About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife and children.
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"The union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it."
— Pope Pius XI (6 January 1928)

First Instance of “Alius Cantus Aptus”
published 21 June 2016 by Jeff Ostrowski

HE HOLY WEEK REVISIONS of Pope Pius XII could be looked at as the beginning of liturgical deformation that would happen later. 1 This was true for a variety of reasons. For example, it introduced the notion—which was quite serious—that a committee could get together for meetings, “fix” the liturgy, then impose these changes on the entire church. Before that point, the Church had basically allowed the liturgy to grow organically. Another key concept was introduced which we’ve mentioned numerous times: ALIUS CANTUS CONGRUUS. László Dobszay referred to alius cantus as “anthrax in the envelope” of post-conciliar decrees.

This is not to say there were no choices whatsoever involved in the Tridentine Mass. If you look carefully, you will occasionally find a tiny little option here or there—but this has nothing to do with replacing the Propers 99% of the time, which is the situation in most Ordinary Form churches and contradicts what Vatican II wanted.

Anyhow, buried in one of the pages of the ORDO HEBDOMADAE SANCTAE we find this rubric:

248 Ordo Hebdomadae Sanctae ALIUS CANTUS

Nihil impedit, quominus cantetur a fidelibus hymnus Christus vincit, vel alius cantus in honorem Christi Regis. Translated into English, that means:

“The faithful may also sing the hymn CHRISTUS VINCIT or any other chant in honour of Christ the King.”

That’s the first time I know of “alius cantus aptus,” which would become the favorite phrase of the Consilium. In English, it means “anything else appropriate.”

AS FAR AS THE OFFICIAL BOOKS ARE CONCERNED, the liturgical progressives lost the battle over Mass facing the people. The Ordinary Form rubrics assume that priest & congregation will face the same direction for certain parts of the Mass. Robert Cardinal Sarah—appointed by Pope Francis as prefect of the CDW—recently confirmed this:

“In my capacity as the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, I continue to remind all that the celebration toward the East (versus orientem) is authorized by the rubrics of the missal, which specify the moments when the celebrant must turn toward the people.”

However, they eventually won the “alius cantus” battle, at least in terms of what is allowed by the rubrics.

N.B. Two other random facts: Kyrie IX is assigned as an option for Holy Thursday. (I knew about Kyrie IV, but not Kyrie IX.) Also, the monastic version of the ORDO HEBDOMADAE SANCTAE is 500 pages long!


1   Before he died, Archbishop Bugnini himself admitted this, calling it “the first breach.”