NE of the most commonly cited ways in which the Ordinary Form can “mutually enrich” the Extraordinary Form is through its wealth of prefaces. It was quite natural, therefore, when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) published the decree Quo magis almost a year ago, on 25 March 2020, permitting the (optional) use of seven additional prefaces in the Extraordinary Form.
Four of the “new” prefaces are taken from the Ordinary Form, with adaptations to their concluding “eschatols,” so as to make them conform to the pattern of other prefaces in the Missale Romanum 1962. These include the prefaces of the Angels, of John the Baptist, of Martyrs, and of the nuptial Mass.
The other three “new” prefaces already enjoyed regional approval for use in the Extraordinary Form, which has now been extended universally. These are the prefaces of All Saints and Patron Saints, of the Blessed Sacrament, and of the Dedication of a Church.
Along with its decree, the CDF also published the texts of these seven prefaces. No version with musical notation, however, was given, making it practically difficult for many priests to use these prefaces at sung Masses.
This lacuna has largely been remedied through the good work of GregoBase, an excellent online chant resource that provides notated versions of 6 of these 7 “new” prefaces. In order to assist priests in singing these texts, I am providing direct links here to each of the notated prefaces. Also included here are links to a very worthwhile series of articles at New Liturgical Movement, which explains more about the history of each preface.
The only one of these prefaces not yet included on GregoBase is the preface De Ss. Sacramento, used on the feast of Corpus Christi and in votive Masses of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest. This preface already appears, however, in many editions of the 1962 missal, both in plain text and with notation. For the NLM article on this preface, see Part 5.
In a plethora of manuscripts, the opening words of the “embolisms” of the prefaces (Vere dignum et iustum est) are indicated by an elaborate monogram. Two such illuminations are pictured in this article. For a fascinating explanation of this monogram, see Jeff Ostrowski’s article.
The prefaces of the Roman Rite are a tremendously rich theological source. May these resources help the Church to sing ever more ardently the thanksgiving owed to Almighty God!