HE Second Vatican Council solemnly declared on 4 December 1963: “There must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them.” As readers know too well, this mandate was basically ignored. For example, Eastertide’s nomenclature was “bumped” by one digit. In the Extraordinary Form, this coming Sunday will be the Fifth Sunday after Easter, whereas in the Ordinary Form, this coming Sunday will be the Sixth Sunday of Easter. Was this change “genuinely and certainly” required?
Speaking of Eastertide, the 1908 rubrics explain how to sing the Alleluia correctly in the Extraordinary Form. Back in 2014, I published an article explaining how this works. But it’s still pretty confusing, so here’s an explanation video:
I have shared in the past my opinion that the “Mocquereau Rhythmic Markings” (a.k.a. the “Classic Solesmes Method”) did tremendous violence to the antiphons of the Divine Office by excessive and overindulgent elongations (horizontal episemata) not found in the official edition. At the same time, I have pointed out that only a lunatic would attempt to restore the “pure Vaticana rhythm” at this point, since the classical Solesmes method has completely dominated the chant world for 130 years.
But it’s not just elongations! The “Mocquereau Rhythmic Markings” also cause damage by ignoring elongations (moræ vocis) which are supposed to be there, making the piece difficult to sing. Notice how Dom Mocquereau ignores the moræ vocis of the official edition:
The 1953 Schwann (Edited by Abbot Urbanus Bomm, O.S.B., Karl Gustav Fellerer, and Msgr. Johannes Overath) inexplicably contradicts the official rhythm, telling the singer to ignore the moræ vocis:
The Abbey of Solesmes does something quite unusual on the word “redémit”—and I’m not talking the hyphenation. 1 I’m talking about Solesmes omitting the required space after one of the neumes. You can see it’s not a typo because even their earliest edition (1908) fails to leave the correct amount of blank space:
The 1953 edition by Schwann did leave the correct amount of blank space—even though the editors tell the singer to ignore it!—as you can verify by carefully examining the official “Vatican Press Edition” of the Vaticana (1908):
Abbot Pothier clearly wanted elongations there, as you can see from his earlier editions. Consider the following, which comes from the Liber Usualis (1896):
As usual, the Nova Organi Harmonia (Belgium) properly reproduces the moræ vocis from the official edition—because they tenaciously adhere to the “pure” Editio Vaticana school of rhythm:
I say again: none but a lunatic would promote the “pure” Editio Vaticana rhythm at this stage of the game. On the other hand, this saddens me; because the music really does suffer, as this example demonstrates so well.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 Solesmes always hyphenates it as red|é|mit whereas others break it as re|dé|mit.