Cleansing Fire

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Bishop of Marquette issues pastoral letter on sacred music

February 15th, 2013, Promulgated by Bernie

This from in today’s New Oxford Review Newsfeed

Bishop Alexander Sample has issued a pastoral letter on sacred music in which he emphasizes the importance of Gregorian chant, the pipe organ, and the singing of the ordinary and propers of the Mass.

“Given all of this strong teaching from…

Read the entire post/article HERE

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22 Responses to “Bishop of Marquette issues pastoral letter on sacred music”

  1. avatar Dr. K says:

    “Every parish and mission in the Diocese should establish to the best of its ability at least a minimum Gregorian repertoire of the chanted Ordinary sung by the people in Latin. Mass VIII (De Angelis) and Mass XVIII (Deus Genitor alme) are the most popular and accessible. Parishes capable of more than this are encouraged to build their chant repertoire beyond this minimum.”


    I hope he’ll bring this pastoral to Portland.

  2. avatar y2kscotty says:

    I respectfully disagree with Dr K. I would like to see the propers, Gloria, Credo, etc. chanted IN ENGLISH, as the usual rule. It’ll help the faithful to remember the new wording, and actually pray it. And, besides, it is our language, our prayer. Once in a while it might be nice to do the Gloria or Credo in Latin, but that should be the exception, rather than the rule.
    A lot of what Bishop Sample recommends (or “orders”) would be good for us, but really – chant should be more common. When the new translation came into force, I was under the impression that chant would become the way to introduce it to the Faithful (I think tghat’s whatt he articles in the Courier said)- but that has not been the case. Rather, when the choir goes off on some setting of the Gloria, for example, we the people have a hard time singing it, because it isn’t simple. And, in my not so humble opinion, the fact that it is largely unsingable is because it’s probably BAD music.
    I know the Latin very well – but full participation and prayer requires English. I go to Mass for prayer and action in the Mass, not for a “performance” by a choir that thinks it is better than it actually is.

  3. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    full participation and prayer requires English.


  4. avatar Scott W. says:

    While scotty is wrong about Latin, he’s right about so much else. Mainly the music in most parishes is really really bad. This is why although I was pleased with the new translation, I was concerned that it was going to be set to the Same Old Crap musically. Lo and behold I was right. Frankly, I’ll make the world a deal–scrap every Dan Schutte/Hagan/Hass, etc. hymn out there, set the ordinaries and propers to traditional chant modes, and I won’t say a peep about Latin ever again.

  5. avatar snowshoes says:

    Bishop Sample, Pope Benedict, VII, et al, have the grace of the magisterium so we ignore them to our peril. The closed churches, schools, convents, and seminaries stand in silent reproach for our disobedience.

    As Catlicks, we oughta be able to act like we didn’t just fall off the turnip wagon! Back in the olden days, the good nuns and lay teachers made sure that all us 60 pupils in the classroom learned all the ordinary parts of the Mass in Latin before we received our First Holy Communion. That was second grade. We all learned to sing all those parts. Singing the Gloria, the Credo, the Sanctus, and Agnus Dei helps to memorize the words. We did it using chant notation, we learned the basic names of the neumes, etc. We used the phonetic pronunciation written under the Latin words, like the altar boys used. That is, by the way, the best age to teach languages.

    I realize now that my parish was one of not so many where the pastor had the people sing the Latin ordinary parts of the Mass. It was powerful! Teaching the Latin chant parts of the Mass is very doable, and people who say it isn’t, or that the laity won’t learn are just plain wrong. Goodness, Truth and Beauty still move the human heart. And of course, we are more highly evolved than those people of a hundred years ago, so it should be even easier for us’ns!

    If the little Jewish children can learn Hebrew to read the Torah for their bar mitzva, and the little Muslim kids can learn Arabic and then MEMORIZE the Koran, for crying out loud, we can learn to sing a few of the most important parts of the Mass, AND learn the Latin to know what we are saying! Thanks, I needed that! Happy first Friday of Lent.

    P.S., Go to St. Nicholas the Wonderworker Melkite Greek Catholic Church some Sunday to hear the congregation chant the Divine Liturgy in Greek, Arabic and English. Beautiful. If our Melkite brothers can chant in three languages, us Latins should be able to chant in two, Boo boo.

  6. avatar Bernie says:

    @snowshoes: Wow! Terrific comment

  7. avatar CPT Tom says:

    Snowshoes, thank you for saying what you said. It is so sad how little we ask of our youth and the laity in general. Heck, the altar servers can’t even be expected to show up to mass in SHOES much less actually do any thing useful anymore. The problem with the Church before the council was obviously in some parts of the world what you discribed did not happen, and instead the council fathers settled to do what was the easy way out and just put the mass in the vernacular. Great so now as a “Universal” and world wide church, we can’t worship together because we have a tower of Babel.

    At nearly 50 I frankly feel cheated. My older brother and sisters core dumped Latin and all the beautiful stuff for English and folk masses, but I am more than happy to provide Chant (as a member of a schola), in Latin to the young people who are now asking for it after they get a chance to hear it. We just sang for our school’s Ash Wednesday mass. Chanted Latin propers with English ordinary (so not to shock the kids) and they loved it! Tomorrow we are going to sing for the Youth Retreat’s Eucharistic Adoration, because we did it last year, and the kids liked the chant so much that we’re back again. Next in a few months we are planning to have an Extrordinary Form mass for the Youth instead of the Teen Life mass. Brick by brick, inch by inch, tradition is returning. Back by popular demand!

  8. avatar Gretchen says:

    Great comment, snowshoes! The thing is, we have to take the tools that our beloved Pope Benedict XVI gave us and implement the cure for what ails us. How lovely that Bishop Sample gets that and is planting a ‘mustard seed’ within his diocese.

    As Cpt. Tom notes, the children are hungry for the cure. And I do persist in calling it a cure. Perhaps not a cure-all, but nevertheless, a healing agent.

    The progressives within the Church are resisting these moves because it spells the end of their attempts to transform the Faith into a modernist institution.

    Gretchen from SOP

  9. avatar snowshoes says:

    CPT Tom,

    HUAH! You’re in the vanguard, along with your good pastor.

  10. avatar JLo says:

    Talk about timely for me! On Feb. 8 I wrote to Holy Cross leadership requesting that we sing the Kyrie, the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei in Latin at Sunday liturgies, reminding them that this is our heritage and a bare minimum response to the requests of Vatican II, JPII, etc. Can’t get this bare minimum done yet, so Gregorian chant seems a dream far off! But the Holy Spirit is certainly at work, putting Vatican II front and center again in the Holy Father’s remarks just this week! +JMJ

  11. avatar y2kscotty says:

    JLo, the Kyrie is in Greek, not Latin. (Sorry for the quibble, but I suspect you knew that already). I think it would be betetr to ask Holy Cross to do the Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus Dei in English, in chant. And invite participation of the faithful. And then, once chant is appreciated and enjoyed, then maybe introduce Kyrie in Greek… and the others in Latin once in a while. You will be pleasantly surprised how the familiar melody of chant in English will make the Latin understandable.
    I will agree it is not hard to learn enough of the meaning of Latin to understand the Gloria or the Agnus dei or the Sanctus. But the rest of the Mass should be vernacular. One can go on and on about how reverent Mass was in the pre-Vatican-2 days. But, I harbor a real ill-will towards the way it was done at St. Joseph’s (for one example)in downtown Rochester at the late afternoon daily Mass…. I call it “irerverent”: Condfessions going on at the same time; rosary being said aloud during Mass (except when the bells rang). There was little praying of the Mass. I do not want to go back to those days.
    By the way, has anyone here been to a Mass in China? No Latin there, but even in Chinese, being well aware of the actions of the Mass and the reverent way they do it there, the Mass is a delight, and the universality of the Church comes through powerfully. And I say this, not knowing whether or not the parish church that I attended was “approved” or not. It felt wonderful to be there with other Catholics, who appreciated my presence and welcomed me.

  12. avatar CPT Tom says:

    Jlo and Snowshoes

    What we have accomplished has taken 5 years of prayer, patience and cooperation. We formed the schola Five years ago after our Pastoral Administrator who is a Deacon, agreed to allow for a NO mass monthly on Sunday that had Latin Propers and Ordinary with the rest of the mass in English. We have done this mass for the last 5 years at 7:30am on the first Sunday of the month. For the schola this has meant twice weekly rehearsals, spending our own treasure and time to go to Chant workshops/intensives, and procuring our own music and mass materials.

    This was accomplished even though the staff was actively against it (at one point before we started the staff recommended we should sing “Night Vespers,” which the parish doesn’t have) and the Deacon not a fan of tradition. In his defense he is able to be reasoned with, and 5 years ago was being obiedient to the Holy Father’s request for a Latin mass (well if not entirely in Latin) once a weekend. There were multiple road blocks thrown in our way by the staff, but we’re able to overcome them by always being helpful and available when the parish need music…No one to do that mass, no problem, we can sing, and we did and we were able to convince them to let us chant the mass as opposed to sing contemporary hymns. We continue to sing every 1st Sunday as well as singing the Good Friday service. We’ve also had the opportunity to do some confirmations (for other local parishes), a few requiem masses and two EF masses. We’ve established ties to the parish school over the past few years of chatting and volunteering with the music teacher and principal. We’ve also establish connection to the orthodox Catholics in the shadows of the parish.

    All this was accomplished through some pushing with Vatican documents (Moto proprio and Letter of instruction) and pressure, and also working with the parish and backing up the Deacon whose life would have been alot easier if he had just told us no. The future looks brighter though there are bumps along the way. Again, prayer, patience and perserverency is necessary. Don’t go away, be the vocal loyal opposition, and keep the personalities out of it, even if those opposed to you don’t. I have a temper that I have to pray real hard to keep in check, but I have fellow Orthodox Catholics I can talk to and get support from and give to.

    We now have built a group that is made up of people with many talents and personalities, forunately we now have some diplomats in the group who liason with the staff and have been good at smoothing things over when things get rough. We have members who can sew vestments and linens and others do all the planning and logistics involved in having the mass. I myself am the nominal leader and sacrastin, though there are others in the group who look after music, communications and logistics. We have built a good working relationship with a group of friars who have gratiously sent a priest and brothers to celebrate mass in the past and will continue into the future. We did three masses the last two years, and we are hoping to have 3-4 this year. None of this would have been accomplished with out the sacrafices and talents of the latin mass group and working closely with the front office and the Pastorial Administrator.

    The hardest is to trust in the Holy Spirit. Keep praying and keep working, and gather like minded people together so you are not alone. There is strength in numbers, and it makes the Church Militant visible. God bless!

  13. avatar Bernie says:

    I have not been to Mass in China but I have been in many other countries , Cambodia for example and, yes, I was most welcomed and felt quite “at home” with the ceremonial even with the local variations. But, one thing I could not do was join in the ordinary prayers. Reciting the ordinary prayers in Latin throughout the Church would restore one element of universality now lost.

    The proper prayers for Mass, I believe, should be recited in the vernacular for obvious reasons, but the ordinary prayers could all be said in Latin to great advantage to the world-wide church. Everyone knows what the Kyrie (Greek), Sanctus, etc. mean. The Preface, however, varies and should not be said in Latin unless a translation is available to the congregation. Same with the Eucharistic Prayer except for, perhaps, the words of institution which need no translation and can be said in Latin. This is not to disparage the traditional Latin Mass at which a missal provides the Latin and English translation side-by-side.

    While I’m obviously in favor of a restoration of Latin to a place of honor in the Liturgy I would not discourage employing English chant which is in the Anglican tradition. It’s just that, once again, how lovely it is to be a foreigner overseas and be able to participate in the ordinary prayers of a Mass. Why not employ an easy way to stress unity and universality?

  14. avatar CPT Tom says:

    We use English Chant occasionally for the Ordinary Form Masses, particularly when we sing the Gradual instead of the Alleluia…sometimes drawing from the Anglican Graduale, as they use the same chant melody for their english versions, and sometimes from the Simple English Propers that was put out by the Catholic Music Association of America. Both are available in PDF on their website

  15. avatar CPT Tom says:

    that should be “they use the same chant melodies that appear in the Graduale Romanum…” PIMF

  16. avatar Scott W. says:

    But, I harbor a real ill-will towards the way it was done at St. Joseph’s (for one example)in downtown Rochester at the late afternoon daily Mass…. I call it “irerverent”: Condfessions going on at the same time; rosary being said aloud during Mass (except when the bells rang).

    Even if we grant that the above were abuses (It’s already been demonstrated that confessions during Mass in and of itself is NOT an abuse, yet you are refusing correction), abuse does not proscribe use. Frankly, your personal issues seem to have caused irrational splash damage to Latin in general. Like I said before, we worship God, not y2scotty, and the Church has never asserted that vernacular is necessary to full and active participation.

  17. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    I do not want to go back to those days.

    Not everything was perfect – nothing ever is. But it could be that that environment enabled the type of reform called for and that this new environment actually stifles it.

  18. The Ordinary, and the things that do not change from week to week, should be done in Latin, the rest can be done in the vernacular. (Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Preface Dialogue, Words of Institution, Pater Noster, Agnus Dei, Final Blessing should be in Latin), this letter is a good step in the right direction

  19. avatar y2kscotty says:

    Scott W, you say “(It’s already been demonstrated that confessions during Mass in and of itself is NOT an abuse, yet you are refusing correction)”. Just because someone who really has no authority “demonstrates” this, doesn’t mean I have to say it’s right. I still call it an abuse. Maybe I should use the word “improper”?
    And, by the way, you have TWICE said you don’t worship y2kscotty. I don’t see how you think I have invited worship of myself. It’s a silly comment. Simply put, I disagree with you.

  20. avatar snowshoes says:


    Excellent point. As with religious orders who “freed” themselves from their rules, what they were actually left with was a naked power grab by the most “outgoing”, or agressive members who, like any of us who are afflicted with concupiscence, once they have the power, go the way of Napoleon, Off to Moscow!!! Sayonara, baby…

    So we use the virtuous way to dialogue, and to insist on the Good, the True and the Beautiful, and to change the status quo to the Will of the Father as detailed by the Magisterium for the Glory of God. No unkindness, but we must change things now, I’m thinking of CPT Tom’s good opord. Some people won’t like it, but the fruits will prove the wisdom of following the Pope’s guidance. Souls will be saved. Thank you Lord Jesus.

  21. avatar annonymouse says:

    It has been established that confessions during Mass are not proscribed, but it is clear that the Church counsels against the practice.

    The rosary ought not be said during Mass – it is antithetical to full, conscious and active participation required by the Vatican II fathers.

    Now, those said, I will say this – I would have dismissed soon-to-be-Abp. Sample’s letter not too long ago, but I am becoming more and more convinced that a more reverent liturgical “experience,” particularly with respect to music, will draw people back to the Church.

  22. avatar Scott W. says:

    And, by the way, you have TWICE said you don’t worship y2kscotty. I don’t see how you think I have invited worship of myself. It’s a silly comment.

    And in both cases it was appropriate and not silly at all because all you established was that “y2scotty doesn’t like it”. Well, I’m not really interested in what people do or don’t like, but rather what is actually true. Your stuff on Latin and so-called active and full participation is just plain false.

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