HEN I WAS STILL YOUNG, I begged my parents to give me a parakeet. They finally acquiesced when I promised to care for this new pet. At first, taking care of my pet was a joy…but as the years went on, it became a tremendous burden.
A similar thing must have happened after the Council. At first, the permission to replace the Mass Propers must have seemed wonderful. However, year after year of replacing the assigned texts at Entrance, Offertory, and Communion has now become something of a burden, wherein musicians feel the need to “invent” the liturgy each week. Those who carefully examine the official Latin G.I.R.M. will notice the Church explicitly says that whenever Propers are replaced the new text must be approved by the bishops, but this is seldom observed.
According to Archbishop Bugnini, the catalyst in all this was a book 97% of Church musicians have never heard of: the Simple Gradual. Its publication was the proverbial “foot in the door” because this book introduced the notion of replacing the official texts of the Roman Gradual. (Formerly, that had only happened by means of an indult.)
Bugnini felt the “precursor” to the Simple Gradual was the Proprium Simplex (1962) by a German composer named Hermann Kronsteiner. We’ve made this rare book available as a PDF download:
N.B. This appears to be a German-only edition. I believe it was originally published in Latin & German. It will be remembered that some German-speaking countries had a special indult which allowed them to sing in the vernacular during the preconciliar Mass.
By the way, you can also download the complete Simple Gradual, courtesy of the CMAA, but be careful: it’s a very large PDF file!
People can argue back and forth about whether substitution should have been allowed without an indult. It’s really an ideological argument. In Bugnini’s opinion, the ancient Propers did not constitute true “prayer” (cf. page 895 of his book), but many liturgists would disagree.
In any event, more and more musicians have decided to stop replacing the Propers with such frequency, instead singing the texts assigned by the Church. However, for this to succeed, the congregation needs to be able to follow those texts in large, lovely, legible fonts, and that’s why I’m so excited about a new publication that has begun shipping this week: