14 February 2011

Liturgical law: Mutual Enrichment and Common Sense?

Of course, anybody is entitled to comment on the tentative sequence of ideas, tersely summarised, that follows; but I will most appreciate contributions from those with some expertise in fields where I only stumble. Others are warned that a lot of what follows is plagiarised without explicit acknowledgement from authoritative or weighty sources; if you tell me that I am being ridiculous, it may not prove to only be Fr H that you are deriding, but also somebody whom you respect.

LAW. >We are not in conscience obliged to obey a law the authority of which is uncertain. Lex dubia non obligat; non potest lex incerta certam obligationem inducere; nemo ad aliquam legem servandam tenetur, nisi illa ut certa ei manifestetur.
>How are we to know whether in a particular matter a law is certain? Of the systems proposed in the old manuals, Probabilism seems to many of us, despite the views of Professor Pruemmer, the most persuasive. If in doubt between two or more moral possibilities each of which can be characterised as Probable, we may follow even that possibility which is the less or least probable, provided that it is genuinely still probable.
LITURGICAL LAW. >Rubrics are either substantial, because they prescribe the form or matter of a Sacrament; or accidental when they do not prescribe form or matter.
>They also fall into these categories: Preceptive; directive; facultative.The last category consists of rubrics which explicitly permit a choice; I shall not trouble with them further. Substantial rubrics are preceptive and bind in conscience. The question to interest us is whether accidental rubrics are all, necessarily, preceptive; or whether some among them are only directive. If some are merely directive, this means that they do not in themselves bind in conscience, but simply provide the approved way of carrying out a liturgical action.
>Most moral theologians, and many of the old rubrical experts, hold, with varying degrees of emphasis, that some rubrics are only directive. They feel that the Church does not intend that small details should oblige sub gravi. They tend not to be very generous in suggesting examples. It is, perhaps, easy to guess why.
>Even among those who incline to believe that all rubrics are preceptive, there is sometimes an inclination to feel that some wiggle-room is necessary. A distinguished example of this is Benedict XIV writing as a private theologian; having reported that a communis sententia is that rubrics are preceptive, he adds that one can be immune from mortal sin when breaking a rubric "propter parvitatem materiae". Herein lies a problem. What is 'parvitas materiae'?
CONCLUSIONS. >If we put together the two parts of this note, we find that the question whether each and every rubric binds in conscience or not, is an open question. Since the question is open, one is in conscience free to choose and follow even a less probable judgement, provided always that it still does have a degree of probability.
>I cannot think of any explicit post-Conciliar legislation which intimates that the rubrical requirements of the post-Conciliar rites are less - or more - stringent than the assumptions which accompanied the Old Rites (can you?). But I venture to suggest that the usage of the Church and the extent and type of disciplinary intrusions by authority at every level may indicate a communis sententia that we are less rigorist now than we were in my youth.
CUSTOM. The old writers devote some energy to the question of custom acquiring the force of Law even when the custom is contrary to the letter of the law (contra legem). They are able to show that the SRC operated itself upon this principle. I omit a detailed discussion of this point because I suspect that the necessary time may not yet have elapsed since the promulgation of the post-Conciliar rites for this to be relevant, i.e. for immemorial and unreprobated custom to have become established.
EXAMPLE. Saying the Canon silently is OK.



fieldofdreams2010 said...

I'm with you, Father.

Joshua said...

If the choir WILL sing on and on and on, most inconsiderately, a (glorious) polyphonic Sanctus, not drawing breath until they get halfway through, it would be eminently PASTORAL, indeed almost a necessity, to spare the congregation the tedium of standing inanely waiting impatiently to kneel - and therefore, such a true pastor, having his flock in mind, would "get on with it" and begin the Canon in a low voice (lest he offend the choir by competing against them). The people, mollified by this, would kneel down and let the dratted music wash over them, while they turned their spirits to prayer, uniting themselves as best they may to the oblation in progress. The choir at last pausing for breath, the servers would have barely time to ring the bell at the Elevation - poor Father having perhaps reached the Consecration, but having to pause awhile lest the people go without the bell, or the choir be offended by it - and then those tyrannical singers would be at it again with some (glorious) longwinded Benedictus - during which the only reasonable thing to do would be to carry on with the Canon down to its concluding doxology, again tarrying so as to produce at least an ecphonesis, clueing in the parishioners to chant Amen.

The fault would be entirely the choir's.

Fr LR said...

First you must test the spirits by, turning and bowing etc. while saying "Oremus" after the first Collect (i.e. saying more than one Collect - gasp - I know only a devil heretic says more than one Collect!). If you hear a loud HISSS from the nave then "Rubric X - Contingencies" is implemented.


"Rubric X - Contingencies": heavily armed vergers (very patrimony) take up a defensive position at the rail to smack down a bum's-rush of the celebrant during the silent canon.

David F said...

I think Joshua's comment are very relevant. I have attended Mass where the choir sings incessantly and I wondered how many more bars of music remain.
If one is there to "hear" Mass, then it can be instrusive. If you wish to participate then unfamiliar settings on the great festivals does not assist. It leads to the goldfish open mouth syndrome. One can silently say the canticles and concentrate of the Celebration aspect of the Eucharist.
In my old home church, The celebrant intoned the Credo and continued silently and moved to the sedilla. WE continued to express our beliefs. The silent canon allowed private prayer to be linked to the Elevations indicated by the sacring bell. I think this was a good compromise of prayer and praise.

Joshua said...

I think Dix alleges more or less the reasons I gave for the spread of the silent Canon. (Of course, he had a naughty habit of massaging the evidence to prove what he wanted it to demonstrate!)

Indeed, among the Orthodox the Preface, too, is silent, since the choir are singing out a complicated setting of the last response: "It is meet and right..."

By a particularly strange development, Armenian celebrants read the Preface and Anaphora silently, while the deacon proclaims parallel texts aloud - the priest's prayers being to the Father, the deacon's, to the Son. Oh, and the choir sings at various points, too.

Bryan said...

In the Traditional Roman Rite the Preface is sung, the Sanctus is sung by the Choir and said by the priest and then the Canon is aid in a low voice. Why was the Canon not sung?

If one visits the Brompton Oratory at about 11.00am on a Sunday one can actually hear a priest sing the Canon (OF). Aliturgical perhaps? An beautiful pseudo-tradition?

[One solution is perhaps to turn the microphone off or pretend it is not working - but for microphones the Old Rites would still be in force perhaps?]

df said...

Bryan: the Canon at 11am Sunday Mass at the Brompton Oratory is not sung, and has not been for many years, though there was a period when it was.

The sung Canon was an innovation of Luther so that the people could hear it - or am I wrong?

Rubricarius said...

Solesmes produced a rather fine volume 'Ordo Missae in Cantu', which followed the form of the old Pontifical Canon but with the four EPs set to the tone found in appendix of the 1970MR and with tones for solemn blessings per annum.

Joshua said...

Ordo Romanus I insinuates that the Canon is to chanted to the Preface tone.

Hence, to call singing the Canon in the OF a pseudo-tradition is unjust, and reveals some ignorance of the historical development of the Roman Liturgy.

I will grant that reviving the singing of the Canon could be called archaeologism; but the evidence is that it was anciently sung. This is unsurprising,given parallels with the Eastern liturgies: some of Justinian's legislation in the East attempted to maintain the chanting of the Anaphora against the new-fangled fashion of saying more and more of it silently, but his law was framed in vain.

From what I recall, in the early ages of the Primitive Church, the Canon or Anaphora was customarily said aloud - after all, the catechumens, energumens, penitents and so forth having been dismissed (not to mention any non-believers) and the doors closed by the ostiaries, the Mysteries were then celebrated before the faithful. The disciplina arcani meant that such matters were revealed to the initiated, not concealed even from them.

Little Black Sambo said...

I seem to remember the Canon being sung at Pluscarden a few years ago, or have I made that up?

Chris said...

A sung canon may be liturgical archæology, but is there any justification in tradition for saying it aloud, especially if the rest of the Mass is sung?

Joshua said...

A very palpable hit.

B flat said...

In neither the Church of Russia nor in the Church of Greece, is the Anaphora sung. The Words of Institution are sung, and the concluding words of the Epiklesis accompanying the tracing of the sign of the Cross over the Bread and Wine separately and then over both together, are said audibly, but not proclaimed for the hearing of the whole church.
Where does the idea that the traditional practice of the Orthodox is to sing the Anaphora come from? The priest's book issued by the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain has the rubric mystikos, which is translated as "in a low voice". That translation may betray a certain liturgical preference on the translator's part. The Archbishop's invariable practice in our parish is silent prayer of the Anaphora except for the ekphoneisis where indicated. I know the practice where the whole Anaphora is read aloud so that the people can hear and follow. I asked the priest responsible for introducing this practice what mystikos means. He has an Oxonian MA degree in Greats and a prior Classics MA from another university, but replied that he does not know. I am sure his example fits well into the scheme you suggest Father, for understanding the force of rubrics, and the culpability of non-compliance.

The corresponding rubric in the russian books, by the way, differs from the greek cited above. It differentiates between the directive " the priest prays:" (molitsja) and "the priest says"(glagolet). The former is a reflexive verb (in himself) while the latter corresponds to the sentences chanted aloud, or said audibly within the sanctuary, which is what the verb means (saying aloud).

Joshua said...

As mentioned above, in the early centuries the Anaphora was prayed aloud, presumably chanted.

The evidence? One of Justinian's laws which sought to maintain the old practice of praying it aloud, against the new fashion of praying it in a low voice.

Of course, it has been prayed sotto voce, except for a few exclamations and the Verba Domini, for well over a millennium.

Gerry Davila said...

Ordo Romanus I insinuates that the Canon is to chanted to the Preface tone.

Hence, to call singing the Canon in the OF a pseudo-tradition is unjust, and reveals some ignorance of the historical development of the Roman Liturgy.

In fact, the Appendix attached to OR1 has the presbyters chant the Canon with the Lord Pope so that all may better hear.

Joshua said...

How interesting, I didn't know that!

Concelebration of priests with their bishop is a venerable tradition, never quite lost (because the newly ordained always prayed the Canon with their ordainer); unfortunately, the modern practice of miscellaneous groups of priests concelebrating acephalously is by no means so traditional.

(Of course, the French mediæval and Baroque practice of having ceremonial symmistæ - having 2,4 or 6 assistant priests, deacons and subdeacons walk either side of the priest, deacon and subdeacon of the Mass - is a different matter entirely, as these did not recite the words of the liturgy.)