Rorate Caeli

Questions for our readers: on rubrics, customs and hybrid Masses

Yesterday I watched the webcast of one of the handful of diocesan / "Summorum Pontificum" TLM's in Mexico. The readings (including the Gospel), the "Orate Fratres" and the "Ecce Agnus Dei" were said, not in Latin, but in Spanish only. The Gloria and Credo were sung by the celebrant himself in alternation with the congregation. The Secret and the first part of the Canon (until the Consecration) were said aloud, too loud to have merely been the celebrant's "inaudible" voice being picked up by a microphone. Finally, Spanish hymns were sung during this Missa Cantata (vernacular hymns are supposed to be allowed only for Low Mass) and the priest himself led the faithful in a Spanish-language devotional exercise in honor of Saint Joseph, after the communion rites and before singing the post-communion (in Latin). [I'm aware of the "Prone" and of vernacular devotions that were prayed between the Gospel and the Creed, but not in any other part of the Mass.]

I advocate strict fidelity to the rubrics, in the spirit of reverence for liturgical tradition. At the same time I'm aware that in the years leading up to Vatican II some indults (for particular countries) were handed down by the Congregation for Rites in favor of the vernacular, while many other countries had their own long-standing customs which may or may not have been consonant with the rubrics. (Regarding the vernacular: Poland, for instance, received an indult on July 7, 1961 allowing the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei to be sung in Polish at a Sung Mass, and the Deutsche Singmesse and Betsingmesse need no introduction.) Here are my questions:

1) Were any (or even all) of the peculiarities that I described above, considered as legitimate customs in the liturgy (in Mexico or anywhere else) prior to Vatican II? I'd be very surprised to learn that saying the Secret and part of the Canon audibly was ever allowed anywhere.

2) Does anyone here have any idea how widespread the singing of vernacular hymns at a Sung Mass has been, either in the era prior to 1964, or in TLM's post-1984?

Feel free as well to post in the combox on "hybrid Masses" and peculiar customs (whether legitimate or not) that have entered into TLM celebrations anywhere in the world.

[Moderator NOTE: Do NOT feel free to criticize at will; this is NOT A DEBATE, but a descriptive post, for comments that include descriptions of events or knowledge of exceptions, but not the unbridled criticism of a regular forum. Thank you.]


  1. Anonymous2:57 AM

    I have seen many hybrid masses like Pascal watched. In Brazil, there are dioceses which the tridentine mass is offered "versus populum" in modern altars, or altar boys reading the epistle, or the priest being helped by a "permanent deacon" (to the non-brazilian readers: a deacon which is married!), or an bishop mixing the tridentine prayers with the Novus Ordo rite, or... And the list goes on.

    [i]Oremus pro pontifice nostro Benedicto[/i]

  2. There is nothing wrong with married permanent deacon. A deacon is a deacon is a deacon.
    It simply an abuse if a deacon is excluded only because he is a permanent one or because he married before ordination to deaconate.

  3. Anonymous3:29 AM

    I attended a diocesan TLM in Savannah, GA, two years ago in which everything from the Epistle through the Gospel was done in English.

  4. A loud Canon was permitted for the Igbo people in south eastern Nigeria in 1959. They had already been saying it aloud since the 1920s.

  5. Those look to be the rubrics and allowances of the 1965 missal (which Msgr. Rifan uses also sometimes)...

  6. Strictly speaking, I don't think that vernacularism is really the problem. It is the rite that is of utmost importance. If the church in the 16th century had allowed China to adopt the Roman Rite in the vernacular, who knows to what level of influence the church would have risen in China. Many of the older traditionalists to whom I spoke in years past would have been accepting of the Tridentine Rite in English. I don't prefer it, and fortunately I don't have to settle for it anymore, even if it were an option. But I can see its value in certain situations.

  7. Gratias6:49 AM

    Perhaps purity should not be the essential issue at present. The Epistle and Gospel can be read only in the vernacular in low masses at present. Some allowances to 40 years of Novus Disordus must be made. At our superb Latin Mass,a true lifesaver, 50% of women do not wear Mantilla/veil and this is fine for our stable group. One of our holy diocesan priests, probably the best one, does say the mass quite loud. I am MOST grateful that he reads the final Gospel out loud. It is the summation of our Faith, yet in High Mass it is read in a low voice. I like to be able to follow: In principio erat Verbum...

    My point is that we are very few of us left and we must do all we can to keep the Faith in these perilous times. If one wants to be scandalized, just attend your neighborhood Novus Ordo as we have to do too often to fulfill our Sunday obligation.

    A final thought. What is good about this SP/UE moment in history is that each one of us little nothings that actually goes through the effort to attend a forma extraordinary Mass on Sunday makes a real service to the Church, in addition to oneself.

  8. I think the position may be summed up by stating that each cleric is his own liturgist.

    Continetal Europe/SSPX TLMs appear to have Epistle & Gospels read out in the vernacular.

    Recently I heard Mass [NOM] where the Consecration only was said in Latin.

    I mainly attend TLMs in the UK, but do follow clergy who are Traditional and are swimming against their dioecesan tide - they deserve support.

  9. Hans Coessens8:34 AM

    I went last week to the St Nicolas du Chardonnet in Paris and the epistle and Gospel were read exclusively in French. Along with another thing I didn't notice anywhere else, the laity also answered to the priests prayers. Maybe a French novelty.

  10. Anonymous10:54 AM

    In the 1700's, Rome specifically allowed mass to be offered in one of the "higher" Chinese vernaculars.

    I'll find the reference tonight.

  11. Igumen Gregory10:56 AM

    Some of the uses described in these posts seem to reflect more on the 1965 Missal, which by the way except for the "you whos", is a very decent celebration of the Traditional Mass.

  12. Anonymous12:30 PM

    The young priests for Hyannis, MA celebrate Low Mass using the option outlined in the Instructional Letter for the use of the vernacular only with the epistle and gospel readings from the altar.

  13. Anonymous2:25 PM

    From Father Couture (SSPA Asia District Superior):

    I once taught some priests to say the traditional Mass in Chinese. They were Chinese priests who did not know Latin. We justified this by what Archbishop Lefebvre taught: “We are not fighting firstly for Latin; we are fighting for the Faith.” And we have explained to priests that it is better to say the traditional Mass in the vernacular tongue than to say the New Mass in Latin. It is not firstly a question of language; it is a question of Faith. And we have had a few Masses like this with certain priests.

  14. Anonymous3:08 PM

    Isn't the rubric of the Sanctus Candle in the '62 Missal.

    I have very rarely seen this rubric followed, maybe twice.


  15. First time I heard of an example canon being said aloud at tlm is this video (strange for a sspx Mass):

  16. This discussion is interesting to me because of our recent experience here in Milwaukee with the Institute of Christ the King. We're seeing quite a bit of different styles, depending upon which priest says Mass.

    One priest will read every prayer in the Canon at the top of his lungs while another reads it silently. I must say the loud reading is a bit jarring, at least to me. Equally jarring to many in the Congregation is the Institue's demand that the organ be played NON-STOP during a low Mass (with a three-minute break during the Consecration only). This lack of appropriate silence does make concentration somewhat difficult.

    I agree with PKTP that some semblance of order here would be desirable (and, frankly, I'd prefer the pre-1940 rubrics, before Pius started tampering). I agree with him, too, on the American flag issue.

  17. Anonymous5:45 PM

    Reading the Epistle and Gospel in the vernacular, without reading them first in Latin, was allowed by indult in some places before Vatican II, and is now allowed everywhere per Summorum Pontificum/Universae Ecclesiae, but only at Low Masses. Vernacular hymns can be sung during a Missa Cantata if there has been a longstanding custom, provided the required texts are chanted first in Latin (cf. Musicae Sacrae Disciplina, Ven. Pope Pius XII, 1955). The rest of the variations seem difficult to justify, unless they were allowed in Mexico by indult at some point.

  18. I deleted all comments that consisted mostly of opinions and of how things ought to be. Please, read the moderating note at the end of the post. Thank you, NC.

  19. I could spend a week debating how much hybrid masses irk me, and, really, should not be allowed, for a slew of reasons (let the modernists have their mass, but leave us ours, intact!). But since this is not a debate, I will leave it at that.

    The FSSPX High mass I sometimes attend has vernacular songs sung, but only at the beginning and conclusion of Holy Mass. The priest gives the readings, usually, in Latin and English.

    But that isn't something they need to worry about in Glasgow because ol' four-eyes up there has said, “I venture to suggest that there is no call for it [the TLM]..." Lol! "I venture to suggest.."! I venture to suggest you are wrong, your Excellency!

    I imagine that those four old ladies with their Vatican II missals sitting at the front pews of an otherwise empty cathedral constitute a full house to ye? Eh? The Church in Scotland (the country of my kin) is doing to well, that she doesn't need a breath of fresh air, does she?

  20. At all SSPX Masses I attend in France the priest invariably reads the Epistle and Gospel from the altar. I believe it is a custom there which dates back at least to the 1962 Missal. The SSPX priests simply continued doing what all French priests did before the Pauline editions. One thing that disturbs me is the fact that they turn around to face the congregation while reading in full voice. It seems a harsh break in the continuity of the liturgy.

  21. I promised this information earlier today.

    In an article from 1944's Liturgical Week, entitled "The Language of the Roman Liturgy", Dom Rembert Sorg, OSB outlines five instances in the orient where the Missal was translated into the vernacular.

    1. In 1624, Urban VIII allowed the Carmelites to translate the Missal into Arabic for new Catholic Converts in Persia.

    2. In 1627, the same privilege was granted to those Catholic in Armenia.

    In both cases, the injunction was to translate the missal literally (literaliter)

    3. 1886, Leo XIII, the Holy See under a concordat with Montenegro allowed parts of the Missal to be translated into Church Slavonic.

    4. Also, the Glagolithic Slavs of Dalmatia and Croatia were allowed to offer Mass in old Church Slavonic.

    5. In 1615, Paul V allowed by deecree that the Roman Rite might be translated into Madarin, or literary, Chinese.

    Also, the Catholic Herald (11 Aug 44) notes a decision of the SCR too tolerate the "German High Mass"

  22. Did these cases involve permission to translate the Missal for the sake of the laity, or was it permission for bishops and priests to celebrate the Mass in this or that language other than Latin?

  23. Jordanes

    It was for permission to offer Mass in the vernacular.

  24. Anonymous10:08 AM

    It appears that in German-speaking countries there were bilingual altar missals before the 2nd Vatican Council (Reid and Bonneterre also wrote about this). In a small parish in South Tirol the former pastor says daily TLM where all the changing texts, not just readings, but the orations, too, are in German. Since he never introduced Novus Ordo in his parish (it was done only in 2005 by his successor) he apparently is continuing to do what he did before the reform.


  26. Moderators: The comment of mine that you declined to post obeyed your strictures anent criticism. Or are your rules applied differently to different commenters? Here follows my original, criticism-free comment:

    Anonymous 12:30: Does Father Buckley no longer say the 1962 Mass in Hyannis? He was still the celebrant when I was in Hyannis last September, and aside from saying an abbreviated, hybridized version ("corpus Christi") of the words accompanying distribution of Communion, he went strictly by the book (i.e., the 1962 typical edition).

  27. That is correct, pclaudel, "strictly by the book" may, in this thread, be construed as criticism of others, even if that was not your intention. And the name of the priest did not have to be mentioned. Please, do not insist on moderated comments, especially because, since there are several moderators, others moderators never know what exactly may have motivated a specific action by another moderator.

  28. Anonymous2:21 AM

    In New Orleans, LA at St Patrick's at the High Masses, the Epistle is chanted in the vernacular facing the congregation. The Gospel is chanted in English facing East. English and latin hymns are sung throughout the mass. Pastor says all of this is not a contradiction of the latest instruction.

  29. Ironically, the New Liturgical Movement Blog just published a sort of major extract on the Glagolithic Missal.

  30. Loyolakiper6:20 PM

    I would like to clarify what was said about St Patrick's in New Orleans...

    Every Sunday we do a Solemn High Mass and as the comment informed the readings are proclaimed by the Deacon and Subdeacon in he vernacular (English). Unfortunately, the Epistle and Gospel are chanted solely in the vernacular and not in Latin. The current Instruction on the TLM asserts that this MAY be done only in the Low Mass.

    One could argue that this paragraph is the clearest and most precise written work by the Vatican in the post-Vatican II era. However, the pastor has written a dubium requesting a clarification to this paragraph because he does not want to have the readings proclaimed in Latin.

    I agree with those of you who said follow the rubric, anything else (without an explicit indult) is just arogant disobedience.

  31. "In a small parish in South Tirol the former pastor says daily TLM where all the changing texts, not just readings, but the orations, too, are in German. Since he never introduced Novus Ordo in his parish (it was done only in 2005 by his successor) he apparently is continuing to do what he did before the reform."

    He might be using the 1962 Missal with the modifications introduced in 1965 and/or 1967, which allowed vernacular for the Proper of the Mass (along with the Ordinary).

  32. Reluctant Pessimist10:36 PM

    Pascal's second question, "Does anyone here have any idea how widespread the singing of vernacular hymns at a Sung Mass has been, either in the era prior to 1964, or in TLMs post-1984?" is one to which I can provide a limited firsthand answer. Neither in my natal parish, Saint Angela Merici, nor in any other New York archdiocesan parish where I attended Mass (low, high, or solemn) prior to 1964 (the year I turned 19) was vernacular singing to be heard at any time during the Mass itself. At Sunday low masses, vernacular entrance hymns and recessionals were sung, but that was the full extent of vernacular intrusion (even on Christmas Day, when several carols might be sung, they were always sung before the priest entered the sanctuary). No vernacular singing whatsoever was associated with the Sunday High Mass, and the congregation had been well trained to keep its collective mouth shut and attend to the chanting of the priest and the singing of the choir and the occasional soloist, mostly for the Offertory hymn (except at missa cantata requiems and nuptial masses). In accord with immemorial practice--reinforced by Pius XII in 1955 in paragraph 61 of Musicae sacrae--the bar for admission to the choir was still set very high at Saint Angela Merici in those days, and so listening reverently and attentively tried the patience of neither saint nor music lover.

    Of course, what was true for High Mass was so a fortiori for the occasional Solemn Mass. I recall serving a solemn nuptial mass (my one and only) where the organ-only processional and recessional were polyphonic pieces of Renaissance or baroque origin rather than the usual much-loved Lohengrin and Mendelssohn selections (the only people not vocal in disappointment at their absence were, if memory serves, the bride and groom).

    In return, I have a question for Pascal or anyone else whose knowledge of the rubrics betters my own (not entirely negligible) knowledge: putting any indults to one side, was the binding instruction of Saint Pius X in Tra le Sollecitudini concerning the illiceity of the appearance of any vernacular singing ever formally and authoritatively set aside or overruled? I refer specifically to paragraph 7: "The language proper to the Roman Church is Latin. Hence it is forbidden to sing anything whatever in the vernacular in solemn liturgical functions--much more to sing in the vernacular the variable or common parts of the Mass and Office." Awareness of and reference to this instruction was commonplace throughout my childhood and adolescence, and I still react with discouragement (at the very least) whenever I hear vernacular singing at Mass or Benediction save as a processional or recessional.

  33. Loyolakiper2:45 PM

    I would like to make a clarification to the comment about St. Patrick's Chruch in New Orleans...

    The Solemn High Mass is celebrated nearly every Sunday, to the point that I do not remember the last time a Sung Mass of Missa Cantata were celebrated. What was said previously is accurate, but I would like to stress thatthe Epistle and Gospel are chanted by the Deacon and Subdeacon solely in the vernacular (English in this case). The readings are not first proclaimes in Latin and then subsequenttly in the vernacular as is prescribed by the Instruction.

    The Instruction's clarity on the language of the reading for the TLM arguably may be the clearest paragraph written by the Vatican in the post-Vatican II era. As the Instruction explains that the readings may be proclaimed in the vernacular only when the Low Mass is said. However, the pastor has written a dubium for a clarification on this already very clear paragraph from Ecclesia Dei...

  34. LoyolaKiper...a further correction to your response to "anonymous said...". He (or she) stated: The Gospel is chanted in English facing East. It is actually chanted facing North. And...both the Epistle and Gospel, while being chanted solely in the vernacular (i. e. English), are both introduced in Latin. I agree also that the instuction UE seems very clear as to the use of Latin in the Solemn High TLM.