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“Iconographic tradition has theologically interpreted the manger and the swaddling cloths in terms of the theology of the Fathers. The child stiffly wrapped in bandages is seen as prefiguring the hour of his death: from the outset, he is the sacrificial victim, as we shall see more closely when we examine the reference to the first-born. The manger, then, was seen as a kind of altar.”
— Pope Benedict XVI (2012)

“Saving” Gregorian Chant In The Ordinary Form
published 12 October 2015 by Guest Author

232 letter OH NE OF MY FAVORITE PHRASES is: “He wrote the book on that.” It succinctly expresses that someone has mastered the subject and hints that further explanation is unnecessary. In my review of the JOGUES MISSAL—produced by my friends at the John Paul II Institute—I avoid excessive description, because this book does not require it! Those who open its pages will immediately understand what the Ordinary Form is all about; and when it comes to attractive layouts, the JP2 institute has literally “written the book.”

The JOGUES MISSAL makes it possible to introduce Gregorian chant to an “average” parish; but is that a good thing? Isn’t chant boring? I’m someone who appreciates many styles of music (I’ve played in a blues/rock band for years) and the following demonstrates vernacular chant that “works” to my ear. The refrain can be sung by anyone; or as polyphony. Do you agree its verses would sound marvelous for a typical wedding Mass?

    * *  Demonstration • VERNACULAR PLAINSONG VIDEO   •   (Mp3)

    * *  PDF Responsorial Psalm for Catholic Weddings

Gregorian chant is not boring when sung properly. It must be light and relatively quick. A good teacher helps, and I was blessed to study with Andrew Leung at Steubenville.

4271 alternate version the Second Vatican Council ANY CHURCH MUSICIANS are fighting a battle these days, but this battle is nothing new! Serious choirmasters try to use the assigned texts (“Propers”) while reducing the number of times these ancient prayers are replaced with hymns—although hymns also play an important role in today’s liturgy. Here’s a typical Catholic parish, where “Susie Doe” serves as volunteer director of music:

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON • Replaced with a song chosen by Susie Doe

OFFERTORY ANTIPHON • Replaced with a song chosen by Susie Doe

COMMUNION ANTIPHON • Replaced with a song chosen by Susie Doe

Choirmasters are now questioning whether it’s truly necessary to replace the assigned texts 100% of the time.

Some claim that prior to 1965 everything was perfect and Propers were always sung in Gregorian chant. False! Some places had a “low church” mentality, singing insipid devotional hymns throughout the entire Mass. Other places had a “high church” mentality, cultivating Gregorian Propers and Ordinaries—even in farming towns! Therefore, this battle should not be understood as a post-conciliar struggle. What’s different is that many today are ignorant of the Propers’ existence. In the old days, Catholics had missals containing the Propers—Entrance, Offertory, and so forth—which meant even when hymns were sung, they still saw these prayers; and the priest was required to recite them softly. The JOGUES MISSAL contains all the Propers, so folks in the pews see them continuously—and that’s crucial. 1

212 Freedom street HENEVER SOMETHING gets replaced, it’s replaced by something else. At the end of the day, liturgical music is chosen by either the Church or Susie Doe; yet this distinction was lost for decades. People were “free” from the Propers, but failed to realize they were substituting their own Propers. Those who study politics are familiar with this phenomenon: when candidates run against “nobody” their poll numbers are low; but when a real opponent emerges—with flaws & vulnerabilities—the race tightens.

It’s not a question of whether we’re allowed to replace the Entrance antiphon for the 10th Sunday with Marty Haugen’s GATHER US IN—that’s not in dispute. But what’s wrong with the assigned text for the 10th Sunday?

HE LORD IS MY LIGHT and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? My enemies who trouble me have themselves grown weak and have fallen.
(ENTRANCE ANTIPHON, 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

There’s power in these psalm verses. There’s power because the Psalter was the “hymn book” of Jesus Christ. There’s power since these are presented to all Latin Catholics, and unity is a good thing; whereas Susie Doe choosing a song she enjoys does not show unity. Finally, there’s power because this same Entrance antiphon was sung for so many centuries by so many saints. Our Church values tradition. Indeed, the fact that our traditions extend all the way back to Christ sets us apart from our separated brothers and sisters; we cling to tradition because it’s our link to our Lord’s teachings.

4268 CONTROL EVERAL AUTHORS have pointed out that current legislation does allow ANYONE to replace ANY assigned Responsorial Psalm for ANY reason. The USCCB Liturgy Committee recently confirmed this. Yet, this freedom is not abused nearly as much as the freedom to replace the Entrance, Offertory, and Communion antiphons—why not?

One reason has to do with language control. In our society, those who control the language win the debate. For example, Catholics are falsely labelled as “against” stem cell research; but we’re not. We’re against EMBRYONIC stem cell research. Catholics are falsely labelled as “anti-choice,” but we’re not. We’re against murdering innocent children, not “choice.” When you hear someone denigrating the Propers by talking about “freedom to replace,” ask him why he never takes advantage of “freedom to replace” for the Responsorial Psalm. He might say, “Because it would be absurd to replace every Responsorial Psalm when these have already been assigned by the Church.” Yet, that’s exactly what is done with regard to the Propers!

231 St. Isaac Jogues Illuminated Missal, Lectionary, & Gradual ET ME SAY SOMETHING about the typesetting of this book. My wife and I have a daughter who loves being held during Mass. One of the advantages of the JOGUES MISSAL is the massive fonts, which allow parents holding children to participate during the Mass.

Now a quick word about content; tons of great surprises! For example, the Latin SEQUENCES—beautiful & ancient—are my favorite chants. Like other books (such as GIA Worship IV Hymnal) the Jogues provides metrical settings of the Sequences, which are generally sung in English; yet a special Appendix is provided with literal translations for parishes singing the Latin versions:

    * *  Exclusive Preview • APPENDIX SAMPLE PAGES

I said earlier I won’t be describing the various aspects, but I can’t resist pointing out that both versions of the Alleluia—Sacramentary & Gradual—are provided; a tremendous boon for parishes where the 1974 Graduale Romanum is sung.

4267 PRACTICAL OME CATHOLICS PREFER the 1962 Missal, and that’s just fine. Others point out questionable decisions made by the post-conciliar reformers such as eliminating the DIES IRAE from Funeral Masses, and I certainly mourn the loss of such liturgical riches. However, the reality is that most parishes do not yet celebrate the Extraordinary Form. The JOGUES MISSAL, with its luscious artwork and careful attention to detail, helps remind our senses that the Holy Eucharist must be “the source and summit of the Christian life” (as Vatican II put it). Speaking of Vatican II, I don’t like hearing the Jogues called a “Reform of the Reform” book; it really isn’t. The rubrics follow current legislation, honoring what Vatican II said about Latin and Gregorian chant.

It’s the only book I know combining the full Lectionary, complete Gradual, and current Missal into one book. The arguments of liturgical scholars—such as Graduale/Missale discrepancies, or how many times the Grail should be revised—seem to disappear in the pages of this book. 2

OME WANT TO DO what everyone else is doing, and using Propers seems like rocking the boat. While I fully understand this, I don’t believe we can continue to rely on “what everyone else is doing.” Consider this recent photograph:

4264 Pope Francis Selfies Concelebration

Those priests are taking photographs while they are concelebrating!  I thought everyone knew that photographs should never be taken while concelebrating; but I was wrong. It may be time to imitate Pope Pius X who—while Patriarch of Venice—sent Lorenzo Perosi to Solesmes Abbey to study with “liturgical rebels” Mocquereau and Pothier. 3 This was the very same day Roman authorities issued a document in favor of the status quo (Editio Medicaea). Saint Pius X was “rocking the boat” in 1894, but for the purpose of authentic liturgical renewal.

I have spoken of the JOGUES MISSAL in the context of “saving” Gregorian chant, but let’s be clear: Gregorian chant requires no saving. It has survived—and will survive—for countless centuries. It is loved by diverse people; and musicians who agree upon nothing else often agree when it comes to the power of chant. Chant does, however, require nurturing; and I’m glad to see excellent Gregorian adaptations available online by Richard Rice, John Ainslie, Fr. Guy Nicholls, Fr. Columba Kelly, Fr. Samuel Weber, Alfred Calabrese, and many others.

I’ve been told the JP2 Institute now accepts online payments, which is good news.

346 Dan Craig USCCB UEST AUTHOR Dan Craig graduated from the Franciscan University at Steubenville and currently lives with his wife and daughter in Texas, working in the field of accountancy. His interests include the Liturgy, singing Gregorian chant, and playing percussion. His family is associated with the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. Send him an email if you enjoyed this article.


1   The Propers should be introduced gradually, not immediately. In some parishes, that opportunity may come within a year … others may require ten!

2   Indeed, Graduale/Missale discrepancies existed before the Second Vatican Council. This can be seen by a careful examination of e.g. the 11th Sunday after Pentecost (Communion) or the 19th Sunday after Pentecost (Offertory).

3   The precise date was 7 July 1894.

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