An Apology for The Propers – Dominus Dixit at Midnight Mass

Besides the rubrical idea that the GIRM, church documents, and traditions of the church lean strongly towards toward the singing of the propers at Mass, there’s also another important point that is missed in this discussion: important texts of the liturgy are being dropped. When the propers are not sung, it’s almost as if you’re skipping 3 short readings from the Mass (or four, if the tract is to be sung). For example, take a look at the introit for the Christmas Mass during the Night (ie, midnight Mass) that is prescribed to be sung tonight.

Ant. The Lord said unto me: You are my Son, today I have begotten you.

Vs. Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? The Lord said unto me…

Vs. They arise, the kings of the earth; princes plot against the LORD and his Anointed. The Lord said unto me…

Vs. Ask of me and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, and the ends of the earth as your possession. The Lord said unto me…

(continuing along with Psalm II as needed)

Translation: Gregorian Missal (ant), Revised Grail Psalter (vs)

Here’s a recording rendered wonderfully by the Westminster Cathedral Choir (this is one of my favorite chants, by the way), giving you a feeling of how well it works during a procession, in the context of the Ordinary Form:

Most parishes this Christmas will probably singing some Christmas carol like O Come All Ye Faithful. There’s nothing bad about that, per se, but it really just covers the whole “Christ is born, let’s all come worship Him” idea. Not that it’s bad, but I find it’s a little surface level for fully expressing the meaning of Christmas that the church gives us. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a wonderful carol. Carols have their place. But that place should not be replacing the music and the text the church gives us for the sacred liturgy.

On the other hand, look at the introit for this Mass. The antiphon is a rarely heard in most parishes around the world, but contains a reasonably Christmas-themed text as we may think of it: Christ is the son of God, coming to us from heaven in the incarnation. But continue to read on to the verses (the first few are above, and the first one of those is almost always used). We see a clear foretelling and reference of Christ’s passion and resurrection. We’re joyful at Christmas, but at the same time, we must keep things in perspective: this child came here to die a horrendous death for us. It’s certainly not the primary focus of the feast. But at the same time, this is the introit setting the tone for the Mass and the feast. Even in the ancient melody itself, you can hear a reserved joy, but with a touch melancholy hidden within the beautiful melody as well.

That’s just one small reason we should be singing the words of God instead of the words of men at Mass.

Music for Rorate Masses – For the Ordinary Form!

This next Saturday is your last chance to celebrate Rorate Masses, but don’t forget that these beautiful candlelit Masses are not only for the Extraordinary Form but also can be celebrated in the Ordinary Form! By making use of the Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin which is found in the new Roman Missal. Below you can find all the music needed to celebrate this Mass!

All the texts of the Mass also found here!

Rorate Caeli Chant for before Mass
Sung in the style of a responsorial psalm
PDF | Recording

English proper chants for the choir or cantor
Simple English Propers (Bartlett) PDF | recordings: in, of, co
Communion Antiphon Project (Motyka) PDF | mp3

Latin proper chants
PDF | recordings: in, gr, al, of, co

Coloring Pages for the O Antiphons

As someone who has a lot of younger siblings, I can appreciate these projects like this. Another great way to introduce kids to the liturgical year. Don’t forget that the O Antiphons for vespers begin this Wednesday, and go up until the 23rd!

Thanks to Michele Quigley for creating and sharing these great coloring sheets! You can download these here. And don’t forget, here is the schedule on when to use each one:

December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
December 23: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)

Why Chant is Fantastic

I recently came across this wonderful article on gregorian chant and it’s beauty and power in Catholic Exchange. With us being the Chant Café, how couldn’t I share it!

Gregorian chant inspires and instructs. It allows us to regain our strength, our clarity and our focus on what is truly important in life. In his letter read at the 100th anniversary of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, Emeritus Pope Benedict spoke about the vital role Gregorian chant has played in Church history along with countering the argument that Chant is a thing of the past. Instead he praised Gregorian chant as being “of huge value to the great ecclesial heritage of universal sacred music,” and that “Mass must convey a sense of prayer, dignity and beauty.” The Second Vatican Council also noted that Gregorian chant should be given “pride of place” in liturgical music. Unfortunately, finding a church where chant is still sung is a daunting task.

Continue here!