Gerhardt Müller as a bishop

Gerhardt Müller as a bishop

Gerhardt Muller, Prefect of the Congregration for the Doctrine of the Faith, met the three Ordinaries of the Personal Ordinariates in March 2014 just before he was made a cardinal and told them

It is your delicate, but all-important task both to preserve the integrity and distinctiveness of your parish communities and, at the same time, help your people integrate into the larger Catholic community.

We are charged to remain distinctive but not isolated; to integrate without becoming assimilated. Part of the latter is to know the historic music common to the whole Church, with which Anglicans may have become unfamiliar during 300 years of separation.

Illuminated capital from Sanctus, Ranworth Antiphoner, folio 107v

Part of that is the plainsong chant of the ordinary of the Mass — the Kyrie, Gloria, Alleluia, Sanctus and Benedictus and the Agnus Dei. There were eighteen settings published in the Liber Usualis (“The usual book”; “the book of the ordinary”), and a few of those are still used fairly widely in the Church today. One such is Mass IX Missa Orbis Factor (“Creator of the World”); another is Mass VIII, the Missa de Angelis (“Mass of the Angels”). The Missa Simplex which we use during Advent and Lent has been adapted for English words from a number of Latin Masses from the Liber Usualis.

Mass Eight from the Liber Usualis, the Missa de Angelis, is probably the best-known of the traditional settings and is most likely to be used where groups of Catholics join together for a major celebration. Thus, if the new Catholics in the Ordinariates are to be able to integrate and participate in such celebrations, it helps to know it! So we’re using it for six weeks or so up to Advent in order to become more familiar.

It’s in Latin. Adapting plainchant to English words is a hit-and-miss affair even with strophic verses in a regular metre, and Latin is the universal language of the universal Church: it’s international. And it’s a link to the historic tradition of the Liturgy, which was always celebrated in Latin.

To help with learning a new Mass, we’ve produced leaflets with the words and dots to follow, both in the four-line plainsong notation of the Liber Usualis and on modern five-line staves as published in Laudate. It’s also in Liturgical Hymns Old and New (the light-blue one), and it’s Andrew Moore’s accompaniment from that book which we’re using. NB: Some browsers won’t display these PDF documents correctly. If you have problems, right-click the links, save the files to your computer and then open them.

To help more, we’ve found quite a good recording which you can play using the player under the illustration. It’s almost the entire setting sung by I Sentieri della Fede. Because the acoustic at St Agnes isn’t as large as theirs, we sing it slightly faster; but their recording is taken at a reasonable speed for learning by following the music. Part of the Missa de Angelis which is already well known is the Alleluia which we’ve been using right from the start. That’s not included in the recording or the leaflets here; neither is the Dismissal, which uses the music from the Kyrie at the start of Mass.

With the addition of this setting to the repertoire the community uses, we have five settings available: Peter Jones’s Parish Mass; Alan Smith’s Pershore Mass; Marty Haugen’s New Mass of Creation; the Missal’s Missa Simplex; and the Missa de Angelis. There’s room for at least one more to ensure a variety through the year without getting stale. If you have any suggestions for what we might use (or the style of music another setting might employ) please do speak to Andrew or Mary.