did not mention any documents from the Second Vatican Council in my post, Mr. Williams, for several reasons. The first is that I am primarily concerned with the Mass of the Ages – the Usus Antiquior, which is celebrated according to the Missal of 1962 (or the pre-1955 Missal during Holy Week) prior to the ecumenical council. The second reason is that Sacrosanctum Concilium has been the basis used to justify many unnecessary changes in the liturgy that have led to problems in the Church. The third and final reason I didn’t mention this very enigmatic reference to an editio magis critica is because I suspect that what the document called for has already been completed by those it was addressed to. You said the same in your article here, regarding the second half (sentence) of ¶ 117.
Was Graduale Romanum (1974) “The” Critical Edition? • The wait may already be over, and in that case, any additional anticipation of something new pursuant to SC could continue indefinitely! Fr. Noah Carter has explained that SC ¶ 117 simply ordered the continuation of a project already underway, which finished (!) with the publication of the Graduale Romanum (1974), the Graduale Simplex (1975) and the Graduale Triplex (1979). The statement in SC was so brief (two sentences) because the intended audience already knew what it meant. In his post, Fr. Carter cites the Latin text which appears on the inside front cover crediting Paul VI for his pontificate’s “maximi cura nunc recognitium.” On the next page is another declaration even citing SC ¶ 117 that is signed by none other than Abp. A. Bugnini, the man behind the heap of liturgical ashes we find in every corner of the Latin Rite today. The “more critical edition” may not have needed to include the archaic melodic changes that you seem to desire. This may not be what you were hoping for or wanted to hear, but you cannot deny the feasibility of Fr. Carter’s explanation, and the Vatican’s own statements are there to see.
Traditionally Ancient • Every melodic phrase in the Vaticana also has its basis in ancient sources, but it was not confined to the most ancient, nor was this the goal, nor is this desirable. If the Vatican melodies were made up, the Novum wouldn’t be remotely similar. Rather than discredit my evidence that the Novum is being selective about its sources, changing things that are not representative of the broad and persistent Gregorian tradition, and instead of fixing real problems, is creating new ones, the examples you posted support my assertion that the first few bars of the Puer should stay the way they are.
I also noticed in your last post that you did not present any theological reasons which favor the Novum, as I did for the Vaticana, to explain why anyone would be chomping at the bit, yearning for something more spiritually beneficial, or more in tune with the prayer of the Mass than the Editio Vaticana. Without using the words oldest, most ancient, reliable sources, I don’t think the case can be made convincingly. These are meaningless words void of substance when discussing topics like objective truth and beauty, and do not cause superiority of a piece of music.
Dom Prosper Guéranger (1805-1875)
Founder and Abbot of Solesmes
Prayer for the Beatification of Dom Prosper Guéranger
It Began with Guéranger • I find it hard to understand why it is so difficult to accept at face value that Solesmes did a great job, and produced a Cento that was explicitly not designed to be an archaic replica at a point in time. It was Dom Guéranger’s initiative from 1862 onwards which set the restoration project in motion, so calling it quick or hurried as a way to discredit the quality or authenticity of their work isn’t historically accurate:
The musical palaeography workshop first originated in Dom Guéranger’s desire to restore the full beauty of the Church’s liturgical chant. To this end, Dom Guéranger asked Dom Paul Jausions and then Dom Joseph Pothier to rediscover its origins by studying mediaeval Gregorian chant manuscripts. The first transcribed manuscript acquired by Solesmes was produced in 1862 by Dom Jausions in Angers library. Spurred by their growing knowledge of ancient manuscripts, the monks began to publish chant books containing melodies they had restored from these manuscripts. The first Gradual assembling the Mass chants was published in 1883.
I have not seen one example of a catastrophic error which so desperately or even justifiably needs remediation that a new edition is required. The Medicean/Ratisbon edition was like that, and the work of Solesmes was the solution.
Instead, Sing and Pray the Mass • The Graduale Romanum of 1908, or 1974, requires a lifetime to master, and our time should be spent praying the Mass, rather than on searching the archives for a theory or brilliant theorist that will finally prove it should be abandoned in favor of something more archaic. There is no evidence of this to date, which is why nothing new has been produced or promulgated in 115 years. The Beneventan Mss certainly do sound more archaic, which is fine if you’re in to that, but why impose it, and obsolete all of the chant recordings and didactic resources, in favor of a separate system of interpretation? Roland “Doc” Boisvert, an important scholar of chant, called this “musical protestantism.”
The Elevation of the Host, Usus Antiquior
Reinforcement • Mr. Williams, thank you for documenting so many more examples which preserve the double fifth interval in the first few phrases of the Puer natus est, and omit the descending third in the first two bars of the Puer. This was the main subject of my post, and what I set out to demonstrate. Also, I appreciate your illustrations, clearly showing that very slight melodic variations are found everywhere in the manuscripts. They are unavoidable, and are to be expected when making comparisons. I myself find it hard to locate any two identical manuscripts, no matter how many I review. The Hiley quote, and the Dobszay quotes sufficiently expressed that melodic variation is commonplace when studying plainchant manuscripts.
I think what you have shown by your examples, and I by mine, is that the Vatican edition has as much of a right to exist the way it is, and to be the official edition, as any of these other individual selections have to exist, and that while none the variations are “wrong” per se, the Church has already chosen a collection of them to use. Even editions that claim to be “restored” do not agree with each other, and do not add objective value or improvement that a traditional liturgist and musician such as myself would appreciate. The factors which might appeal to a historian, paleographer, or archaeologist are not the root concern of the Church. Therefore, since none of the alternatives appear to be objectively better than the official edition, in ways that directly concern the Church and her liturgy or the edification of the faithful, when the Church has taken a strong position about which one is to be used in no uncertain terms, there is nothing convincing about why a change needs to be made.
Dom Desrocquettes, warned against:
…leaving a system which has given us unity of method and artistic style (sic) . . . until we are satisfied that another system is perfect and is actually better than Solesmes. –Gregorian Chant as Prayer and Art, NCMEA National Convention, Buffalo, New York, April 27, 1960; quoted in Musart, June, 1960, p.8
William Mahrt says it well, too, in his book The Musical Shape of the Liturgy:
New principles of rhythmic interpretation are being proposed, particularly those based upon the system of Dom Cardine identified as “semiology.” Indeed, revisions of the melodies of Vatican edition are being proposed as well. All of these things must be judged by the same criteria: is it truly an improvement? is it worthy of being employed in the sacred liturgy, year in and year out? will it stand the test of time? will it contribute to making the liturgy more beautiful, more sacred? If the answer to all these questions is positive and unambiguous, who can object? Until then, let the scholarship proceed apace; let the experimentation be undertaken; if it proves itself, then let the next step be taken; if it does not, we still have a substantial tradition to sustain us.
Charles Cole has this to say:
The Choirmaster at Solesmes, Dom Bruno Lutz, told me that neither he nor any of the Schola sing from the Graduale Triplex which he described as a “livre d’étude,” a study book which should be used for reference. It is his opinion that to sing from the Triplex is to risk getting too attached to single details rather than seeing the whole musical picture.
Theological Correlations • The excerpt I shared of the excellent commentary by Dom Dominic Johner explained how there is theological consistency between the scriptural text of the Puer natus est, the Introit of Christmas Day, and the melody found in the Vatican edition, as well as a contrast between the sound of Christmas Midnight Mass, and Christmas Day. Both of these valuable aspects were destroyed in the Novum. This was the purpose of my last post.
I agree with you that it is not good to debate personal taste, as you stated at the beginning of another post, so I used this objective quality of the parallel between scripture and melody in Puer, and the fact that so many other manuscripts also sing those phrases the same way, to form the basis of a matter of fact position about the Novum. There was not space enough to discuss the entire commentary provided by Johner, nor the rest of the Introit unfortunately. Maybe I will post more of it at a later date.
When a new proposed edition is willing to sacrifice things which are truly good, such as theological parallels, beautiful symmetry and poetic structure of the chants in the Vaticana, for the sake of pure antiquity, that is when the publisher is no longer serving the interests of the liturgy or the Church, and instead begins to work against the Church’s mission, and the priorities used in building a Cento, which I outlined previously.
Manuscripts • The clippings from the manuscripts I added to the post were focused on the first two phrases of the chant only; they were not meant to be replicas of the Vatican edition. I wanted some early Mss on four lines, and Ms 18 was so unique in that it had the pre-square note notation on the staff, that I couldn’t resist posting that one. The beautiful color drop caps in the two others caught my eye as being splendid, and I wanted to share those pages specifically, to show the beautiful artwork. All of my examples contained the beginning melody that everyone knows and recognizes. Most of the melodic variations you highlighted are par for the course, and those found within a melismata approach the granularity level of minutiae.
I’m sure you already know, from the two thousand hours you’ve spent with the Mss, where to find the replicas of the music for the Puer natus est that is found in the Vatican edition. For our readers who would like to see a note for note replica of the Vatican edition’s Puer natus est, I present to you Montpellier H.159 from the 11th Century (about 100 years earlier than my previous examples), which should be considered even more ancient and authentic by semiological standards.
Montpellier H.159 from the 11th Century
The notes are written in alphabetic notation. This manuscript which combined the old adiastematic neumes with a translation to a specific note was a breakthrough discovery. I hope the foregoing resolves any concerns regarding my selection of manuscripts.
Congregational Singing IS a Problem • Mr. Williams, I couldn’t agree with you more. I too have observed congregations that refuse to sing Credo I, and this IS a serious problem. However, how can the congregation learn to sing Credo I, or even try to sing it, when the choir hasn’t sung it straight through for some time, due to their need to dominate a stage? Again, I agree, this is the subject matter for an entirely new set of posts. I would like to hear more about your ideas and observations in this regard. Have you considered whether or not having an incessant or insatiable thirst for variety and novelty, and especially that this behavior or desire would manifest itself within the context of Holy Mass, could be some sort of serious vice, or even satanic influence? This sounds more like a vicious symptom of our modern age of continuous stimulation that should not be negotiated with or appeased by giving in to the temptation, or capitulating to it. A moral handbook should be consulted for a remedy. Maybe you would agree? In any event, I loved what you had to say about Gregorian chant’s inherent form and style not needing to be augmented, and also your point that Catholic sacred music should sound like neither a dirge nor a carnival! I could not have said those points any better.
The Mind of the Church, Today? • In your older post, you ask what the Church has in mind today with respect to chant interpretation, as if the mind of the Church, which ideally should correspond to the mind of God Himself, ever really changes. Have you read Cardinal Martinelli’s letter?
To: Rt. Rev. Msgr. F. X. Haberl
Domestic Prelate, President of the Association of St. Cecilia
Germany, Ratisbon, Bavaria:
His Holiness has learned that, particularly in Germany, and among the Germans of the United States, a view concerning the Vatican edition of the liturgical chant is being spread which is absolutely false in itself and very prejudicial to the uniform restoration of said chant in the whole Church. It is insinuated that the Holy Father in publishing the aforesaid edition did not intend to embody in it a special form of rhythm, but to leave to the individual music directors the right to apply to the series of notes, taken materially, any rhythm they deem most appropriate.
How erroneous this opinion is may be deduced from a simple examination of the Vatican edition in which the melodies are evidently arranged according to the system of the so-called free rhythm, for which also the principal rules of execution are laid down and inculcated in the preface to the Roman Gradual in order that all may abide by them and that the chant of the Church be executed uniformly in every respect. Moreover, it is well known that the Pontifical Commission, charged with compiling the liturgical Gregorian books, had expressly intended from the beginning and with the open approval of the Holy See to mark the single melodies of the Vatican edition in that particular rhythm. Finally the approbation which the Sacred Congregation of Rites bestowed upon the Roman Gradual by order of the Holy Father extends not only to all the particular rules by which the Vatican edition has been made up, but includes also the rhythmical form of the melodies, which, consequently, is inseparable from the edition itself. Therefore, in the present Gregorian reform it has always been and still is absolutely foreign to the mind of the Holy Father and of the Sacred Congregation of Rites to leave to the discretion of individuals such an important and essential element as the rhythm of the melodies of the Church.
By reason of the great authority which your Reverence enjoys as President General of the worthy Association of St. Cecilia, you are requested to make the present communication known to all the members of the aforesaid Association, exhorting at the same time the patrons of Church Music to desist from all attempts, which in the present state of archeological, literary and historical studies, cannot have a serious and gratifying result. They only serve to confuse the minds of the less experienced and to alienate their hearts from the Gregorian reform, as it was intended by the Holy Father and which, also with regard to the rhythm, has not only been accepted and more and more elucidated through new and useful researches by the most renowned Gregorian theorists, but is now actually rendered with complete and consoling success by innumerable schools in all parts of the world.
It was my duty to communicate this to you by special commission of His Holiness.
With sentiments of sincere esteem and devotedness,
Cardinal Fr. Sebastian Martinelli
Obedience = Virtue • St. Padre Pio said that where there is no obedience, there is no virtue. You may not feel yourself inclined to submit to these directives from the Church, but I believe that they do apply to both of us, and I for one am willing to abide by them. I hear in your writing how diametrically opposed you are to being under anyone’s thumb who does not have your musicological credentials and experience. However, this is prayer, this is God’s design for the Church (a hierarchy), and musicians must begin to realize that it’s not about us, or the music, or musicology, or our needs for expression, fulfillment or enjoyment. It is about how God wants Himself to be praised and exalted, and for us to be humble servants to the liturgy.
The Gregorian tradition is not fixed into a span of a few years, or frozen in the oldest manuscripts. It was the Vatican, not I, who diminished the importance of the oldest sources, in favor of selecting portions of the tradition found in the future generations, because as stated in the Preface, all have the right to contribute something better. The Church has said that long periods of organic development which introduce changes methodically is the making of authentic tradition, and this progress trumps antiquity. The excerpt from G. K. Chesterton was a good primer on authentic tradition.
In conclusion, Mr. Williams, I respect your experience in Mss study, and hope to have as many hours invested as you do at some point. The differences between our points of view on semiology and melodic variation are simply ones of priority, obedience, spirituality and what it means to submit to authentic tradition. Our areas of common ground in sacred music performance practice, our love for God and His Church, and personal pursuit of holiness is hopefully and optimistically in much greater supply. God bless you and your efforts to discern the way forward. Oremus pro invicem. Pax tecum.