It’s quite short, but powerful and—even better—it’s fun to read. The section about Hebrew at the Last Supper explains a point I’ve tried to make for a long time, but does so with eloquence (not my strong suit).
HE BISHOPS OF ENGLAND AND WALES have put forward their views on Latin on several occasions. In 1966 they said that “every encouragement should be given to reciting or saying of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, on those occasions when it is possible, fitting and convenient. Definite steps must be taken to see that knowledge of the Latin Mass is not lost.” Later, in 1969—after the new order of Mass had been introduced—they said: “the use of Latin in celebrating the new Mass Rite will be encouraged as it has been in the old; Latin expresses the nature of the Church as international and timeless.”
The musical settings of the Latin text of the Roman rite are—by common consent of all musical critics, and confirmed by any issue of the Radio Times—one of the supreme creative achievements of mankind. They constitute the largest body of high-quality music in existence. […] Though plainchant has suffered many vicissitudes—including its re-styling by the Franks and the corruption of the tradition in the post-Tridentine period—it remains a supreme expression of worship and fully deserving the special place the Second Vatican Council accorded to it.
The Latin liturgy is the birth place of all our modern music. The art of combining voices, pioneered by the English composer Dunstable, is one of the outstanding permanent legacies of the Middle Ages. By the sixteenth century, musical settings for the Latin liturgy had been composed that still rank amongst the major musical works of the world. Palestrina and Victoria, whose Latin Church music is their major contribution, would be included in any list of the greatest musical composers. English writers were also notable, and one of these, William Byrd, could arguably be regarded as the greatest writer of liturgical music of all time and the greatest English composer in any form. His five-part Mass was sung in St. Peter’s, Rome, at the canonization of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. […] In the last century, when composers tended to forsake religious music, Liszt and Bruckner produced Latin Church music of the highest quality. The present century has not been behind the others, and the music of Poulenc in France and Berkeley in England compares with the best that has gone before.
Here’s a section that jumped out at me:
Yet how can a congregation today participate in a Latin Mass to the extent that the Council clearly requires? There are some practical difficulties, mainly because publishers—preoccupied with vernacular texts—have failed so far to provide adequate aids, bilingual Sunday Mass books, Latin-English Mass leaflets, and the like. Time and demand will solve these.
Dr. Richens would have been pleased to discover the Jogues Illuminated Missal:
The JOGUES is a book for the pews—i.e. the congregation—which allows any priest to use as much or as little Latin as may be desired for Masses in the Ordinary Form. The special layout helps the “average” Catholic feel at home.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 To learn more about the “Association for Latin Liturgy,” click here.