Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A dilemma

It is my silver jubilee in May, in our diocesan calendar it is the feast of St John Houghton, the martyred Prior of the London Charterhouse, I have always kept his feast. In our diocese we have the only Carthusian Monastery in England, I was thinking of asking the Prior if could celebrate a private votive Mass in his honour in the monastery.

I hate "me me" things. Unfortunately the diocese publishes details of jubilees and one or two people found out about it and I have been giving or told about two presents individuals want to give me. The first is no problem, it is another set of vestments, but made by Michael Sternbeck, who runs St Bede's Studio, he made a set of vestments for the Pope when he visited Sydney.

The second is, equally welcome, but a bit more problematic, it is an offer to pay for music for a Mass, I think it is going to be one of the Tomas de Victoria Masses. Music, for me, especially of that period, is so important, it is about the argument from desire, or the "argument from beauty", which is why I believe.

My problem is, which "form" of the Roman Rite to use, Ordinary or Extraordinary Form.

If it is Ordinary Form it means that at every stage the Mass stops and we have a little break of four or five minutes, a concert. It never works, it neither serves the liturgy or the music well and because we will have to stop and start so often it will go on for ages. Being cynical I think Mgr Buginni deliberately designed the post-concilliar liturgy so the great western music written for the Mass would be incompatable with his creation.

If it is the Extraordinary Form then music and liturgy will be an integrated whole, the music will serve the liturgy it was written for but, and this is a big but some of my parishioners will decide not to come, the local clergy will regard it is a singular act of eccentricity , I've lived with that but frankly our sanctuary really doesn't have room for a High Mass, a Missa Cantata, yes.


old believer said...

I am afraid I cannot see the problem with having the Victoria at the 'OF'. It too has Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei in the same order as the 1962 Ordo Missae.

Churches such as the London Oratory and St. Etheldreda in London have a fine tradition of singing Renaissance polyphony in the 'OF'. Perhaps I am missing something?

Gregor said...

I would second what old believer said.

At my parish, we always have what in German we call an "Orchestermesse" for St. Stephen's Day and Easter Monday (both Holy Days of obligation here) in the Ordinary Form. What at least our old parish priest used to do was to keep things as close to what is done in the EF as possible. With Gloria and Credo, there isn't a big difference anyway, and we would always split up Sanctus and Benedictus to before and after the Consecration, during which the priest would pray the Canon in a half-loud voice. Now, it's a fine line to an actual "abuse", but frankly, whatever unfortunate responses may have been given in the 1970s and 80s, when the hermeneutic of rupture still prevailed, I find it hard to consider something which was the rule for hundreds of years as an abuse, especially since the Holy Father said that both form are to enrich each other.

Anonymous said...

Seems like our silver wedding anniversary also in May is less problematic!

Ches said...

Dear Father,

Far be it from me to discourage you using the EF, but if you did use the OF, couldn't you have the wonderful Byrd Mass for Three Voices which is probably one of his most beautiful and undoubtedly one of his most musically economical also? A true Missa brevis without the name. Just a thought.

Peter Simpson said...

I think your comments concerning music at an Ordinary Form Mass are very biassed!

Fr Ray Blake said...

I never think it works in either of those places. Though celebrating ad orientem helps.

Those things are explicitly forbidden. The Sanctus and Benedictus in the OF are a whole, music may not accompany the EP.

A Missa Brevis would be better but I don't think it is on offer.

No, I am not biassed, the whole emphasis of the Ordinary form was that the Penitential Rite, the Eucharistic Prayer, the Communion Rite are supposed to be audible.
In the EF the music and liturgy ran parallel, in the OF the are sequential.

Gregor said...

I know, Father, I know, but as I said, I find it hard to consider something which was the rule for hundreds of years as an abuse, especially since the Holy Father said that both form are to enrich each other. Or as the Pope put it in his letter accompanying Summorum Pontifucm: "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful."

Delia said...

It sounds as though your heart is really in the EF, and it's your jubilee. In that case, is there no way you can work out a scheme for accommodating the choir? I'd start there, and if it's really not going to work you can then look at the alternative options.

Ottaviani said...

The Solemn High Masses at the Oratory (while being reverent) are sometimes operatic. I am glad to see that Fr. Ray observes this as well.

If it is your Silver Jubilee, then I don't understand why you must accommodate other people's wishes. They are guests at your parish church and if they don't like it - well... no one is forcing them to turn up. To be honest, if someone is as petty as to create a fuss because the priest decides to use the older form, would you really want to invite them in the first instance?

George said...

I'm with Ottaviani on this one Fr Ray. It is YOUR Silver Jubilee! Do what gladdens your heart and makes your soul sing and place that before the Altar of the Lord on that special day. I am sure that St John Houghton's heart will 'sing with yours'.

St John Houghton's immortal words as he was being executed at Tyburn were, 'O Jesu, what wouldst thou do with my heart?'. Dare I suggest with all reverence and respect that Our Blessed Lord might have answered 'Follow your heart John, follow Me'.

Make the day nothing short of Spiritually Spectacular and a truely memorable occassion. Guess that kind of decreases the options... ho.. hum.... to er.. one? Personally it's always amazed me just how accommodating the 'average' Sanctuary can be ....., almost Tardis-like!

dillydaydream said...

I used to sing Victoria, Byrd etc every Sunday at an OF Latin Mass. All your points about the stop-go nature are valid, although as other readers have said, it doesn't seem to bother the regular oratory attenders. However - this is a special celebration Mass for You. Wouldn't it be a treat to be able to stop yourself and listen to them...?
I'm sure those assisting won't mind a little time spent in contemplation, as long as it doesn't involve liturgical dancing.

pelerin said...

I so agree with the last three posters. Fr Ray, you have worked tirelessly for others as a Priest for twenty-five years and your parishioners should not begrudge your choice of how you celebrate your anniversary Mass.

This particular date would seem to indicate a preference for celebrating in the EF but whatever you choose (and it should be YOUR choice) as Dilly says please no dancing!

Ttony said...

Dear Father, can't you be just a bit regal and have two celebrations: one EF with appropriate music and vestments, and one OF with appropriate music and vestments.

Invite everybody to both and explain that you'll be happy if they come to one. This way you avoid the manner in which Mass is celebrated becoming a dividing issue.

Michael Clifton said...

Yes, why not have two celebrations and that is what I am doing precisely as my 50th Anniversary takes place in May. In fact I am arranging Masses in different places which are connected with my life over a couple of weeks but on the day of ordination it will be a Mass in OF at Ham and the next day, lst Mass EF at Ham (Sunday in fact) Sung Mass OF (Vittoria I think with Charles Finchs group)

pelerin said...

I cannot agree with Ttony regarding his suggestion for two celebration Masses. IMHO this would divide the parish in a visible way when it should be united to celebrate Fr Ray's jubilee.

Michael said...

One of the things I prefer about the traditional rite is the sense of constant activity. Music acts as a soundtrack to the activity at the altar.Whereas in the OF, it is more like a concert, where all the activity stops and we all sit down and listen to the Kyrie & Gloria for 5 minutes. It gives sung Masses in the OF a stop, start feel which breaks up the rhythm whereas the EF has a seamless feel to it, with a sense of rising tension as we get to the most solemn parts of the Mass.

Father , do please post pictures of the new vestments when they arrive. Pictures of beautiful vestments and ceremonies are quite cheering, if you live in a part of the country which is a liturgical desert.