Articles on this Page
- 11/28/16--20:57: _Forthcoming Issue o...
- 11/29/16--05:00: _The Scandal of the ...
- 11/29/16--09:00: _EF Sung Mass for Im...
- 11/29/16--21:22: _Fostering Young Voc...
- 11/30/16--09:48: _Melkite Liturgy on ...
- 11/30/16--12:46: _The Relics of St An...
- 11/30/16--21:48: _Wonderful New Icons...
- 12/01/16--05:00: _Solemn High Mass wi...
- 12/01/16--22:10: _“Fisher of Men” - A...
- 12/02/16--05:00: _Book Notice: St. Th...
- 12/02/16--22:14: _A First Mass in Ire...
- 12/03/16--22:36: _Ad Orientem - How’s...
- 12/05/16--12:29: _Catholic Artist Soc...
- 12/05/16--07:17: _Where Can “Mutual E...
- 12/06/16--05:00: _EF Mass and '24 Hou...
- 12/06/16--09:00: _Please! A Simple Ve...
- 12/06/16--23:10: _Video of the Instal...
- 12/07/16--05:00: _Art Commentaries an...
- 12/07/16--09:00: _Immaculate Concepti...
- 12/07/16--13:00: _Photopost Request :...
- 11/28/16--20:57: Forthcoming Issue of Sacred Music
- 11/29/16--05:00: The Scandal of the Missing Haloes! A Case of Chronic Halo-tosis?
- 11/29/16--09:00: EF Sung Mass for Immaculate Conception in British Columbia
- 11/29/16--21:22: Fostering Young Vocations (Part 4)
- 11/30/16--09:48: Melkite Liturgy on Campus of UC Berkeley, This Saturday 5pm
- 11/30/16--12:46: The Relics of St Andrew
- 11/30/16--21:48: Wonderful New Icons by Maxim Sheshukov
- 12/01/16--22:10: “Fisher of Men” - A Paulist Vocation Video from the 1960s
- 12/02/16--05:00: Book Notice: St. Thomas Aquinas's Commentary on Job
- 12/02/16--22:14: A First Mass in Ireland
- 12/03/16--22:36: Ad Orientem - How’s It Going?
- 12/05/16--07:17: Where Can “Mutual Enrichment” Really Take Us?
- 12/06/16--23:10: Video of the Installation of a Boy-Bishop
- 12/07/16--09:00: Immaculate Conception Mass Announcements: Palo Alto and Philadelphia
- 12/07/16--13:00: Photopost Request : Immaculate Conception 2016
Sacred Music vol. 143 no. 3 will soon be arriving in mailboxes. The articles contained therein are:
Melisma by William Mahrt
Shunning the Hermeneutic of Discontinuity and Rupture: Richard Joseph Schuler as Liturgist by Duane L.C.M. Galles
A Commentary on the Traditional Proper Chants of Holy Thursday by Ted Krasnicki
Sacred Choral Works by Peter Kwasniewski by SusanTreacy
Observant readers will have noticed that in a recent post, I showed an icon of the Transfiguration in which the three Apostles do not have haloes, both as they are led up to and down from the mountain.
This puzzled me. Just when you think you might have a consistent picture of what went on you always find an anomaly. I was under the impression that Saints are always shown with a halo, even in scenes which portray a moment in history before they are fully united with God in heaven. This is the heavenly reality, which touches all of time, bursting through on the historical reality.
But there is something else to be taken into consideration. We become saints - sons and daughters of God who partake of the divine nature - in baptism. It is the action of the Holy Spirit that effects this, and for the Apostles this did not occur until Pentecost. So it makes sense for images of them in the time before Pentecost to be without haloes.
The icon above is Russian, written in the 15th century; the one below is a 12th century icon from Mount Sinai.
So I started to look at more icons of the Transfiguration, and found that this was not unusual. Although sometimes they are portrayed with halos, more often they were not. Then I noticed that the same was true for icons of the last supper. Although some have them, many do not, many do not.
The same is true for the Apostles’ Communion.
This would be consistent with the fact that in this 6th century mosaic of the Calling of the Apostles at St Apollinare in Ravenna, the two Apostles do not have halos either.
So what should we do today? I am considering this in the context of the new School of St Albans style, which is Gothic. To my knowledge there is no contemporary account to explain precisely why the artists omitted the halos. Also, this was not a universal rule; there are exceptions. We can only surmise why some might have done it, and then decide what we think is best for artists today. It is perhaps this latter point that is the most important.
I go with Ouspensky et al., who set out the principle, as articulated by Aidan Hart, the English iconographer, when I asked him about this:
As a rule the Apostles don’t have halos for events before Pentecost, although there are sometimes exceptions. The three disciples saw the uncreated light at the Transfiguration, but as the liturgical texts say, only “inasmuch as they could bear it.”
Most icons make a point of how unprepared they were for this event by showing them falling over backwards. They were not capable, before the Lord’s death and Resurrection, and Pentocest, of receiving the light of the Holy Spirit into themselves.
They were not yet sons of God, since they had not yet received the Spirit of adoption: “...you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ It is the Spirit Himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God…” (Romans 8,15-16)
This is to be contrasted with icons of Pentecost, where the Apostles are seated peacefully, and have halos: now they not only see the glory of God, but receive the Holy Spirit into themselves.
An Outreach Divine Liturgy is the first stage towards the establishment of a weekly mission. Please pray for this endeavor, and if you are able to, make plans to attend. Dinner will be provided afterwards.
I shall be attending myself, and we would love to see you there, especially any UC Berkeley students and professors!
St Andrew is traditionally said to have died in the city of Patras on the northwestern coast of the Peloponnese, which was usually called “the Morea” in the Middle Ages. In 357, under the Emperor Constantius, his relics were brought to Constantinople, and remained there until the city was sacked during the Fourth Crusade, when they were brought to the Italian city of Amalphi; his head, however, had remained at Patras.
(Each year, for the feast of St Andrew, the reliquary kept in the crypt of the Duomo of Amalphi is taken out for a long procession though the city, and then returned to the church in a rather remarkable fashion, as seen in this video.)
In the later years of the Byzantine Empire, the Peloponnese was made into its own principality within the Empire, ruled by relatives of the Emperor, and called the “Despotate of the Morea.” (“Despotes” in Greek simply means “prince.”) The last two princes, Demetrius and Thomas, were the brothers of Constantine XII, under whom the Great City fell to the Turks in 1453. The Morea, however, was not immediately invaded, and the despotate continued to exist for seven years afterwards. Partly as a gesture to gain the Latin Church’s support for a new Crusade to drive the Turks out of Greece and the Balkans, partly to prevent the relic of the Apostle’s head from being destroyed in the by-then inevitable invasion, the despot Thomas decided to consign it to Pope Pius II.
Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini was known as one of the great men of letters of the Italian Renaissance, although much of his writing as a layman, and most of his personal life, would hardly suggest a man fit for the clerical state, much less the Papacy. However, after years of involvement with important matters of both Church and State, he underwent a profound moral conversion; after receiving the subdeaconate in 1446, he was made a bishop about a year later, a cardinal by 1456, and elected Pope in 1458. His papal name “Pius” was chosen as partly in reference to his secular name “Aeneas”, since Virgil constantly calls the hero of his Aeneid “pius Aeneas.”
Under the heading of the first two meanings, “pious and devout”, Pope Pius devoted several pages of his autobiography to the events surrounding the reception of St Andrews’ head. After the despot Thomas had rescued the head from Patras, he brought it to Ancona, a major Italian port on the Adriatic, protected by its presence from severe storms during the crossing. Pius’ legate was sent to examine it, and declared it authentic, after which it was brought to the city of Narni, and left there for a time on account of political and military disturbances then flaring up in Italy. When these had died down, preparation was made for it come to Rome; the Pope had thought to go meet it by bringing with him the heads of Ss Peter and Paul which were kept in the Lateran, but gave up on this idea because the reliquary in which they were enclosed was too heavy to conveniently move.
|The high altar of St John in the Lateran; in the enclosed area above may be seen the reliquary containing the skulls of Ss Peter and Paul. (These are not the reliquaries which Pope Pius II found too heavy to move, which were likely destroyed during the sack of Rome in 1527, but later replacements. Image from Wikipedia.)|
“Thou hast finally come, most sacred and adored head of the Apostle! The furor of the Turks has driven thee from thy place; thou hast fled as an exile to thy brother. … This is kindly Rome, which thou seest nearby, dedicated by thy brother’s precious blood; the blessed Apostle Peter, thy most holy brother, and with him the vessel of election, St Paul, begot unto Christ the Lord this people which stands here. Thy nephews, all the Romans, venerate, honor and respect thee as their uncle and father, and doubt not of thy patronage in the sight of God. O most blessed Apostle Andrew, preacher of the truth, and outstanding asserter of the Trinity! With what joy dost thou fill us today, as we see before us thy sacred and venerable head, that was worthy to have the Holy Paraclete descend upon it visibly under the appearance of fire on the day of Pentecost! … These were the eyes that often saw the Lord in the flesh, this the mouth that often spoke to Christ! …
We are glad, we rejoice, we exult at thy coming, o most divine Apostle Andrew! … Enter the holy city, and be merciful to the Roman people! May thy coming bring salvation to all Christians, may thy entrance be peaceable, thy stay among us happy and favorable! Be thou our advocate in heaven, and together with the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, preserve this city, and in thy devotion take care for all the Christian people, that by thy prayers, the mercy of God may come upon us.”
The Pope then lifted up the head for all to see, and the entire crowd knelt, most of them already moved to tears by the Pope’s oration. The relic was brought to the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, just inside the gates of Rome; from there, it was carried on Holy Wednesday under a golden processional canopy through the streets of the Eternal City to St Peter’s Basilica, accompanied by thousands of Romans and pilgrims.
Less than 50 years later, Pope Julius II would begin the process of tearing down the ancient basilica of the Vatican, which was then close to twelve centuries old, and in several places on the point of collapsing under the weight of its own ceiling. The new basilica, not the work of Pope Julius’ original architect, but of the genius of Michangelo, is centered upon a massive elevated dome, directly over St Peter’s tomb. The base is pierced with enormous windows to show us that St Peter is God’s privileged instrument, who opens for us the doors of Heaven with the keys which Christ gave him, and that it is through Peter that God brings us up to Himself. The four enormous pillars which support the dome are each dedicated to one of the church’s major relics, among them the head of St Andrew, which was kept in a room behind the balcony seen here above François Duquesnoy’s statue of the Apostle. (In 1966, this relic was returned to the custody of the Orthodox Church in the city of Patras.)
|The pillar of St Andrew in St Peter’s Basilica. (Image from Wikipedia)|
Here is a modern style that works within the icongraphic prototype. I notice that he does not feel compelled to follow one of the 'rules' of iconography. When I first started to paint icons was told that the background had to be gold, or painted gold (a mixture of white and yellow ochre) or cinnabar, a bright red that denotes the presence of the Holy Spirit. This rule seems to have fallen by the wayside now and as long as there is no illusion of depth created, it seems just about any background color will do.
Without further comment I'll let you enjoy them...
Zacheus climbing the sycamore tree.
The stoning of St Stephen
St Ephrosynos the Cook
The Sacrifice of Isaac
The betrayal of Christ
St Joseph the Betrothed Dreaming
The Martyrdom of St Ignatios the God-bearer
Fr. Martin preached a rousing homily on how the words of Our Lord calling St. Andrew to drop everything and follow Him were not just spoken 2,000 years ago, but are spoken to us every time this Gospel is proclaimed in the liturgical action. Our Lord is calling young men and women in this very church to follow Him in a life of radical dedication, even a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience for the Kingdom of heaven.
Later in the afternoon, the monks led second Vespers for the feast, and met with men at the College who are discerning religious life.
We were delighted to have Fr. Benedict and Fr. Martin on campus (it was the third time monks of Norcia have come!) and we hope to welcome them or any of their confreres back again whenever they are next traveling anywhere near the Cowboy State.
Back in November 2013, I offered NLM readers an update on the progress of the Aquinas Institute's massive project of producing a first-ever complete bilingual (Latin/English) hardcover edition of the OPERA OMNIA of St. Thomas Aquinas. At that time, I noted that we had published 17 volumes out of a projected 57 volumes (see here for a complete listing of the contents of each volume), and all of these, of course, are still in print: Summa theologiae(8 volumes), Commentaries on the Letters of Paul(5 volumes), the Commentaries on Matthew and John (4 volumes; also available separately).
The good news, and the main reason for this post, is to announce the publication of another volume in the series, namely, St. Thomas's majestic Commentary on the Book of Job. The Aquinas Institute's policy with respect to scriptural commentaries is always to include a critical edition of the biblical text in Greek (either Septuagint or NT), the Latin Vulgate, and the English Douay-Rheims. The translator, Fr. Brian Thomas Becket Mullady, OP, has also contributed a fine introduction.
It is commonly said that Thomas Aquinas wrote commentaries on Scripture. But the claim is liable to misunderstanding: in our day, biblical scholars write commentaries on Scripture while theologians write monographs about theology. St. Thomas would have found this division of labor interesting in theory but odd in practice, because his job as a medieval university master was to teach theology to the most advanced students by lecturing on a book of the Bible. He lectured on Scripture in class, wrote theological treatises at home, and did theology all the time.The Commentary on Job is available from Amazon.
When St. Thomas was named lector for the priory at Orvieto, he was expected to expound a book of Scripture for the brethren. He had already begun work on Book III of the Summa contra gentiles, on divine providence, so to keep his work focused he looked for a book of Scripture that would allow him to lecture on divine providence. Where to turn?
His clue came from Maimonides, who devoted two chapters of his Guide of the Perplexed to the book of Job. According to this venerable Jewish teacher, Job was written to explain the various opinions people hold about divine providence. Literal exposition of the book of Job was rare in the Christian tradition, but St. Thomas saw this as an opportunity to fill a gap. And so he set out to teach his fellow Dominicans about divine providence via the book of Job, declaring that “The whole intention of this book is directed to this: to show that human affairs are ruled by divine providence using probable arguments.”
For today’s students of St. Thomas, this was a stroke of luck. Everyone knows that the artist flourishes under constraint: the poet’s creativity is unlocked, not diminished, by a rigid sonnet structure; the architect’s brilliance emerges especially under the demands of an unusual terrain; the painter’s genius rises to the challenge of a fresco where ceiling and walls dictate the contours. The same is true of a theologian. It is one thing to compose a treatise on divine providence in the open spaces of unshackled speculative reason; it is quite another thing to teach about divine providence through respectful engagement with the complicated, pungent, and often obscure poetry of Job.
The result is one of St. Thomas’s most lyrical works, a book Jean-Pierre Torrell describes as “beautiful.” The dramatic situation and the nooks and crannies of the poetry elicit insights from St. Thomas that might never have come up any other way.
Anyway, it seems like a good idea to see how things are going with Cardinal Sarah’s call to return to what should, of course, be the norm for Catholic worship, turning to the Lord when addressing the Lord. So I’d like to ask our readers, clerical and lay, to report in the combox of this post their experiences from those places where ad orientem worship has been instituted, even if only ad experimentum. We will be happy to publish photos, which you can submit to our usual photopost address: firstname.lastname@example.org. (We can safely assume that Fr X is not the only priest receiving push-back on this, so if you have any reason to think that your local priest may be put in difficulties, please ask him before commenting or sending in pictures.)
|Novus Ordo Mass celebrated ad orientem at the church of the Sacred Heart in Clifton, New Jersey: from this year’s All Souls photopost.|
I want to encourage anyone who is interested in the general formation of Catholics, not just Catholic artists, to go to this talk. The title is Sacred Liturgy as Primary Source for the Artist’s Imagination. (Unfortunately, I cannot get there myself.)
This is a topic that is close to my heart. A lot of painters come to me asking about how they can get a formation as a painter. I always say that the most important thing is the worship of God in the sacred liturgy. That is not to rule out other aspects of an artist’s training, of course, but without a connection to the primary source, the artist is cutting himself off from the main font of inspiration that is available to him to direct his brush on the canvas, and to the wisdom that will guide him in the choices he makes in his own formation.
It is a topic that also comes up in discussions about education in general. Some people who favor a “great books” education seem to forget, it often seems to me, that the worthy books that are studied are the result of inspiration. In that sense they are secondary sources. The goal of studying them is to give students both an appreciation of their content, and an understanding that such wonderful works emanate from a source of inspiration, a source which, as Catholics, they have access to in ways that sometimes was not open to the original authors of the books themselves. This should, in my opinion, inspire us to look at these works and think that we could not merely equal, but even surpass them. The person who is satisfied in the study of such works of the past, and does not see them as pointing to something greater, the worship of God in the liturgy, is like the one who savors the smell of the meal but never actually eats. A Catholic inculturation, therefore, does not necessarily require a student to be immersed in the full range of the canon of great books; it can be sufficient to grasp the point that the liturgy is the wellspring of creativity, the place of the universal Christian culture.
(I pass over another point that arises from this discussion of a great books education, namely, the prejudice of many academics who have a book-based education against art and music as essential elements of education. There is a feeling that the study of these “lesser” disciplines is more recreational than transformational. But as an artist, I suppose I would think that, wouldn’t I!?)
I know no more about what Jennifer is going to say than the title, but these are the thoughts that cross my mind as I ponder over this extremely important topic. Please go if you can.
Imagine this scenario: say you have a community, half of which attends a feisty charismatic Novus Ordo and the other half a whispered Latin Low Mass. Both celebrations are permitted by the Church. The charismatics are probably going to be thinking: “We’re the ones who are really open to the working of the Holy Spirit, and we show it in the way we praise God with hands and voices. Those Catholics who just kneel quietly at a Latin Mass while the priest does everything — they’re sure missing out!” The Latin Mass-goers are probably going to be thinking: “This is the way that countless men and women were sanctified for centuries; this is an intimate encounter with Our Lord in His Passion and in the mystery of the Eucharist. Here I have a vivid sense of the Presence of God, and it keeps me going throughout the day or the week. It’s so sad to think of how the charismatics are stuck at the level of their emotions and don’t reach this deeper experience!”
Neither way of thinking is completely correct; each verges on caricature. A charismatic may enter into the Holy Sacrifice and the silent glory of the Eucharistic Lord; a traditionalist may sing the Gloria vigorously and fervently beseech the Holy Spirit. But, humanly speaking, do we not see that these groups, having made choices that tend in opposite directions, stand in judgment over one another? Is it possible for the one group not to think that what they are doing is better than what the other group is doing — and so much better that, in an ideal world, the other group wouldn’t exist? No, it is not possible; for otherwise they would not be doing what they think is better. This is why a “chant-crazed Latin-loving charismatic guitarist/vocalist” is about as rare as a functional democracy.
In much the same way, the majestic cathedrals of the Age of Faith stand in judgment over the sterile modernist churches of Corbusier and his imitators; the great paintings and sculptures that cover the Christian world stand in judgment over cubist hulks and felt banners; the soaring melodies of Gregorian chant and the mystic harmonies of polyphony stand in judgment over the worldly sentimentalism of contemporary church music; vestments of silk brocade and lace albs stand in judgment over polyester drapes and velcro-albs; ornate bejewelled gold chalices and patens stand in judgment over clumsy faux-Franciscan cups and plates. It is not possible for such things merely to “co-exist,” let alone to complement one another. They are antagonists in a duel for the face of the Church and the soul of the people. A church looks like this or that; the people are this or that. We are dealing not with the Catholic “both-and” but with the metaphysical “either/or.”
Pope Benedict XVI arranged that the Novus Ordo and the usus antiquior should co-exist in order that “mutual enrichment” might occur — presumably a sort of cross-pollination of the one by the other. If one looks at Ratzinger’s papal example and reads his works, and if one looks to such figures as Cardinal Ranjith, Cardinal Canizares, Cardinal Burke, and now Cardinal Sarah, it seems that 90% of the enrichment will go in one direction, namely, from the usus antiquior to the Novus Ordo, since the former possesses great riches of which the latter stands in desperate need. It is like St. Martin of Tours cutting off a piece of his ample cloak to cover a naked shivering beggar. As for the 10% where the older form could learn from the younger one, we may safely say it concerns just the sort of things that would have happened slowly, were it not for the bungling of a certain committee.
All this being the case, the result is plain: while the Novus Ordo and the usus antiquior are currently co-existing, they are a challenge to one another, and they could not not be. If the Novus Ordo world does not learn to assimilate the lessons that the usus antiquior can teach it, we are on a crash course to Armageddon. Either the philosophy of Summorum Pontificum will bridge the enormous abyss between the two forms by bringing the modern Roman Rite into a more obvious harmony with the preceding liturgical heritage, or we will see over time a dramatic intensification of our internecine conflicts. I say this not in a pessimistic spirit but as one who believes that having two supposedly equal forms of the same rite is a recipe for radical instability UNLESS there can be a genuine and profound rapprochement between these forms. And we can be certain this will never happen by the older form becoming hip, trendy, and modish, swapping Gregorian for guitars. It will happen instead when the modern form relinquishes its counterfactual claim to be “just what the doctor ordered.”
As with everyone else who ponders such questions, I have no idea what the long-term results will look like. Will there still be a Novus Ordo or an usus antiquior a century hence? Will there be a hybrid? If mutual enrichment actually occurs, will we see one or the other form fall away as dead weight, so that the sanity of a common worship may be restored to the Roman Church? God alone knows.
Meanwhile, it is our task to appreciate and live by the immense riches of our liturgical heritage and to share them with others while we await better, happier, more peaceful days. Like the joy of the Lord, this treasure is one that no man on earth can take away from us, because it belongs to Christ and His Church as a permanent endowment.
 Before someone thinks it needs to be pointed out, I am of course aware that Eastern Christians receive the Lord standing. However, first of all, this was their long-standing custom, as kneeling was ours, and if they should keep their custom, we should keep ours. Second and more importantly, outside a concentration camp emergency, they would not dream of having lay people administer holy communion; I think they would rather die a thousand deaths. Third, the layman never handles the sacred vessels, for the handling of which the priest’s hands have been anointed. Communion is by intinction. Fourth, the layman receives tilting his head back like a baby bird, with a red cloth beneath his chin, and the priest standing above him, as is fitting to his hierarchical position. All in all, the traditional Eastern practice and the contemporary Western practice have practically nothing in common.
Following the Holy Father’ call for a such an event during Lent of this past year, St Stephen’s parish held one which was quite successful; Shawn Natola from the parish tells me that “many of the parishioners were so inspired by this that we have asked for another 24 Hours for the Lord.”
Can you produce a version that can be reduced to a short booklet containing the Psalter and the unchanging prayers? If, in addition to that, we can find a way for the changing parts to be supplied by smart phone, then I think that you will have something that will really catch on. It will be simple to use and cheap.
If the Ordinariate would produce something like this, then I for one would use it and promote it tirelessly. I know of several others who would be just as enthusiastic to see such a thing. Furthermore, I am ready to create online courses at Pontifex University that teach the singing of the Office in the home, and this would be my preferred option to recommend to families and lay people.
The Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham is wonderful, but complicated to use, and I’m never quite sure if I am getting right those parts proper to the day - and I am reasonable adept at breviary navigation. I have spoken to a number of lay people who bought it and gave up. It would works well for religious and those especially devoted to the Office, who are likely to take the time to figure out what to say.
I am a great fan of the Divine Office as given to us by the Ordinariate, because I think that it gives lay people a greater possibility to take up the praying of the Office. It offers the chance of praying the full Psalter (i.e. no missing cursing psalms) in English, in a translation that is both poetic and accessible. I have written about this in previous articles, such as this one here: The Anglican Ordinariate Divine Office - A Wonderful Gift for Lay People and a Source of Hope for the Transformation of Western Culture. (And incidentally, if you think I was resorting to hyperbole in the title of that article, I wasn’t. I really to do believe that it has this potential.)
Looking at the general guide for Morning and Evening Prayer for the Personal Ordinariates, which constitutes a recitation of the full Office, and drawing on its application in the Customary, I think that I can get the psalms for the day and all that is specified in the table below, which comes from the St Dunstan’s Psalter. I would prefer to be using something similar that came with an endorsement from the Ordinariate.
What is missing in the St Dunstan’s Psalter are the readings and collect for the day. I can get most of this from Universalis.com via my smart phone. The morning readings are the same as those that are in the Office of Readings. What I don’t have is a readily accessible source for the Old and New Testament Lessons for Evening Prayer according to an established lectionary - can anyone tell me a website or other source where I might get this easily?
Although the hymn is not mandatory, if I want to use a traditional Office hymn for the day I always go to the Illuminare Publications hymnal.
Every psalm tone can be applied to any psalm. That means that for people who are just learning, all they need to know is one psalm tone and they can sing the whole Psalter. If they gradually learn two, three or more psalm tones, then they can use those too, and it will quickly become interesting enough for them to be likely to keep doing it. In this system, people can learn many tones and still use this Psalter - i.e, it allows for those with the knowledge of just one tone or those who wish to use 120 tones to have the same Psalter. Also, if this pointing method becomes standard, then many people will start to compose, and as new and better tones are developed, they can easily be adopted. This allows for the possibility of chant for the vernacular as a living tradition which steadily improves and develops. and really starts to connect with people.
When I sing tones to the St Dunstan’s Psalter, I ignore the pointing and the tones they give, and I have pointed the text myself according to this method, and then I sing tones developed as above. This allows me to teach people to sing it very quickly, and I have a regular men’s group consisting mostly of people who have never sung the Office before, who are now enthusiastically singing it each Wednesday evening!
This would be in contrast to nearly every other Psalter that I have seen, (e.g. the Mundelein Psalter) in which even if there is some accommodation for singing, the psalms are pointed to fit a particular melody. The disadvantage of this is that unless you know every tone already, or are musically literate enough to be able to sight read chant, you cannot sing the whole Psalter. Beginners tend not to persevere. At the other end of the spectrum, those who are experienced with chant find it too dull. There are only eight or so tones, and this becomes boring very quickly. Furthermore, there is no scope for development of new tones that can be used with this Psalter, as every psalm is pointed to fit a particular melody. The result is that you use their tones or nothing, and if you don’t like them, you’re stuck with them.
FYI: The first week of the Pontifex University free Advent meditation has a class on singing the Office complete with a description of how to point the psalms and apply our psalm tones.
From the Catholic Encyclopedia article on boy-bishops: “The custom of electing a boy-bishop on the feast of St. Nicholas dates from very early times, and was in vogue in most Catholic countries, but chiefly in England, where it prevailed certainly in all the larger monastic and scholastic establishments, and also in many country parishes besides, with the full approbation of authority, ecclesiastical and civil. The boy-bishop was chosen from among the children of the monastery school, the cathedral choir, or pupils of the grammar-school. Elected on St. Nicholas’ day (6 December), he was dressed in pontifical vestments and, followed by his companions in priest’s robes, went in procession round the parish, blessing the people. He then took possession of the church, where he presided at all the (non-sacramental) ceremonies and offices until Holy Innocents’ day (28 December).”
Although the custom was abolished definitively in England under Queen Elizabeth, it has seen a revival in modern times, first in some of the more ritual-minded Anglican churches, and spreading thence even to a few Catholic ones. The cathedral of Hereford has just appointed its new boy-bishop this past Sunday, as may be seen on its website; the cathedral choir school at Westminster had them for the feast of its patron, St Gregory the Great (in March) for at least a few years, as seen at the now-defunct blog Solomon, I Have Surpassed Thee. (I cannot seem to find any recent Catholic examples.)
I haven’t read the book, but will review it for this column as soon as I get hold of a copy. For those who can make it, the launch will be at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California, at 4:30 pm on December 8th; the speakers will be art historian Dr Kathryn Barush, and Fr Christ Renz, the Academic Dean of the DSPT.
It is especially timely for me. I attended a lecture at the Acton Institute last summer about the crisis of the culture by Dr Carrie Gress, who commented on the “Benedict Option” movement which has grown up out of the angst arising from the conflict between Christian and secular culture. In the course of this lecture, she said that history and theology seem to suggest that a better response might be to look to Mary as a crucial guide in our efforts to evangelize the culture. I felt that she was on to something, and have heard a rumor since that she is in the process of writing a “Marian Option” book. If that is so, I can’t wait to read it; I will keep you posted.
Dr Gress’ idea seemed to me to come from the same place as the Men’s Holy League, recently established under the patronage of Cardinal Burke. I am anticipating the Fr Michael’s book will have much material to connect with this theme.
The Philadelphia TLM Community will hold Mass for the Immaculate Conception at the Cathedral Basilica of Ss Peter and Paul, located at 1723 Race Street, beginning at 7:00 pm; the Ordinary of the Mass will be the Missa Secunda of Hans Leo Hassler, with the Ave Maria of Victoria and the Ave Maria, Virgo Serena of Josquin des Prez as motets.
|The Mass of All Saints at the Cathedral Basilica of Ss Peter and Paul, from our recent All Saints’ photopost.|
|From last year’s Immaculate Conception photopost - blue vestments used at the church of Our Lady of Victory in Santiago, Chile.|