(M)any takers for the old Mass?

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johnquinn39
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(M)any takers for the old Mass?

Post by johnquinn39 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:24 am

There is an enormous amount of debate in the RC blogsphere about the above.

However, have there actually been many takers for this?

alan29
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Re: (M)any takers for the old Mass?

Post by alan29 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:52 am

Well we have a Tridentine centre in our parish, manned by members of a Tridentine order. I believe they get a steady congregation on Sundays - mainly from across the region as previous parishioners have either moved parish or given up. Christmas and Easter do well, I understand.
I don't know how the music is going - they have an young brother/priest? who leads the chant and the beginnings of a 4 part choir, a victorian organ that was in a state of terminal collapse last I heard.
The new priest there is more keen to foster links with the whole parish - there is going to be a joint Holy Hour and Benediction this Saturday, with our PP doing the Holy Hour and their man coming on for the benediction.
Never been, myself so I can't comment more than that.

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keitha
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Re: (M)any takers for the old Mass?

Post by keitha » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:24 pm

Extraordinary Form High Mass is celebrated at the Birmingham Oratory every Sunday. I went some time ago to experience it for the first time in over 40 years and I concluded 2 things: (i) that the Council Fathers knew what they were doing(!) but (ii) that the Holy Father was right to widen its use. There was also a decent-sized congregation, albeit that the church was about half full. It wasn't really my cup of tea though, but much better celebrated than a lot of the Ordinary Form Masses that I have attended.
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Re: (M)any takers for the old Mass?

Post by musicus » Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:20 am

I happened upon one by accident quite recently when I attended a Mass for a sick friend's intention. I had no idea it was going to be an EF Mass and actually felt very cross that no one had thought to tell me. (I had resolved never to attend one and resented unwittingly finding myself there, but to have walked out would have given offence.)

In the event, it was a useful and educational experience, though not, I have to say, much of a spiritual one. As celebrated here, it really did come over as a one-man show with the congregation as audience. The Latin wasn't a problem: I understood every word of it, both on the page and as clearly enunciated by the priest. Nor was the chant a barrier: it was all clearly notated and I could easily sight-read it. Unfortunately, my fellow audience members could neither read nor remember the chant melodies (if they ever knew them), so they were almost entirely silent. There was a small choir in the west gallery, and they were more vocal but also painfully slow. I was reminded that the chant has never caught on as parish music - and why.

The priest was a former Anglo-Catholic. He made no secret (because he actually told us) of his belief in the superiority of the EF, and mentioned some of the "abuses" in the OF that we are spared in the EF. I thought he protested too much.

All these negative points aside, the main thing that repelled me was how alien it all felt: I didn't recognise my Church and its liturgy in all this. I will not knowingly attend another EF Mass (though I can understand why those who were brought up with or have chosen a different ecclesiology would want to).
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Re: (M)any takers for the old Mass?

Post by BobHayes » Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:32 am

musicus wrote:I happened upon one by accident quite recently when I attended a Mass for a sick friend's intention. I had no idea it was going to be an EF Mass and actually felt very cross that no one had thought to tell me. (I had resolved never to attend one.....


The obvious question is 'why'?
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mcb
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Re: (M)any takers for the old Mass?

Post by mcb » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:18 am

A church in Manchester has a regular Sunday EF Low Mass. Twenty years ago I sang in the choir there, and they occasionally had a Solemn Tridentine Mass on big occasions. As a spiritual experience it left me in no doubt as to my own preference for the post-Vatican II form of the rite. But from a musical point of view, it seems clear to me that the old rite is a much more effective means of incorporating elaborate musical settings into the celebration of Mass. It's obvious really: the Fauré Requiem was written for the Tridentine Rite, and it's no wonder that it simply clicks into place when sung in that form of the Liturgy. In comparison, singing an elaborate choral Mass setting in the OF invariably entails a lot of tedious standing around waiting for the choir to finish.

So for my money there's a fruitful symbiosis to be found, between preserving the riches of the choral repertoire and celebrating in the EF. It's not something I would contemplate at my own establishment, but I'm kind of glad there are places where it happens.

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Re: (M)any takers for the old Mass?

Post by Southern Comfort » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:04 am

While sympathising with mcb, there's a danger there, too.

Years ago, in the very early 70s, Colin Mawby gave a talk on BBC Radio in which he decried "the new liturgy". Nicholas Kenyon, reporting on this in, I think, the SSG Jubilee book English Catholic Worship (I am away from my office and so without a copy to check), said that Mawby had articulated what other traditionalists had not so far dared to say: that the liturgy was no more than a peg on which to hang all the glorious music of the past.

I know that's not exactly what mcb is saying, but, as I say, there is a risk. I would feel uncomfortable with a form of liturgy that was no more than an excuse for, an occasion for, wonderful music, where the liturgy becomes subservient to the music that clothes it, where the practitioners become seduced by sheer beauty into making that their god. It's the thin tightrope that Anglican cathedrals walk every day with choral Evensong (and I am among the first to enjoy a choral Evensong that has a good balance between ritual, prayer and beautiful music).

I think there are ways of incorporating some (not all) of the great music from our heritage into the Ordinary Form that we have today; and I'm sure that mcb himself achieves the kind of balance I am talking about, even if he would not, for example, feel comfortable using the entire Vaughan Williams G minor Mass at a normal Sunday liturgy.

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Re: (M)any takers for the old Mass?

Post by mcb » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:59 am

Thanks, SC, I agree with all of that.

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Re: (M)any takers for the old Mass?

Post by JW » Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:41 pm

Before Vatican 2, in the circles I used to move, there seemed to be an element of unspoken suspicion that a Missa Cantata, and even more a Solemn High Mass, involved some theatricality and should therefore be used sparingly.

We never had a sung Mass at my Convent boarding school, perhaps because the chaplain was an ex London docker - (as an aside the nuns loved him and he's the only priest buried in the middle of their plot in the cemetery!). My secondary school had sung Masses only on high days and holidays. Some of the big parish churches had a Missa Cantata each Sunday. Learning to serve a proper High Mass, with deacon and subdeacon was a nightmare and I suspect it was the same for the clergy.

I would also mention that the Faure Requiem was probably not used much after 1903. It is scored for orchestra as well as organ and possibly is influenced by French song - it has been described as a lullaby of death. It's a bit long for your common or garden funeral as well (35 minutes and there's no Dies Irae). The Faure could have been considered an abuse by some in the light of St Pius X's 1903 motu proprio 'tra le sollecitudini'.
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mcb
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Re: (M)any takers for the old Mass?

Post by mcb » Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:23 pm

JW wrote:I would also mention that the Faure Requiem was probably not used much after 1903. It is scored for orchestra as well as organ and possibly is influenced by French song - it has been described as a lullaby of death. It's a bit long for your common or garden funeral as well (35 minutes and there's no Dies Irae). The Faure could have been considered an abuse by some in the light of St Pius X's 1903 motu proprio 'tra le sollecitudini'.

They've sung it several times over the last twenty years - once every few years for All Souls - at the church I mentioned in Manchester.

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Re: (M)any takers for the old Mass?

Post by Southern Comfort » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:12 am

JW wrote:Before Vatican 2, in the circles I used to move, there seemed to be an element of unspoken suspicion that a Missa Cantata, and even more a Solemn High Mass, involved some theatricality and should therefore be used sparingly.

We never had a sung Mass at my Convent boarding school, perhaps because the chaplain was an ex London docker - (as an aside the nuns loved him and he's the only priest buried in the middle of their plot in the cemetery!). My secondary school had sung Masses only on high days and holidays. Some of the big parish churches had a Missa Cantata each Sunday. Learning to serve a proper High Mass, with deacon and subdeacon was a nightmare and I suspect it was the same for the clergy.

I would also mention that the Faure Requiem was probably not used much after 1903. It is scored for orchestra as well as organ and possibly is influenced by French song - it has been described as a lullaby of death. It's a bit long for your common or garden funeral as well (35 minutes and there's no Dies Irae). The Faure could have been considered an abuse by some in the light of St Pius X's 1903 motu proprio 'tra le sollecitudini'.


Don't agree with this at all. High Mass was normal on Sundays as well as on solemnities in the part of the world where I grew up, when many parishes would have a couple of curates in addition to the parish priest, but the Missa Cantata was a rarity — priests were not so comfortable doing it on their own. Learning to serve a proper High Mass was something that you did a year or two after you had learned to serve Low Mass. Typically you'd do the latter at age 7 and the former at age 9. Later, at age 11 or 12, you would graduate from being a torch bearer to being boat bearer, and then acolyte and thurifer, and finally MC. The easiest option was cross bearer — almost nothing to do except at the beginning and end! I certainly never experienced High Mass as a nightmare. Learning how to do a Missa Cantata was rather more demanding because it happened so infrequently.

The Fauré Requiem has in fact been used quite a lot, thanks to the French vocal score with its keyboard reduction, not always the easiest to manage but certainly doable on the organ (more difficult on piano). Churches with competent choirs would tackle it at least once every ten years. Not everyone performed all the movements, of course. I had the experience of playing for my first Fauré Requiem at the age of 16.... More recently, Desmond Ratcliffe's vocal score edition for Novello has made it even more accessible.

It certainly is different from other settings — one commentator described it as almost Hellenistic, with its seeming lack of emphasis on pain and sufferings and its floating transcendence. The nearest it gets to the other side is in the central section of the Libera me.

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Re: (M)any takers for the old Mass?

Post by alan29 » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:58 am

We had High Mass every Sunday too, with the curates acting as deacon and sub. Choreography overseen by a curate who had been a high Anglican deacon so it was done with military precision - all movements in straight lines, and all turns at 90 degrees on the spot and vast quantities of incense. There was a choir in the organ loft who used to regale us with the likes of Tozer.
I have sung parts of the Faure at a normal mass (what is our equivalent of the EF?) and the Durufle too. That was in my days as a choirman at Liverpool Met where they were sung annually. Got to say that the Durufle is one of my Desert Island picks. It is impossible to use the whole thing, of course, but the same goes for all of the choral settings.

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Re: (M)any takers for the old Mass?

Post by IncenseTom » Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:00 pm

alan29 wrote: vast quantities of incense


The scent of heaven indeed :D :D :D

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Re: (M)any takers for the old Mass?

Post by John Ainslie » Thu Dec 13, 2012 2:32 pm

Southern Comfort wrote:Don't agree with this at all. High Mass was normal on Sundays as well as on solemnities in the part of the world where I grew up, when many parishes would have a couple of curates in addition to the parish priest, but the Missa Cantata was a rarity — priests were not so comfortable doing it on their own.

...whereas my experience was the inverse: Missa Cantata every Sunday, never High Mass; although we had three priests in my parish, one would have been saying Mass at the same time at a chapel of ease. At boarding school, only Missa Cantata - and, after the 1958 Instruction, Low Mass with sung Ordinary. The only experience I had of High Mass was on visits to Buckfast Abbey, where the daily conventual Mass was always a High Mass.

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Re: (M)any takers for the old Mass?

Post by JW » Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:52 pm

I think this discussion goes to show that there were differing liturgical opinions and practices at Mass before Vatican 2 - it isn't a new phenomenon.

One Holy Saturday, according to the Pius XII liturgy, I remember Fr Joe McCarthy, RIP, telling us we could go out for a smoke - he left a 15 minute gap before the midnight Mass, after the Easter Vigil, specifically for that purpose! Happy days - but the lung cancer got him!
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