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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"Nothing should be allowed that is unworthy of divine worship, nothing that is obviously profane or unfit to express the inner, sacred power of prayer. Nothing odd or unusual is allowable, since such things, far from fostering devotion in the praying community, rather shock and upset it—and impede the proper and rightful cultivation of a devotion faithful to tradition."
— Pope Paul VI • 10/13/1966

Major Problems with “Holy Family” Feast
published 3 January 2017 by Jeff Ostrowski

OU PROBABLY THINK I’m going to complain that the Feast of the Holy Family has been moved around too much. After all, it was created in 1893 by the very Pope who composed the breviary hymns for it. First it was placed on the Third Sunday after Epiphany. In 1914 it was moved to January 19th. Later on it was moved to the Sunday within the Octave of the Epiphany. After Vatican II, it was moved yet again. You can see how confusing things were by looking at this page from a 1957 Solesmes book. (The Feast of the Holy Name has also been moved a whole bunch of times.)

But that’s not my problem.

The psalm verse for the Introit—specifically “in átria Dómini”—breaks the formula:

    * *  PDF Download • INTROIT for the Holy Family

Here’s the formula:

500 Holy Family Introit

I wanted to see if this was a 1960s typo, but it’s not. You can see Abbot Pothier did the same thing in 1908:

502 Pothier

Dom Mocquereau, in his 1903 Liber Usualis, does it correctly. That is to say, he treats this solemn cadence as cursive rather than accentual:

501 Mocquereau 1903 Liber Usualis

In Pothier’s 1896 Liber Usualis, he does the same as the Vatican Edition:

499 Pothier 1896 LIBER USUALIS

CONCLUSION : Abbot Pothier must have been extremely bothered by a cursive treatment of “átria.” Sometimes, ancient manuscripts did bend the rules for the tonic accent—but that was not the norm. (Solemn Mode VI is especially confusing in this regard.) Bruce Ford has written:

“Some have criticized Pothier’s treatment of the final cadence of the eighth introit psalm tone. It is cursive, but Pothier sometimes treated it as if it were a cadence of one accent with three preparatory syllables.”

To make matters worse, Rome has sometimes muddled things.


Many don’t realize that all the EF chants for the Holy Family can be used for the Ordinary Form. Cf. section 397 of the Ordo Cantus Missæ.