HE VATICAN COMMISSION on Gregorian Chant, meeting on 8 September 1905, took up the thorny issue of the Propria Missae which come between the Epistle and Gospel. Some have attempted to draw a distinction between what they call processional chants (which they claim “accompany liturgical action”) and meditation chants (which they say “are sung for their own sake”), but such a distinction betrays a misunderstanding of the traditional liturgy. In the traditional liturgy, actions are taking place between Epistle and Gospel. To name a few of these: the priest quietly reads the Gradual & Alleluia, the Missal is moved, the priest silently says the Munda Cor Meum, the priest silently reads the Gospel (which will be sung aloud later by the Deacon), the Deacon fetches the EVANGELIARIUM, he asks the priest for a blessing, incense is imposed, a procession takes place, and so forth.
Dom Combe describes 1 the discussion that took place on 8 September 1905:
“Dr. Wagner, underscoring the conditions of small Churches in non-Latin countries (where the integral chanting of very ornate melodies is impossible, and the recitation of the texts in place of the chant is no less difficult owing to pronunciation and ignorance of the Latin language) asks whether it would be possible to allow the chants between the Epistle and the Gospel to be omitted. Dom Horn seconded this resolution, at the request of many Germans. Father de Santi recalled that in Rome, at the Gregorian Congress, he had suggested introducing some more or less ornate formulas to which the various texts mentioned by Dr. Wagner could be suitably adapted. Dom Pothier and Dom Mocquereau averred that such formulas could be found in the manuscripts, without any need for composing new ones. With regard to the formulas to be adopted for the simple chanting of the Graduals, Tracts, Alleluia verses, Dr. Wagner proposes that, to this end, reference be made to the formulas of the responsorial psalms that have fallen into disuse. The liturgical nature of these chants would thus be maintained. Dom Mocquereau shares this opinion … Dr. Wagner, therefore, proposes that the editors of the Vatican Edition be formally charged with selecting simple formulas … formulas that should be published at the same time as the rest of the edition, and submitted to the Commissioners as early as possible. Father de Santi also proposes that the Commission authorize the Rassegna Gregoriana to publish them. The Commission approves.”
Do You Recognize? • The Vatican Commission on Gregorian Chant never published those, but all the German editors did. I bet you recognize this melody, written by Max Springer in his Graduale Romanum (1912) for the Advent Rorate Mass:
If you recognize it, let me know in the Facebook combox.
1 This article includes excerpts from: HISTOIRE DE LA RESTAURATION DU CHANT GRÉGORIEN D’APRES DES DOCUMENTS INEDITES: SOLESMES ET L’EDITION VATICANE published in 1969 by Dom Pierre Combe of Solesmes Abbey. The Catholic University Press published an English edition in 2003, translated by Dr. Theodore Marier and finished by a former student of his (since Dr. Marier had died before the work could be completed). Someone very close to Dr. Marier told me that he found the work of translation tedious, and would exclaim: “Well, I guess I’d better go subtract a few years off Purgatory by translating Combe!” The 2003 version is called: “The Restoration of Gregorian Chant: Solesmes and the Vatican Edition.” Broadly speaking, the 1969 book by Dom Combe is a collection of journal articles. Many of the Italian sections in the 2003 version were translated by Monsignor Robert Skeris.