16 June 2016


This won't mean anything at all to you unless you've read the first two parts.

In 1570, S Pius V promulgated the Missal with which his name is associated. In it, as we have seen, he continued the use of the Versio Romana for the snippets of psalm which occur (Introit, Gradual, etc.) in the Mass propers. Despite the fact that they were a text which differed from the standard Vulgate text of the Bible which was used in the Breviary, S Pius, as a good conservative Pontiff, perpetuated the use of the 'obsolete' psalter. With collaudate in that psalm.

But 1570 was followed by a period in which the Church was consolidating against heresy, and part of this process was the establishment of the Vulgate Latin Bible as the standard version of reference for Catholic theologians (Popes Sixtus V and Clement VIII through the 1590s). Printers are clever and energetic men. So, without encouragement from the Holy See, they began to print editions of the Missal in which they replaced the Versio Romana texts by the equivalent translation in the recently affirmed official Vulgate. With laudate in that psalm.

In 1604, Pope Clement VIII reacted to this. He issued his own edition of the Missal of S Pius V. In it he wrote:

"... errors have crept in, by which that most ancient translation of the Holy Bible, which even before S Jerome's times was held to be well-known (celebris) within the Church, and from which almost all the introits of Masses, and what are called graduals and offertories, have been taken, was totally taken away ... we, having noticed this, by virtue of our pastoral solicitude, by which in all matters, and especially in the sacred rites of the Church, we are anxious to keep and preserve the best and ancient norm ...

and he went on to prohibit absolutely these Improved and Modernised Missals with which the printers were filling the bookshops. Back to collaudate!

Here we see two Roman Pontiffs performing their age-old duty of being a breakwater, a defence (remora was Newman's term) against unnecessary innovation and trendy Improvements.

We see Clement VIII doing this even though those printers had only been guilty of prioritising that very text of Scripture which he himself had just published and had ordered to be deemed authentic.

That is what Roman Pontiffs are for.

To sum up this three-part dissertation:
PIUS XII ... ... er ...

Isn't that a lovely phrase ..."the best and ancient norm ..."?


mark wauck said...

May I suggest an emendation? "This is ONE OF THE THINGS Roman pontiffs are good for."

BTW, Wikipedia has an article on Latin Psalters that begins with a comparison of seven Latin versions of the Psalms. One paragraph is worth quoting in full:

"Many of these translations are actually quite similar to each other, especially in style: the Roman, Gallican, Ambrosian, and Mozarabic psalters have relatively few differences between them [among them?]. The concord among [yes!] these similar psalters is attributable to a common original translation from the Greek Septuagint. The New Vulgate psalter, though stylistically similar to these, diverges rather more from these traditional psalters insofar as it more closely follows the Hebrew Masoretic text. Two of these psalters stand apart as independent translations from the Hebrew: Jerome's juxta Hebraicum and the Pian version."

It seems to me that the potentially bigger issue overall is the modern tendency to give a sometimes uncritical preference to the Masoretic version of the Israelite scriptures, over the Septuagint. Scholars are now coming to see the complexities involved, but the reformers have had their day. Sometimes leaving well enough alone is not only the easiest but the wisest course.

Jesse said...

As is well known, the same conservative instinct allowed the psalter of the Great Bible to survive in the Prayer Book. (The "Laudian" Scottish BCP of 1637 had tried to substitute the AV, and we know how that trendy update went down...) The needs of singers raised on Coverdale seem to have been recognized by the 1662 revisers.

The alterations to the lesser propers in the missal would similarly only be tolerable if the texts were no longer being *sung*. And not only are these chants usually from a Vetus Latina version, but they are often deliberately crafted song texts that depart from the biblical text in favour of musical considerations. The introit Puer natus est is a famous example.

I have never checked to see whether the "Medicean Gradual" of 1614-15 introduced any verbal changes. (It made drastic changes to the melodies.) Presumably not, given the 1604 Clementine edition's declaration in favour of the ancient texts.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dearc Mark

I very much agree about the Septuagint versus Masoretic ... and so does Benedict XVI. See my pieces on 1 December 2013; 18 April 2014; 20 April 2016; and especially 10 April 2015.

Ben of the Bayou said...

My dear Father Hunwicke,

Peace and all good to you.

In the first post of this series, you revealed by prolepsis your conclusion. To wit, "So the Magisterium itself, by its own example, taught and teaches that non-organic innovation should be resisted and, ultimately, reversed!" Perhaps it is poor form to say it so baldly, but I cannot help but think, based on your adducing from this example a general principle, that you mean this to apply also to other non-organic changes to the liturgical uses of the Roman Church.

Now, whether such a reversal will come regarding these changes in...oh, let's say the Mass, I very much doubt, at least in the next generation or so. However, I am hoping you would be willing to help me to answer some objections about changes raised by a certain Austrian priest, the late Georg Hesse. His talks are making the rounds on YouTube.

What I particularly hope to have as assistance from your erudition is a response to his argument regarding Trent, session 7, can. 13, as well as Quo Primum. He uses these two to say that no Pope may ever now introduce new rites for the Sacraments in the Church and, if he were to, then such rites a d such a Poor become schismatical. Never mind that schism is refusal of submission to the authority of the Roman Pontiff (and so, how can the Pontiff become cut off from himself?).

To show you that this does relate to your topic, I ask whether it be possible for a Pope to establish a new rite, which is both valid and licit, even though it be motivated by faulty philosophies (such as Pius XII)? I ask because of the two sources I cited above.

If you, Reverend Father, have already responded to these questions, would you point me to the dates? Or, if there is a good resource online, would you kindly point it out to me?

As for myself, I do not like the new rites and think them flawed, as to content, expression, and intent. But, I have no doubts about their validity and liceity. However, this is not enough for a reasoned argument and I would like to bring some souls out of darkness.



KaeseEs said...


What musical considerations are evident in Puer natus est nobis? I had always assumed the translator of that particular bit of the Vetus Latina chose puer in place of something like parvulus because he had Isaias 53 in the back of his mind while working on Isaias 9, perhaps by inspiration.

Jesse said...

Thanks, KaeseEs. That's an interesting idea. Here at least is how I understand it (and please forgive me if I'm teaching my grandmother to suck eggs).

Vulgate (ed. Weber)
Parvulus enim natus est nobis
filius datus est nobis
et factus est principatus super umerum eius
et vocabitur nomen eius
Admirabilis consiliarius Deus fortis
futuri saeculi Princeps pacis

Vetus Latina (ed. Sabatier)
Quia Parvulus natus est nobis,
filius datus est nobis,
cuius principatus factus est super humerum eius:
et vocatur nomen eius,
Magni consilii nuncius:
adducam enim pacem super principes,
et sanitatem ejus.

[Half the page in Sabatier's edition is taken up by a footnote giving many variant attestations of this one verse in patristic sources, including the readings "puer", "cuius imperium super humeros eius", and "magni consilii angelus", which are interesting as possible sources for the chant text.]

Antiphonale Missarum Sextuplex (ed. Hesbert)
Puer natus est nobis
et filius datus est nobis
cuius imperium super humerum eius
et vocabitur nomen eius
magni consilii Angelus.

The text in the antiphoner strikes me as a hybrid of several readings, perhaps influenced by study of the Fathers. The end result is five beautifully balanced phrases (if in an irreverent mood, you could almost read them as a limerick), and the traditional chant melody responds to them in interesting ways. The first two phrases begin with the same rising fifth leap, with a high cadence in the first phrase and a "home" cadence in the second (AA'), reflecting the structure of the underlying Hebrew parallelism. It seems to me that the reading "Puer" instead of "Parvulus" allows this musical parallelism to be stated more starkly. Phrases 3 and 4 musically "rhyme" (BB), and I think this is why the short "super humerum eius" reading was chosen: phrase 3 can't be much longer than phrase 4, or the rhyme would be obscured. The last phrase opens a bit like B, dips *down* a fifth on "con-" (answering the opening of phrases 1 and 2), but ends like A' (B'aA"), unifying all the main musical ideas of the chant. The reading "angelus" has obvious musical advantages: it's much nicer to sing "a---ngelus" than "nu----ncius".

It is possible, I suppose, that the biblical text familiar to the sixth- or seventh-century Roman cantor who created this chant had all the same variant Vetus Latina readings. But that strikes me as improbable!

Such are my impressions. (And when I said "famous", I meant among students of chant history for whom this chant is often their first encounter with the cantor-as-librettist.) It is, I readily concede, a problem of circular reasoning: was the text crafted with the beautiful musical treatment in mind, or did the musical treatment respond flawlessly to an independently crafted text? Personally, I think these cantors naturally heard musical potential in words whenever they read them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jesse, for your post. Generally, my impression is that modern liturgical experts of whatever church or denomination are too often ignoring that many parts of the liturgy first of all have been musical settings. And in case of music, even changing one single syllable can be desastrous.

Anonymous said...

In this concern, the Pian Psalter certainly was one of the worst and greatest ruptures in the history of the Roman liturgy. Whereas the text of the Psalter continued to be prayed at least from the 4th century onwards almost unchanged until mid of the 20th century, with the Pian Psalter a completely different text appeared, which moreover was almost unsingable. Compare f.i. Psalm 1 acc. to the Psalterium Romanum it can be found under the link (following Weber`s critical edition of 1953) - which is almost the same as the text of the Vulgate - and the Pian Version:

St. Jerome and some 1500 years of liturgical practise:
I. 1 Beatus vir qui non abiit in consilio impiorum
et in via peccatorum non stetit
et in cathedra pestilentiae non sedit
2 sed in lege Domini fuit voluntas eius
et in lege eius meditabitur die ac nocte
3 et erit tamquam lignum
quod plantatum est secus decursus aquarum
quod fructum suum dabit in tempore suo
et folium eius non decidet
et omnia quaecumque fecerit prosperabuntur
4 non sic impii non sic
sed tamquam pulvis quem proicit ventus a facie terrae
5 ideo non resurgunt impii in iudicio
neque peccatores in consilio iustorum
6 quoniam novit Dominus viam iustorum
et iter impiorum peribit.

Pius XII/Card. Bea 1945:
I. 1 Beatus vir, qui non sequitur consilium impiorum,
Et viam peccatorum non ingreditur,
Et in conventu protervorum non sedet;
2 Sed in lege Domini voluptas eius est,
Et de lege eius meditatur die ac nocte.
3 Et est tamquam arbor
Plantata iuxta rivos aquarum,
Quae fructum praebet tempore suo,
Cuiusque folia non marcescunt,
Et quaecumque facit, prospere procedunt.
4 Non sic impii, non sic;
Sed tamquam palea, quam dissipat ventus.
5 Ideo non consistent impii in iudicio,
Neque peccatores in concilio iustorum.
6 Quoniam Dominus curat viam iustorum,
Et via impiorum peribit.

This rupture was partially cured by introduction of the Nova Vulgata in 1969, but still many differences to the traditional liturgical text remain. Here once again Psalm 1 copied from the official Version in Vatican.va:

1 Beatus vir, qui non abiit in consilio impiorum
et in via peccatorum non stetit
et in conventu derisorum non sedit,
2 sed in lege Domini voluntas eius,
et in lege eius meditatur die ac nocte.
3 Et erit tamquam lignum plantatum secus decursus aquarum,
quod fructum suum dabit in tempore suo;
et folium eius non defluet,
et omnia, quaecumque faciet, prosperabuntur.
4 Non sic impii, non sic,
sed tamquam pulvis, quem proicit ventus.
5 Ideo non consurgent impii in iudicio,
neque peccatores in concilio iustorum.
6 Quoniam novit Dominus viam iustorum,
et iter impiorum peribit.

What an arrogance and ignorance of the liturgical sense of all the many generations who have been praying the traditional Psalter for centuries and centuries, and what disregard of all the beautiful music which has been composed using the traditional texts. It is time that Rome returns to the traditional liturgy, which only has the spiritual power and impact so much need in our unholy days.

A priest said...

An interesting post.I use the vulgate when praying the 1962 breviary. The Pian psalter, for all its novelty, was never mandated, except in a few Mass texts.