THE CHANCE TO TRY
my recent article in your
pages has occasioned letters in your correspondence columns in two successive weeks, I suppose I had better make some reply.
To Mr. Armstrong: Certainly the translations of the Common found in the Book of Common Prayer have great literary beauty; and certainly it is possible to sing them to a number of different settings (including those of Merbeeke). But many people think the words are archaic and that the musical settings are unsatisfactory in various ways. Still, they ought to be considered.
To Mr. Sweeney: He says, "1 can think of nothing worse than Fr. Clifford Howell's suggestions that several different vernacular texts of the Mass be authorised for experimental use." Let him please look at a recent "Tablet". There he will find a well-reasoned letter in which Frs. Conrad Pepler and Edmund Hill, 0.P., advocate this same policy.
An idea which has both Dominican and Jesuit support may not be such utter nonsense as Mr. Sweeney appears to think.
He also asks "Has Fr. Howell never heard of Merbecke?" Of course I have. /tut I am not without hope that twentieth century composers working on twentieth century texts, might be able to produce something more satisfactory to twentieth century ears.
I am but pleading that they be given the chance to try. They can be trusted to draw on "the experience of the use of the vernacular of the last four centuries of the Anglican and Nonconformist churches" and to learn, not only from the successes but also from the failures of these.
Clifford Howell, S.J. Harborne.
I agree with Canon Drinkwater that a thing is not worthy of condemnation just because it is new, absolutely or relatively; and I cannot too strongly deplore the attitude that something is ipso facto bad and inadmissible simply because "it's never been done before" or "it was never done in my day". Hence I agree that the comparatively recent introduction into the Roman Liturgy of the Elevation at Mass is no reason in itself for proposing its abolition or belittling it in any way. It is perhaps worth noting, however, that the Elevation. as we now have it, does seem to have sprung from the custom of the priest celebrating Mass with his back to the people.
When Mass is celebrated facing the people. and with the priest clearly visible across an unencumbered altar, then full value is automatically restored to the minor (or "little") Ele
vation of both Species together at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer or Canon, and the present Elevation, at the moment of Consecration, equally inevitably seems to lose much of its importance and purpose. If, in addition, the words accompanying the Minor Elevation could be recited aleud, and, better still, in a language all the circumstantcs could. understand, then the entire congregation could join with even greater fervour and conviction in the great Amen that unites them vocally with the Mystical Sacrifice of which this raising-up of the Victim to the Heavenly Father forms the concluding act.
Frank R. James Dorking.
According to last week's CATIIOLIC HERALD the Rev. T. McGoldrick would like to see the Mass more like the Last Supper! He then goes on to say the bread used at Mass should be baked so that it looks and tastes like bread.
1 suppose he means ordinary leavened bread as is used at home.
If this is so, how does he account for the fact that the Church has always accepted the view that the Last Supper was a Passover Supper, therefore Our Lord would have used Azyme, or unleavened bread ?
There is then good reason to retain our present use, anyway it's far more practical.
Allan H. Green Teddington.
In the matter of changing to a Vernacular Liturgy, surely we in England are in a very happy position inasmuch as we can find so much ready material in the Anglican Church.
Before I was a Catholic. 1 used my English Missal, and in the choir we sang the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnits Dui, Creed to beautiful and digni fiedm song.
ay l suggest that the help so
of some of the convert clergymen might be sought by our Bishops. There are some who are experts in Liturgy and I feel their English experience would be incalculable.
Andrew Rex London, W.3.
Surely the people who uphold Latin in the Mass are basing their arguments on theory rather than practice'? Don't most of its who use the Missal already follow the Mass in English ? And though the
priest may say the Mass in Latin, how often can we tell, by what is frequently just a rapid mutter from the loudspeaker, what language he is usi rig?
And as for hearing a familiar liturgy when we're abroad, it's my experience that the vagaries of European accents alone, not to mention Oriental ones, can ring endless changes on those some "familiar Latin phrases".
-1 he idea or the Mass being offered in the same language all over the world is a tremendously attractive symbol of the Church's unity, but might.
• not that unity be still more strikingly shown by diversity?
We mustn't confuse unity with uniformity. The essential oneness of the Church is brought home to me with far more force by hearing the Mass sung to African music, than it would be if the same African choir were to sing the Mass to a Western setting—a personal reaction. perhaps, but it can hardly be a unique one.
And, finally (though I know there are many priests to whom these remarks, happily, do not apply), when we have the Mass in our mother-tongue. please, may we he allowed to hear 'it?
(Mrs.) Ann Power Blackrock.
Having read the correspondence on liturgical reform in your issue of December 27 last, may I be permitted to ask one or two questions?
I certainly believe that only the use of the mother tongue can bring about the full participation by the greater part of the laity in the liturgy of the Mass.
Some priests and keen teachers undoubtedly do stir up congregations to respond well in Latin and this may be better than private devotions and may prevent distractions, bin how many of those reciting so well would pray much better in English?
I would welcome the liturgy in a good English translation. this is the greatest asset of the Church of England and a great comfort to her members. (This I know from personal experience and also from the lips of the dying).
Yet. surely we are not to lose the Latin form entirely? Latin is still the language of the Church and a great bond between all nations.
When it is sung and one has time to drink in the meaning it can be followed and enjoyed by simpletons like me. When English is adopted need we stop teaching Latin?
Surely a proportion of services in Latin in all countries would please everyone and allay the fears of many? Perhaps soon we shall be given some reassurance on these matters?