgy Resources (makers of the infamous "Glory and Praise") to introduce "Gather", a hardcover hymnal (and I use that term loosely) whose repertoire is the total opposite of "Worship". And look at all that Haugen and Haas! What gets me is how so many can go ga-ga over the music of Marty Haugen, who's just as Lutheran as Martin Luther himself, despite Luther's own music being of higher quality.

Another problem, even bigger than bad hymns, is when the Ordinary of the Mass is altered by composers, and of course accepted by their publishers. Let's explore:
St. Louis Jesuits Mass
The famed "Gloria" of John Foley which seems to be more the "Dona Gloria" - Give glory to God in the highest.
The Sanctus - Hosanna on high - that's it??? on high??? The Lord's not good enough to have his Hosannas raised to him in the highest???
The Mysterium Fidei - The settings for Memorial Acclamations A, B, and D are textually fine. However, Memorial Acclamation C goes: When we eat this bread of life, when we drink of this holy cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, till you come again.
The Per Ipsum - "Amen" is plenty sufficient. The "for ever and ever" is part of the celebrant's part. The "Alleluia" doesn't belong there.
The Agnus Dei - does not need all these extra verses.
Mass of Creation
The Gloria is textually unaltered.
The Sanctus - God of power, God of might???
The Agnus Dei - Jesus, Lamb of God??? "Jesus, Agnus Dei???"; Grant us your peace??? "Dona nobis pacem tuum???"

These are just two examples. I could go on, but to save space, I went with the two most "popular" settings, or should I say, the two "biggest hits". Now, let me ask you --- Who on earth gave these composers and publishers the right to alter the Ordinary of the Mass??? It sure wasn't Rome. It sure wasn't the USCCB. But yet the "Nihil Obstat" and "Imprimatur" gets fixed on all these dang publications. Pastors allow this junk to fly. And God forbid - if you phase out "Mass of Creation", you might just lose your job. I did, but rebounded by going to a parish who (thank God) doesn't allow such abuse.

But this is living proof, however, that OCP is not alone in being this "hidden hand behind bad music".

+ In Christ,

Monday, March 7, 2005

MUSIC for Holy Thursday and Good Friday
at Holy Ghost in Tiverton RI

Mass at 7:00 PM / Senior Choir

Introit: Tone 2 - Let us glory in the cross (English antiphon/Latin versicle)
Processional: CRUCIFER - Lift high the cross (#722)
Gloria: Peloquin - Gloria of the Bells
Psalm: Page - Our blessing cup
Gospel Acclamation: Tone 2 - Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ
Washing of Feet: Peloquin - Faith, Hope, and Love (from his "Lyric Liturgy")
Offertory: Mode VI - Ubi Caritas (#423 - in Latin)
Sanctus XVIII
Memorial Acclamation: Tone 2 - When we eat this Bread
Amen: single, slurred last syllable
Communion: SWEET SACRAMENT - Jesus, my Lord, my God, my All
Communion proper: Tone 2 - Hoc Corpus (Latin/English)
Solemn Transfer of the Holy Eucharist: Mode III - Pange Lingua Gloriosi (page 22 in missalette)

Solemn Liturgy at 7:00 PM

Psalm: Page - Father, into your hands
Gospel Acclamation: Tone 2 - Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ
Veneration Music (as time permits):
- 1. Mode III - Sing, my tongue, the Savior's glory (Good Friday text/#54)
- 2. Spiritual - Were you there (#52)
- 3. Schutte - Behold the wood (page 38 in missalette)
Communion Music (as time permits):
- 1. PASSION CHORALE - O sacred Head, surrounded (#58)
- 2. HAMBURG - When I survey the wondrous cross (#53)

+ In Christ,

MUSIC for Palm Sunday 2005 at Holy Ghost in Tiverton, RI

Saturday Mass at 4:30 / Sunday Masses at 7:30, 9:00, and 10:30
Junior Choir at 9:00 / Senior Choir at 10:30

Same as what's posted for March 6 and 13

Introit: Hosanna to the Son of David/Hosanna Filio David
- 4:30 and 7:30: Mode VII (page 3 in missalette, in English)
- 9:00: Tone 8 (in English)
- 10:30: Mode VII (page 3 in missalette, in Latin)
Procession of the Palms: ST. THEODULPH - All glory, laud, and honor (#39)
Psalm: Page - My God, My God
Offertory: Spiritual - Were you there (#52)
- 9:00: HAMBURG - When I survey the wondrous cross (#53)
- All other Masses: PASSION CHORALE - O sacred Head, surrounded (#58)
Recessional: TRURO - Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates (#38)

+ In Christ,

Sunday, March 6, 2005

MUSIC for Lent IV and V at Holy Ghost Church in Tiverton, RI

NOTE: Numbers in parentheses refer to the Music Issue or Today's Missal, published by Oregon Catholic Press.

Gospel Acclamation: Tone 2 - Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ
Sanctus: Mass XVIII (in Latin)
Memorial Acclamation: Tone 2 - When we eat this Bread
Amen: the single Amen with the slurred last syllable
Agnus Dei: Mass XVIII (in Latin)

Masses at 4:30 on Saturday, 7:30, 9:00, and 10:30 on Sunday
Senior Choir at 10:30

Introit at 10:30: Tone 2 - Rejoice, O Jerusalem (English antiphon/Latin versicle)
Processional hymn: KINGSFOLD - I heard the voice of Jesus say (#508)
Psalm: Gelineau - My Shepherd is the Lord (#749)
Offertory hymn: HYFRYDOL - Church of God, elect and glorious (#411)
Communion hymn: NEW BRITAIN - Amazing grace! how sweet the sound (#444)
Communion proper at 10:30: Tone 2 - Jerusalem, quae aedificatur (bilingual Latin/English)
Recessional hymn: IN BABILONE - There's a wideness in God's mercy (#422)

Masses at 4:30 on Saturday, 7:30, 9:00, and 10:30 on Sunday
Senior Choir at 10:30

Introit at 10:30: Gelineau - I will go to the altar of God (Psalm 43)
Processional hymn: CRUCIFER - Lift high the cross (#722)
Psalm: Page - With the Lord there is mercy
Offertory hymn: PASSION CHORALE - O sacred Head, surrounded (#130 in Missalette)
Communion hymn: Deiss - Keep in mind (#662)

Communion proper: Tone 2 - Videns Dominus (bilingual Latin/English)
Recessional hymn: ST. FLAVIAN - Lord, who throughout these forty days (#106 in Missalette)

In Christ,

TRIDENTINE vs. NORMATIVA - a comparison

(Originally written on May 15, 2001)
For those who have been to the Mass according to our current rituals (Novus Ordo, aka "Missa Normativa", Roman Missal of 1970) and have never been to a traditional Mass (Tridentine, Roman Missal of 1962), here is a primer of what to expect when attending Mass for the first time in the old rites:

- Tridentine: Latin, the official language of the Church
- Normativa: In the vernacular (the native language of the community) or in Latin, STILL the official language of the Church! Note that Latin still holds pride of place, even in the most current "General Instruction of the Roman Missal".

Position of the Celebrant
- Tridentine: Ad Orientem (to the East, where the Holy Land is located, not necessarily the actual compass point, but facing the High Altar of Sacrifice). Note the progressives prefer to take this negatively by saying "the priest has his back turned on the people."
- Normativa: Facing the congregation, thus creating the "Dialogue Mass" between celebrant and congregation.

Tone of Celebrant's Voice
- Tridentine: In most cases, whispering tone, communicating solely with God. Very little audible tones, with the exception of the Homily and intoning Mass chants.
- Normativa: Almost always audible

First half of the Mass is known as...
- Tridentine: Mass of the Catecheumens
- Normativa: Liturgy of the Word

How Mass Begins
- Tridentine:
*Asperges Me (or Vidi Aquam during Easter Season) at High Mass only. At this point the celebrant sprinkles the congregation with Holy Water.
*Prayers at the Foot of the Altar (includes a dialogue between celebrant and servers of Psalm 43 (42) and their respective Confiteors).
*Introit (said by celebrant/chanted by choir)
*Kyrie (ninefold)
*Gloria (except during Advent and Lent)
- Normativa:

*Entrance Hymn / Antiphon (antiphon used usually when no music is used at all or in solemn Masses)
*Rite of Sprinkling OR Penitential Rite (Note 1: In the Penitential Rite, there are three forms, one of which incorporates the sixfold Kyrie as part of a dialogue, another is one communal Confiteor followed by the sixfold Kyrie, and yet another which uses part of Psalm 85 (84). / Note 2: in the Rite of Sprinkling, "Asperges Me" and "Vidi Aquam" and translations thereof are just two of the options available.)
*Gloria (except during Advent and Lent)
After the Gloria
- Tridentine: The Collect
- Normativa: The Opening Prayer

Formation of Readings
- Tridentine:
*Epistle (or Lesson) (recited or chanted by celebrant)
*Gradual (recited by celebrant / chanted by choir / replaced by another Alleluia from Low Sunday to Pentecost)
*Alleluia (recited by celebrant / chanted by choir / replaced by Tract from Septuagsima through Lent)*
Gospel (recited or chanted by celebrant)
- Normativa:

*First Reading (usually from the Old Testament, or Acts during Easter Season) (recited by lay reader/lector)
*Responsorial Psalm (sung in dialogue between cantor and congregation) (In solemn Masses, the Gradual from the Graduale Romanum may be chanted)
*Second Reading (always from the New Testament) (recited by lay reader/lector)
*Alleluia (sung in dialogue between cantor and congregation / replaced by an alternate Gospel Acclamation during Lent / omitted if not sung) (Note: the Alleluia verse may be that of the Graduale Romanum. Further, during Lent, the Tract from the Graduale Romanum may be used.)
*Gospel (read by celebrant or deacon / can also be sung)
After the Gospel
- Tridentine:
*It is customary (but not required) to offer the Hail Mary, Our Father, and Glory Be to repose the soul of the person to whom the Mass is offered.
*It is also customary (but not required) to re-read the Epistle and Gospel in the Vernacular, especially if a Homily is delivered.
*Homily (not mandatory, but customary)
*Credo (sung at High Mass)
- Normativa:

*Right to the Homily
*Creed (more often said than sung, even if most of the Mass is sung)
*General Intercessions (Prayer of the Faithful)

Second half of the Mass is known as...
- Tridentine: Mass of the Faithful
- Normativa: Liturgy of the Eucharist

At the Offertory
- Tridentine: The Offertory Proper is recited by celebrant / sung by choir. Any additional music may follow as time permits.
- Normativa: Hymn sung by congregation and/or instrumental music or an anthem by the choir. The Offertory Proper, according to the Roman Gradual, may be used in solemn Masses.

The Prayer at the Offertory
- Tridentine: The Secret (said quietly)
- Normativa: The Prayer over the Gifts (said aloud)

The Canon
- Tridentine: There is only one Canon, read straight through with no intervening acclamations whatsoever. It is read quietly with the exception of the three words "Nobis quoque peccatoribus".
- Normativa: The celebrant may choose one of several Eucharistic Prayers. After the consecration and elevations, a Memorial Acclamation is sung. All is done aloud.

The Lord's Prayer
- Tridentine: Sung/said only by the celebrant / choir sings/says only the last line "Sed libera nos a malo" ("But deliver us from evil").
- Normativa: Sung/said in its entirely by ALL

Rite of Peace
- Tridentine: Huh??? What's that?
- Normativa: An exchange of peace amongst the members of the congregation is performed just before the Agnus Dei

- Tridentine: "Domine, non sum dignus..." said three times by the celebrant (the first words "Domine, non sum dignus" at a slightly raised tone), then three times by the congregation.
- Normativa: "Lord, I am not worthy..." (or "Domine, non sum dignus...") said aloud once by ALL

Receiving the Sacrament
- Tridentine: One form only - on the tongue, kneeling at the altar rail. The communicant does not say "Amen".
- Normativa: Usually standing, can be received on the tongue or in the hand. The communicant says "Amen".

- Tridentine: Choir sings / celebrant says proper. Additional music may follow as time permits
- Normativa: Communion song / antiphon (antiphon if no music is used or in solemn Masses)

Mass ends with...
- Tridentine: "Ite, Missa Est/Deo Gracias", followed by the Last Gospel (John 1:1-14; "In Principio erat Verbum"/"In the beginning was the Word")
- Normativa: "The Mass is ended, go in peace/Thanks be to God" - that's it!

(Note: in neither case is the so-called "Recessional hymn" part of the Mass. It's merely an add-on that became the fad in North America since Vatican II.)

- Tridentine: Mandatory at Easter, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, and Funeral Masses / sung after the Alleluia.
- Normativa: Mandatory at Easter and Pentecost, Optional at Corpus Christi, Dropped from the Funeral Mass / sung before the Alleluia. However, there has been talk of reverting the sequence to after the Alleluia.

- Tridentine: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Post-Epiphany, Septuagesima, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Post-Pentecost
- Normativa: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Ordinary Time, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Ordinary Time

Differences in Certain Dates
January 1
- Tridentine: Circumcision of the Lord
- Normativa: Mary, Mother of God (or the Votive "World Day of Prayer for Peace")
Sequence of Sundays/Feasts after January 1
- Tridentine:
*Sunday from January 2 to January 5 - Holy Name of Jesus
*January 6 - Epiphany
*Sunday after January 6 - Holy Family
- Normativa:
*Sunday around January 6 - Epiphany
*Sunday after Epiphany - Baptism of the Lord (sometimes it even simply skips to the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time)
February 2
- Tridentine: The Purification of Mary
- Normativa: The Presentation of the Lord
(Note: in both cases, the liturgy starts similarly, with procession of candles)
Last three Sundays before Ash Wednesday
- Tridentine: (respectively) - Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima (Note: Liturgically it's treated just like it's already Lent - Gloria omitted, Tract replaces Alleluia)
- Normativa: just Sundays of Ordinary Time (Gloria and Alleluia are intact)
Two Sundays after Lent IV (in order)
- Tridentine: First and Second Sundays of the Passion
- Normativa: Fifth Sunday of Lent and Palm Sunday
Wednesday in Holy Week
- Tridentine: Spy Wednesday
- Normativa: Wednesday in Holy Week
Sunday after Easter
- Tridentine: Low Sunday, or Quasimodo Sunday (the latter named after the first word of the Introit of the day)
- Normativa: Second Sunday of Easter (now also declared by Pope John Paul II as Divine Mercy Sunday)
Good Shepherd Sunday
- Tridentine: The Sunday after Low Sunday (that is, the "Second Sunday AFTER Easter")
- Normativa: The Fourth Sunday OF Easter (Note: in the Tridentine Calendar, the "Fourth Sunday OF Easter" is known as the "Third Sunday AFTER Easter")
Sunday after Ascension
- Tridentine: Sunday in the Octave of Ascension
- Normativa: Depends on which Diocese you're in. If your Diocese celebrates Ascension on the Thursday following the Sixth Sunday of Easter (where it really belongs), then the following Sunday is the Seventh Sunday of Easter. If your Diocese celebrates the Ascension on the Seventh Sunday of Easter, then the following Sunday is Pentecost Sunday.
Corpus Christi
- Tridentine: Thursday after Trinity
- Normativa: Sunday after Trinity (Note: the name of the feast was dumbed down to "Body and Blood of Christ")
July 1
- Tridentine: Precious Blood
- Normativa: Just a weekday in Ordinary Time
Last Sunday of October
- Tridentine: Christ the King
- Normativa: Just a Sunday in Ordinary Time, usually the 30th or 31st Sunday
Last Sunday before Advent begins
- Tridentine: Last Sunday after Pentecost
- Normativa: Christ the King
Sunday after Christmas (if not Jan. 1)
- Tridentine: Sunday in the Octave of Christmas
- Normativa: Holy Family

Note further: the Tridentine Mass does not call for an entrance hymn (though the recited/chanted Introit is required). Again, this is often added by custom during the procession to the foot of the altar. Also note, that a new English translation of the Missa Normativa is still in the works. Hopefully soon, ICEL (International Commission on English in the Liturgy) will come up with something that the Vatican will agree on.

+ In Christ,

LITURGICAL PET PEEVES and my response to them

(Originally written on October 2, 2002)
It’s been a while since I last wrote a “musings column”, perhaps over a year. This time I’m answering to a potpourri of different things that I hear at Mass.

You play too loud!
That all depends on what I’m playing. Certain pieces are meant to be played softly, while others are meant to be played loud. Amongst the loud are processional and recessional hymns (in general), postludes (most of them), as well as Mass acclamations such as the Alleluia, the Sanctus, and the Amen (people’s parts, that is). These should be played using (at the very least) Principals (8-, 4-, and 2- foot scales – the smaller the pipe, the brighter the sound!). In larger buildings, a good chorus reed should be added, especially for final verses of processionals/recessionals. Oftentimes it is hard to establish a good 8-4-2 combination without going loud, but the brightness that stands out from it will support hymn singing far better than resorting to a mere set of 8’ strings and flutes.One time, after finishing a postlude, one gentleman approached me and told me it was too loud because “the people in the back couldn’t hear themselves talk”. OK! Since when does idle chat take place over liturgy? Oh, please!

You pick hymns we don’t know!
Oftentimes that is the fault of the accuser, not the accusee. Usually when a new hymn is introduced, we do a brief rehearsal roughly 5-7 minutes before Mass, then the new hymn is repeated for at least two more weeks. The new hymn then makes its way into the standard parish repertoire. For less familiar hymns, we use full verses for introductions before we begin singing. If you don’t take part in these rehearsals before Mass and you don’t know the hymn, you have no one to blame but yourself for not taking part. Sorry to be so harsh here, but it IS the truth. The purpose of singing at Mass is to reflect (hopefully) on the theme of the Mass for that day, and not just limit to a select few hymns. Incidentally, I don't recommend using the pre-Mass rehearsal method at a Tridentine Mass. They didn't do that in 1962.

Where are the Marian hymns on Mother’s day? (Or as one approached me and said: "Brian, it's May)
For that one you have to refer to the Marian Hymns article. I cannot express enough that secular feasts can not override the sacred feast we’re celebrating at Mass that day.

You are way too traditional!
Time for you to start reading the Snowbird Statement. It’s not so much that we’re too traditional. We’ve just emptied out the trash. My predecessor at my last parish had this knack for singing “Glory and Praise to Our God” at the Tridentine Mass. I actually saw this on one of the planning sheets she left lying around. What the heck was she thinking? I wouldn’t even touch this one at a Novus Ordo Mass, let alone Tridentine. Sorry, but drinking songs do not belong at Mass (in terms of the music, not so much the text). At our Novus Ordo Mass, yes, you will get an occasional “Here I Am, Lord”, “Taste and See” by James Moore, and even David Haas’ “We Have Been Told”. But “sing to the mountains, sing to the sea” – just as well be “drink to the mountains, drink to the sea”, in terms of the way it is written. This is not a matter of personal taste, but a matter of quality. The Lord deserves nothing less than the best.

Why are we singing in Latin at the Novus Ordo Mass?
First, let me say that we use Latin at the Novus Ordo Masses at most about 20% of the time. Second, when Vatican II gave the option for Mass in the Vernacular, it still called for the promotion of Latin. Vatican II never denounced it. Latin is still the official language of the Church, no matter which Missal you are using. The problem lies with Vatican II being misinterpreted by many, especially here in North America, misinterpreted to a point where altar rails and high altars were even ordered destroyed by some dioceses. Coming soon, a link to what Vatican II REALLY said about music in liturgy.

The 9:00 Mass is being said for my father. Can you play (insert title here) for us?
One – my condolences for your loss. Two – to answer your question, regretfully not, unless that title is already slated for the day's Mass by accident. As much as I appreciate one’s memory for a loved one, and how much money you shelled out to have the Mass said for said loved one, the reason a Mass is said for a loved one is for the parish and the celebrant to have prayers intended for the repose of one’s soul. This takes place in a couple of instances: 1) in the General Intercessions (immediately after the Creed), and 2) in the Eucharistic Prayer, usually during the second half of it. The music is provided to support the actual theme for the day, according to the Scripture Readings and (hopefully) the Homily. To request music for a loved one at Sunday Mass is known by musicians as “privatizing” the Mass, which is a bad practice. If I do it for one, I’d have to do it for all. The funeral Mass, or a memorial Mass outside the regular schedule would be a different story, provided the music is sacred.

You play the hymns too high!
Funny I never hear the Protestants complain about this one! Just think of the keys that hymns were taken at one point in Roman Catholic hymnals, before Vatican II. They were very high, basically because they were sung primarily by choirs and not congregations. Protestant hymnals also included very high keys on the most part, because, although congregational singing was already the norm back then, congregations were singing in harmony. In any case, most of the hymns had ranges in the melody reaching high “E” and even “F”. I even saw one a popular hymn in one hymnal, “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today” (tune: Easter Hymn), in the key of D. That means they had to reach high “F-sharp” in the third line. In fact, in recent visits to Protestant churches, I found at least a few that still are singing in at least two or three parts in the congregation. Back to the Catholic singing and where we are today. Around 1968, the J. S. Paluch Company introduced “Monthly Missalette” (now known as “Seasonal Missalette”). They, along with World Library Publications, produced accompaniment books in “Low Range”. This was “Low Range” ok, but to another extreme. The hymns were written more for alto and bass than for the middle ranges. Even the “D” was too high in most cases for these accompaniment books. The end result was this dead sound in the case of a good amount of the hymns, especially those written in minor keys. Then there was “Worship II”, published in 1975 by G.I.A. Publications, a hardcover hymnal for Post-Vatican II Catholics. This hymnal set the standard for most hymn ranges – the top note set at “D”. Further, in the rare case of any hymn extending above the “D”, an accompaniment in a lower key was provided. One of my former parishes, Holy Name of Jesus, used one of the latest of hymnals by the G.I.A. family – “Worship, Third Edition”. This hymnal was first published in 1986, and re-published in 1998 to accommodate for the most current changes in the “Lectionary for Mass”. We use this 1998 edition. The norm for hymn ranges remains the same as its successor. In the case of almost any hymn extending above the “D”, I do play in a lower key. I have no doubt that the “D” is a comfortable top note in most cases. It’s at the top of the range for most altos and basses, but still very comfortable for sopranos and tenors. This is one hymnal I would like to see in my current parish in the near future. Incidentally, J. S. Paluch Company, now merged with World Library Publications, have also been following the “D” standard recently, as well as Oregon Catholic Press. The Liturgical Press, known in the 1960’s for “Our Parish Prays and Sings” and currently for “Celebrating the Eucharist” and “The Collegeville Hymnal”, have used that standard all along. Therefore, I think we’ve been keeping up quite well. Oh, by the way, I’m a bass.

Incidentally, my former deacon used to tell me, "You play like a Protestant". In all actuality, I'm a lifelong Roman Catholic. :-)

+In Christ,

MAY - The Month of Mary, during Easter Season

(Originally written on April 21, 2001)
Ahhhh! The merry month of May! Flowers bloom, more sunny days, warmer weather, and of course, Devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

So, what does this all have to do with music? Let's start with our regular Sunday liturgies. More people than ever have begged me to play Marian hymns during the month of May. I'm not talking about Devotions, where hymns to the BVM are most appropriate, but at Sunday Mass. Trust me when I tell you that Father Kevin Fisette (who I happily worked for at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Providence from June 1999 to August 2003) was NOT one of them, and rightfully so. Let's look at the themes for these Sundays:

May 6, 2001 is the Fourth Sunday of Easter, also known as Good Shepherd Sunday. Jesus reveals himself in the day's Scripture readings as the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep. His sheep, in turn, know him.

May 13, 2001 is Mothers' Day in the secular calendar. In the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, it is the Fifth Sunday of Easter. Thematically, Jesus gives us his "new commandment": "Love one another as I have loved you". The music planner must bear in mind that Mothers' Day is a secular holiday and must NEVER take precedence over the Sunday in terms of liturgy. Another note, taken from the Book of Blessings, is that although the blessing of mothers is permitted at Mass on this day, the crowning of the BVM is not.

May 20, 2001 is the Sixth Sunday of Easter. Not yet Pentecost, but the Holy Spirit is mentioned frequently in the day's Scriptures.

May 24, 2001, a Thursday, is the Solemnity of the Ascension our Lord Jesus Christ into heaven. In many dioceses, this is moved to the following Sunday. However, many East Coast dioceses still celebrate this Solemnity on its actual day. Note when planning music: the key word here is "Ascension", not "Assumption" (Assumption is August 15, when Mary is taken into heaven).

May 27, 2001 is the Seventh Sunday of Easter here on the East Coast, Ascension Sunday most of everywhere else. Here, the focus still appears to fall into Ascension themes.

What boggles me is despite such themes as those listed above, I'm still approached with requests for such devotional hymns and songs such as "Ave Maria" and "Bring Flowers of the Rarest". These are simply hymns of devotion that have absolutely nothing to do with the themes stated above, or the Easter Season, whatsoever. Hymns to Mary that are appropriate include "Regina Caeli" (Be Joyful Mary, Heavenly Queen) and "Concordi Laetitia" (One in Joyful Songs of Praise). Both of these are actually messages to Mary that she should rejoice, for her Son is risen from the dead. "Ave Maria" is more appropriate during the later part of Advent and for the Annunciation (March 25). There are many beautiful settings to the "Ave Maria", including those by Charles Gounod (his melody placed over "Prelude in C" by Johann Sebastian Bach), Jacob Arcadelt, and Tomas Luis da Victoria (this gorgeous octavo is based partly on the Gregorian Chant setting). But where does it really fit in the Easter season at Sunday Mass? Nowhere, mon frere. In all actuality, the Optional Mass of the BVM is celebrated on Saturday - at the daily morning Mass, not the evening Mass anticipated for the Sunday.

As I mentioned in my first paragraph, many parishes celebrate Devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is the ideal appropriate place to use such hymns, as these services are devoted especially to Her. We invite all, especially those fans of "O Sanctissima", "Immaculate Mary", "Hail, Holy Queen Enthroned Above", and "Salve Regina", to come for Devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is the "acceptable time".
+In Christ,

DISPOSABLE vs. PERMANENT - a comparison

(Originally written November 19, 2002, while I was working at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Providence, Rhode Island)
The following was sent to RITE Magazine (by Liturgy Training Publications) by me in response to a wonderful article written by a Yahoo! buddy of mine, Mr. Brian Carmody, who is assistant director of Worship in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

I received in my mail yesterday my quarterly mailings from my diocesan Worship Office. In that mailing I received the October and November/December 2002 issues of RITE. I was very elated to hear from Brian Carmody in the October issue. Brian and I chat periodically over the Internet.

"What's Your Story" (your first of three beige blocks)
During the Summer of 2000, after a year at my current parish, I made a presentation to my former pastor in hopes to change our worship aids from OCP's "Today's Missal and Music Issue" to GIA's "Worship III". The cost factors that Brian Carmody illustrated via chart are very similar to the presentation I sent to my pastor. Needless to say, with the pastor realizing that money must be spent now but will be far saved in a few years, coupled with the fact that, being in a parish that uses mostly traditional repertoire (one of our Masses is in Latin), why are we using a resource that is about 80% contemporary, my presentation succeeded rather quickly.Because of this, we are now entering our third year of utilizing a worship aid that 1) will stick with us for about 10 years or so, at least, providing our pastor sticks around that long, 2) is saving us thousands in the next few years, 3) provides the congregation with higher quality Psalms, and 4) fits the traditional needs of our parish.By the way, I showed the article in RITE to my pastor this morning, and he proudly reported that he has recently been seeing his savings realized.

"By Heart"

You ask if our parish sings mostly by heart. It's actually a mix here. Our parish is very good about opening up hymnals, but is also very good at picking up refrains (Psalm responses, hymns with antiphons that we use during the reception of Communion, etc.) without the aid of a hymnal.Such is also the case with former parish's Gospel Choir, which sings at our 9:00 Mass three Sundays a month. The Gospel Choir rehearses to the point where they do not need to hold a piece of music 80-90% of the time. The congregation at this Mass often follows their repetitions and what not, or simply claps. Also, of course, is the Benediction people, the ones who know two "O Salutaris Hostia" (Werner and Duguet) settings, two "Tantum Ergo" Settings ("St. Thomas" and Mode III), (note, both in Latin) and of course, "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name" (at least the first verse). On the normal course of traditional music, people gladly lift up their hymnal and sing well, at both our English Masses and at our Traditional Latin Mass, giving full praise to God.

"Touchy Subject"

I am very much in favor of permanent hymnals over disposables- not only because of cost savings in the long run, but because of annual waste savings as well.Take for example, OCP's "Music Issue". Of the hymns included in the "Music Issue", only about 2 to 3 percent of the music in the next issue is added for the first time. To make room for this miniscule addition, that same percentage of what might have been used in your parish (or might not) will be dropped. Hymnals, on the other hand, will provide a lasting repertoire, usually about 10 years, unless the pastor that supported the hymnals gets reassigned and replaced by a pastor who doesn't. You don't have to worry about losing a few good hymns to replace a few new ones. And with your savings, you can get copyright permissions several times over for those new pieces.

I hope this letter settles the debate a bit. :-)
+In Christ,

CHRISTUS VINCIT - The official blog of Brian Michael Page




Welcome to the home of CHRISTUS VINCIT: a series of blogs by Brian Michael Page, an organist and music director in a Roman Catholic Parish as well as a composer of sacred music.

In this series of blogs, you will read about me, as well as read musings about Roman Catholic liturgy and music, read about my work as a composer, and much more! So, sit back, relax, and enjoy CHRISTUS VINCIT!

+ In Christ,

DANNY BOY and Other Secular Favorites

(Originally written on June 7, 2001)
The following is a letter to the editor that I submitted to the Providence Visitor, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Providence, in light of an ongoing debate via letters-to-the-editor regarding the use of "Danny Boy" at funeral Masses. The letter got its print in the June 7, 2001 edition of the Visitor.

I can understand something of what Vincent E. Coughlin (The Providence Visitor, May 31) is saying about people grieving in loss of a loved one. However, any liturgist in his right mind will tell you that there is no way a non-sacred text can be allowed at Mass, whether it be a funeral, wedding, Sunday, whatever. To approve "Danny Boy" (or any other secular piece for that matter) at one Mass will open the doors to approving "Perhaps Love" by John Denver at weddings, or "Happy Birthday" for a recessional on Sunday just because the family for whom the Mass is offered may request it. It is just not good liturgy.
Over and above everything, regardless of family and friends involved, a funeral (or even a wedding, for that matter) is a parish liturgy. Liturgical documents back this up. To perform such non-sacred music at a wedding or funeral Mass does a grave injustice to the liturgy, and most especially, the Eucharist.
A "real" compromise to "Danny Boy" was suggested, in fact, by a fellow music director, Stephen A. Romano (The Providence Visitor, May 17). I should re-iterate anyway that just a few years ago, World Library Publications of Chicago, published the "Celtic Song of Farewell." It is a text in English, based on the Latin In Paradisum, set to the tune of "Danny Boy" (known as "Aire of County Derry"). This alternative text is very appropriate for funeral use, and most of the people I've played this for have been satisfied just by hearing the tune. The translation of the In Paradisum for lyrics is just as meaningful, yet much more appropriate. The text is available in the following worship aids by World Library, found in a good number of pews: "Seasonal Missalette," "We Celebrate" and "Word and Song 2001." Thank you, Steve, for beating me to the punch.
For those who still insist on the actual (secular) "Danny Boy" text, may I suggest using it either at the wake or the family reception after the burial. At Mass, let us put ourselves in the presence of the Lord.

The two previous contributors to the Visitor cited above are Stephen A. Romano, who is the music director for Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Bristol, RI, who wrote an letter for the May 17 edition of the Visitor supporting using only sacred music at Mass (as I also do), and Vincent E. Coughlin, who wrote a letter for the May 31 edition supporting the use of "Danny Boy".

Special thanks to the Providence Visitor for putting this letter in print. In a nutshell to what I stated above, yes, being sensitive and sympathetic is correct, but that does not mean that there isn't a line that has to be drawn when trying to keep a strong sense of the Sacred. That merely has to be approached in a professional, yet very sensitive, manner in the case of the funeral Mass.

(This addendum originally written on August 16, 2001)
From some of the replies I've read in different papers, it appears that my letter to the Providence Visitor is often misunderstood. The Providence Journal, in an article printed one Sunday quoted me as saying "any liturgist or planner in his right mind would refuse 'Danny Boy'". Let's back this up. What I wrote was "any liturgist in his right mind will tell you that there is no way a non-sacred text can be allowed at Mass."

For those who claim that I am offending Irish-Americans, that is NOT my intention. When I mention "no secular music at Mass", that means everyone, whether Irish, Black, Hispanic, French, Polish, White Anglo-Saxon, whatever. I have even heard from a few Irish-American priests over the years who, despite the sentimentality of a song like "Danny Boy", would also forbid it at Mass. My claim here is also highly supported by Fr. Kevin Fisette (my pastor at the time of this letter's original writing), who is also half Irish.

Both Stephen Romano (well-respected music director at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Bristol, RI) and I mentioned the "Celtic Song of Farewell" as a suitible alternative. Although it uses the "Danny Boy" tune (Aire of County Derry), it corresponds well with the funeral liturgy. The text is a translation of the Latin "In Paradisum", which, even today, the rubrics of the Funeral Mass call for as a recessional hymn.

Yes, I did read the text of the two verses of "Danny Boy" as printed in the Journal's website. And yes, I do acknowledge the line about "saying an Ave". But that is only one line of text. One line about saying a prayer does not necessarily a sacred song make. Take for example Dionne Warwick's big hit "Say a Little Prayer for You". Count the many times that title line is sung. Is it considered sacred? Of course not. These are secular love songs.

The funeral Mass is not about sentimentality. It is a celebration of life. Not of one's public or private life, but of one's spiritual life, his faith, his devotion to Christ. Adding secular music to Mass is not saying much for one's devotion to Christ. If anything, it is making a mockery of it, and the Blessed Sacrament that we receive as well. And we cannot let prominent politicians and/or actors (with all due respect to them) or anyone of great wealth sway our decisions to make such a mockery.

Yes, this is the 21st Century. That does not mean, however, we can't follow a few simple guidelines in regards to good liturgy. I wholeheartedly agree with those calling for a resting of this issue. The best way to do that is to let us do our jobs, within the prescribed guidelines of the Roman Catholic Church. Secular music was not allowed in the 1950's and 1960's. It is equally disallowed now.

There is plenty of room in the funeral procedures where secular music can be used. There is the wake. There is the burial. There is the reception that follows at the relatives' home (or some veterans' hall or wherever). You can even have a bagpiper play this stuff outside the church before Mass. I've seen that happen and I have no qualms with it. Again, I implore: At Mass, let us put ourselves present in the Lord. Let us focus on our loved one's faith and his devotion to the sacred mysteries of his Catholic faith.

In Christ,