Tridentine Mass - Congregation Not Singing Cause of Laziness or Ignorance?

The first mass I attended was a Tridentine mass and needless to say I was lost. However, the second time I went, this young woman (Yay, young women at mass!) gave me a missalette after mass. How charitable!

However, I became confused about the lack of singing. I didn’t see a lot of people responding at all except with an occasional “amen” or “et cum spiritu tuo”. So I thought that’s all I had to respond to.

But when I got home, I found a French Tridentine Mass on Youtube and , armed with my missalette I followed along. To my surprise, there are lot of places for the congregation to respond.

The Youtube mass is titled “sung low mass”.

So my questions are:
*]Is there such a thing as a silent mass in the Tridentine?
*]Could it be that the congregation does not participate because the majority does not have missals?
*]Would I stand out if I sang when no one was singing?
*]In some parts of the missal it is quite clear when the congregation sings (I guess wherever it says “S” for schola? However, some responses are only indicated by commas or periods and how can I tell the difference if no one is responding?
*] What is the best way for me to really get comfortable with the Tridentine mass? Should I visit different Parishes?

Thanks for your help.

I wonder if what you experienced is a continuation of the area’s practice prior to Vat. II.

It came as a surprise to me to learn from these boards that in many places, prior to Vat. II, there was such a thing as a dialog Mass where the congregation gave the responses and sang. I never experienced such a thing in any parish where I worshipped as a child and I remember how difficult it was for the adults to give responses in the vernacular when they had never been allowed to speak during Mass before, all responses having been the altar boy’s responsibility and all singing the choir’s responsibility.

It seems that dialog Masses were popular in Europe but much less so in Canada. There are no TLMs anywhere near where I live so I haven’t had the opportunity to verify whether or not the silent practice has continued in Canada.

Thanks for pointing that out. It didn’t occur to me that it may be a European thing;. Quite beautiful to see the congregants so enthusiastically respond.

The paradigm for the EF (aka “TLM”) is Solemn Mass (Missa Solemnis), which involves the full ceremonial and requires a deacon and subdeacon. The Ordinary and Propers are sung, as are some of the responses, and anyone who knows the music may sing along with the choir or schola. Unfortunately, Solemn Mass is somewhat of a rarity.

A Missa Cantata or “Sung Mass” (which is what is shown on the YouTube video) is a simplification of that: the Ordinary, Propers, and some responses are sung (and again, as in the video, anyone who knows the music may sing along with the choir or schola), but has only a priest-celebrant.

A Low Mass (Missa Lecta) is a further simplification where neither the Ordinary nor the Propers are sung. It may include hymns (and again, anyone who knows them is welcome to sing along with the choir) for the entrance, the Offertory, Communion, and recessional. The responses are done by the servers.

There is also a fourth variety, Missa Recitata, commonly called a “Dialogue Mass” which is essentially a Low Mass where the congregation takes many of the responses that are otherwise reserved to the servers.

My suggestion to the OP is to seek out a Solemn or Sung Mass. It’s well worth the effort.

Thank you for the explanation of the categories.

I will seek a Solemm or Sung mass. There must be some of those in NYC!

Check on the website, and they may identify which type of Mass each parish offers when it comes to the Latin Mass.

Usually, at the Latin Mass I go to occasionally, it’s a Missa Recitata, where the congregation participates. Today Father offered a Solemn Mass. I was lost as I attempted to follow along in my Missal. I ended up putting it down, and just listened.

I guess that might be why people used to refer to Sunday attendance at Mass as “hearing Mass.” Other than the occasional “amen” or “et cum spirituo tuo” I was lost, lost, lost!

Probably better to say “praying the Mass.”

As with most other things, the responses and songs are learned. No one is expected to know all responses at his/her first Latin Mass any more than responses to his/her first Polish or Spanish Mass. But you can still “pray the Mass.”

There are. One that I know of is at the Church of Our Savior. There are other listings here, but I’d suggest to call ahead to verify.

There’s also Latin Mass at Holy Innocents’ Church, which is in midtown Manhatten. The famous Father Z goes there whenever he’s in New York City.

Yes and no. I think this is another thing on which wide differences will be found from place to place. I have personally seen people singing along with the Credo get tapped on the shoulder and told to stop. In my not-very-diverse experience it’s somewhere between uncommon and nonexistent for the congregation to think it can sing along with the schola, although I wouldn’t be surprised if in other places – maybe Europe again? – different habits prevail. I also think that younger people and people who are excited about the liturgy and its beauty have more of an expectation of being permitted to participate in the liturgy through song and responses, whereas EF contingents that are heavily stocked with old people who are not very excited about the Mass but just stolidly opposed to change tend to reflect more opposition to permitting participation by pew-dwellers, and you’re more likely to get a death stare if you presume to join in.

YMMV, naturally.

Well I’ll say this: I’ve not had the shoulder-tap, but if it ever happened, I’d feel sorry for the tapper. But I have had the “stare” experience and I could care less. I simply stare (perhaps “glare” is better) back. No one is going to prevent me from raising voice in the EF. (And BTW, I find that the parties who do the “stare” are not usually “old hags” or anything of the kind, but rather certain of the rad-trad types who claim the EF as their own and insist that the 1950s were the best thing since sliced bread.)

BTW, what does “YMMV” mean? I’m not a texter.

You won’t believe this. I went to Our Savior this morning. It was awesome! I think it was Novus Ordo, and it was as a Novus Ordo mass should be. Very reverential and with enough latin that I was able to switch to my latin missal and sing (very softly) along. This may be the parish I was looking for.

Do you know which type of service the 11AM service is(Solemn mass, Missa Cantata, Low Mass or Dialogue mass)?

By the way, there is a note in the bulletin that says " At the 9: AM and 11 AM Masses, the text and musical notation for the Kyrie, Gloria and Sanctus can be found in the hymnal at XXX and the Credo at XXX". I don’t know if that means congregants can sing along. I didn’t really see people singing along during those sections, although they did sing any responses that were in the – for lack of a better term-- OF missal.

“Your mileage may vary.” It goes back at least to Usenet (here’s a reference from 1993, and here’s one from 1995), so it’s not actually txtspk. I don’t do txtspk either.

Laziness or Ignorance? You seem to presume the worst. There is another way of looking at this. If you went to a Shakespeare play, would you sing along with the chorus? I go to mass to pray. We do post four hymns and there are song books. Most don’t sing, some do. If I sense that singing would enhance my prayer, I sing. At our church, we have a sign that says essentially all the shoulder nudging is solely the responsibility of the priest. Thank goodness.

Some Latin mass types can be wound too tight. But perhaps there are reasons for that. But that’s a topic for another thread.

I do have a few criticisms that I have often, not always, experienced in the OF. I find it increasingly being about what I might call existential worship, sort of a “Me and My God” kind of feeling, or even an “I Experience God through the Communion with Others” vibe. As such, there is a lot of interaction and hands-on with the congregation. If that’s what you’re looking for, you probably won’t find that at EF.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit