VEN TO THIS DAY, the 1908 Editio Vaticana of Abbat Pothier remains the official edition of Gregorian Chant for the Catholic Church. After the Second Vatican Council, the edition was not changed; Bugnini’s “Ordo Cantus Missae” simply points to the Editio Vaticana, adding a handful of chants such as Lauda anima mea. Pothier’s pupil, Dom André Mocquereau (d. 1930), had many fine qualities—but Dom Pierre Combe’s “The Restoration of Gregorian Chant: Solesmes and the Vatican Edition” shows that Mocquereau was intransigent. Furthermore, Dom Mocquereau seems to have desired a type of “revenge” when his 1903 Liber Usualis wasn’t chosen by Pope Pius X. Instead, the official edition was based on Abbat Pothier’s 1895 version. Dom Mocquereau’s cadre quite ingeniously took advantage of the rhythmic freedom inherent in the Editio Vaticana, causing folks to believe freedom was undesirable. Therefore, the editions of Dom Mocquereau dominated the world—in spite of the fact that they’re “technically” not allowed, since they contradict the official rhythm!
In the past, we have fully explained the “invisible white notes” in this very long article. Specifically, we discussed the “blank spaces” in Abbat Pothier’s various editions—and how to find them. Even when a book of plainsong uses large print, one must place one’s nose right next to the spine of the book to determine whether the “white note” is truly equal to a notehead:
Don’t forget what Monsignor Francis P. Schmitt constantly reminded his singers: The morae vocis only apply to melismata!
Slanty-Wampus: Instead of saying “slanted,” one of my composition professors always said “slanty wampus.” (This particular professor was known for his funny expressions.) When it comes to the ALLELUIA VERSE sung in churches last Sunday, someone asked if the “slanted” white space counts. No, they do not:
No Assistance: The “pure” Editio Vaticana editions don’t give any clues or hints about where the morae vocis are found. One must determine them without assistance. Here, for example, is the 1951 Mechlin edition:
Those who contradict: Sometimes, it almost seems that Dom Mocquereau takes delight in contradicting the official rhythm. An important letter was sent by Cardinal Martinelli, and you can learn about this by reading the right side. Even as late as 1958, Pope Pius XII made made it clear that the official rhythm cannot be contradicted—but look what Solesmes does:
Something Nobody Can Explain: Dr. Peter Wagner started out being a fan of Dom Mocquereau, and in 1904 tried to get the Papal commission to issue a decree of confidence in his abilities as an editor—but this was blocked by Dom Laurent Janssens, who hated Dom Mocquereau with a passion. (Dom Laurent Henricus Antonius Maria Janssens, a Benedictine monk with lots of names, later became a bishop and died in 1925.) But when Dom Mocquereau’s intransigence was revealed—especially when Dom Mocquereau’s cadre spent months maneuvering in an effort to usurp Pothier’s duties as president of the Papal commission—Dr. Wagner became “anti-Mocquereau.” It is inexplicable why Dr. Wager ignores the morae vocis here:
Ally of Pothier: Dr. Wagner was very close to Abbat Pothier, and someday I wish people would go to the Abbey of Saint Wandrille and scan all the letters between Wagner and Pothier. Those letters—ninety of them, written between 1893 and 1913—are still preserved there. In any event, Abbat Pothier’s intent was clear, when we examine his 1883 edition, courtesy of the Jean de Lalande Library. Just look at all that white space:
Later Correction? In 1917, the Schwann edition marked these morae vocis correctly. But the 1953 edition (edited by Karl Gustav Fellerer, Johannes Overath, and Urbanus Bomm and published in Düsseldorf) tells the singer to ignore them:
These Guys Did It Right: I don’t own the complete collection of Gregorian accompaniments published circa 1915 by the Lemmensinstituut—I possess only volumes 4, 6, and 7. However, the 1940s edition shows that (as usual) they mark the morae vocis from the official edition correctly. Similarly, the 1912 edition by Father Mathias—as usual—marks the moræ vocis correctly:
Conclusions: I believe the official rhythm better reflects the uniform Gregorian tradition because the so-called “Romanian signs” often contradict one another. Moreover, the Romanian signs were—to speak frankly—only gentle suggestions of subtle nuances for individual monasteries. The problem is, 99% of people have adopted the rhythmic markings of Dom Mocquereau over the last 120 years. A tradition of 120 years would be very difficult to counteract.
Addendum: In 2002, Holger Peter Sandhofe (who died in 2005 at the age of 33) published a “private” edition of the Nocturnale Romanum. I have a low-resolution copy of this book; nobody seems to know where to purchase the original. In any event, Mr. Sandhofe dedicated his Nocturnale to Dr. Peter Wagner—and he doesn’t use any rhythmic signs: