About this blogger:
Aristotle A. Esguerra has served in the Diocese of Madison since 2009 as music director at the churches of St. Mary, Pine Bluff and St. Ignatius, Mount Horeb, and as the chant instructor to the Cistercian Nuns of Valley of Our Lady Monastery, Prairie du Sac.
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"Although the Mass contains much instruction for the faithful, it has nevertheless not seemed expedient to the fathers that it be celebrated everywhere in the vernacular. The holy synod commands pastors and everyone who has the care of souls to explain frequently during the celebration of the Masses, either themselves or through others, some of the things that are read in the Mass, and among other things to expound some mystery of this most Holy Sacrifice, especially on Sundays and feastdays."
— Council of Trent, XII:8 (1562)
An Ordinary-Form Missa Cantata (almost)
published 4 March 2013 by Aristotle A. Esguerra

Given the events that are taking place in the Church these days, I doubt that this post will receive much attention; however, as restoration of liturgical beauty has been a hallmark of Pope Benedict’s papacy, mentioning the local impact of his leadership seems noteworthy.

Saturday, March 23, marked the third consecutive time that I was asked to lead the Knights of Divine Mercy schola cantorum at the closing Mass of the Diocese of Madison's Men’s Lenten Retreat. This year’s Mass (an anticipated Mass for the Second Sunday of Lent) was as close as it has been to the Missa Cantata, the Sung Mass so desired by the Church to be the norm in the Latin Rite but so exceptionally rare in practice, especially in the Ordinary Form.[1] The Mass, which was celebrated by Msgr. James Bartylla,[2] the Vicar General of the Diocese of Madison, was sung a cappella or said in English unless otherwise specified:

Introductory Rites
Entrance Procession and Incensation of the Altar (Psalm 25: 6, 3, 22; 1–3; Glory Be; Simple English Propers, pp. 64–65): sung by the schola cantorum
Sign of the Cross: Missal, solemn tone
Greeting “Grace and peace…”: Missal, solemn tone
Penitential Act “Have mercy on us, O Lord…”: Missal, solemn tone
Kyrie: Mass XVI, Greek, sung by all
Collect[3]: Missal, solemn tone
Liturgy of the Word
First Reading (Gen 15: 5–12, 17–18): Missal tone for the first reading, sung by a server/reader
Responsorial Psalm (cf. Ps 27: 1a, Modal Responsorial Psalms, p. 39): sung by psalmist; response sung by all.[4]
Second Reading (Phil 3: 17–4: 1): Missal tone for the second reading, sung by another server/reader
Gospel Acclamation (“Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ…”, Modal Responsorial Psalms, p. 39): led by cantor; response sung by all
Gospel (Lk 9: 28b–36): Missal, simple tone, sung by the Priest
Homily: spoken
Creed: spoken (the Missal provides two melodies)
Prayer of the Faithful: spoken (the Missal provides four melodic formulas)
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Preparation of the Offerings and Incensation (Psalm 119: 47, 48; Psalm 119; Simple English Propers, pp. 65–66): sung by the schola cantorum
Invitation to Prayer “Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice”: Missal, solemn tone
Prayer over the Offerings: Missal, solemn tone
Preface: Missal tone
Sanctus: Mass XVIII, Latin, sung by all
Eucharistic Prayer II: Missal tone
Mystery of Faith “Save us, Savior of the world…”: Missal tone
Doxology: Missal, solemn tone
Communion Rite
Lord’s Prayer: Missal tone for the Dioceses of the United States
Embolism and Doxology: Missal tone
Sign of Peace: Missal tone
Agnus Dei: Mass XVIII, Latin, sung by all
“Behold the Lamb of God” dialog: Missal tone
Communion Chant I (Matthew 17:9; Psalm 45; Simple English Propers, pp. 66–67): sung by the schola cantorum; Latin Gregorian antiphon sung by a solo cantor
Communion Chant II (John 6:51a; Psalm 23; English chant derived from the Latin original found in the Graduale Simplex): sung by a solo cantor
Prayer after Communion: Missal, solemn tone
Concluding Rites
Blessing: Missal, solemn tone
Dismissal “Go and announce…”: Missal tone
Hymn: “What Wondrous Love is This”

This year the schola cantorum was spread rather thinly, as only four men including myself were able to chant; others in the group were called to serve at the altar.

I think moving towards actually enacting what the Church asks in regard to the singing of the words of the Mass instead of relegating it to a printed book ought to be a primary objective, given the Year of Faith theme for our diocese: “Evangelization through Beauty”.[5]




[1] “For the celebration of the Eucharist with the people, especially on Sundays and feast days, a form of sung Mass (Missa in cantu) is to be preferred as much as possible, even several times on the same day.” Musicam Sacram Instruction on Music in the Liturgy, ¶27, emphasis added. Although some may argue that this instruction doesn’t apply to the current revision of the English-language Roman Missal, in fact the 2010 revision provides almost all of the resources needed for the priest to sing: the parts of the Mass proper to himself; many of the parts he sings with the faithful, e.g., the Sanctus; and the parts of the Mass that are better delegated to others, e.g., lector.

[2] From September to May as his schedule allows, Msgr. Bartylla celebrates a Latin Missa Cantata with Gregorian chant and vernacular readings on the first Tuesday of each month at noon; he celebrates an English Missa Cantata with Gregorian-inspired English plainsong on the third Tuesday of the month at noon. In the case of a scheduling conflict these Masses are usually transferred to the following Tuesday. All of these Masses take in the chapel of the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center [map].

[3] Why this was ever called the “Opening Prayer” in the defunct English translation mystifies me. Does not prayer occur from the beginning of the Mass? It’s more logical to understand the Collect as the closing prayer of the Introductory Rites.

[4] “Faith comes from hearing.” Thus, I propose that during the Responsorial Psalm and other liturgical texts that share its nature, audible cues—such as slowing down at the final line of a verse and maintaining a consistent breathing pattern—are better than visual cues at fostering actual participation, i.e., intentional listening and prayerful singing. No visual cues were used to prompt the people’s singing of the refrain other than psalmist’s looking up from the ambo, which was done in conjunction with the aforementioned audible cues.

[5] A friend recently relayed to me a question asked of her by another friend regarding the difference between the High Mass and the Low Mass (within the context of the Extraordinary Form). I quipped: At High Mass, all the texts that are supposed to be uttered in song are sung. At Low Mass, all the texts that are supposed to be uttered in song are…muttered. There are other differences to be sure, but given the weight Church teaching has placed on sacred music, I focus on that primarily. And the musical differences between High Mass and Low Mass also apply to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite regardless of whether it is celebrated in its sacral languages.

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