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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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"What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful."
— Pope Benedict XVI, Letter accompanying "Summorum Pontificum" (7/7/07)

Nine Rubrics for Mass in the Extraordinary Form
published 16 January 2017 by Jeff Ostrowski

470 monks singing HE OFFICIAL rubrics for sung Masses were printed in the Vatican Press Graduale (1908). I’m familiar with these rules, as my personal copy was scanned in 2008 by the CMAA on its 100th birthday—the very first time this 940-page masterpiece was posted to the internet.

The 1908 injunction against splitting the SANCTUS and BENEDICTUS caused confusion, as you can see by this 1909 article. This was no accident, as shown by the September 1904 resolutions adopted by the creators of the official edition. The Sacred Congregation of Rites reversed course on 14 January 1921, by answering a DUBIUM and ordering their response to be added in all future editions of the Graduale. 1

In 1958, all the rubrics for Sung Mass were drastically altered (SEE BELOW) and the excellent new rule was as follows: SANCTUS & BENEDICTUS are sung together for Gregorian Masses but split for polyphonic settings (“musically developed”).

1. As the Priest draws nigh to the Altar, the Cantors begin on the Antiphon to the Introit; which is done, as far as the asterisk, by one Cantor upon ferial days and simple feasts, but upon other holydays and upon Sundays by two, and upon solemn highdays by four, where these are to be had. The Choir continues up to the Psalm, but the first part of the Psalm-verse (up to the asterisk) and the verse Gloria Patri are performed by the Cantors, the verse being finished by the full chorus. The Introit as far as the Psalm is then repeated, this time by all.
1. Accedente Sacerdote ad altare, incipiunt Cantores Antiphonam ad Introitum. Quae in feriis et festis simplicibus intonatur ab uno cantore, usque ad signum appositum *; in aliis festis et in Dominicis a duobus; sed in solemnitatibus a quatuor, ubi Cantores suppetunt. Chorus prosequitur usque ad Psalmum. Primam partem versus Psalmi, usque ad asteriscum, et Vs. Gloria Patri ipsi Cantores proferunt, versum absolvente universo Choro. Postea repetitur, item ab omnibus, Introitus usque ad Psalmum.
2. The Antiphon done, the Choir sings Kyrie eleison thrice, Christe eleison thrice, and again Kyrie eleison thrice, either alternately with the Cantors, or side to side. The last Kyrie eleison however is divided by the single or double asterisk into two or three distinct parts. If there be two parts only—and thus but one asterisk—the former part is sung by the Cantors alone or by the first chorus, and the latter part by all: if there be three parts—and so a single asterisk at the former division and a double asterisk at the latter—the first part falls then to the same voices as before, but the second part (which repeats the opening phrase of the tune) is sung by the second choir: and finally the third part is completed by the voices of all together. In other cases as many as five parts are found: wherein the manner of allotting the alternate turns of singing is likewise shewn by dividing signs both single and double, noted as often as need be: which will be interpreted well enough from the foregoing.
2. Chorus, finita Antiphona, ter Kyrie eleison, ter Christe eleison, et iterum ter Kyrie eleison, alternatim cum Cantoribus aut altero Choro persolvit. Ultimum autem Kyrie eleison dividitur in duas vel etiam in tres partes ab asterisco simplici aut duplici distinctas. Si duae tantum sunt partes, ac proinde unus asteriscus, prima pars ab ipsis Cantoribus aut a primo Choro cantatur; altera vero ab omnibus. Si tres occurrunt partes et ideo asteriscus simplex ad primam divisionem et duplex ad alteram, tunc prima pars ad eosdem pertinet quos supra; secunda vero, quae primae partis melodiam repetit, cantatur ab altero Choro; tertia demum conjunctis omnium vocibus absolvitur. Aliquando etiam quinque partes contingunt: tunc modus dividendi alternas cantandi vices similiter notatur per signum divisionis tum simplex tum duplex pluries interpositum, et satis intelligitur ex dictis.
3. The Priest alone begins with a loud voice Gloria in excelsis Deo, and the choir continues Et in terra pax hominibus etc., divided again into two parts answering one another; or singing alternately with the Cantors. Next follows the choir’s reply to Dominus vobiscum.
3. Incipit solus Sacerdos clara voce Gloria in excelsis Deo: deinde Chorus prosequitur Et in terra pax hominibus, etc., divisus quidem in duas partes invicem sibi respondentes, aut cantat alternatim cum Cantoribus. Sequitur responsio chori ad Dominus vobiscum.
4. When the Epistle or Lesson is finished, the Responsory called the Gradual is begun by one or two singers as far as the asterisk, where the whole chorus, or at least the selected chanters, are instantly to follow on at this point. The verse of the Gradual is sung by two voices, and is completed by the whole choir from the asterisk near the end. Alternatively, the Responsorial mode may be followed when this is more suitable, all the choir then repeating, after the verse has been finished by the solo singer or singers, the first part of the Responsory up to the Verse.
4. Finita Epistola aut Lectione, ab uno vel a duobus inchoatur Responsorium, quod dicitur Graduale, usque ad signum *, et cuncti, aut saltem Cantores designati, prosequuntur debita cum attentione. Duo dicunt Versum Gradualis, quem ab asterisco circa finem totus Chorus absolvit; aut juxta ritum responsorialem, quando magis id videtur opportunum, post versum a solis Cantoribus aut a Cantore expletum, cuncti repetunt primam partem Responsorii usque ad Versum.
If two Alleluias with a verse are to be sung, the first Alleluia is chanted by one or two voices up to the asterisk: the choir then repeats the Alleluia and adds the neum or jubilus, drawing out the syllable a. The Cantors sing the Verse, which is completed in full chorus from the asterisk, as before. The Verse done, the Cantor or Cantors repeat the Alleluia, and the chorus adds the neum only.
Si Alleluia, alleluia cum versu sunt dicenda, primum Alleluia cantatur ab uno vel a duobus usque ad signum *; Chorus autem repetit Alleluia et subjungit neuma, seu jubilum, protrahens syllabam a. Cantores versum concinunt, qui, ut supra occurrente asterisco a toto Choro terminator. Finito versu, Cantor vel Cantores repetunt Alleluia et Chorus addit solum neuma.
From Septuagesima Sunday onwards the Alleluia and its verse are omitted and the Tract is sung, the verses of which are performed alternately by two choirs answering one another, or divided between Cantors and the full chorus.
Post Septuagesimam, omissis Alleluia et “Vs.” sequenti, dicitur Tractus, cujus versiculi alternatim cantantur a duabus sibi invicem respondentibus Chori partibus, aut a Cantoribus et universo Choro.
In Eastertide the Gradual is omitted, and is replaced by two Alleluias with a verse, as above: and a third Alleluia follows at once, begun by one or two up to the neum, and continued by all without any repetition. A Verse and one final Alleluia are sung in the aforesaid manner.
Tempore Paschali, omittitur Graduale et ejus loco dicitur Alleluia, alleluia cum versu, ut supra. Sequitur statim unum Alleluia, quod ab uno vel duobus inchoatum usque ad neuma absque repetitione absolvitur ab omnibus. Versus et unum Alleluia in fine cantantur modo supra descripto.
Sequences are sung alternately, either between Cantors and chorus, or between two divisions of the choir.
Sequentiae cantantur alternatim, aut a Cantoribus et Choro, aut a duabus Chori partibus.
5. When the Gospel is done, the Priest intones Credo in unum Deum if this is to be sung, the choir continuing with Patrem omnipotentem and the rest, all together or alternately, following the custom of the place.
5. Finito Evangelio, Sacerdos intonat, si dicendum est, Credo in unum Deum, prosequente Choro Patrem omnipotentem, et reliqua, conjunctim aut alternatim pro loci consuetudine.
6. The Offertory is begun by one, two or four Cantors, as at the Introit, and is carried on by all.
6. Offertorium ab uno, duobus aut quatuor Cantoribus intonatur, uti ad Introitum, et finitur ab omnibus.
(1908) 7. When the Preface is finished, the choir continues with Sanctus etc. While the Sanctissimum is being elevated, the choir is to be silent and adore with the rest.
(1908 Version) 7. Finita Praefatione Chorus prosequitur Sanctus etc. Dum autem elevatur Sacramentum, silet Chorus et cum aliis adorat.
(1921) 7. When the Preface is finished, the choir follows with Sanctus etc., only as far as Benedictus qui venit; and this being reached (but not before) the Elevation of the Host is made. At this point the singers are silent and worship with the rest. When the Sacrament has been elevated, the choir goes on with the Benedictus.
(1921 Version) 7. Finita Praefatione chorus prosequitur Sanctus etc., usque ad Benedictus qui venit, etc. exclusive; quo finito, et non prius, elevatur Sacramentum. Tunc silet chorus et cum aliis adorat. Elevato Sacramento, chorus prosequitur canticum Benedictus.
8. When reply has been made to Pax Domini, Agnus Dei is sung thrice, either by the full choir led out by one, two or four Cantors as the method may be, or in alternate chorus, in such wise that the close Dona nobis pacem (in Requiem Masses, the last word Sempiternam only) is sung in full.
8. Post responsionem ad Pax Domini, cantatur ter Agnus Dei, aut ab universo Choro, inchoantibus uno vel duobus aut quatuor Cantoribus unaquaque vice; vel alternatim, ita ut in fine ab omnibus decantetur: Dona nobis pacem, in Missa vero pro defunctis ultima tantum dictio: sempiternam.
9. When the Most Holy Sacrament has been received, the Antiphon called Communio is sung by the choir, begun by one, two or four Cantors, following what had been said of the Introit.
9. Sumpto sanctissimo Sacramento, cantatur a Choro Antiphona quae dicitur Communio, intonata ab uno, duobus aut quatuor Cantoribus, ut ad Introitum dictum est.
The Priest or Deacon sings Ite Missa est or Benedicamus Domino, to which the choir answers Deo gratias in the same melody.
Sacerdos aut Diaconus dicit Ite Missa est, vel Benedicamus Domino, et Chorus eodem tono respondet Deo gratias.
To Requiescant in pace at Requiem Masses the reply is Amen.
Ad Requiescant in pace in Missa Defunctorum respondetur Amen.

OPE PIUS XII issued an Instruction on 3 September 1958—just a month before his death—drastically changing the 1908 rules. You can peruse the original 1908 Ritibus, and notice how short it is compared to the 1961 Ritibus. These additions seem to have been taken directly from the 1958 Instruction:

    * *  3 September 1958 • Two English Translations

    * *  3 September 1958 • Latin Version (Rare)

I haven’t examined each modification, but comparisons like this one bolster my assertion. (Notice the slight difference of celebrans vs. sacerdos.)

While we won’t examine every change, 2 I would like to speak about the Introit.

Notice how Solesmes added a paragraph about the introit a full year before the Instruction by Pius XII—and notice it’s similar but not identical:

    * *  PDF Download • Solesmes “Preface” (1957)

A diversity of opinion exists regarding when to begin the Introit. The 1908 said “accedente Sacerdote ad altare”—and this remained unchanged until the 1960s. (There is no dispute when the Asperges is sung, so we won’t consider that scenario.)

The traditional interpretation was to begin when the priest started the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. Twice the priest says “I will go unto the Altar of God,” and soon thereafter ascends to the Altar, incenses it, and prays the Introit softly. 3 Fr. Andrew Klarmann, in Gregorian Chant for Seminaries (1945) agrees. Sir Richard Terry, in his 1907 book on Catholic Church music, constantly says to start the Introit when the priest reaches the foot of the altar—for example here. Rubrics in 1908 were written in a particular way giving only the bare minimum and also covering various circumstances that may exist: the Asperges, procession from the sacristy, procession from the back of Church, and so forth. It’s difficult to imagine the rubrics in those days specifying the precise music for the procession into church. In any event, the very fact that Solesmes in 1957 felt the need to justify singing the Introit during the actual procession (“it is perfectly legitimate”) demonstrates how common the organ processional was.

On the other hand, some prefer that the Introit be sung as the sacred ministers and servers are processing—and this works particularly well when the Introit is rather long (such as Vocem jucunditatis for the 5th Sunday after Easter).


1   Not all publishers obeyed. The 1924 Solesmes edition merely adds a footnote referencing the decision. The 1953 Schwann edition ignores the decision. The 1951 Mechlin edition does it correctly. Incidentally, the English translation given above is based on the Graduale by Nashdom Abbey in 1930.

2   Things become irregular after 1958; for example, the English translation of the Ritibus in the 1961 Liber Usualis adds a tenth item—which I assume also comes from the 1958 Instruction.

3   That is the sense of “drawing nigh” to the altar. It is not talking about (for example) as the priest drives his car toward to the church where the altar is. On the other hand, in the ancient church, the Introit may have been sung as the procession moved through Rome to the Stational Church—that would have been the entire Introit psalm, whereas over the centuries they eliminated all the verses except one.