Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Return of the Introit

...at my parish. For today's Solemnity of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, we reintroduced the Introit to the Ordinary Form of the Mass.

We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation, our life and our resurrection; through him we are saved and made free.

We used Tone V for the above text. Our priest censed the altar as the cantor was chanting the Introit. I put a note in the worship aid about the Introit and its noble use in the liturgy. Happily, the Introit was well-received and to top it off, the Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei were in chant. Lots of incense, bells, and beautiful red vestments.

For the rest of the Ordinary season, we'll have the Introit here and there. Hopefully, with the start of Advent, we can have it back permanently.

The other Propers will be slowly added in. When I first suggested this, most people were wary of one more thing to be added to the liturgy. I think people saw today that chanting the Introit didn't make the Mass any longer, and in fact, allowed people to grasp the theme of today's readings.

Brick by brick. Yes, it was in English. The funny thing was when I gave the music to the cantors, one of them remarked, "This really should be in Latin, you know." The cantors did well with it and it was nice to not hear complaints. As I said before, the cantors are very easy to work with and it's to my predecessor's credit that they are as amenable to new (or rather, old) things.

Small pleasures, my friends, small pleasures.

As a bit of history, in a previous parish, when I suggested returning the Propers to the Liturgy, there was a bit of an uproar. People whom I thought were my friends were quite vociferous. "NO! That's not what Pope Benedict is asking us to do. The Latin Mass is only for those who grew up with it. He doesn't want that stuff for the vernacular Mass. You're wrong!"

A painful time. What was it that Elizabeth Bennet said in Pride and Prejudice? "Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure." Our Bishop has released the new norms for the Celebration of Sacred Liturgy.
It is laudable that a processional hymn or introit, the acclamations, the dialogues, and the litanies of the Mass be sung at daily celebrations of the Sacred Liturgy. Even when musical accompaniment is not possible, every attempt should be made to sing the acclamations and dialogues....The use of simple chant is laudable given that Gregorian chant holds pride of place in the Sacred Liturgy.
Please know that vindication is not something that I had hoped or wished for. And yes, I'll have to fight with my very human tendencies, my own smallness, in feeling just a twinge of satisfaction.

Happy Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, dear friends.

4 comments:

frival said...

Can you have a chat with the choir director at my parish? As you're re-introducing the Introit he's making space for drums and trumpets. I'd say I'm proud of you but that would sound condescending. Let's just say that the good you are doing for the Lord will not be forgotten. Ad majorem dei gloriam!

arscatholica said...

Argent - how was the decision made to return the introit? Could you provide more back story? I am curious as I would love this to happen at my parish - and was just wondering if you have any thoughts/advice. Did the pastor simply decide to do so? When you say you suggested the return of the Propers - did you suggest it to a committee in the parish?

As someone on a liturgy committee - I would love to hear how this wonderful change came to be!

Argent said...

The decision to return the Propers is part of the long-term vision of bringing the Ordinary Form closer to the usus antiquior. The liturgical committee at our parish is Father. That's it. I listen to him and then I ask him permission to do this and that as we pass each other coming and going out the office.

Because we've worked together with the usus antiquior Mass now for a year, we have an instinctive feel for doing things together. We've had long conversations (when we're not rushing about) on liturgy so we have an understanding of each other's vision. Long before the job was offered to me, we already knew that we were sympathetic to each other's point of view...which is very steeped in Pope Benedict's vision...so yes, there's a natural sympathy there.

When I became the Music Director, he already knew of my interest in restoring the Propers to the Ordinary Form. The Exaltation of the Cross was a great day to re-introduce parts of the Proper as it's the one-year anniversary of SumPont.

Our parish coming to this point was the work of several pastors who worked hard at bringing back a deep sense of Catholicity in practice and in worship. So I stand on the shoulders of their diligent work. My coming on the scene, so to speak, was paved by them and in many ways, I have it easy.

But I think the biggest factor easing the way for the return of the Propers is having the weekly usus antiquior itself. We had the Missa Cantata for the Assumption as the main Mass of the day which was heavily attended by parishioners who would not normally come to the traditional Mass. I printed out booklets that had exact instructions (stand here, kneel here, all sing here) with Latin on the left and English on the right.

The reputation of the traditional Mass is also being spread to the community via the Requiem Masses that we've celebrated. People of other denominations come to the funerals and become exposed to the Old Mass.

...re drums....ack! That's so twentieth century...;)

arscatholica said...

ahh...would that there were no liturgy committee at my parish either...My wife and I are trying to bring in, shall we say, 'other perspectives' to the committee, but it is slow going. One feels sometimes as if we're in "the long defeat," as Tolkien put it.

But great work Argent - I'm glad the work you do is showing such wonderful fruits!