HE WORLD-FAMOUS 1961 edition of the LIBER USUALIS—having first reproduced the PREFACE of the official edition—makes this statement: “The place of honour in this Solesmes Edition of the Vatican Official text is given to the Vatican Preface. Its wise counsels and general Principles of interpretation are embodied, elucidated, and enlarged upon in the RULES given further on.” It gives me no pleasure to say it—and makes me rather uncomfortable—but this is a deceptive statement.
Deceptive Statement • Their rules do not “embody, elucidate, and enlarge upon” the Editio Vaticana rules. Rather, the monks of Solesmes obfuscate and contradict the Editio Vaticana rules. Let us consider the SALICUS. According to the official edition, the SALICUS is distinguished from the SCANDICUS by a (very narrow) blank space after the first note. The following is taken from the official edition:
Please note: It’s almost impossible to recognize a SALICUS in editions which are printed in tiny fonts. On the other hand, the SALICUS is incredibly rare the official edition.
At first, Dom Mocquereau adopted this “blank space” to differentiate the SALICUS from the SCANDICUS. Here is what Dom Mocquereau wrote in December of 1905, when they first released the “Solesmes version” of the Editio Vaticana KYRIALE:
The English version by Dom Mocquereau—which also appeared in December of 1905—says:
Observe the difference in the old notation between the SALICUS and the SCANDICUS. The first note of the SALICUS is separated from the next note, which means that the ictus is on the second note, not on the first, as in the SCANDICUS.
Prior André Mocquereau (December 1905)
To banish all doubt, Dom Mocquereau added a little note right before he signed his PREFACE:
N.B. Blank spaces in this edition never indicate morae vocis, but only the separation of groups, except the space after the first note of a SALICUS, whereby it is distinguished from the SCANDICUS.
Prior André Mocquereau (December 1905)
Deception Enters In • However, the Solesmes monks got in trouble with the Vatican for modifying the official edition. In an attempt to get in less trouble, Dom Mocquereau decided to ‘detach’ his rhythmical signs from the notes. But this caused a crisis when it came to the SALICUS, so Dom Mocquereau decided that—as far as he was concerned—the SALICUS would henceforth be differentiated by a vertical episema (“tick mark”). The 1961 LIBER USUALIS suggests that Dom Mocquereau would have preferred to use a horizontal episema—but that proved “too difficult to write,” as they explain in the introduction:
But Wait … There’s More! • Are you confused yet? Even more deception enters in. When the Solesmes monks printed their “rules” in 1921, they pretended there was extra “blank space” in the example they gave. In other words, they pretend like they are merely clarifying what is already a SALICUS in the official edition.
What they are doing is introducing a SALICUS where none exists. Indeed, they do this hundreds of times. The SALICUS is extremely rare in the official edition, but one would never know that if one uses Dom Mocquereau’s editions:
A Bizarre Aberration • We have seen how the 1961 LIBER USUALIS (most likely written by Dom Gajard) claimed that Dom Mocquereau would have preferred to have a horizontal episema for the SALICUS “but it was too difficult to write.” If one looks at the 2 February ALLELUIA, one will see this statement contradicted:
Specifically, one sees horizontal episemata which constitute an anomaly:
I have often remarked that the Abbey of Solesmes never changed any of the ICTUS markings that Dom Mocquereau added in 1908, even in their most recent ICTUS publications (such as the 2014 Gregorian Missal). But if one examines that 2 February ALLELUIA, one notices that later on they added several instances of the SALICUS which Dom Mocquereau had not.
Patrick’s Assertion • In a recent article, my colleague Patrick Williams made the following assertion about your humble correspondent:
Below are the precise words of the document issued under Pope Pius XII (3 September 1958):
The signs, called rhythmica, which have been privately introduced into Gregorian chant, are permitted, provided that the force and meaning of the notes found in the Vatican books of liturgical chant are preserved.
Clear As Day • Is there anyone who would be willing to claim (publicly) that Dom Mocquereau’s modifications “preserve the force and meaning” of the notes of the official edition? Can this be maintained, for example, when it comes to the billions of illicit elongations in the February 2nd ALLELUIA we examined above? Oh, surely not!
To put it another way, making every other note twice as long (or three times as long) is clearly not preserving the “force and meaning” of the notes. Notes have a meaning. Were that not so, somebody could publish an edition like this:
Such an edition would certainly reproduce correctly the pitch of each note; but it would not have been viewed as “preserving the the force and meaning” of the notes of the official edition.