OW IS NOT the time to delve into the complex history of “anticipated” Masses, permission being granted towards the middle of the 20th century for Catholics to attend SUNDAY MASS on Saturday (!) instead of Sunday. Those interested should consult the 3rd edition of the Campion Missal, which provides fascinating documentation about these matters. Suffice it to say, the reformers didn’t do a good job thinking through many of the changes they made. Indeed, the man primarily responsible for the liturgical reforms was CARDINAL ANTONELLI, who had secretly drawn up the famous Memoria Sulla Riforma Liturgica in 1948 and who was appointed by Pope Saint John XXIII as “Secretary of the Conciliar Commission on the Liturgy” on 4 October 1962. After the reforms had been made, Cardinal Antonelli admitted the reformers “have only been able to demolish and not to restore.” MALCOLM CARDINAL RANJITH (secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship from 2005–2009) warned against “over-euphoric presentations of the conciliar reform.” Cardinal Antonelli himself gave a devastating summary of the 1960s liturgical changes, writing in his diary: “Time will tell whether all this was for better or for worse, or merely indifferent altogether.”
Traditional Vigils • Traditionally, the “vigil” of a feast was celebrated the morning before. For example, the VIGIL OF CHRISTMAS was celebrated on the morning of 24 December, using violet vestments (but not folded chasubles: dalmatic and tunic). I hate to use a pejorative term, but all these traditions were mutilated by the reformers. For instance, one can fulfill one’s obligation for PENTECOST SUNDAY by attending Mass on Saturday evening. By so doing, one would experience a Mass formulary that has very little to do with Pentecost Sunday. Among other things, the Golden Sequence is omitted, and one will not hear the ancient INTROIT (“Spíritus Dómini Replévit Orbem Terrárum”). From what I can tell, Msgr. Aimé-Georges Martimort was one of the most radical reformers. But even someone like Canon Martimort was disturbed by the notion of “anticipating” the Sunday obligation. On 3 May 1963, Bishop Henri Jenny of Cambrai proposed that the celebration of Mass on Saturday evening should be considered a Sunday Mass. Cardinal Antonelli records what happened:
“When Msgr. Jenny proposed that the celebration of Mass on Saturday evening should be considered a Sunday Mass, Msgr. Martimort replied that he was scandalized and said that this way of celebrating Sunday, after the fashion of the Easter Vigil, led to the suspicion that the Easter Vigil was celebrated on Saturday evening. Father Calewært opposed the proposal because it would gravely damage Sunday.” [Most Rev’d Karel Justinus Calewaert was the bishop of Ghent, in Belgium, and died in 1963.]
In The Year 2023 • Now that we know how vigils were traditionally celebrated, we can better understand what happens in the year 2023. This year, for the MISSALE VETUSTUM (a.k.a. “Extraordinary Form”), the Fourth Sunday of Advent is replaced by the Vigil of Christmas. That happens whenever Christmas falls on a Monday. There’s a special “Alleluia” sung only during years when the 4th Sunday of Advent is replaced by the Vigil of Christmas. Although I don’t consider myself a great singer, I’ve attempted to record it following the official rhythm, mandated by Pope Saint Pius X:
Jeff’s Performance Attacked (1 of 2) • On page 190 of her 1949 book (Gregorian Chant: A Study of Phraseological Rhythm, Psalmody, Form, and Aesthetics), Justine Ward declared that without the rhythmic signs of Dom Mocquereau “artistic interpretation of the Chant is impossible.” For a variety of important reasons, I don’t use the rhythmic modifications by Dom Mocquereau. One reason is because they are (technically) forbidden. In 1958, under Pope Pius XII, the Vatican issued a document called “De Musica Sacra.” Paragraph 59 reminded Catholics: “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.” Not everyone is aware of these matters, so perhaps an example would be appropriate. The following comes from the OFFERTORY for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost, which is also used for weddings (“Nuptial Masses”). The areas highlighted by pink show where Dom Mocquereau contradicts the official rhythm by illicitly adding elongations where none belong. The spot marked in green shows where Dom Mocquereau illicitly eliminates an elongation required by the official edition:
The organist Charles-Marie Widor (d. 1937) wanted answers about Dom Mocquereau’s modifications. In response, the Secretary of State under Pope Saint Pius X asked Abbat Pothier to explain things. Therefore, Abbat Pothier wrote to Widor on 16 January 1906. Pothier said Dom Mocquereau’s rhythmic signs “bring about a grave alteration of the melody.” You can read the complete letter which Dom Pothier sent to Charles-Marie Widor. It’s quite famous, and it’s known as the De Cætero Letter of 1906. In a book published in 1987 by the Dom Mocquereau Foundation, Dom Pierre Combe of Solesmes Abbey wrote as follows: “Furthermore, it is undeniable that Dom Mocquereau always affirmed he was Dom Pothier’s faithful disciple.” Do readers agree that Dom Combe uses the word undeniable in a very strange way?
Moreover, Justine Ward’s assertion that “artistic interpretation of the Chant is impossible” without the rhythmic signs of Dom Mocquereau is contradicted by the Vatican decree (dated 25 January 1911) which says: “The Vatican Edition of the Gregorian liturgical books, such as it was published by apostolic authority, with its traditional notation and the rules printed in the front of the GRADUALE ROMANUM, contains absolutely all (satis superque) that is needed for the exact rendition of the liturgical chant.” You can read this document for yourself:
Jeff’s Performance Attacked (2 of 2) • Is Justine Ward correct when she says my performance of that Christmas Vigil ALLELUIA was inartistic? Remember, Ward claims that “artistic interpretation of the Chant is impossible” without the rhythmic signs of Dom Mocquereau. I would like to know what readers think. Dom Mocquereau’s rhythmic modifications are fin de siècle, meaning he first invented them circa 1902. Therefore, for 1,000+ years, monks never had access to these signs. According to Justine Ward, it would not have been possible for them to sing the plainsong with an “artistic interpretation”—and that seems quite sad. I had a lot to say about Justine Ward in this article:
* Article • (14 Examples) • Jeff Ostrowski’s Artistic “Credo”
—First published on 12 November 2023.
I won’t repeat everything I said, but I would emphasize that Justine Ward comes across as someone thoroughly confused when it comes to plainsong. For instance, Ward erroneously claims that Dom Mocquereau’s rhythmic signs were encouraged by the Vatican. Specifically, on page 191 of her book, she spoke of those illicit modifications as follows: “Only indifference or negligence could interfere now with the reforms so urgently proposed to us by the Holy See.” Justine Ward seems to have been quite a difficult person. She often made elaborate promises, but didn’t keep them. She tended to “pack up her toys and go home” when difficulties arose. Consider, for examples: (1) her divorce from her husband; (2) her bizarre dissolution of the Ward Center in Paris in 1967; (3) her withdrawing from the Catholic University circa 1930 (due to her failures vis-à-vis Father DesLongchamps); and (4) her acrimonious break with Mother Stevens, the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, and the PIUS X SCHOOL OF LITURGICAL MUSIC at Manhattanville College located at 113rd Street and Convent Avenue in New York. [On the Manhattanville matter, cf. the 2 June 1936 Q&A Justine Ward published in the Catholic Choirmaster, wherein she claims to have “originally founded” the Pius X School then claims she “severed relations” in June of 1931.] I don’t know what musical training Justine Bayard Ward received. Francis Brancaleone wrote in 2009: “She is not thought to have had any formal training in the areas of vocal music, choral music, or pedagogy.”
Justine Ward’s Chutzpah • It is so strange that Justine Ward actually named one of her homes “Mora Vocis.” A letter she wrote on 20 July 1952 demonstrates that she didn’t even understand what a “mora vocis” in Gregorian Chant was. Nor was she a young person in 1952; she was a woman in her seventies! As I have already said, I won’t be repeating what I wrote about Justine Ward in my article dated 12 November 2023. Nevertheless, I would emphasize her shameless, brazen, and reprehensible impertinence. Justine Ward attacked Dom Pothier publicly, declaring in 1930: “Dom Pothier had shown an instinct which had revealed certain fundamental truths but he lacked that plotting perseverance so essential if truth is to be established on a solid basis of science.” Furthermore, she spoke of Dom Pothier’s “limitations as a musician.” Imagine speaking like that! As everyone knows, Dom Pothier—while a monk at Solesmes—created such masterpieces as: Les Mélodies Grégoriennes d’après la tradition (Pothier, 1880); Liber Gradualis (Pothier, 1883); Liber Responsorialis [this was released two years after Pothier became Prior of Ligugé, but was entirely the result of his research]; Hymni de tempore et de sanctis (Pothier, 1885); Processionale Monasticum (Pothier, 1888); Liber antiphonarius (Pothier, 1891); and so forth. And yet, Justine Ward dares to speak of his “limitations as a musician.” It’s unbelievable.
Pothier Signed, Not Couturier • The most important, legendary, and groundbreaking publication of all was Dom Pothier’s mighty LIBER GRADUALIS—and we must note (pardon the pun!) something interesting about that. Normally, the printing contract would have been signed by the head of Solesmes Abbey, viz. ABBAT CHARLES COUTURIER (d. 1890), who had succeeded Dom Prosper Guéranger (d. 1875). But the contract with Desclée had been singed by Dom Pothier, not Abbat Couturier.
Severe Slander • For too long, Abbat Pothier has been slandered by idiots who haven’t the first clue about plainsong. I am happy to announce that serious scholars—as we speak—are working on projects which will show the world glimpses of how incredible Dom Pothier was. Here are a few “tidbits” displayed a recent conference dedicated to Abbat Pothier:
My Words Are Insufficient • I don’t have words to describe how magnificent and superb Abbat Pothier was: Monk, Musician, Scholar, Historian, Latinist, Palæographer, Liturgist … and perhaps one day, Saint!