Saturday, April 04, 2009

The vernacular in the Usus Antiquor

There is an interesting quiz posted on the New Liturgical Movement website about what language the readings should be in if using the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

Roman and I were in agreement on one aspect - use one language or another for the readings, not both.

Unfortunately, you cannot see my result on the quiz. But this is of the essence of it. I believe that in a Low Mass the readings should be in the vernacular. In a High Mass they need to be sung in Latin. I hadnt really thought about a Missa Canata, so one may use either/or but preferably in Latin. Where the readings are in Latin the congregation needs to have Mass sheets to follow.

One of the things that I found very awkward is the priest then re-reading the readings from the pulpit. Given that the purpose of the Homily is to break open the Word of God, there does not need to be a re-reading but the Homily needs to be centred upon the readings.

Its interesting that with Henry VIII's reforms of the Sarum Usage after his break with Rome, the Mass was maintained in Latin, but the readings and the recitation of the Our Father (with the people) were to be in the vernacular. This was as "protestant" as Henry wanted to go liturgically. Later on Elizabeth I insisted that the Anglican services in the Chapel Royal be in Latin, although apart from Oxford, they were in English in the rest of the country*.

As for my limited personal experience:

St Lukes Brisbane
Readings are always in Latin and then read from the lecturn in the vernacular.

St Aloysius Melbourne
Readings in Latin only. I think Missals and mass sheets are made available

San Gregorio in Muritorio Rome
Readings in Latin only. Hand-outs in Italian (I found the Latin easier to follow)

San Pietro Rome (Solemn Novus Ordo Mass)
First and second readings in vernacular (one in Italian), Gospel in Latin. Nice glossy booklets for the ordinary, but no hand outs for the readings.


*Elizabeth wanted to unify the country under one "Book of Common Prayer". However, in some parts of the country such as Cornwall, people would have been more familiar with Latin as a second language, than English.

The Language of the Liturgical Readings in the Usus Antiquior

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