Thursday, August 11, 2016

Sant Anselmo's new Vesperale

You can read all about it at the Pray Tell blog, written by the project editor himself, Fr. Anthony Ruff.

Fr. Ruff includes some fairly detailed explanation of the rationale behind the new Vesperale - it honestly reads like a rough draft of a proper forward. Chant aficionados will have much to chew on.

A few interesting notes from the article:
Vespers is sung daily in Latin at Sant’ Anselmo, allowing the international community to pray this key office together as a community. Uppermost for me was that the new book be as user-friendly as possible, since so many students and professors have done little or no Latin chant in their home monasteries. Vernacular chant based more or less on Latin is what predominates in monasteries around the world now.
Interesting, no? Invariably, it will strike some readers as "proof" that a Latin liturgy can foster community, but context is everything. In this instance, there is a presumption at the monks at Sant' Anselmo would know Latin on account of the location being an academic hub as well as monastic. Latin still has its utility, though context is everything.

Early on the leadership at Sant’ Anselmo decided that the psalter distribution would be that of the four-week reformed Roman office, not the old Benedictine one-week distribution or any of the other schemes in the The reason is sound: many monks at Sant’ Anselmo are praying other offices in vernacular using the Roman office (daily sung Lauds and Mass in Italian in the main chapel uses the Roman office), so it makes sense to link up with that. The calendar, of course, is that of Sant’ Anselmo.

Less than encouraging. While the Rule makes allowance for some modification of the order, it still insists on a one week psalter. This said, even the Psalterium Monasticum entertains alternative psalter schemas that were designed to deviate from that principle. The decision to adopt the current Roman schema is pragmatic, though one wonders how a parochial psalter meshes with the charism of monastic life. The decision is slightly disheartening since Benedict's schema is one of the oldest in continuous use. 

The insight provided into both the liturgical life at Sant' Anselmo and in the upper echelons of the order demonstrate why there will not likely be any significant rebuke of the liturgical reforms. What one glimpses is the image of a liturgical life that is...get ready for it...ORGANIC to the community. This is something reform of the reform types and traddies will eventually need to wrap their mind around. The Novus Ordo is less an imposition from on high and increasingly the natural liturgical expression, one that is cultivate by the community.  If one objects to that reform or the liturgical culture surrounding it, one must make some very hard choices.

I don't write this to gloat or endorse the Pauline liturgy (I genuinely have no dog in that fight). I write this because the tipping point is past. The period to argue against the liturgical reforms of the Roman Church is, practically speaking, over. The Novus Ordo has become what more traditional writers portray the Tridentine liturgy to have been prior to the reforms of the 20th century - it is the organic liturgical expression of the majority of the Roman Church. Whatever development, for well or ill, happens, it will use the Pauline liturgy as its template.


  1. To see where the efforts of the Vatican are now being directed, it is worth taking a look at the Ordinariate Missal which I strongly suspect was designed as a "pilot" project for the next stage of the Pauline liturgy - the overall 1970 structure is kept, but the Roman Canon only for Sunday, only 2 EPs, and traditional elements like the Tridentine preparation & offertory prayers make a return as options, all in a "high" vernacular. I have mixed feelings about this as I think the occult aims undermined the value of the Missal as Anglican patrimony. But it gives the Pauline Missal a huge "boost" in potential without confusing the person in the pew who is used to Pauline Mass. I suspect they retain a sense of familiarity, of knowing their way around what is happening, whilst they are also having new (i.e. old) bits introduced to them.

    1. I would gladly take a look at the Ordinariate Missal were I sent a review copy for the purposes of this blog. Until then, my impressions are limited to what I have seen thus far (which is not much).

      This said...

      The very existence of the Ordinariate Missal calls into question the necessity of any English translation of the Missal of Paul VI. If indeed Rome has firmly set course on the vernacular and local inculturation, then it seems reasonable for the Ordinariate Missal to be properly considered the liturgy of English speaking Catholicism. This holds for two reasons, 1) the Anglican Tradition has defined liturgical English, 2) the liturgical English of the Anglican Tradition owns the cultural mantle in English speaking countries and has been the dominant mode of expressing the Western Tradition as a whole in said countries.

      I tend to take it at face value that the Ordinariate Missal was intended for former Anglicans - I see no reason to believe (or hope) that it was promulgated as a foreshadowing of the next development in the Pauline liturgy. And frankly, if it were, it would be redunant - in light of the Ordinariate Missal's existence, there is no reason to insist upon any further translation or development of the Pauline Missal in English speaking countries. Now, development of its Latin typical edition, that is another matter.

    2. Your point would be completely correct - except that the use of the Ordinariate Missal is for Ordinariate groups only, apart from exceptional circumstances which are proving to be very rare in practice. The likelihood of the English-speaking Catholic world being given freedom to use the Ord. Missal is (I am told) zero, at least at present. I have reasons for suggesting that, in its production, there was half an eye (subconsciously?) on the structure and content of a future editio typica, but I could be wrong.