Sunday, November 13, 2011

Guided Missal 8: Communion

Pater Noster

With the elements of bread and wine having become the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, we now pray in the manner He taught us (Matt 6:9–13, Luke 11:2-4). In the 1973 editio typica of the Roman Missal, it is introduced by the priest/celebrant with one of four different (dare we use this term again) options, none of which are even close to reflecting the Latin text.

(Well, maybe the second one, but just barely.)

Praecéptis salutáribus móniti
et divina institutióne formáti,
audémus dicere:

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A. Let us pray
with confidence to the Father
in the words our Savior gave us:

B. Jesus taught us
to call God our Father,
and so we have the courage to say:

C. Let us ask the Father
to forgive our sins
and to bring us to forgive those
who sin against us.

D. Let us pray
for the coming of the kingdom
as Jesus taught us.

When parts of the Traditional form of the Mass were gradually translated into the vernacular in 1964, an introduction was used in the United States which was both faithful to the Latin text, and poetic in its rendering:

Taught by our Savior's command,
and formed by the word of God,
we dare to say:

Beginning with the First Sunday of Advent this year, there is to be (thankfully) only one introduction, without the absolutely ridiculous provision for "these or similar words" ...

At the Savior’s command
and formed by divine teaching,
we dare to say:

... which, while not quite as poetic as the 1964 text, is nonetheless a faithful rendition of the Latin. In addition, there is only one of them. More than that, it does not simply refer to what Our Lord taught us to pray, but what He commanded.

The reader is invited to pay particular attention to the accompanying video clip. Notice that the melody in the English plainchant is different than that which we are accustomed to using, yet still sounds familiar. As it is followed by the Latin chant, it becomes clear that this revision is intended to follow the Latin melody more closely.

Now, to where the plot thickens.

Rather than one edition of the Missal for the entire English-speaking world, the practice up to now has been for each country (or more accurately, each bishops' conference or other territorial body of bishops) to authorize the publication of their own, taking into account local factors, ranging from differences in spelling to unique local commemorations of the saints.

The “Our Father” presents an interesting pastoral conundrum. In the United States, a very successful simplified setting with admirable treatment of the English language is already widely used. Australia has its own widely used setting based closely on the Latin Pater noster, and other countries have their own settings as well. Many would regret tampering with an element of the reformed liturgy that the people sing so well ... After much consideration it was decided to offer to all the Conferences of Bishops a new setting based on the Latin Pater noster (Graduale Romanum 812, Graduale Simplex 9‐10). Each country will examine the setting and decide whether or not to introduce it, either alongside or as a replacement for settings currently in use.

And so, the version which ultimately appears in the main text of the Order of Mass, for the Dioceses of the USA, is not the melody that is heard in the video clip, but rather, that which was composed by Robert Snow in 1964, and which has been used in the States ever since. The composition which more closely follows the Latin has been relegated to an appendix. In addition, and as is the case with other chants in the liturgy, the Latin original with plainchant also appears in the text of the Order of Mass, following the English version.

Embolism and Doxology

The prayer is followed by an "embolism;" that is, an amplification or elaboration on the petitions contained in the prayer.

Líbera nos, quaesumus, Dómine,
ab omnibus malis,
da propítius pacem in diebus nostris,
ut, ope misericórdiae tuae adiúti,
et a paccáto simus semper líberi
et ab omni perturbatióne secúri:
exspectàntes beátam spem
et advéntum Salvatóris nostri
Jesu Christi.
Quia tuum est regnum,
et potéstas,
et glória in sáecula.

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Deliver us, Lord,
from every evil,
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy
keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior,
Jesus Christ.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and forever.

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Deliver us, Lord, we pray,
from every evil,
graciously grant peace in our days,
that, by the help of your mercy,
we may be always free from sin
and safe from all distress,
as we await the blessed hope
and the coming of our Savior,
Jesus Christ.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

Notice the return of the rendering of "quaesumus" ("let us beseech" or "let us beg"), as is being accomplished in many of the orations. Note also that we ask to be free from "distress" ("perturbatióne") as opposed to mere "anxiety." Most of all, we wait not so much in joyful hope, with its connotation of mere human sentiment, but in the hope that is "blessed" -- that which comes from seeking virtue, and therefore from God.

It would not have been entirely inappropriate, given that the more ancient usage of English is preserved in this prayer alone (an option not resorted to in all English-speaking countries up to now; the Philippines, for example), that the doxology which has often accompanied it be consistent with this choice. ("For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.")

IMAGE: The Primatial Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo (Spain)

One more quick note about the plainchant at this part of the Mass. The listener will notice in the chant of the doxology, how different it sounds from most Gregorian chant. It may also have been noticed in the Memorial Acclamation as well, which follows the Consecration proper. That is because this is not strictly Gregorian in origin, but is in fact Mozarabic (from the Arabic word for "Arabized"), stemming from that liturgical tradition which originated in the city and region of Toledo, Spain. Indeed, the Mozarabic Rite (also known as Hispanic, or Visigothic) was one of the non-Roman Latin rites in the western Church, which was retained after the Council of Trent, in light of its antiquity, and remains to this day, if only confined Corpus Christi Chapel (also called the Mozarabic Chapel) in the Cathedral of Toledo, and few other select locations throughout Spain.

Now, if they could just explain why the standard doxology for the Order of Mass uses the "Mozarabic option," rather than the one that has always accompanied the 1964 Snow composition. But, alas, we digress ...

Sign of Peace

As much of an adjustment as the textual changes will be for the faithful, they are even more so for the priest. Many who have become accustomed to saying the prayers in the same way, every day, for nearly four decades, must now become re-acquainted with the Order of Mass again, learning not only to say the prayers, but how to pray them as well.

Dómine Jesu Christe,
qui dixísti Apóstolis tuis:
Pacem relínquo vobis,
pacem mean do vobis;
ne respícias peccata nostra,
sed fidem Ecclésiae tuae;
eámque secúndum voluntátem tuam
pacificáre et coadunáre dignéris.
Qui vivis et regnas in sáecula saeculórum.

Pax Dómini sit semper vobíscum.
Et cum spiritu tuo.

Offérte vobis pacem.

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Lord Jesus Christ,
you said to your apostles:
I leave you peace,
my peace I give you.
Look not on our sins,
but on the faith of your Church,
and grant us the peace and unity
of your kingdom,
where you live for ever and ever.

The peace of the Lord be with you always.
And also with you.

Let us offer each other a sign of peace.

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Lord Jesus Christ,
who said to your Apostles:
Peace I leave you,
my peace I give you,
look not on our sins,
but on the faith of your Church,
and graciously grant her peace and unity
in accordance with your will.
Who live and reign for ever and ever.

The peace of the Lord be with you always.
And with your spirit.

Let us offer each other the sign of peace.

It is not enough that we pray that Christ "grant us the peace and unity of [his] kingdom," but that it be done "in accordance with [his] will" ("eámque secúndum voluntátem tuam ..."), and also in the context of where He lives and reigns ("qui vivis et regnas ..."), thus being more to our benefit.

Agnus Dei

The "Lamb of God" was introduced to the Roman Mass in the late seventh century by Pope Sergius. In its early form, the litany was repeated as many times as necessary until the fraction -- that is, the breaking of the bread -- was completed. Eventually it was reduced to being done only three times. In recent years, various settings of this litany have introduced other titles besides "Lamb of God" -- "Bread of Life," "Prince of Peace," and others with varying degrees of suitability -- to restore the lengthening of the Fraction, while allowing for the distribution of the Sacred Hosts and the Precious Blood into multiple receptacles. With the 2010 revision, and in reviewing the Mass settings already published for the revision, this practice appears to have fallen by the wayside. If that does not convince you, perhaps the also-newly-translated General Instruction of the Roman Missal will:

366. It is not permitted to substitute other chants for those found in the Order of Mass, for example, at the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).

Thus we have further cause for rejoicing.

The text itself (given the above, we mean the standard text) is not changed, but in the main body of the Order of Mass, the plainchant setting in English is from Mass XVIII (traditionally used on non-festal weekdays in Advent and Lent, included in the present day in the 1974 "Jubilate Deo" compilation of Pope Paul VI). It is accompanied in the text of the Missal by its Latin counterpart. There is also something else concerning the rendering of the English chant.

The treatment of “have mercy” adds a note not found in Latin in order to have correct stress on “mercy” rather than “have.”

This particular detail is a small matter, and yet we could write a separate chapter altogether, on how these texts are set to music, whether in plainchant or in contemporary style, as the more popular publishers of English-language Mass settings already have their goods on the market, well in advance of Advent. Many of these settings, even in their previous editions, betray a critical misunderstanding of the inherent meaning of the text itself. This is elaborated upon in great detail, in a paper written by Deacon Pat Cunningham, who provides a critical analysis of the "Mass of Renewal" composed by William Gokelman and David Kauffman. This setting won an award from the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM, or NAPALM) for "Best New Mass Setting." What follows is an excerpt of that analysis:

The Gloria is set in the key of D major, to a triple rhythm. In general, every word is given one note, usually an eighth note. The pulsating, Dionysian rhythm of the Gloria is dictated by the emphasized words:

Glo-ry to God in the high-est, (rest) and on earth peace to peo-ple of good will.

What we have here is, in miniature, the difficulty created when the rhythm of words, rather than their meaning, dictates the melody and rhythm of the music. In the Latin (which has an entirely different word order), there is a natural emphasis on the word “Deo–God” because it occurs at the end of the first line:

Gloria in excelsis Deo.

This means that “excelsis/highest” does not get an undue emphasis in the Latin. But when a triple meter is imposed on the English words, “high” has to be emphasized. Moreover, the words “earth” and “peace” are forced into rhythmic equality, and the connector word “of” is given an awkward, heavy stress by the character of the resulting rhythm-melody. Finally, the important words “Glory to God” are given much less prominence than the less important words “earth ... peace.”

Cunningham is not only giving his own opinion, but that of the Church through the Second Vatican Council (its substance, as opposed to its alleged "spirit"), not to mention more than one Pope. Those who care at all about the state of liturgical music in the Church today, owe it to themselves to read this carefully.

Invitation to Communion

We come to another part of the Order of Mass, where a revision of texts not only more faithfully translates the Latin, but more accurately conveys that which is taking place.

Ecce Agnus Dei,
ecce qui tollit
peccáta mundi.
Beáti qui ad cenam
Agni vocáti sunt.
Dómine, non sum dignus,
ut intres sub tectum meum,
sed tantum dic verbo
et sanábitur ánima mea.

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This is the Lamb of God
who takes away
the sins of the world.
Happy are those
who are called to his supper.
Lord, I am not worthy
to receive you,
but only say the word
and I shall be healed.

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Behold the Lamb of God,
behold him who takes away
the sins of the world.
Blessed are those
called to the supper of the Lamb.
Lord, I am not worthy
that you should enter under my roof,
but only say the word
and my soul shall be healed.


It is a proclamation, not just a statement of fact, reminiscent of John the Baptist seeing Christ at the Jordan for the first time (John 1:29).


Again, those who witness the Lamb of God are not merely in an emotional state of being "happy."

"The supper of the Lamb."

This description recalls the vision in the Book of Revelation (19:9). The response of the faithful not only conveys their own unworthiness, but echoes the same on the part of the centurion with the dying servant (Matt 8:8). The one who receives the Sacrament begs not merely for his own healing, but specifically that of his immortal soul, his very being, transcending the limits of this earthly existence.

Communion Chant

From the rubrics for the Order of Mass:

136. While the Priest is receiving the Body of Christ, the Communion Chant begins.

From the General Instruction of the Roman Missal:

86. While the Priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion Chant is begun, its purpose being to express the spiritual union of the communicants by means of the unity of their voices, to show gladness of heart, and to bring out more clearly the “communitarian” character of the procession to receive the Eucharist. The singing is prolonged for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful. However, if there is to be a hymn after Communion, the Communion Chant should be ended in a timely manner.

Notice the distinction between the "Communion Chant" and the "hymn."

It could not be clearer that there are official musical selections which are preferred, if out prescribed, for certain parts of the Mass, selections which vary according to the Mass of the day or the occasion. This is a change that could require most adjustment than merely learning a new set of words, and yet it is one that receives so little attention. But there it is.

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In our next installment, we will review the Concluding Rites of the Mass, and whatever changes are to be made therein.

NOTA BENE: We would especially like to give a Tip of the Black Hat to readers of the "Catholic News" site published by Sara G N Kerr. We've got the whole series, right here, including material you will find nowhere else in the Catholic blogosphere.

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