HE PREFACE to the 2013 edition of the Saint Edmund Campion Hymnal discusses multifarious customs that existed in the past with regard to hymns sung during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In some places, the customs were pretty disturbing. It was important to provide verbatim quotes from actual journals before Vatican II—and our Preface did precisely that:
URING A LOW MASS, THERE IS USUALLY TIME for four hymns—one from the beginning of Mass up to or through the Gospel, but certainly to be finished by or before the end of the Gospel Reading, so as not to interfere with or delay the making of announcements or the preaching of the sermon. A second hymn can be started at the Credo; another after the Elevation, and the last one during Communion, to end with the last Gospel for the prayers after Mass.
—Caecilia Magazine of Catholic Church Music, 64: 4 (1937)
Yikes! A Mass offered like this must have taken no more than 25 minutes. And how inappropriate to say it’s okay to “sing over” the entire Mass…just don’t delay the announcements!
This particular quote does not accurately represent the universal praxis before Vatican II. However, it’s sad to know that Mass was offered like this in some places.