Hymn Conflicts are Avoidable

At my parish, there is some debate about a song chosen for a first communion liturgy. Like many songs and hymns, there is a vague talk about the body as tabernacle of the Lord, and the question has arisen about the orthodoxy of the text. Much of it is left to interpretation and it becomes easy to spin either way. The text could be unobjectionable or it could be heresy. Just the debate alone has cause some slight contention in the parish, even if among a small set of people.

The entire debate is one I’ve had in my own mind about innumerable songs over the years, and this problem doesn’t just apply to praise music and other predictably flabby ditties by modern song writers. It also applies to 19th century traditional music, much of which is drawn from a non-Catholic tradition. There are times when I do a double take on a text on hymns like “The Church’s One Foundation,” puzzling about whether this song didn’t originate in a surreptitious criticism of Rome for its emphasis on Peter and the Papacy. Maybe so, or maybe not. To say something is free of error is not to say that it is the best or most precise statement of Catholic belief.

Are laypeople who are not really trained well in theology really in a position to decide these questions? I’m sure not. I find myself quickly out of my league when trying to make heads or tails out of some of these lyrics. I’m not sure that I would have an ear that is finely tuned enough to detect heresy much less distinguish it from a mere creative expression. It is for this reason that I’ve never enter the hymn debate to any degree.

People writes me constantly to ask for my opinion on this or that text. I really don’t know what to say. One of the reasons that I’m Catholic is precisely because I do not believe myself competent to make up my own religion based on source material alone. I would rather leave that to tradition and the collected wisdom of the ages. This is not to doubt my intelligence, but rather to affirm that the wisdom embedded in long-standing practices that trace to solid authority will tend to be more sound than that the intuitions of even the smartest living person.

Catholic liturgy is, in this sense, an open-source project that many have worked on for uncountable numbers of generations. The bugs tend to get worked out that way, and what we practice is a stable release, not an alpha or beta release. This is important when we are talking about issues like eternal life and miracles like transubstantiation.

Religion is serious business and it should not be subjected to made-up ramblings or the judgment of any one people at one time. Heaven knows that the translators of the Mass have had enough trouble in recent years agreeing on wording, and they were working with a stable source text!

For this reason, the use of hymns at Mass pose a special problem and probably an unsolvable problem. We are always in the danger zone. A well-known fact is that most Catholics know only three hymns well. Maybe one of the reasons has to do with “sense of the faithful” that these three hymns are theologically sound, and of this there is little doubt about that. Note that all three (I’ll leave you to guess) are all rooted in a Latin text.

If they are not so rooted, consider the possibility that the music instead of adding to the liturgy actually works as a distraction from it, raising an entirely different subject and also introducing theological ambiguity or even heresy.

Pastors who work so hard to say or sing what is the Missal, and prepare their homilies for hours, should consider the possibility that all their attentiveness is being undone by what the choir is singing from the loft, an area over which pastors are not usually exercising any control. Why so much attention on the text of the Mass and virtually no attention to the many random words stated in these hymns sung at four parts of the liturgy?

In any case, my point is not to council despair. It is to underscore that the entire problem is wholly avoidable through one simple step: sing the propers of the Mass! The answer here is perfectly obvious. The Mass propers apply at the entrance, the offertory, and the communion. These are the precise time in the Mass when hymns are mostly substituted for propers, and here is where we enter the danger zone. We don’t have to go there at all if we would just stick to the texts in the Missal and the Roman Gradual.

If we want to have no doubt about the orthodoxy of the text and the appropriateness of the music we only need to sing Gregorian chant, the music that is native to the Mass and the normative answer. It is the first choice by every standard: history, theology, rubrics. If singing the Gregorian is a problem, today there are other ways to sing Mass propers in English, either according to the text in the Missal or the translation in the Gradual.

At my own parish, we try to sing authentic Gregorian chants at the entrance and communion and at least sing the proper text at offertory according to a given tone. But this morning we were lacking important voices and we could not do this, so we tried out the Simple English Propers to be published this Spring. We did the full suite of them: entrance, offertory, and communion. We also sang the appropriate Psalms with them so that there was singing for the entire liturgical action. We did it all without instruments and even without a pitch pipe.

The results were just marvelous, I’m happy to report. They are very beautiful and easy to learn in a pinch. But the most important part of them is that when you use them, you are singing the Mass itself. For this reason, you can know that the text is liturgical appropriate for the season and the day. They reflect the lessons that we are to learn that day. By preserving the mode of the Gregorian original, the “mood” of the piece also comes through. And they are are a wonderful stepping stone to singing the Gregorian. As one friend of mine said, these propers are a kind of “gateway drug” to Gregorian chant.

Now, a few years ago, when the only real option for propers was the Latin original, there might have been an excuse for not singing propers. But these days, sets of propers are free for the download. And with the Simple English Propers, we have a fantastic package. They are arranged correctly according to the new calendar. They have notated Psalms. They offer beauty and variety. They train singers to read four-line staffs, learn how to sing plainsong, and also sing without instruments — all essential skills for chanting at Mass.

Why are we having these debates about hymns when the propers are right there for the singing?

34 Replies to “Hymn Conflicts are Avoidable”

  1. OK. I am intrigued. What are the only three hymns that most Catholics know well? I'd like to hear people's guesses and Jeffrey answer.

  2. "Why are we having these debates about hymns when the propers are right there for the singing?"

    Because it's more fun and easier to criticize a Hymn I Don't Like than it is to make a positive influence upon the parish music program. Luckily we're seeing more and more people who, instead of making up parody lyrics or hate clubs, are choosing to simply offer something different from the present way of doing music.

  3. I loved the "gateway drug" analogy, Jeffrey! This is absolutely on target for the SEP.

    I think that we can look at this another way, from a "sacramental" perspective: All sacred art should point to something beyond itself, ultimately to Christ, to the heavenly liturgy, to the world restored to grace, free from the effects of the fall. Gregorian chant and all truly sacred music does this. In the case of SEP, there is a double movement happening. In itself, it points to Christ. But in another way it is a sign that points to another sign that points to Christ in an even more powerful way (the Gregorian repertoire)!

    Now, as for some of the hymns and songs commonly in use, they may point us in the right direction, but perhaps not as powerfully or effectively. Worse still, many of them are not sacred art at all and lead us not to the heavenly liturgy, but ensnare us all the more in the fallen world and in the effects of sin!

  4. I have a strange feeling I know which hymn you might be referring to for First Communion.

    We had words some years back about a modern hymn which had a very Eucharistic theme…sort of. My reading and criticism somehow made it back to the writer who was deeply offended and criticized my lack of theological knowledge, as he pulled some esoteric explanation to support his writing.

    I could definitely see his point…but I doubt anyone in the pews (I know my parish quite well, and it's a small one) would have understood as the composer intended. It was DEEP. As pretty as it was, I avoided that song as a music leader.

    Using the propers would make choosing music SO much simpler…but one needs to know that the propers exist.

  5. Three hymns? Not counting Christmas hymns:

    Over 50:
    Holy Holy Holy
    Immaculate Mary
    O God Almighty Father

    Under 40:
    I am the Bread of Life
    On Eagles' Wings
    (can't think of a third one)

    any age, unfortunately: Amazing Grace

  6. In the NO the office hymn for the Immaculate
    Conception is 'Holy light on earth's horizon'. In verse 2 are the words "How could one so highly favoured/Share the guilt of Adam's crime?" Someone pointed out in a letter to the Catholic Herald that this was in fact heretical; Our Lady was conceived without the stain of original sin, but shared the guilt with the rest of humanity.

    Now this particular hymn is a translation by Edward Caswall (1814-1878) of the 17th century Latin hymn Alma Lux, but I can't find the original text to ascertain whether the error is there or in the translation. Can anyone help?

  7. I am always hesitant to post here, because of the fireworks that I always seem to cause. But why is it, that everyone who is so passionate about the propers, do not seem to be equally passionate about the fact that they often do not match up with the scriptures for the day. It is clear that the Word of God provides the focus, not the propers themselves, as all of the documents state. Why is this pastoral problem so often absent from this discussion. As well.. the GIRM is clear about the Entrance Chant and its purpose, and provides options, and by no means mandates the propers for use. Why is this such a problem for folks? If certain places want to use the propers, fine and great. If others want to utilize other options, as long as they fall in line with the guidelines given in the GIRM, why cannot that be respected as well?

    I know – I am in trouble.. I can see the bullets flying my way! – David Haas

  8. Oh, David–I had such high hopes of planning for Holy Week today! (singing lots of propers by the way!) I'm not sure that I can go down this rabbit hole in the combox right now, but here's a quick response:

    "why is it, that everyone who is so passionate about the propers, do not seem to be equally passionate about the fact that they often do not match up with the scriptures for the day."

    First off, I think that most people who desire to sing propers see these not as "options", but as a part of the fabric of the Roman Rite, much like the readings and orations. These are given, and we receive. In my experience they do in fact match up with the Lectionary readings much much more than the very common hymn a la carte practices. Finding the connection between the sung propers and the rest of the proper texts is not always explicit, but if seen as a part of the liturgy that is "given", as a part of the Roman Rite itself, then connections can begin to be be made, and a richer tapestry is seen in a given liturgy. I would submit that the offerings of the OCP and GIA hymn selection lists are equally, if not farther removed, thematically, than the propers from the readings. My own study of the texts of the Roman Gradual, in fact, shows that Entrance and Communion chants correspond in a very strong way with the Sunday readings, especially the Gospel.

    "It is clear that the Word of God provides the focus, not the propers themselves, as all of the documents state."

    I would like to see some support for this statement. My reading of the documents state, among other things, that the books of Gregorian chant are proper to the Roman liturgy and are to be given first place in liturgical services.

    "Why is this pastoral problem so often absent from this discussion. As well.. the GIRM is clear about the Entrance Chant and its purpose, and provides options, and by no means mandates the propers for use. Why is this such a problem for folks?"

    I would submit that the biggest problem is that options of lesser priority in the GIRM are given the greatest priority in practice, while the options of the greatest priority in the GIRM are conventionally ignored in practice. This is the problem. Options are fine, but our current common practice hardly allows for the singing of propers at all. In fact, most average parish musicians don't even know that they exist.

    "If certain places want to use the propers, fine and great. If others want to utilize other options, as long as they fall in line with the guidelines given in the GIRM, why cannot that be respected as well?"

    They can be respected, and are, but, again, propers in practice are virtually off of the radar screen in the U.S. The way that they have been outright ignored in training and musical and liturgical catechesis is a scandal, and, as a young music director that was reared in the bosom of the commercial publishers and NPM, I think that I am rightly outraged by this.

  9. Well, this past week, the propers and the readings all lined up perfectly. We read about Lazarus and sang about Lazarus at communion, and so on. This isn't always true of course, but I'm just going with the wisdom of the Church here that there is more to the liturgy than the message given by the readings. It's not the case that the liturgy has one "theme of the day" or whatever.

    I don't doubt that there are problems with the current structure – issues and tensions between the Missale and the Graduale – but we get closer by embracing the appointed text rather than trying to reinvent things on our own.

    That's my thinking but I'm sure someone else will offer something more profound.

  10. The propers are also the Word of God, even if they do not relate directly to the readings of the Mass. After the council, there was an attempt to order things to "the theme of today's Mass." This turned out to be a bit tiresome, and then the wisdom of the traditional order became evident: on solemnities, the propers focus very well on the day; on the ordinary Sundays, the propers present a greater variety of themes, which of greater spiritual benefit than a narrow selection.

  11. Would the issue of propers lining up with the readings be the cause of a shifting Lectionary cycle? If my understanding is correct, the propers do not change for each year, thus they may connect with year A readings, but be more tangential to year B readings.

    Most of the Lectionary year tries to keep things similar, helped by the synoptic parallels, but its simply not going to happen every year. The Sundays of major seasons, still often connected with specific Gospel pericopes, will most likely line up with the propers, but Ordinary time will most likely turn into a crap shoot depending on the year.

    And I'm sure the addition of the OT readings in the Pauline Mass plays further havoc with the understanding of many traditional propers.

    Personally, I don't think this is an argument against the propers, so much as issues that need to be worked out with the Pauline Mass. A-la-carte hymns just make things worse, often throwing in another "theme" (especially when the decision is based upon what the parish likes), further complicating an already complicated affair. What you get is either very confused parishioners (me) or people who just go through the motions (also me).

  12. "Would the issue of propers lining up with the readings be the cause of a shifting Lectionary cycle? If my understanding is correct, the propers do not change for each year, thus they may connect with year A readings, but be more tangential to year B readings."

    I have heard this said many times before, but have never understood it. The Graduale gives different designations for years A, B and C quite often, especially during Ordinary Time. Granted, the corpus of Gregorian chant developed alongside a 1-year cycle lectionary, but the Ordo Cantus Missae did an admirable job of adapting this corpus to the 3-year lectionary it seems.

  13. Chanting Propers shows our faith and trust in our Church. It also clearly expresses our understanding of the liturgy as 'given.' Without this humility in our faith, we will never be able to follow HIs Sacrifice in our life.

  14. In response to this last response by Anonymous… chanting propers (or any other musical utterance in liturgy) is not what shows our faith and trust in the church. First of all, our allegiance to Jesus Christ. But back to our trust and faith in the church.. to announce that a singular musical genre/form in the liturgical act is the witness of our faith. There are many "givens" in the church, such as bread and wine/the eucharistic prayer, the proclamation and preaching of scripture, the sharing of communion, and the call to serve which the liturgy serves (ita missa est – to be sent). It is condescending, insulting and bordering on heresy to even slightly suggest that unless we submit to chanting the propers, we have no humility in our faith and are unable to follow in discipleship. My gosh…..

  15. Well, David you seem to be pouring fuel on a fire that isn't burning. I mean, no one wrote or believes that failing to sing propers is proof of a lack of humility. I wrote that singing propers is an act of deference (humility) to tradition. Really, there's no reason for a fight here or to claim insult where none exists.

  16. David, I really hope you keep posting, mainly because I think this crowd needs to understand your perspective. Please don't be stingy with your point of view. We are at a critical time in Church history and we must adopt an "open source" approach to our points of view. We can all benefit from this.

  17. The way we worship governs the way we believe and the way we live. If one replaces the Church's own texts, knowingly, with his/her own songs, it shows the pride that is placed above the Church's teachings. Many modern Catholics knowingly make moral choices which are often times against the Church's teachings, can we deny that it is related to how we worship? Music can elevate you where God is by following the Church's true instruction in Mass where you truly experience God, or pull him down for our own superficial satisfaction curdled by own pride.

  18. Would a hymnist with the credentials such as the late Eric Routley be rightly troubled by the first de-constructionist, re-constructionist and then absolutist implications within the premise of JT’s article? He advances a particular perspective of praxis reality that many of us are readily inclined to accept as TRUTH, and then lays out a string theory of absolutes that would simply solve all the problems of the Catholic liturgical world.
    Would Routley, or for that matter Father Rutler, dare suggest that none of us is intellectually capable of fathoming the basics of "good v. bad" theology in prose and poetic texts? Would hymnists readily concede to an anti-intellectual creed that advances "absolute freedom through absolute discipline" when it seems to do so is antithetical to our traditions of cultivating our intellects to serve the Church and humanity.

    Ergo, back to the psalms, we’ve got that. It’s just as much in “principium locum” as chant and Latin.

    One might guess I'm having a "don't fence me in" moment. I’m not. If I existed in the perfect world, in the perfect economy and ecology, ‘twould be “All chant, all the time.” But this is my Father’s world not mine, pardon the pun.

    I do get that the Church has provided a liturgy, which goes hand in hand with
    We would present to God and the witnessing world a truly unified Christian worship ethos, and be more in communion with angels and saints if we accepted and acceded to the humility and discipline of the paradigmatic liturgy.

    What I don't get is ….
    Is there a counter intuitive humility that is present in the lower heirarchies in the GIRM. This is what Ed Schaefer stated we eventually will have to unequivocally call into question. Doing that, of itself, seems paradoxical. It's like "Hey, we have dichotomies! The legislative documents, the Sacramentaries/Missals even have been specifically worded “You 'may' do this, or you 'may' do that.” What gives?
    Are there no possibilities that a finely minted hymn text compliments the intent to "a work for the people" within the Divine Liturgy? I find that we (the all of us "we") often must parce and mince our words and philosophies when it suits our personal preferences, even though we know at the bottom of our hearts that a certain non-scriptural text is golden.
    And lastly, does humility and submission mean leaving our intellect at the narthex doors?

    I’m not arguing, please. I’m asking.

  19. Charles, I would say that there is a time for rationalism and the exercise of the intellect — and the absolute freedom to do so — but that the the liturgy is not primarily the place for that to be unleashed with the same degree of freedom as it might be in other spheres of life. Too much has been placed on liturgical planners to invent, judge, reinvent, create, design. It is too much. The liturgy is received, not created, as B16 would say.

  20. The wonderful irony in our Cafe chats is this one absolute, "Words mean something. Words count." As I said, I mean not to argue, nor to quibble over nuanced interpretations, but it's inevitable that we recognize that "rationalism…exercize….intellect…freedom…etc." are intrinsically woven into "LITURGY" via the fabric of word and Word.
    The Psalter is perhaps the most eloquent assemblage of, as Mahrt rightly points out (along with B16 time and time again), the Word of God ever created. No argument here.
    But in deliberating a serious subject, built upon some serious traditions (hymnody), to characterize your experience of intellect as being "unleashed," as if a hound of hell, doesn't serve the progress towards consensus and remedy.
    And it would be lovely if my real point in response was addressed: who/what "unleashed" this freedom, who/what/why created rubrics (devices, after all, to measure) that placed "too much" stuff upon liturgical "planners." This is what Dr. Schaefer (at NOLA intensive) was calling into question and has personally reflected in his choice to attend the EF exclusively. This is also what Msgr. Mannion admitted with his toothpaste metaphor. It is no small matter to hope that RotR would foment from the ground up. Everyone we know, from B16 to Chironomo rightly exhorts us that "the time is now."
    But the rub, your frustration, shouldn't be solely directed at the local level. The inconvenient "truth" remains with the GIRM.
    Again, irony smiles upon us. Look at the proliferation of the many "gateway drugs" MS has posted from our era and of the recent past. One could stand afar from that library alone and see a sort of Babel Tower that is being erected in good faith and intent. Imagine if you add to that blueprint all of the BigThree portions, the efforts of the past (Rossini Propers et al) and ….? It is maddening.
    So, are the rubrics meant to allow for this tension? Have those rubrics not been addressed coherently by the local ordinaries and articulated down with surety?
    Time to take a breather.

  21. The hierarchy/leadership of the Church is neither stupid nor unaware. If they wanted Sacrosanctam Concillium, or the GIRM, to be more obvious, more specific, more clear, less ambiguous, less open to interpretation, less full of options- they would. There's nothing except the Holy Spirit and his own good judgement that is stopping Benedict from making the old Mass the Ordinary form, or mandating the propers, or creating a list of songs you can never sing at Mass, or forcing every parish to throw out their pianos and guitars.

    There is room in the rubrics for a reason, and I think it's a bit disingenuous to claim there is no room for interpretation ("Clearly, it says you must do X or you're wrong/heretical/arrogant") and it's just unproductive to wish that the hierarchy would do something about it.

    CMAA's gameplan generally (particularly as I see the work of JT and Dr. Mahrt) is to help people understand the tradition within which the room for options makes sense and can be interpreted "rightly" (that is, in the right spirit, not with the absolutely correct answer).
    People don't program music from Godspell at Mass because they haven't read the appropriate document. They do it because they have no sense of liturgy or liturgical tradition. (Note: Episcopalians have very little liturgical legislation, and yet…)

    The issue of which option is better/normative/whatever is a bit tricky in practice. In the case of an individual parish choosing to do "other appropriate songs" rather than propers (for whatever reason), it's not a big deal. The endemic ignorance of propers and the fact that they are a very rare phenomenon, on the other hand, is a big deal. It means that we, as a people, are out of touch with our heritage (a dangerous thing to be as a Catholic).

  22. Jeffrey – I appreciate your comment… I guess it continues to be difficult. My issue with this blog and others like it, is not that it loves chant, or that ir promotes certain causes (such as singing the propers, and other things like this). Believe it or not – and I am sure many who visit this blog would find it difficult to believe – I am a passionate promoter of the tradition, and much of its repertoire that many have left behind since the council. I utilize chant and much that is part of the "sacred treasury." My objections are with the arrogance that there is no other voice, no other possible musical expression of our faith and of the prayed liturgy that can be tolerated.. that while far from perfect, there exists from so many here and other such sites, an absolute hatred and anger toward the wide variety of musical forms and approaches that have emerged since the council.

    The problem for me is that the important causes of the Chant Cafe and others are being promoted while at the same time demonizing the renewal that has taken place since the council, and also feels that a variety and galaxy of musical expressions is just impossible. It must be chant, it must be the propers only for the entrance and communion; hymns and songs are always the source of self-serving narcissism, and other styles are not of God or appropriate to the true servant nature of the liturgy. This single-mindedness and at times, cruel and overt judgement of those who do not agree with the mainstream tastes of most who visit these sites are seen as not humble or true to the spirit of Christ (do not say such statements are not made here – they are!), or at best, poor souls who have not seen the light and are in need of instruction and correction.

    It is just difficult to have true conversations here – as I have put out there – is there an open mind toward having a respectful and helpful dialogue – without throwing arrows? For example, this ongoing agenda regarding propers – while I have concerns about their connection to the lectionary, I do not think it is necessarily a abhorent practice – far from it! But any other approach (such as the use of hymns or other songs – approved by the way in the GIRM), well, those practices are seen by the majority of people here as doing violence to the intrinsic nature of the liturgy. How can conversations take place in such an envirionment? As I have asked time and time again – here and at MusicaSacra… what are we afraid of in the practice and inclusion of a wide variety of expressions. Is God really being profaned unless we use chant or sing the propers?

    So here I am again, taking another stab at such a dialogue… but the majority of evidence seems to be that there is not much interest in that. I continue to read – and I often learn much – but I find the stance here to be so much of lamenting and pointing blame at everyone who does not embrace chant. I guess blogs exist for people to express their opinions and free thought… I am just wondering (as I have before) if there really is a place for another point of view, when so many of the posts (many written by you, Jeffrey), are condescending and at times, cruel toward the very people whom you want to persuade and offer influence. Do you really want my voice, and others like it, making their selves known here? Do you have any idea how many colleagues and friends of mine wonder why I even try to communicate here? Do you have any idea how many of them are terrified to express their opinions here and do not do so (I know of many), for fear of ecclesiastical napalm coming their way from many on this site? You say you want to hear my point of view… you say you want to adopt an "open source" to hear other thoughts. Read through your posts.. do you really believe and want that?

  23. David, in case you didn't notice, Adam Wood, myself, KLS and other "moderate" practicioners apparently don't feel muzzled or subject to cruelty if our opinions diverge from those of JT or others.
    OTOH, I have felt many different sorts of barbs and stings from JT's counterparts at other sites that are just as virulent as those who ascribe here.
    And, I have had fellow peers from "your side of the aisle" deride me personally as being out of touch and intolerant. Huh?
    Point is, there's enough prejudice, misunderstanding, intolerance and just plain ol' meaness out there in good measure across the spectrum. Just stick it out, don't pick up your ball and head back home. Take this from one who's been down that attitudinal road. Credibility is found by walking erect through the fire, the slings and arrows.

  24. Charles.. I am sure that you and many others have taken similar hits.. but believe it or not… I really am not upset about any arrows thrown specifically at "me" – as I have gone through that many times, and long before I ever stumbled on ChantCafe. It really is not about ME, or YOU, or any other particular individual..

    Maybe you don;t feel muzzled… but go back and read the tone of many posts here (and yes, other places) that are downright condescending, and dismissive of pastoral practices that are not in line with the conventional wisdom of those doing the posting.

    It is the tone of any conversation which demonizes another group of people, or more importantly – the issues of how the liturgy is prayed and experienced. I am not sure if I agree that credibility is found walking erect through the fire. Sometimes it is.. sometimes though it is good to "head back home" as you put it, to communities and people and organizations and causes that are more life-giving. I am really questioning what it accomplishes, regardless of what blog, what conversation, or whatever.

    It just seems that we have our eye off the ball.. what in the heck does all of this kind of talk accomplishing? I love vigorous conversation, debate, and passionate back and forth. My experience here, is that it is about something else. May not be for you.. but as I visit here often and read what is happening here… it posturing and demonizing others….

    O well.. here I go again- blah, blah, blah…..

  25. David, speaking just for myself, I think it would be great to hear your voice if you spoke in a less whiney tone. Just say what you think about the subject!

  26. David, rest assured that Kathy busts my chops on a regular basis vis a vis "tone" and "verbiage overdrive." That's what I deserve living in the Land of Brilliant Women Everywhere. And she, as well as they, are always right. Just look at Mary at Cana: "Do what He says." And the whine was turned into wine, small talk into Gospel, everybody happy!
    Seriously, again…I hope you continue to visit here. It is, after all, a cafe.

  27. I've got an idea. Maybe there could be a "standard/best practice" wherein the music director could only substitute one hymn per Mass, otherwise the Propers should be sung. i.e., if you have a hymn instead of the entrance, then you should use the propers for offertory and communion. Etc. Then hymns could occasionally be included, without ignoring GIRM.

  28. Lumi, I think there are many more of us than five years or so ago that have, de facto, folded your proposed protocol into our weekly deliberations. (Rest assured I realize the very notion of "weekly deliberations" is a sorely contested point.)
    As I've posted, a particular "form" of this results in what Dr. Mahrt forgives as the "stuffed Mass," where both the proper and hymn are sung in close, if not direct, proximity. This, too, is problematic, but I don't believe it to be a battle that traditionalists feel necessary to wage.
    Where there is a huge point of departure with our friend Mr. Haas is the advancement of a clear heirarchy for each of the processional propers which subordinates the other three options; they bristle noticeably. So, it's dicey to say that a total absence of propers from a Mass constitutes "ignoring (the) GIRM."
    However, I'm going to offer a scenario I think is more problematic than discerning the rationales within the GIRM. I'm quite concerned that the folks who are most disturbed by the reinstitution of propers aren't going to be sitting in the pews, but in the sanctuary. I think that is coincidental with Fr. Smith's article about clerical style and preference. And if diverse celebrants, and they're all quite diverse, happen to regard themselves as the sole, valid arbiters of FACP in their parishes, then the shifting sands of who "owns" which musical moment within a Mass is of huge concern to them.
    The truly sad fact remains is that there remains precious little dialogue between both veteran celebrants and veteran musicians in their own domains. "Getting it" at colloquium is quite a different thing than "giving it and getting it" at home.

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