OW HARD should we be on the Bishops’ Liturgy Committee with regard to their famous mistake of 2002? Some readers will recall the serious error made in their Newsletter of May 2002. The Committee attempted to fix the error, but ended up making things worse by an “official” wording that was literally bizarre & unintelligible (more). The error remained on the books for almost a decade, but was finally corrected due to indefatigable “nagging” by Christoph Tietze. We ought not be too hard on the Committee, who failed to understand that the Missal Antiphons are (by design) not identical 1 to those in the Roman Gradual. After all, even a famous “liturgy expert” got this wrong as recently as 19 July 2011. We can’t blame him, either, because the entire Church seemed to have collectively forgotten about “Propers” for decades. When I was going to Catholic grade school in the 1990s, we sang This Little Light Of Mine as the Introit!
Before I continue, here (for the first time) is a PDF copy of the 1974 Graduale Romanum:
HOW COULD EVERYONE just “forget” about the Roman Gradual? Let me explain, and I promise to be clear and to the point. Before the Council, the entire Liturgy could be found in one book: the Missal. However, the post-conciliar liturgy has three books: (1) Lectionary, containing the Readings; (2) Sacramentary, called a “Missal” starting in 2011; and (3) Roman Gradual, containing the music for Mass. Pretty basic, right? Old Rite had 1, New Rite has 3. So, what’s the problem?
Well, the problems came because the new books were introduced in the most chaotic way imaginable. For example, the Sacramentary was released piecemeal over a period of years. Other books were released in a “faux” version (e.g. Ordo Cantus Missae) containing almost nothing usable 2 in an actual liturgy. There were also issues as to whether certain books ought to be printed first in Latin or the vernacular. It’s no wonder 3 Pope Paul VI asked publicly in a 1969 audience:
“How can we celebrate this new rite when we have not yet got a complete missal, and there are still so many uncertainties about what to do?”
If we possessed video recordings of what happened during the period of 1970-1975 we would be shocked. Anyway, the final book 4 to be published (in 1974!) was the Roman Gradual, but even then, it was only available with Latin rubrics. A version with English rubrics wouldn’t be published until 1990.
Obviously, the fact that no Revised Gradual was available until 1974 had a severely detrimental effect on the ability of Catholics to “sing the Mass.” It really was a death blow, and perhaps this partially explains a statement by Msgr. Francis P. Schmitt. I can’t remember the exact quote, but he basically said Catholic liturgical music couldn’t be saved in the 1970s “because by that point, there was nothing left to save.”
Catholics have begun to realize the extent to which we’ve been “ripped off,” and we’re trying to rebuild … but it won’t be easy. Recent examples of efforts in the right direction would include the Lalemant Propers and Solesmes Gregorian Missal (courtesy of the CMAA).
… And don’t forget! Very soon, we will make an important announcement about the Roman Gradual in English. Make sure you hear about it before anybody else.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 Pope Paul VI wanted the Introit and Communion antiphons revised “for greater intelligibility.” Perhaps he was thinking of the Introit Gaudete, since that Introit is not a “complete sentence.” However, the reformers ended up annihilating and replacing many propers. No one knows why this was allowed to happen.
2 To date, only four people in the universe actually know how to use the Ordo Cantus Missae, and one of them is Steven Van Roode, who wasn’t even born until decades after Vatican II ended!
3 I own a Lectionary from one of the big publishers that has this message in the front cover. In this same book, somebody has gone through and crossed out every instance of HE, HIS, or HIM and replaced it with something else. Does anyone have a complete 1970 organ accompaniment to the Responsorial Psalms? If not, what did people use back then? Does anyone know? Did they just speak the Responsorial Psalm until musical collections were published?
4 Solesmes cannot really be blamed for this. As a printing house, they needed to make sure the reformers were finished tinkering with the liturgy before going to the trouble of producing a quality book.