30 June 2011

Bravo! Blessed John Henry Newman Institute of Liturgical Music

Very good news from the Birmingham Oratory webiste:

Archbishop Longley seems to understand the importance of Church Music
"The first task of the new Institute of Liturgical Music will be to introduce the singing of the texts of the new ICEL translation of the Missal, and of the Graduale Parvum, in both Latin and English, to clergy and laity alike, as part of the general renewal of liturgy which is the major desideratum of the inauguration of the new English translation of the Missal. The Institute will be launched at the Birmingham Oratory by Archbishop Longley of Birmingham on Saturday September 17th, the first anniversary of Cardinal Newman's beatification. The principal event of the launch will be the 11 a.m. Mass, which has become the weekly Pilgrimage Mass to the Shrine and Church of Blessed John Henry Newman since his beatification. This Mass, celebrated by the Archbishop, will also provide a showcase for the Graduale Parvum.

Sessions of the Institute will take place, at least during the first year of its life, either as day-courses held for laity on Saturdays, or as evening classes for the clergy, at the Oratory in Birmingham. It is hoped that as the Institute develops, it will become possible to extend the courses to residential weeks at other locations and study days for those who live too far to reach Birmingham for a day. However, during the first term leading towards Advent and the inauguration of the new ICEL translation of the Missal, courses will be taught in the performance of the chants of the new missal and of the Graduale Parvum in Latin and English, so that clergy, cantors, choirs and congregations may all be able to sing those parts of the Mass contained in the Missal and the Gradual.

The work of the Institute will be directed not only towards the needs of clergy and laity alike, but also to all persons, skilled or unskilled, according to their needs and capacities, who are interested in learning about sacred liturgical music, from a practical and historical point of view. The principal aim of the Institute is in any case the enhancement of the Liturgy in English Parish Churches on Sundays and holydays. Therefore, although the Institute will not be restricted to dealing only with the Ordinary form of the Roman Rite, this will be the principal focus of its work, since it is intended to address the needs of the average parish. There will of course be some guidance on singing the Extraordinary Form of Mass for those who wish it, though since there are several fora designed to assist those who sing the Extraordinary Form already in existence, the Institute will concentrate its efforts mainly on that Form of the Mass which most people are likely to experience in their own churches."

29 June 2011

God in a bag, or street worship of the Blessed Sacrament.

On 2nd June, two Franciscan Capuchins held a Eucharistic Adoration Flash Mob in front of a busy mall in Preston, UK. They read out a powerful list of Jesus's atttributes in each book of the Bible and then call passers-by to "Come and Kneel Before Him Now". And slowly, one by one, they do. Then they begin to clap before him. If you have not seen this, prepare yourself.

There's lots of stuff to say about what these Capuchins did, and perhaps the local bishop has already said it. If he hasn't, then he should now.

16 June 2011

Pope Benedict on Sacred Music

The Vatican's translations of some of the Pope's speeches and letters are a long time in coming and sometimes it's easy to miss them. This one on the 100th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music is important.


To my Venerable Brother
Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski
Grand Chancellor
of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music

One hundred years have passed since my holy Predecessor Pius X founded the School of Sacred Music, which Pope Pius XI raised to the rank of “Pontifical Institute” 20 years later. This important anniversary is a cause for joy to all enthusiasts of sacred music, but more generally for those, starting of course with Pastors of the Church, who have at heart the dignity of the liturgy, of which sacred song is an integral part (cf. Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 112). I am therefore particularly pleased to express my warm congratulations for this activity and to convey my cordial good wishes to you, Venerable Brother, to the President and to the entire community of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music.

This Institute, which is dependent on the Holy See, is part of the unique academic situation established by the Pontifical Universities in Rome. It is also linked in a special way to the Athenaeum of Sant’Anselmo and to the Benedictine Order, as is also demonstrated by the fact that since 1983 the school has been based at the Abbey of San Girolamo in Urbe, while the legal and historical headquarters are still at Sant’Apollinare.

On the occasion of this centenary my thoughts go to all those — and the Lord alone knows perfectly who they are — who have in any way cooperated with the activity of what was first the “School of Sacred Music” and later the “Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music”: from the successive superiors who guided it, to the distinguished faculty members and the generations of students. Thanksgiving to God, for the many gifts granted, goes hand in hand with gratitude for all that each one of them has given to the Church by cultivating the art of music at the service of divine worship.

To have a clear grasp of the identity and role of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, it is necessary to remember that Pope St Pius X founded this Institute eight years after issuing the Motu Proprio Tra le Sollecitudini, 22 November 1903, with which he brought about a profound reform in the field of sacred music, restoring the great tradition of the Church to counter the influence of profane music, especially light opera. In order to put this magisterial intervention into practice in the universal Church, a study and teaching centre was required that would pass on faithfully and competently the guidelines pointed out by the Supreme Pontiff, in accordance with the authentic and glorious tradition that dates back to St Gregory the Great.

In the span of the past century this Institution therefore assimilated, elaborated and passed down the doctrinal and pastoral content of Papal Documents and those of the Second Vatican Council Documents on sacred music so that it might illuminate and guide the work of composers, choir masters, liturgists, musicians and all formation teachers in this field.

I would also like to highlight one fundamental aspect of this which is particularly dear to me: namely, that since the time of St Pius X to this day the essential continuity of the Magisterium on sacred music, with its natural development, has been found in the liturgy.

The Pontiffs Paul VI and John Paul II in particular wished to reaffirm the aim of sacred music in the light of the conciliar Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium: in other words: “the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful” (n. 112), as well as the fundamental criteria of tradition; I limit myself to recalling: the sense of prayer, of dignity and of beauty; full adherence to the texts and to the liturgical gestures; the involvement of the assembly, hence a legitimate adaptation to the local culture while preserving at the same time the universality of the language; the primacy of Gregorian chant as a supreme model of sacred music and the wise use of other modes of expression that are part of the Church’s historical and liturgical patrimony, especially, but not only polyphony; the importance of the schola cantorum, particularly in cathedral churches. Today too these are important criteria which should be taken into careful consideration.

Sometimes, in fact, these elements that are found in Sacrosanctum Concilium, such as, precisely, the value of the great ecclesial patrimony of sacred music or the universality that is characteristic of Gregorian chant, have been held to express a concept which corresponds with a past that needs to be superseded and set aside because it is supposed to limit the freedom and creativity of the individual and of communities. Yet we must always ask ourselves anew: who or what is the authentic subject of the liturgy? The answer is simple: the Church. It is not the individual person or group which is celebrating the liturgy, but is first and foremost God’s action through the Church which has her own history, her rich tradition and her creativity.

The liturgy, and consequently sacred music, “lives on a correct and constant relationship between healthy traditio and legitima progressio”, keeping constantly in mind the fact that these two concepts — which the Council Fathers clearly underlined — merge since “tradition is a living reality, which therefore includes in itself the principle of development, of progress” (Address to the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of the Athenaeum of Saint'Anselmo, 6 May 2011). 

All this, Venerable Brother, forms so to speak the “daily bread” of life and work at the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music. On the basis of these sound and reliable elements, to which may now be added a century of experience, I encourage you to continue with a fresh impetus and commitment your service in the professional training of students to ensure that they acquire serious and profound competence in the various disciplines of sacred music.

This Pontifical Institute will thus continue to make a valid contribution to the formation in this field of pastors and of lay faithful in the various particular Churches. It will also encourage a satisfactory discernment of the quality of the musical compositions used in liturgical celebrations. For this important objective you may count on my constant concern, accompanied by my special remembrance in prayer, which I entrust to the heavenly intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Cecilia, while, as I wish your centenary celebrations every success, I cordially impart to you, to the President, to the Teachers, to the Staff and to all the students of the Institute a special Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, 13 May 2011


12 June 2011

The state of modern Catholic liturgy

From a recent Ordinariate ordination Mass
at Westminster Cathedral.


10 June 2011

7 June 2011

Letters from a 77 year-old Archbishop

Archbishop Conti of Glasgow's time is running out. He's more than two years past the age for offering his resignation and it won't be long before his ability to write letters to his clergy will once and for all be a thing of the past.

That will be a very good thing because, as Damian Thompson pointed out in 2007 and recently, Archbishop Conti has written letters about the traditional rites that are a pastoral disgrace and a travesty when compared to the spirit and letter of Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae.

Perhaps the good Archbishop is worried that unless he stamps out interest in the old liturgy before he retires, it might survive him? Perhaps he is worried that the modern rites he is so personally attached to might not hold their own if people are allowed to experience the older ones freely?

If so Your Excellency, the Pimpernel agrees. You are right to be worried. He also wishes you a happy retirement. Soon.

6 June 2011

Is this book authorised for liturgical use?

There seems to be a lot of excitement abroad about Biretta Books' newly published Canticum Clericorum Romanorum which contains the Epistles, Gospels and orations for Sundays and major feasts in chant notation. What has appeared is volume I. Details of "further volumes" seem a bit unclear.

Sure, this is a good new resource. Those responsible have produced a useful and very good looking book.

It might have been a good idea to think a bit more before publishing it though. After all, it is a bit hard to give the subdeacon the book containing the Epistle during the conclusion of the collect when the celebrant is singing the collect from the book containing the Epistle. Or is that why there is a discount for two copies? But buying two copies of this and of the "addtional volumes to be released" might get a little expensive.

No, Biretta Books would have done better to put all the orations in one volume and all the Epistles and Gospels in another. Maybe they would have had to wait a little longer, but the result would have been better, and less expensive.

It might also have been useful for them to have checked the Code of Canon Law. You can't just publish a book for liturgical use without auhorisation. Whose authorisation is needed is a good question: probably that of the Ecclesia Dei Commission. So where is the book's authorisation, its imprimatur or concordat cum originali or whatever the relevent approbation is? Seems as if Biretta Books was in a bit too much of a hurry to publish to follow proper procedure.

Without authorisation, folks, Canticum Clericorum Romanorum probably ain't allowed for liturgical use. Better save your money until they've put all the orations and Epistles and Gospels into sensible volumes, and submitted them for approval. Let's hope they do this quickly. Then they will have done something great in honour of the Sacred Liturgy.

5 June 2011

A sloppy welcome

This is a picture from yesterday's ordination of priests for the English Ordinariate at Southwark Cathedral. There are more here. It is a pity that the Archbishop and his MC can't get the details of the modern rite of ordination right, and that those in the choir aren't interested anyway. The poor ordinands. They deserve better.

4 June 2011

There's disobedience and disobedience.

Over at Pray Tell there asking "Is this prelate disobeying the pope?" They seem to have picked up on an article which asks "Is this prelate disobeying a pope?" Note the difference.

Anyway, the folks at Pray Tell are getting all excited about the galero sported by this prelate earlier in the year. Go enjoy the comments on their post. Nice to see them taking rules about ecclesiastical dress so seriously at last.

As for the prelate concerned, maybe the galero isn't strictly permitted now. Maybe he was breaking a rule. Maybe he was making a prophetic gesture. Maybe he was humbly accepting a gift and showing good manners. Pray Tell doesn't seem to know.

If he was in the wrong, he's not the only prelate to disobey dress rules. Perhaps Pray Tell would like to examine the dress of this prelate and compare it to the rules published by the popes. They could even have a bit of a look at the other rules he has broken and see if there's a more substantial post they could put up. They could title it "This prelate is disobeying the pope".

Folks, there is disobedience and there is disobedience.