Ordering of options in GIRM

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contrabordun
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Ordering of options in GIRM

Post by contrabordun »

Folks,
It is confidently asserted in various corners of t'internet that the ordering of options for music at various points in GIRM is significant, in the sense that those options listed first are to be preferred. I've always believed not, but would be interested to see the arguments in both directions...
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musicus
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Re: Ordering of options in GIRM

Post by musicus »

I, too, believe that the order is not significant. I have more than once, here and elsewhere, seen Southern Comfort argue thus - but I don't have time to search out the evidence right now.

Of course, the words have to be in some order anyway. How would you order them to express (a) significance or (b) insignificance? You can't. Additional explanation is required. In the absence of that, it would be unsafe to assume anything.
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Southern Comfort
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Re: Ordering of options in GIRM

Post by Southern Comfort »

There was a time when the order of options was significant, but those days are gone. Apart from anything else, there are now different versions of GIRM in different countries, with different options.

Where I think you can posit an order of priority is in those cases where a paragraph lays out the purpose of a part of the rite, its theological rationale if you like, and succeeding paragraphs give practical suggestions or options for fulfilling the purpose. The problem arises when one or more of the options runs counter to the stated purpose. This is the case with paras 47 and 48, 62 and 62a and b, 86 and 87.

This strange situation came about because those particular contradictory options were inserted after the first draft by persons who wished to continue to use the great treasury of Gregorian chant at all costs, even if this meant excluding the people from parts that were rightly theirs. There is no doubt in my mind that those inserted options, even though they are present in the instruction, have to take second place to the theological rationale. In other words they must be disregarded.

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Re: Ordering of options in GIRM

Post by Gwyn »

If para 47 were to read:
. . . and as the Priest enters with the Deacon and ministers, the ill-metered 70s-esque formulaic ditty begins.

Would we even be having this discussion?
:lol:

Seriously, I don't think for a minute that chant can in any way exclude the people from their rightful part. Look for example at Belmont Abbey's recent English Graduale publication, Abbot Alan Rees's work collected over some twenty or so years, simple, wholly singable and delightfully inclusive. There's the Ostrowsi publications too. Excellent stuff.

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Re: Ordering of options in GIRM

Post by Southern Comfort »

Gwyn wrote:I don't think for a minute that chant can in any way exclude the people from their rightful part.


Taking the Gospel Acclamation as an example:

GIRM 62:

An acclamation of this kind constitutes a rite or act in itself, by which the gathering of the faithful welcomes and greets the Lord who is about to speak to them in the Gospel and profess their faith by means of the chant. It is sung by everybody, standing, and is led by the choir or a cantor, being repeated as the case requires. The verse, on the other hand, is sung either by the choir or by a cantor.


Now here's the contradiction (GIRM 62b, referring to Lent):

It is also possible to sing another Psalm or Tract, as found in the Graduale.


If singing the Tract is not excluding the people altogether, I don't know what is.

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Re: Ordering of options in GIRM

Post by nazard »

Why does singing the tract exclude people while singing the acclamation does not?

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Re: Ordering of options in GIRM

Post by Southern Comfort »

nazard wrote:Why does singing the tract exclude people while singing the acclamation does not?


If you know a congregation that is capable of singing any of the Tracts in the Graduale, I'd be fascinated to know about them!

GIRM 62:
...the gathering of the faithful welcomes and greets the Lord who is about to speak to them in the Gospel and profess their faith by means of the chant. It is sung by everybody, standing, and is led by the choir or a cantor, being repeated as the case requires...

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Re: Ordering of options in GIRM

Post by alan29 »

Southern Comfort wrote:
nazard wrote:Why does singing the tract exclude people while singing the acclamation does not?


If you know a congregation that is capable of singing any of the Tracts in the Graduale, I'd be fascinated to know about them!

GIRM 62:
...the gathering of the faithful welcomes and greets the Lord who is about to speak to them in the Gospel and profess their faith by means of the chant. It is sung by everybody, standing, and is led by the choir or a cantor, being repeated as the case requires...


Maybe it was a simplified chant version that was being alluded to. I find those Graduale Tracts and Alleluia verses incredibly "operatic."

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Re: Ordering of options in GIRM

Post by nazard »

Southern Comfort wrote:
If you know a congregation that is capable of singing any of the Tracts in the Graduale, I'd be fascinated to know about them!



It has long been the practice to use the official words, but a different musical setting. A far simpler setting than the gradulae would be required. As far as I know this has never been forbidden, but I may well be wrong. Similarly, I have never come across anything endorsing this practice, except for the Council of Trent's endorsement of polyphony (the musical equivalent of polygamy/polyandry).

I have yet to hear any impressive way of getting the congregation to sing any part of the proper. They seem to just about get away with the psalm antiphon at mass, but it is rarely resounding. If it were up to me I would have the congregation sing the ordinary and the choir sing the proper. That can work very well.

You are correct in pointing out that the GIRM is spectacularly badly written, only just bettering the notorious instruction manuals translated a syllable at a time from the Taiwanese. Does the church have a special confusion office with the responsibilty of muddying documents?

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Re: Ordering of options in GIRM

Post by Nick Baty »

nazard wrote:I have yet to hear any impressive way of getting the congregation to sing any part of the proper.
That is presuming you would want to sing the Proper as given which is, somewhat, improper: Gathering and Communion antiphons almost fit Year A – although not quite – and are simply repeated in Years B and C, regardless of their suitability. They're certainly the last place I'd go to find suitable texts. Given the number of antiphons around, would it be an impossibly large job for someone to match them to suitable Sundays? A labour of love, I suspect.

The Processional goes some way to correcting this and John Ainslie has done a superb job. However, so far, only a few folk have started setting the suggested texts to music.

Our assembly is doing well singing one part of the proper: the Communion processional. Although it was an uphill struggle at times – and I've groaned about it on here before – they have now come to accept singing-while-moving as perfectly natural.
nazard wrote:They seem to just about get away with the psalm antiphon at mass, but it is rarely resounding.
Perhaps you could cast your net wider? There are some very singable settings out there. Sometimes the trick is to use a setting which has a long enough refrain for the assembly to get its teeth into. Take last Sunday as an example. We're given, "In God alone is my soul at rest" which is over before we've drawn breath. Instead, we sang, "In God alone is my soul at rest, for my help, my help comes from him".

On which subject, has anyone tried singing the Good Friday showing of the Cross as given: "Come, let us adore". That's almost impossibly short for singing. The setting we've used for the last two years has: "Come, come, let us adore. Come, come, let us adore". And that seems to work quite well.

But I'm wittering now and must liquidise my chicken soup!

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Re: Ordering of options in GIRM

Post by mcb »

Southern Comfort wrote:Where I think you can posit an order of priority is in those cases where a paragraph lays out the purpose of a part of the rite, its theological rationale if you like, ... persons who wished to continue to use the great treasury of Gregorian chant at all costs, even if this meant excluding the people from parts that were rightly theirs. There is no doubt in my mind that those inserted options, even though they are present in the instruction, have to take second place to the theological rationale.

It's probably best not to tie the notion of the people's participation too closely to individual ritual moments and specific texts, any more than it makes sense to try to pin down the 'moment' of consecration to a particular place in the text of the Eucharistic Prayer. The theological rationale of, e.g., the communion processional song isn't frustrated if some of the time the responsibility is shouldered by a choir. This is a far cry from a celebration in which the people are effectively silenced by seamless provision of choral music. It doesn't do to be too prescriptive about these things, I reckon, or all kinds of creativity and all kinds of effective moments of prayer could end up being stifled.

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Re: Ordering of options in GIRM

Post by Southern Comfort »

mcb wrote:The theological rationale of, e.g., the communion processional song isn't frustrated if some of the time the responsibility is shouldered by a choir. This is a far cry from a celebration in which the people are effectively silenced by seamless provision of choral music. It doesn't do to be too prescriptive about these things, I reckon, or all kinds of creativity and all kinds of effective moments of prayer could end up being stifled.


I agree absolutely with this. But there are already too many celebrations where the choir receives Communion first, leaving a 5-minute silence at the beginning of the distribution in defiance (or ignorance) of GIRM 86, and then perhaps sings the plainchant Communion antiphon, followed by a choral Ave Verum. If that is not long enough, then another choir piece follows, or organ splurge. The people never get a look in, and because they never have got a look in they don't realise that they are supposed to get a look in. As Nick so rightly says, it takes quite a while for them to get used to singing at least a refrain or antiphon in the Communion procession as the norm for this part of the rite.

While we're at it, another thing that irks me is when, because the choir is busy receiving Communion instead of starting the singing while the priest is receiving, some well-meaning soul in the congregation will start reciting the Communion antiphon, in defiance (or ignorance) of GIRM 87. :evil:

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Nick Baty
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Re: Ordering of options in GIRM

Post by Nick Baty »

Southern Comfort wrote:..another thing that irks me is when... some well-meaning soul in the congregation will start reciting the Communion antiphon
Or, as happened to me at Midnight Mass, a priest unexpectedly recites the Communion antiphon, over the intro to the Communion song.

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Re: Ordering of options in GIRM

Post by mcb »

I agree with all that, SC.

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Re: Ordering of options in GIRM

Post by alan29 »

We had that at a Requiem a couple of weeks ago. A niece of the deceased had prepared to sing the Alleluia and verse, but the PP got there first. Poor girl was so fazed that she sang the verse a major third lower. I pretty much earned my fee just keeping up with it all.

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