Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sine Cantu.

It's time for my annual liturgical abuse, and I don't know how I'm going to do it this year. I'm speaking about vespers on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, which since 1955, are no longer said in the Roman Rite by those who attend the services of those days. I say them anyway, since I have the time and I might be tempted to spend the time doing something other than praying or spiritual reading anyway.

Anyway, that's not the principle reason of this post.

The reason for this post is the almost vague rubric that serves as the title. Namely, that after the mass of Maundy Thursday,  in choro dicuntur  Vesperae sine cantu. That's it there: Sine Cantu.

It seemed obvious two years ago, when I though it meant what it said: That you recite vespers without singing anything.But then, I realised that recto tono chanting, (i.e., singing everything on one note) is called reciting. Okay, so you do sing, you just recite everything recto tono. So we're good, right?


Because, the Liber Usualis* gives melodies for the psalm antiphons and magnificat antiphons for these days. Okay, so it seems that we sing the antiphons to melodies, but recite the psalms and canticle recto tono, (i.e., sung on one note) right? That makes sense. So we're good, right?


Because, the Liber Usualis* also gives psalm-tones with the antiphons. Why this? Why tones? Why give us melodic antiphons and psalm tones when the rubric says to sing everything on one note? Do you ignore the psalm tones and pretend they're not there? Are the noted antiphons and psalm tones for places where there already exists a (contra legem?) custom of singing vespers?Are they from an old, now rarely used custom of singing vespers? *Sigh* I thought the rubrics of the older missal and breviary were supposed to be clearer than the modern Roman liturgical books.

Of course, I'm talking about the Old Liber*, By the 1961 Liber, vespers on this day are said as on Holy Saturday, which has melodic antiphons and psalms pointed for singing with psalm-tones. But, I generally refer things to the way they were before any serious reforms were made to either the missal or breviary (i.e., the Pius X breviary and the pre-1955 Roman Missal) And it's the pre-'55 Holy Week ordo that I base my Holy Week offices on.

*Mine having been printed in 1934

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