Use of Latin

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asb
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Use of Latin

Post by asb »

I would like to hear how / when people use Latin Mass settings - either in a Novus Ordo Latin Mass, or as part of a Vernacular Mass - and how people react.

In my parish, the 8.30am Mass tends to be an older congregation, who largely like Latin. My Cantor at this Mass used to direct a Latin Choir in his previous parish. However, a very vocal minority who attend this Mass (the vocal minority are older people) are strongly opposed to latin as "it puts young people off". Despite having an ideal situation for using Latin, and having a number of servers, with incense every week, my PP has asked me not to programme any at 8.30.

The 10.30 mass is a "younger" congregation, with a Children's Liturgy. As it is mid-morning, PP sees it as the "High Mass" (despite there rarely being a server - and childrem won't volunteer because everyone is terrified of the PP) and insists on Credo III every week, which does not find favour with the majority.

How would others deal with this situation please/

oopsorganist
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Latin

Post by oopsorganist »

Well,
we used to do a bit at Christmas Midnight Mass and some part of Easter too, just Missa de Angelis if I spell that right.....and previous PP liked to launch into Saaaanctus ... which went down well.... we get away with Pange Lingua for Holy Thursday. But now PP has gone right off Latin and will not allow any except Pange Lingua and suddenly asking for Veni Spiritus for Confirmation. He is elderly but very much for the young people.

As mum of five young uns I don't think the ones who make it down to church are all that bothered by what we sing. None of the old uns make any comment and requests are not forthcoming from any except the two horrors who are going to drive me from this church I think. The young people would rather hear old uns giving the Latin some wellie than have to put up with "Shiney Jesus" sung badly by well meaning sads.

The debate I hear from people when it is discussed is that it puts off converts who do not understand Latin... well I don't understand Latin either, but I'll be blowed if I can accept some of the rubbish hymns I have to play. Bind us together with chords that cannot be broken? What's that about then. Such a lot of people I would rather not be bound to! Fill my house unto the fullest?

Thus I am condemmed to the Hopwood Mass(664) and watching the sunrise till the cows come home. And a constant undermining and harassment about which hymns are chosen, which is grinding me down to the point where I do not want to do this anymore. Anyone need a really bad organist guitarist Leeds area?
uh oh!

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sidvicius
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Latin

Post by sidvicius »

Using latin does not put young people off - getting up for an 8:30am mass puts young people off.

I wonder if those parishioners are the same lot who go to 8:30am mass because "there ain't no kids about"? This sounds like an excuse, sent only to baffle and confuse (remember "We used to mime"?).

Your response to anyone who thinks like this, asb, should include the word TAIZÉ at some point, BUT - and we've been here before - the latest ruminations are strongly advising a move away from latin in the mass.

See also Merseysider's experience of 'young people plus latin' elsewhere in the forum. Maybe all it takes is a little understanding.

p.s. I think your situation sounds bonkers, and you have my sympathy for even trying to deal with it.

asb
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Post by asb »

The 8.30 tends to be very "social" - several attenders have non-Catholic spouses who come along for coffee afterwards.

Paradoxically, the anti-Latiners like anything Taize, because it's "youth-friendly"!

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Use of Latin

Post by dmu3tem »

Use of Latin seems to fall into three categories; each with their own issues:

(1) Straight plainchant settings

(2) Non plainchant settings using all Latin texts

(3) Non plainchant settings using a mixture of English and Latin

In my parish we have the ability to perform plainchant Mass ordinary settings at the main Sunday morning Mass; though this happens in phases as part of the rotation or introduction of different settings over the year. The key issues here to seem to be as follows:

(a) Congregational accessibility to the actual Latin texts - no problem with us as they are all in the hymnal we use.

(b) Congregational knowledge of the plainchant - the choir know it as do some of the older members of the congregation. Younger people do not. Note also that, in our case, the older members of the congregation are imbued with ideas - inherited from pre Vatican II times that such music should be left to the choir (despite determined campaigns in the 1930s to promote Congregational participation). The 'take up', then is never more than moderate.

With the other two categories we perhaps do not appreciate how much stuff we use - almost without thinking - especially in Hymnody (e.g. the hymn 'As I Kneel Before You'). Choice of language per se does not seem to be an issue - perhaps because so many people do not appear to take much notice of the words anyway. The key issue, from the point of view of participation, is whether the congregation is supplied with the text.

In all three categories I would say there is a strong likelihood that the use of non vernacular languages, including Latin, with most people is, by definition, likely to lead to a reduction in liturgical comprehension and understanding. In other words there is a danger that a Latin text will simply be treated as a piously repeated mantra.

Pronunciation of Latin can be an issue. Note, for a start, the divide between Classical and Ecclesiastical Latin. For example the revival of Classical Latin in Renaissance times led to the dominance of 'menusural chant' between the Late Middle Ages and the end of the nineteenth century. Related to this is the vital issue of rhythmic patterning and accentuation. This lies at the heart of plainchant performance, and here musicians need to be clearly aware of the differences between a 'sing as you speak' approach (Pothier in the pre WW1 Vatican Typical editions) versus the 'arsis-thesis' approach of Mocquereau (in most 1920s-1960s Solesmes editions including 'Plainsong for Schools') versus the 'Gregorian Semiology' developed by Cardine and incorporated into the 'Graduale Triplex'.

Finally, as regards formal liturgical texts in the Mass and the Office, we need to appreciate the effects of translation and retranslation. Maybe I am wrong about this (so someone please correct me if I am), but my impression is that all English liturgical texts are translations from an approved Latin Typical master version. We therefore have to ask what most of us do when we go back to that. Do we mentally make our own translation into English? Do we think the thing entirely in Latin 'as a first language'? Do we in our minds simply substitute the English translation that we are familiar with and which may be supplied alongside the Latin?

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asb
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Post by asb »

It always amazes me when people say "we don't know what we're singing" if it is the Latin Ordinary for example. I find it hard to comprehend that people don't realize that, for example if we stand and sing something in Latin after the homily, where the Creed always comes, that we are singing THE CREED. Yet that is an argument I often hear. Surely words like CRUCIFIXUS, RESSUREXIT, etc must ring some bells?!

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Post by musicus »

asb wrote:Surely words like CRUCIFIXUS, RESURREXIT, etc must ring some bells?!

Many of the spells and incantations in the Harry Potter books have Latin roots (e.g. 'Crucio!') - though most readers, young or old, are probably blissfully unaware of that - so it might be that Mass in Latin could ring all the wrong sorts of bells, with people mistakenly making puzzling connections to HP!

There is a fuller treatment of Latin in HP at http://www.veritaserum.com/info/spellsandcharms.shtml and, of course, the first book in the series is available in a Latin translation: Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis - good Latin, too. Google 'Harry Potter Latin' for still more (if you must)...
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presbyter
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Post by presbyter »

Hmmmmmmm - the Reformation accusation that Catholic priests are magicians springs to mind - hocus pocus - hoc est corpus....

dear me :(

Anonymous

Post by Anonymous »

There always will be for and againsts where Latin is concerned. One of the principal againsts being the lack of understanding. Much of this, in my opinion, stems from the general inability of anglophones to speak a second language and therefore a certain phobia arises from anything 'foreign'. Don't forget though that a good part of our language is Latin based and, given a wide enough English vocabulary, many Latin words can easily be rendered into English. I would be interested to know how Latin is received (if, indeed, it is received at all!) by those who speak the romance languages.

Thomas is correct when he says that most of our liturgy is originally in Latin - all except the readings as I think that the Jerusalem bible was based on Greek and Hebrew texts rather than St. Jerome's Vulgate.

The idea that many people don't really pay attention to the words preferring a song well sung rather than a meaningful one is, of course, absolute anathema as far as Gregorian is concerned for the texts of the Proper are pretty much invariant and lifted directly from the Vulgate with the music being subordinate, hence the lack of metre. Even Gregorian had its paraphrasing and poetic side, though, with the plethora of sequences that crept into mass over the centuries. We are now only left with a handful but maybe, if we were to look at some of those sequences, the text may come in for similar criticism as some of the modern day hymns!?

We all know that as far as the new GIRM is concerned, the propers from the Graduale Romanum occupy number 1 spot and, under a strict interpretation, hymns have no place within Mass. Is anyone prepared to going to go that far? Not without risking alienating most, if not all, of the congregation? I suspect not.

I, personally, am an advocate of a return to more sacred and solemn music at mass but its implementation is certainly something which would take several years to complete and, even then, aiming for the number 1 choices might be too much. My recent experience is one of gradually reintroducing a plainsong ordinary, starting with something simple. e.g. Kyrie XVI, Sanctus XVIII and Agnus Dei XVIII. Then, after a few months (we only do 1 plainsong mass per month) substituting parts from Mass VIII. In between the choir have added some of the plainsong standards, such as Ave Verum, at communion. Hymnody is selected from a more traditional repertoire. No Gloria or Credo as yet as these are long and would take quite a while to become familiar with - even though Gloria VIII and the Credo III are widely known I didn't want to push it too far.

In terms of response - a few positive comments and, so far, no negative ones (perhaps they haven't plucked up courage to say yet, though)

Enough for now!

asb
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Post by asb »

Perhaps I, and my parents were not normal. When I was young, I don' t remember us, or anyone complaining - what was on offer at church (we were non-Catholics then) was what was on offer, and that was that!

dmu3tem
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Use of Latin

Post by dmu3tem »

Could I just pick up on a point made by 'Cantator' about the relationship between the Latin text and plainchant in Mass Propers. I would be the last to deny that the actual plainchant can be closely tied to the text, especially if sung using Pothier and Haberl's 'sing as you speak principle' (though you might note the tension between the musical and textual rhythm that arises when you use Mocquereau's Arisis-Thesis methods articulated through his 'rhythmical signs'). My essential point though is that the 'casual' singer with little knowledge of Latin who is not carefully taken through every nuance of phrasing and inflection in the music and text during rehearsal or through prior study is by definition unlikely to pay much more than general attention to the actual meaning of what is sung. Such a singer - and listener - is likely to be just wafted along by the undulations of the melody. Perhaps this is why some people claim that plainchant has theraputic effects. Even when the text is closely studied; if you are not a trained Latin scholar you will surely end up mentally translating (or having translated for you) the passages into English; in which case the precise meaning will depend on the nature of the translation. Note that when you make a translation (unless it is absolutely literal) you add on and subtract elements to the original. This was a point recognised by Newman in his 'Idea of a University' (there was a paper I heard about this at the recent INCS conference in Durham University). The only way round the difficulty is to think of the Latin text as your 'first language', which I doubt many of us can do. It would be interesting, then, to know whether anyone has made statistical and analytical surveys of 'casual' singers and listeners of plainchant to find out how, and in what ways, they actually think (and translate) the texts for themselves.

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contrabordun
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Post by contrabordun »

dmu3tem wrote:Note that when you make a translation (unless it is absolutely literal) you add on and subtract elements to the original.

Even then you can't win. Even a supposedly 'literal' (which I take to mean - and am open to being corrected - word for word, choosing the nearest - preferably Latinate - word in more-or-less common English currency) translation will inevitably add and subtract elements, if not on the page then certainly in the mind of the reader/listener/singer, for exactly the same reason that present day editions of Shakespeare have so many pages of explanatory notes.

Words mean different things to different people in different places and at different times, for which reason Rome's current apparent insistence that 'only literal is acceptable' (my words) - and that that should be rendered in a kind of Victorian Cramnerspeak- is a complete dead end. (Have I gone off topic?)

The only way round this is to have the highest quality of scholarship attempt to render, in today's language, as well as can be done, those ideas which the original authors were trying to convey in what was, effectively, their first language. And that means that the Congregation, few of whom have English as their mother tongue, will have to stop second guessing English translators.

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Post by presbyter »

contrabordun wrote:...... should be rendered in a kind of Victorian Cramnerspeak ....... .


Oh I don't think we will be getting Victorian Cranmerspeak. The aim is "formal" rather than "dynamic" equivalence.

See

http://www.catholic-ew.org.uk/liturgy/Resources/Missal/US+AR.html

Take Penitential Rite III

Qui missus es sanare contritos corde: Kyrie, eleison.......

If, for example, "You were sent to heal the contrite" is replaced by the more literal "You were sent to heal the contrite of heart", might not that add a little more encouragement to the person praying the text to be so disposed?

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presbyter
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Post by presbyter »

cantator wrote:We are now only left with a handful but maybe, if we were to look at some of those sequences, the text may come in for similar criticism as some of the modern day hymns!?


A point that can be overlooked, I think. It is not just the texts of the so-called-by-some "trivial folk ditties of the 1970s" that require scrutiny but all hymns.

We all know that as far as the new GIRM is concerned, the propers from the Graduale Romanum occupy number 1 spot and, under a strict interpretation, hymns have no place within Mass.


No, no. There is no change - GIRM 1975 number 26 and GIRM 2002 number 48 are the same. There is no hierarchy of preferences as to what is sung. (This is GIRM Universal Law 2002 - see the Diocesan Music thread for the confusion the England and Wales edition is causing...... but that's another story.)

All that GIRM 2002 is doing in number 41 (an expansion of GIRM 1975 number 19) is making the references to Sacrosanctum Concilium and Musicam Sacram - already there in 1975 - a part of the body of the text. There is no change in discipline or teaching.

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presbyter
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Re: Use of Latin

Post by presbyter »

dmu3tem wrote: My essential point though is that the 'casual' singer with little knowledge of Latin who is not carefully taken through every nuance of phrasing and inflection in the music and text during rehearsal or through prior study is by definition unlikely to pay much more than general attention to the actual meaning of what is sung. Such a singer - and listener - is likely to be just wafted along by the undulations of the melody............. Even when the text is closely studied; if you are not a trained Latin scholar you will surely end up mentally translating (or having translated for you) the passages into English; in which case the precise meaning will depend on the nature of the translation.


I'm not convinced that "The man on the Clapham omnibus" in the third pew in the north aisle will be bothering to try and translate anything that a choir might sing in Latin - plainsong or polyphony. True - the undulations of the melody ( a "holy noise"? ) might waft him along into a personal moment of contemplative mental prayer but the rest is, in my opinion, overly optimistic at best and more likely chimerical.

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