The Silence of a Tridentine Mass

I went to my first Tridentine Mass last week. I had read about it and pretty much knew what to expect. But what surprised me was the silence of the laity! I did not know that the responses would be given only by the altar boys and not by the congregation. Was it always like that?

And what about the prayers? I had thought that Kyrie, the Gloria, the Credo, the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei had always been prayers for participation of all the faithful.

And there were no hymns? When did Catholics sing all those hymns in our hymnal that were composed prior to 1970?

In essentials – proclamation of the Word and celebration of the Eucharist – both Tridentine and Novus Ordo are equal. But with regard to accidentals, I have to go with the Novus Ordo. The Tridentine is certainly beautiful, but I am not there merely to be moved or entertained; I am there to worship. Active participation is very important IMHO.

[quote=Racer X]I went to my first Tridentine Mass last week. I had read about it and pretty much knew what to expect. But what surprised me was the silence of the laity! I did not know that the responses would be given only by the altar boys and not by the congregation. Was it always like that?
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Yes, although there was a short-lived experiment called the “dialog Mass” in which the people and the altar servers responded. Normally, however, the altar servers responded on behalf of the people.

And what about the prayers? I had thought that Kyrie, the Gloria, the Credo, the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei had always been prayers for participation of all the faithful.

No, again that is a late development from the dialog Mass (or, conversely, it was the practice of the early Church that was dropped around the year 900).

And there were no hymns? When did Catholics sing all those hymns in our hymnal that were composed prior to 1970?

Most singing in that era was done by the choir – the people did not, normally, “sing along.”

Deacon Ed

[quote=Racer X]I went to my first Tridentine Mass last week. I had read about it and pretty much knew what to expect. But what surprised me was the silence of the laity! I did not know that the responses would be given only by the altar boys and not by the congregation. Was it always like that?

And what about the prayers? I had thought that Kyrie, the Gloria, the Credo, the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei had always been prayers for participation of all the faithful.

And there were no hymns? When did Catholics sing all those hymns in our hymnal that were composed prior to 1970?

In essentials – proclamation of the Word and celebration of the Eucharist – both Tridentine and Novus Ordo are equal. But with regard to accidentals, I have to go with the Novus Ordo. The Tridentine is certainly beautiful, but I am not there merely to be moved or entertained; I am there to worship. Active participation is very important IMHO.
[/quote]

In the days of the Tridentine Mass many of us had a Sunday or Daily Missal. The prayers and readings in it were in English and the Ordinary of the Mass (the unchangeable parts of the Mass) were printed in Latin on one page and English on the facing page. So we read along and were very involved in the prayer of the Mass, just not vocally.

Very interesting, Deacon Ed. Do you have any history-of-the-Mass resources to recommend?

Probably you attended a “low Mass”. The Church I go to has a an opening and closing hymn sung by the choir and the people. Technically these are hymns sung “before” and “after” Mass but not during Mass.

After the last Gospel, the people probably did participate by saying the Leontine prayers together, right?

At a High Mass, there is a lot of music and responses are sung by the choir and/or schola.

I hear some people sing along with these in Latin but it is not required unless you are in a community that uses the dialogue Mass in which case responses are given with the altar boys.

We participate, but yes, mostly we do it silently.:slight_smile:

I attend a TLM parish staffed by the FSSP, and during Low Masses the congregation always says the responses – maybe not every single one, but a lot of them. And at High Masses, the congregation always sings the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, and Agnus Dei as well as certain responses in response to certain things that the priest sings (such as “Et cum spiritu tuo” in response to “Dominus vobiscum”).

Active worship does not necessarily mean physical activity.

Silence is highly conducive to worship. Be still and know God.

The relative silence is one of the reasons I love the Tridentine Mass. But, it can also be a place of some of the most beatiful music and vocal prayer in the world.

[quote=Racer X]Very interesting, Deacon Ed. Do you have any history-of-the-Mass resources to recommend?
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There are a number of good resources that you could find. Among the easiest to read is History of the Mass by Robert Cabi[size=2]é. This is a one-volume “popular” history. A more complete history can be found in The Mass of the Roman Rite: Its Origins and Development by Joseph A. Jungmann, S.J. – but be aware that he uses lots of Greek and Latin phrases that may make the material less accessible to the average reader. There is also a work by Fr. Adrian Fortescue (Mass a Study in the Roman Liturgy) available in reprint. This work is, unfortunately, flawed by some *a priori *assumptions made by the author, but the history is generally very good.[/size]
[size=2][/size]
[size=2]I have also contributed by own small work in a web-based history of the Mass. This is actually a page for a now defunct mailing list and the history of the Mass is at the top of the page.[/size]
[size=2][/size]
[size=2]Deacon Ed
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Very interesting history, Ed. But I thought sing alongs started with Mitch?

[quote=Deacon Tony560]Very interesting history, Ed. But I thought sing alongs started with Mitch?
[/quote]

Nah, since the Byzantine Divine Liturgies were always chanted from beginning to end there was always a sing-along!

Deacon Ed

Racer X,

You said:

“But with regard to accidentals, I have to go with the Novus Ordo. The Tridentine is certainly beautiful, but I am not there merely to be moved or entertained; I am there to worship. Active participation is very important IMHO.”

The Novus Ordo can certainly be full of accidentals: Celebrants *accidentally * wearing khakis and sportshirts under their vestments; alter “persons” *accidentally * wearing flip-flops and ratty old sneakers; crucifixes *accidentally * being replaced by various forms of what could only be called “Touchdown Jesus” or “Greg Luganis Jesus”; parishoners *accidentally * wearing halter tops and short-shorts to Mass and *accidentally * catching up on the neighborhood gossip while others are trying to participate in the Mass; etc., etc.

… seriously though, RacerX, I think the point is well made that just because the congregation is mostly silent during the Tridentine Mass most certainly doesn’t mean they are not participating or worshipping. To the contrary, they are likely participating and worshipping in a more profound way than is even possible in the average Novus Ordo parish.

My experience was exactly the opposite of yours. After years of being distracted in the Novus Ordo Mass by irreverence, inappropriateness, churches with no kneelers, bad and/or heretical homilies, 12-string guitars strumming really bad 70s Christian folk music-- my first response to the Tridentine rite was, “PRAISE THE LORD! Here is a Mass I can finally, truly WORSHIP at.”

just some thoughts,

Frank

I must second Frank here. I have had similar experiences and find great peace at our local oratory (institute-christ-king.org/stlouishome.htm), knowing that I can go to Holy Mass and not have to worry about what “Father Feelgood” is going to say (or not say) and knowing that I won’t have to experience such attrocities as things like “ministry of danced prayer.” It’s all Christ-focused: one of the reasons why Father does not face the congregation during Mass. He’s focused on Christ’s real presence in the Tabernacle. The focus is certainly not on the priest.

I do applaud, however, parishes and priests who follow the rubrics and teachings of the Church in the Novus Ordo. Good examples include the EWTN Televised Mass, my experience with Opus Dei, Archbishop Burke, and a few other local priests with guts.

RacerX, if you have the time, get ahold of one of the Tridentine Missals. The local indult parish may have the red books that have the parts of the Mass in them. Read the prayers: see how penetential the Tridentine Mass is. We’re begging God to have mercy on us everytime we go to Mass. It’s a constant theme throughout it and it’s humbling ergo it keeps pride at bay. The prayers are beautiful, and it is a sincere loss, IMHO, that the writers of the Mass of Paul VI (aka: Novus Ordo) decided to drop them. It has made things weak and more casual. Full participation can be given if one “prays the Mass” while it’s unfolding in our churches.

Pax Tecum,
MP

[quote=Frank Hogrebe]Racer X,

You said:

“But with regard to accidentals, I have to go with the Novus Ordo. The Tridentine is certainly beautiful, but I am not there merely to be moved or entertained; I am there to worship. Active participation is very important IMHO.”

The Novus Ordo can certainly be full of accidentals: Celebrants *accidentally * wearing khakis and sportshirts under their vestments; alter “persons” *accidentally * wearing flip-flops and ratty old sneakers; crucifixes *accidentally * being replaced by various forms of what could only be called “Touchdown Jesus” or “Greg Luganis Jesus”; parishoners *accidentally * wearing halter tops and short-shorts to Mass and *accidentally * catching up on the neighborhood gossip while others are trying to participate in the Mass; etc., etc.

… seriously though, RacerX, I think the point is well made that just because the congregation is mostly silent during the Tridentine Mass most certainly doesn’t mean they are not participating or worshipping. To the contrary, they are likely participating and worshipping in a more profound way than is even possible in the average Novus Ordo parish.

My experience was exactly the opposite of yours. After years of being distracted in the Novus Ordo Mass by irreverence, inappropriateness, churches with no kneelers, bad and/or heretical homilies, 12-string guitars strumming really bad 70s Christian folk music-- my first response to the Tridentine rite was, “PRAISE THE LORD! Here is a Mass I can finally, truly WORSHIP at.”

just some thoughts,

Frank
[/quote]

[quote=Racer X]I went to my first Tridentine Mass last week. I had read about it and pretty much knew what to expect. But what surprised me was the silence of the laity! I did not know that the responses would be given only by the altar boys and not by the congregation. Was it always like that?

And what about the prayers? I had thought that Kyrie, the Gloria, the Credo, the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei had always been prayers for participation of all the faithful.

And there were no hymns? When did Catholics sing all those hymns in our hymnal that were composed prior to 1970?

In essentials – proclamation of the Word and celebration of the Eucharist – both Tridentine and Novus Ordo are equal. But with regard to accidentals, I have to go with the Novus Ordo. The Tridentine is certainly beautiful, but I am not there merely to be moved or entertained; I am there to worship. Active participation is very important IMHO.
[/quote]

Sounds like you went to a Low Mass. You should really try to attend a High Mass. At High Mass, you will sing the Kyrie, Gloria, etc. along with the choir.

As for active participation, here is what Pope Pius X said about the Mass:

“Don’t pray at Holy Mass, but pray the Holy Mass. The Holy Mass is a prayer itself, even the highest prayer that exists. It is the Sacrifice, dedicated by our Redeemer at the Cross, and repeated every day on the altar. If You wish to hear Mass as it should be heard, you must follow with eye, heart and mouth all that happens at the altar. Further, you must pray with the priest the holy words said by him in the Name of Christ and which Christ says by him. You have to associate your heart with the holy feelings which are contained in these words and in this manner you ought to follow all that happens at the altar. When acting in this way you have prayed Holy Mass.”

The Low Mass is quiet in that regard but noisy in prayfulness…Our Low Mass usually has a processional hymn and recessionaly hymn with vocal responses at the Prayers after Mass

The most silent Low Mass I ever attended was one where Fr B. was really crook with the flu and he read the Mass silently as well, the worst aspect of it was there was no communion for the laity. I found that hard but I think the congregation was relieved Fr got throught the Mass without collapsing…he really was too ill to have offered Mass I think

:blessyou:

[quote=Frank Hogrebe]…My experience was exactly the opposite of yours. After years of being distracted in the Novus Ordo Mass by irreverence, inappropriateness, churches with no kneelers, bad and/or heretical homilies, 12-string guitars strumming really bad 70s Christian folk music-- my first response to the Tridentine rite was, “PRAISE THE LORD! Here is a Mass I can finally, truly WORSHIP at.”
[/quote]

I share most of your comments and thoughts here Frank.

I have fallen head over heals in love with the “old” mass. The reverence, the beauty, the the beatiful Gregorian chant and the beautiful solemn silence, kneeling at the altar rail to recieve Our Lord, the total awesomeness of it all. High mass and Benediction was an hour and 45 minutes last Sunday - and I still didn’t want to leave when it was over. Just sat silently and prayed for a while.

Anyone within driving distance of the St. Louis area, I invite you to attend the Sunday 10:00 AM High Mass at St. Francis de Sales Oratory. Words can’t do it justice. It’s something that simply has to be experienced.

Peace in Christ,

DustinsDad

In April, I went to a Tridentine Mass at Saint Stephan, the First Martyr, in Sacramento, California. The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter runs the Church and the Mass is conducted in conformance with the Vatican. The altar was the same configuration as before 1965/1970.

It is the same as when I attended Mass in Saint Joachim Catholic Church in Madera, California and Saint Helena Catholic Church in Saint Helena, California in the late 1950s and early 1960s. At High Mass those of us who were in the choir sang. I do not remember the congregation ever responding or singing; however, I could be mistaken on that point.

Hopefully, Pope Benedict XVI will allow the Tridentine Latin Mass wider use so we may have a choice between it and the Novus Ordo Mass. :slight_smile:

  • Kathie

Quote:
"Don’t pray at Holy Mass, but pray the Holy Mass. The Holy Mass is a prayer itself, even the highest prayer that exists. It is the Sacrifice, dedicated by our Redeemer at the Cross, and repeated every day on the altar. If You wish to hear Mass as it should be heard, you must follow with eye, heart and mouth all that happens at the altar. Further, you must pray with the priest the holy words said by him in the Name of Christ and which Christ says by him. You have to associate your heart with the holy feelings which are contained in these words and in this manner you ought to follow all that happens at the altar. When acting in this way you have prayed Holy Mass."
When every prayer said by the priest is echoed by my mind,
there are no distractions or substitutions or absent actions - and having a daily Missal guiding the unity of our prayer - that is the
most precious celebration of Holy Mass! I will have to travel great distance to attend a Tridentine Mass - which was the ONLY Mass celebrated all over the world. You could go into a church in another country, not speak a word of the language, and attend Mass knowing all prayers being said in Latin. Why have we been denied this Mass? The American Bishops are the ones who are responsible for the demise of our Faith - it was not supposed to be like this and was never the intent or “spirit” of Vat II as was purported. I feel I have been truly robbed.

Racer X, at a high mass/missa canta, the choir would sing the: Introit, Kyrie, Gradual, Sequence, Offertory, Sanctus, Benedictus, and the Agnus Dei. The Priest would chant the first line of the: Gloria and the Credo, then the choir would sing the rest while he murmmered the rest of it.

In some places the laity would chant: “Et cum spiritu tuo.” and “Amen” with the choir, but that was pretty much it, and that was not practiced everywhere.

[quote=dts]Active worship does not necessarily mean physical activity.

Silence is highly conducive to worship. Be still and know God.

The relative silence is one of the reasons I love the Tridentine Mass. But, it can also be a place of some of the most beatiful music and vocal prayer in the world.
[/quote]

Amen ! Don’t equate sanctity with motion and commotion.

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