Sung Mass, Low Mass: Does God Care?

Sung Mass, Low Mass: Does God Care?


I’ve been asked to post this thread, in order to discuss the issues surrounding the strong preference of some people, priests included, for a regular sung Mass, whereas others among us prefer the peace of the low Mass as seen in the video above.  I tried to find a sung Mass on video, but all searches led to Solemn High Masses – if anyone can find a straightforward sung Mass on video, please feel free to post it in the comments section, so that those who are unfamiliar with the Traditional Latin Mass might take the time to view both the low and the sung Masses on film.  Remember, to post a video straight onto the page, simply right click on the video, select “copy embed code” and then select “paste” to post the video in your comment box.

There is a school of thought which argues that the more ceremonial there is in the Mass, the greater glory that is given to God. Others believe that the simplicity of Calvary, where there was no music, means that God is best adored in the ordinary low Mass.  Share your thoughts…

Comments (98)

  • Patrick E. Devens

    I believe both are equal to another. Both have the same effect as the other. Calvary is made present at both. Thanks for posting. 😉

    June 26, 2017 at 11:20 pm
    • Athanasius

      Patrick E. Devens

      First of all I have to say that I love your avatar. Pope Pius XII was indeed a great and venerable Pontiff.

      Your observation about the Mass, sung or low, is absolutely correct. However, you may find the substance of my own comment interesting as it goes a little beyond the obvious to ask which of the two forms of the same Sacrifice is pastorally best suited to the ordinary faithful in the parish setting.

      June 27, 2017 at 12:14 am
      • Patrick E. Devens

        Thanks friend! Love the points made in your comment. I wrote an article on Pius XII and the Nazis a lil while back on my blog, if you are interested.

        June 27, 2017 at 1:52 am
      • Patrick E. Devens

        I haven’t written any articles on the Mass itself, but it do have many articles on different topics, from a Traditional Catholic view. Feel free to check it out.

        June 27, 2017 at 1:57 am
      • editor

        Thank you, Patrick, for the link to your blog. I had a quick look just now – very interesting, and I’m sure I’ve visited it before: “The Catholic Thinker” rings a bell. Anyway, will take a more detailed tour later.

        June 27, 2017 at 9:25 am
    • editor


      Hello – and welcome to our humble blog!

      I’m interested in your view that both Masses are equal, due to the “effect”.

      There is, however, a school of thought (expressed by others on this blog in the past) that the more ceremonial there is in the Mass, the greater the glory given to God. I take it that you disagree.

      June 27, 2017 at 12:15 am
      • Patrick E. Devens

        Thanks! I attend the Traditional Latin Mass in Indiana, celebrated by the FSSP. I have a different opinion on whether glory is greater depending on the type of Mass it is.

        Since the Mass is the greatest act of worship man can offer God, I think it is of the same value whether Sung or Low. The Sacrifice of Calvary is made present in each. Just my opinion. I’m open to other thoughts on it. Thanks.

        June 27, 2017 at 1:55 am
    • Lionel

      Me too

      June 28, 2017 at 10:10 pm
  • Athanasius


    I’m very glad you opened this discussion as it happens to be a matter of some importance to me right now.

    The first point to make, obviously, is that the Mass is as pleasing to God whether low or sung. It’s the same Sacrifice of Our Lord on Calvary. The question really is: which celebration is more suited to the ordinary Catholic in the pew?

    Everyone, as you say, is entitled to their own preference in the matter, a preference largely decided by disposition, heritage and experience. Scotland before the Council was largely a low Mass country, every parish offering two or three low Masses on a Sunday with significantly fewer parishes offering a sung Mass. Where the sung Mass was on offer it was usually at a later time (around 12pm) and Holy Communion was not administered during that Mass.

    Culturally speaking then, Scotland was a nation whose Catholics were raised on the low Mass. I think I’m correct in saying that this was largely the cultural experience of most other Western countries apart from France. The French were always very much in favour of sung Masses and dialogue Masses as far as I understand it.

    My general feeling is that the clergy are far more in favour of the sung Mass than the faithful, some even expressing the extreme view that every Sunday Mass should be sung. The problem with this proposition is that it juxtaposes the low Mass against the sung Mass as though the former were somehow inferior to the latter, which borders on heresy.

    It is also a fact that Pope St. Pius X no less declared that if the Mass is not sung beautifully then it should not be sung at all. The wisdom of this holy Pope came home to me one Sunday in Rome when, contrary to the well-intentioned but poorly sung Masses I had been exposed to for years, experiences I had tragically came to dread, I heard the most sublimely sung Mass in a chapel of the Institute of Christ the King. It was then I realised how important it is that the Mass be sung by a professionally trained choir if it’s ceremonial beauty is to truly shine forth and be appreciated.

    All that aside, my theological take on the Mass is that the low Mass is always preferable for the ordinary soul in the pew because it affords the opportunity for silent adoration at the foot of the Cross. The sung Mass by its very nature distracts from silence and therefore interrupts that contemplation which the Church says is the most fruitful form of prayer. If, as often happens, the Mass is sung poorly by untrained voices, or the booming voice of a priest not gifted in the vocals department, then not only does it detract from the holiness due to the Mass but it can actually make visitors to the chapel start to grin and laugh. I have been witness to this more than once and it’s pretty painful to watch.

    The Magisterium of the Church never enforced the sung Mass on the faithful before Vatican II. As a result, the faithful of a certain age grew up with the low Mass, which remains today their prefered option. The sung Mass was something most never saw or heard apart from the visit of a Bishop to their parish church. Hence it is the low Mass that most ordinary Traditional Catholics seek when they go to a Traditional chapel because it’s the old Faith they remember, and with which they are comfortable. I know this because of the many conversations (and complaints) I’ve heard from Catholics frequently exposed to sung Masses.

    In fine, the sung Mass is beautiful if sung well but it’s for special occasions. The low Mass is the most conducive to truly prayerful participation by the majority of the ordinary faithful on a week by week basis, simple but effective in the sanctifying of souls. That’s why the low Mass was always the Church’s universal norm. The Church is wise in such matters.

    June 26, 2017 at 11:49 pm
    • Petrus

      I agree with Athanasius that both the low and sing Masses are pleasing to God.

      It’s difficult to say what I prefer. When Mass is sung beautifully, with a trained choir and organist, I think the Sung Mass is stunning. However, I love the simplicity and silence of Low Mass.

      June 27, 2017 at 12:08 am
      • editor


        I can’t say I’ve ever attended a sung Mass which I would describe as “stunning”. Maybe, one of these days!

        June 27, 2017 at 12:13 am
      • Petrus


        One such priest has videos of his sung Masses on YouTube. The music sounds very good to me.

        June 27, 2017 at 12:17 am
      • editor


        Would you mind posting one of those videos, then? Just right click ON the video, select “copy embed code”, and return here, right click to select “paste” and, voila! Video will appear. Mind you, I’m not sure that “very good” equates to “stunning”; still…

        As and when, our Petrus. As and when…

        June 27, 2017 at 12:24 am
      • Petrus


        Just picked this up. No, I didn’t have that in mind when I used the word stunning. I attending a sung Mass many years ago which was stunning but I haven’t experienced anything like that since. Will post when I return home.

        June 27, 2017 at 1:21 pm
    • Sentire Cum Ecclesia


      Your idea that the Low Mass is the universal norm contradicts that which I have often heard, which is that the Sung Mass is the (not always possible) norm. I need to ask a priest about sources for this unless you have any?

      Obviously the Low Mass is preferable in situations where the liturgy cannot be rendered with dignity. I think we have all heard poor choirs. However, my response would be rather that far more laypeople should learn at least the Kyriales which is clearly the desire of the Church. However, if people keep pulling against Sung Mass we will evidently never have good choirs, so it’s a self perpetuating problem.

      I have a bit of a suspicion that in certain quarters, NOT this blog, religion is viewed as a duty to be gotten over with, rather than as something to joyfully celebrate- and that therefore, some people prefer low Mass because it’s shorter and plainer. Of course, that is absolutely not everyone’s case, but I think this mentality may exist? A slightly puritanical, let’s-do-our-duty-by-God-and-then-get-on-with-life, attitude……

      Reminds me of the very good Catholic lady who, when treated to a learned discourse by a particularly erudite but also pastoral priest- no danger of miscommunication, therefore- said “I just want doctrine, straight up.”

      No Frills Please- haha. Is that the problem? Do we, consciously or unconsciously, think that singing is a kind of -frill? Do we just want the liturgy, straight up?

      June 27, 2017 at 4:47 pm
      • Athanasius

        Sentire Cum Ecclesia

        I’m sure your suspicion is unfounded. My experience of people is that they want the silence of the low Mass in order to better contemplate the reality of what is taking place in the Sanctuary. It is much more likely, as in my own case, that the people just want to leave the noise of the world for a short time in order to fix their hearts on supernatural things. The Missa Cantata for them, as for me, does not permit said contemplation.

        Besides this, as I have stated further down in another response to you, the Catholic Encyclopedia states that the essence of the High Mass is NOT THE SINGING but the deacon and sub deacon. So the question really comes down to preference, i.e., silent low Mass or sung low Mass. The Missa Cantata is not the proper High Mass of the Church, it is a modern compromise which is essentially a low Mass with singing and incense.

        I have to say that in my own experience a disproportionate number of those who form scholas and promote the Missa Cantata fancy themselves as a little more intellectual and class superior to the average Catholic. I don’t mean this in any nasty sense, and I’m sure it does not apply across the board, but I have observed this over many years. This leads me to suspect that in some cases at least there is an element of snobbery at work in the excessive promotion of the Missa Cantata. I sure hope I’m wrong about that.

        June 28, 2017 at 12:50 am
      • Sentire Cum Ecclesia

        I agree that my suspicion may well be unfounded and perhaps uncharitable; I withdraw it! 🙂 If there is an element of snobbery at work on the promotion of the Missa Cantata, I have never seen it. Unfortunately I suppose human nature will always out.

        June 28, 2017 at 11:05 am
      • Athanasius

        Sentire Cum Ecclesia

        I guess you have a point there.

        June 28, 2017 at 6:54 pm
  • Athanasius

    Sorry, a few gramatical errors in my post above. I should have checked it before posting but it’s been a long day! I’m sure the points I make will be understood regardless.

    June 26, 2017 at 11:55 pm
    • editor


      I’ve made a couple of minor corrections to your post but cannot see anything major. In any event, it’s not a Higher English exam!

      On topic: my own preference has always been for the low Mass. I just love the peace of it.

      What strikes me, though, is that I notice the Summorum Pontificum priests in the archdiocese of Glasgow appear to have a preference for the sung Mass – there are regular sung Masses advertised in the SP parishes. I find that very interesting.

      June 27, 2017 at 12:12 am
      • Athanasius


        Thank you for making those few alterations, your cheque is in the post.

        Like you, my preference is for the low Mass as I have found most sung Masses to be rather poorly sung and therefore disturbing and distracting. My overall experience is that most ordinary Traditional Catholics feel the same way we do.

        I found your comment about the SP Masses very interesting, I had no idea that Summorum Pontificum priests had a preference for the sung Mass. The only rationale I can think of is that these priests are somehow under the illusion that the sung Mass was the norm in the Church prior to 1969. It could also be that they innocently hold to the post conciliar error that a silent laity at Mass is a non-participating laity. Who knows, it’s a strange thing.

        June 27, 2017 at 12:25 am
      • Petrus


        I’ve had a few interesting conversations about this issue today.

        First of all, I asked my granny about it. She confirms what you said. The vast majority of Masses she attended before the Council were Low Masses. The sung Masses were reserved for major feasts and visits from the bishop etc.

        I asked my wife, a convert, what she preferred. She answered immediately that she preferred the sung Mass. She didn’t really know why. I wonder if, for someone coming from a Protestant Tradition, the Sung Mass is so “over the top” Catholic? As far removed from Protestantism as possible. I don’t know. Just a thought. It could be the same for relative newcomers to the TLM from the Novus Ordo. The grandeur of the Sung Mass is so far removed from the Novus Ordo.

        I also had a conversation with someone who occasionally attends the TLM but is very musical. His take is that even though low Masses were the norm before the Council, this wasn’t necessarily the ideal. He believes that we shouldn’t just aim to return to 1950s parish life, which he claims wasn’t perfect, we should be striving for the ideal – which is a well trained choir able to sing the Mass competently.

        Anyway, I guess my opinion hasn’t changed. I love both forms of the Mass, but when Mass is sung badly, it is a distraction. As a musician I would like more Masses with decent choirs, but I think we need to guard against affectations. Our devotion and love of the Mass should be based on Calvary.

        June 27, 2017 at 6:45 pm
      • editor


        ” I think we need to guard against affectations. “

        Well, Archbishop Tartaglia would agree with you there 😀

        June 27, 2017 at 7:07 pm
      • Petrus


        I smiled as I was writing that. At least His Grace widened my vocabulary !!!

        June 27, 2017 at 7:12 pm
      • Athanasius


        Your granny is the one who speaks for Tradition because she lived as a Catholic before the Council and knows all about parish life at that time.

        I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the person who says we shouldn’t be aiming to return to 1950s Catholicism. I’ll guarantee this person is not old enough to remember the glory of the Church in the 1950s, but is well enough informed to know that Gregorian chant was not encouraged in the average parish. For someone who favours the sung Mass that must be pretty damning.

        If your wife prefers the sung Mass then that’s probably because she hasn’t endured the number of terribly sung Masses I’ve had to put up with over thirty years. Give her time!!

        Like you, I have nothing against the sung Mass when sung beautifully, as St. Pius X commanded. My problem is that it rarely is sung beautifully, and at any rate is not the norm of the universal Church for parishes. As Traditional Catholics we stick with the Church’s norm of low Mass except for special occasions when the full beautiful ceremonial of the High Mass is adequately prepared and sublimely executed, such as on the visit of a bishop.

        June 27, 2017 at 8:38 pm
      • Petrus


        I think you have summed everything up perfectly. I must admit that having had to endure 23 years of Novus Ordo rubbish and 2 years of happy, clappy Protestant mania, the simplicity and silence of the Low Mass is the one that gives me the most peace in my soul. I agree with you entirely about having a High Mass on special occasions.

        June 27, 2017 at 8:54 pm
  • editor

    N O T I C E . . .

    Our blogger, Christina, has been absent for a while due to ill-health. I have kept in touch by email, and today she replied to one of my “touching base” messages to say that she has been gradually getting worse, and that she has been dealt quite a blow with the news that she has a “big” cancer. I won’t go into details, but suffice to say that she would appreciate our prayers, and thus, where better to post this news, I thought, than on this “Mass” thread.

    Indeed, some of you may remember that Christina would argue for the sung Mass/ceremonial, when this issue arose on the blog in the past, and I’m sure she will read this thread when she feels up to it; however, I also know that whether we are present at a sung or a low Mass, she will be deeply grateful for a remembrance in each of our prayers. She is having a very hard time, indeed, right now, so please, do pray for her.

    June 27, 2017 at 12:22 am
    • gabriel syme

      I’m very sorry to hear about Christina’s illness, Editor.

      Please pass on my best regards to her and assure her of my prayers too.

      June 27, 2017 at 7:56 am
      • editor

        Thank you, Gabriel Syme. Will do.

        June 27, 2017 at 9:21 am
      • Martin

        I will have Mass offered for the Intentions of Christina.

        As for whether or not God would care whether it is a Sung or Low Mass, I would suspect as it is the greatest prayer that can be offered, in Union with Jesus Christ, and it is the perfect re-presentation of Calvary, It doesn’t make a tad difference to him.

        Surely more pleasing to God would be the interior disposition of those who seek to offer him prayer and praise, and most of the things associated with the “beauty” of the Holy Mass – which has to do primarily with our own senses – are a human concern, but they are not, in themselves, unimportant.

        June 27, 2017 at 10:29 am
      • Laura


        I agree with you – interior disposition is the most important. However, I think God would be pleased with as much beauty, ceremonial and singing (appropriately) as possible, as well.

        June 27, 2017 at 3:12 pm
      • Sentire Cum Ecclesia

        Laura, I absolutely agree.

        June 27, 2017 at 7:00 pm
      • Athanasius


        We had the beautiful singing when we sung the hymns as a parish congregation during or after Mass. The ceremonial is as clear and venerable in the low Mass as it is in the sung, the only difference being the absence of incense and the priest’s cope. It is very wrong to juxtapose the sung Mass and low Mass as though one were more beautiful than the other. This is completely false and dangerous.

        Opposition to the sung Mass by most ordinary Catholics is opposition based on practical reasons. The singing is usually poor and that’s very distracting. Besides this, people have young children to see to and have the hardest time trying to keep them quiet for the extended time it takes to celebrate the sung Mass. Prior to Vatican II it was the sheer numbers of people waiting to get into church for the next Mass that perhaps precluded more regular sung Masses. Today the problem is one of travelling time for those attending Traditional Masses.

        At any rate, the Church’s Magisterium settled on the low Mass as the universal norm for parishes and that’s what we should abide by. It’s what most elderly Catholics expect in their Traditional chapels because it’s what they grew up with.

        June 27, 2017 at 8:20 pm
      • Sentire Cum Ecclesia

        “The Church’s Magisterium settled on the low Mass as the universal norm for parishes”

        Please prove this.

        I have never heard or read any such thing. In fact, I have heard the contrary: the High Mass is the norm and Low Mass is a simplified form.

        I imagine that a great deal of authority was given to the local Bishop and Parish Priest to decide when High or Low Mass would be celebrated, according to circumstances, always with the understanding that High Mass was the norm when circumstances permitted.

        My interest is piqued.

        June 27, 2017 at 9:37 pm
      • Athanasius

        Sentire Cum Ecclesia

        It is the norm by the very fact that it was universally the Mass of choice in every parish before Vatican II, with perhaps the odd exception. If that’s not the norm of the Church then I don’t know what is.

        I think you confuse the sung Mass with the High Mass, they are not the same. The sung Mass, as I have stated elsewhere, is a modern compromise with the High Mass, really a low Mass sung (Missa Cantata). The true High Mass of the Church is a Mass with deacon and sub deacon, usually celebrated by a bishop. This was quite a rare occurrence in the Church relatively speaking, which means the low Mass was, and remains, the norm. No other evidence is required to prove the case.

        June 28, 2017 at 12:57 am
      • Sentire Cum Ecclesia

        The norm of the Church is that stated in her rubrics and books of public worship, not what happens on the average parish, which may or may not be dictated by local needs.

        June 28, 2017 at 11:47 am
      • Athanasius

        Sentire Cum Ecclesia

        “The norm of the Church is that stated in her rubrics and books of public worship, not what happens on the average parish, which may or may not be dictated by local needs.”

        Primarilly, yes. But the rubrics and books you speak of do not declare the hybrid Missa Cantata to be the Church’s norm. I have already corrected your misreading of the Catholic Encyclopedia on this. It was refering to sung Mass in Cathedrals, Collegiate churches and religious houses. Nothing was said about parishes.

        I would also caution against dismissing cultural Tradition in your zeal for the sung Mass. The Church does not disdain Catholic heritage in this way. The fact is we always had low Masses in our parishes before Vatican II and that’s what most of us want from Traditional priests now.

        The debate over the hybrid sung Mass is for another time. Right now we just want back what the Modernists took from us.

        June 28, 2017 at 8:12 pm
      • editor


        I’ve emailed now to tell Christina that you intend to have Mass offered for her intentions, and to send her the link to this thread, so I’m sure she will read it all for herself when she feels up to it.

        She is really very VERY poorly, so your wonderful gift of Holy Mass will be totally appreciated – that I know for certain.

        Thank you, and God bless you for your great charity.

        As for the rest of your comment – who could disagree with your assertion that interior disposition is THE most important thing. Well said.

        June 27, 2017 at 7:11 pm
      • Sentire Cum Ecclesia

        I am confined to the house with illness so I can’t attend Mass as usual, but I’ll certainly pray for these intentions.

        June 27, 2017 at 9:47 pm
      • editor

        Martin et al,

        Christina has emailed as follows:

        I can’t thank the bloggers enough. It is wonderful to have prayers, and the promise of a Mass – just like that – has bowled me over! Will you please thank them from the bottom of my heart.

        The prayerful support and help has worked wonders already, for I got up yesterday morning feeling as if I am well again, and, in spite of a nearly sleepless night (I blame reading that thread!!!) I was fine today…

        I won’t add to my current stress, to say nothing of my sins, by contributing to that thread, tempted though I was in the sleepless hours of Monday night. You should heed Sentire cum Ecclesia. That lass knows her liturgical stuff, and she’s about as popular with everyone else as I was on the subject 😣.

        Many thanks again, and PLEASE keep up the desperately-needed prayers. END OF EMAIL.

        June 29, 2017 at 4:17 pm
      • Elizabeth

        Just returned to the blog after a month away from internet access. So very sorry to hear of Christina’s illness. Please assure her of my prayers and best wishes.

        July 5, 2017 at 3:37 pm
    • Therese

      I’m so sad to hear Christina’s news, and she may be assured of my prayers for her. I too will ask for a Mass to be said for her intentions. God bless, Christina.

      June 27, 2017 at 11:19 am
  • Athanasius


    Terrible news about Christina, I will certainly offer my prayers for her during this difficult period. Please be good enough to give her my fond regards and tell her that I’ll pray especially to St. Joseph for her.

    June 27, 2017 at 12:29 am
    • editor

      Will do, Athanasius. She will be so very grateful.

      June 27, 2017 at 12:30 am
      • Laura

        Please add my prayers for Christina – I am terribly sorry to learn of her cancer. I am praying to Our Lady for her intentions.

        June 27, 2017 at 3:13 pm
  • gabriel syme

    I appreciate both forms of mass. I think both have their own different strengths, while being equally pleasing to God.

    It was the beauty of gregorian chant which first sparked my interest in “traditional things” and so a sung mass has a special place in my heart due to that. Hearing the traditional music of the Church for the first time was a seminal moment for me, as it was a whole new dimension to the expression of the Catholic faith, compared to the very-protestant “nursery rhyme*” style hymns I had been raised with.

    (* for example, compare:

    (i) this is the day, that the Lord has made, that the Lord has made

    (ii) the wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round

    The similarity is obvious)

    Done well, a sung mass really is something to behold. I am always reminded of St Augustine, who said “he who sings prays twice”.

    I cant sing a note, and so have a great admiration (and perhaps a little envy!) for those who can sing well. I have been to masses where the chant has been so wonderful that I have thought, if you had entered the Church wearing a blindfold, you might not believe it was actually human voices capable of producing such beauty.

    Even on a humbler scale, I find a sung mass very moving as it seems to express what is in the hearts and minds of the congregation, even if they as individuals are no Luciano Pavarotti or Maria Callas. I have been to a few SSPX masses in different parts of Germany and, even with small congregations of just 2 or 3 dozen, they always have someone playing an organ and everyone “gives it their all” for a sung latin mass, usually also featuring several vernacular hymns. This is always impressive to me, given (in my novus ordo experience) Scottish Congregations are typically very reluctant to sing, for various reasons.

    On the other hand, I do appreciate that it is good to have silence and focus for our prayers as in the low mass. How refreshing it is to escape the hustle and bustle of the modern world, to commune with God during the mass of ages.

    I think the sung mass is perhaps more accessible for newcomers because, even if they cannot understand the mass or even what is being sung, the music can still raise their hearts and minds to God. I remember my first low mass and I – straight from the novus ordo with its juggling priests / dancing dogs etc – was baffled / underwhelmed at first.

    Of course, since then I have since grown to love the low mass too. I have been at some low masses where I have been the only person in the congregation and that is undeniably a very intimate and personal encounter with God.

    Speaking generally, I think it is criminal how the modern Church has neglected its peerless catalogue of music and chant, such that most Catholics today are ignorant of its very existence. Often very poor standards of music and hymns are forced on congregations due to the mantra of the modernist fanatics who believe that if something isn’t “new” then its no good. I am reminded of the efforts to pull the rug from James McMillans musical work, at the time of the 2010 Papal Visit to the UK, by those who felt his music wasn’t jazzy or modern enough.

    I have some great videos of sung masses saved at home, I will try to post some later today.

    Ultimately, I think there is adequate room for both types of mass and certainly believe Catholics should experience both regularly.

    June 27, 2017 at 8:49 am
  • Therese

    I wish I could add something more to the topic, but Athanasius’ second post on this thread says it all for me. Thanks Ath!

    June 27, 2017 at 11:25 am
  • RCA Victor

    Before I post anything on this very interesting topic, I have to ask a dumb question, given that I only have a few years of Tradition under my belt: is a sung Mass the same as a High Mass?

    June 27, 2017 at 2:02 pm
    • Laura

      RCA Victor,

      I used to think the sung Mass and High Mass were the same, but I recently found out that there is a difference. I don’t trust myself to explain it properly, so I looked it up and this is a good explanation on Wiki

      June 27, 2017 at 3:10 pm
      • RCA Victor

        Thanks Laura! This description fits my understanding:

        Masses are of two kinds: sung Masses (in cantu) and low Masses (Missa lecta)).
        A Mass is called a sung Mass, when the celebrant actually sings those parts which the rubrics require to be sung; otherwise it is called a low Mass.
        Moreover, a sung Mass, when celebrated with the assistance of sacred ministers, is called a solemn or High Mass (Missa solemnis); when celebrated without sacred ministers, it is called a Missa cantata.[4]

        June 28, 2017 at 12:21 am
      • Athanasius


        They are definitely not the same. The sung Mass as we experience it today is just a low Mass with Gregorian chant and incense. The high Mass (proper sung Mass) is usually celebrated by a bishop and has a deacon and sub deacon assisting. There’s a huge difference.

        June 28, 2017 at 12:59 am
  • leprechaun

    Madame Editor,

    I prefer the Low Mass every time. I never know what page I am supposed to be on during a sung Mass. The choir can be off on a trip of their own whilst the priest has to go and sit at the end of the Sanctuary until he can continue with the Mass.

    Am I supposed to genuflect when he does, or when the choir eventually gets to the words where genuflection is called for? Am I supposed to be in step with the priest or with the choir?

    Truly, I find sung Masses to be distracting, and disruptive of my experience at the foot of the Cross, and I far prefer the Low Mass as it leaves me free to concentrate on the Sacrifice and all that leads up to it and follows from it.

    I have expressed this preference to a Society priest, who told me that it was all a matter of education, but in my 60 years as a Catholic, there has never been a single attempt ever to provide this education – unless of course I am supposed to join a choir in order to get it.

    No, Madame Editor, I am entirely with you on this issue.

    June 27, 2017 at 3:37 pm
    • Athanasius


      My sentiments exactly. I completely agree with you.

      June 27, 2017 at 3:49 pm
    • editor


      At last, we agree on something! Kidding!

      Your account of the difficulties with sung Mass made me smile – to a greater or lesser extent, I think we’ve all been there!

      June 27, 2017 at 7:15 pm
    • Sentire Cum Ecclesia


      The choir are not “off on a trip of their own”, but are singing the Gregorian Chant integral to the liturgy. The choir has to take great care not to impede the priest’s celebration of the Mass. When the priest sits, the choir is usually finishing the Gloria or Credo, or the Gradual/Alleluia just before the Gospel. This is not difficult to follow, it’s printed and translated in your missal. There are many small booklets which explain when to sit or stand, etc.

      Of course, if you don’t mind my saying so, if we come to the Mass with the idea that all these chants are so many unnecessary frills and we would prefer to do without them, it rather impedes our motivation to learn about them..,.

      June 27, 2017 at 9:46 pm
  • Sentire Cum Ecclesia

    Well, perhaps this question might profitably be directed to a priest? They must study this in Seminary.

    I have always understood, (and am sure that I read, but cannot find the source just now) that High Mass, which is always sung, is preferable when possible as it adds to the external solemnity of the service of God. Of course, it is impossible to add to the intrinsic value of the Holy Sacrifice, but the setting can always be rendered with more or less solemnity.

    I have often heard people complain about being “distracted” at High Mass; if you will excuse me, it really seems to me to be a misunderstanding. Mass is not supposed to be in the first place a time of individual meditation, but rather the public and solemn offering of the Holy Sacrifice to God- am I not right?. We take our place as members of the Mystical Body, to perform our set role in the liturgy of Holy Mother Church. All the standing, bowing, kneeling, incense and sung responses are our duties assigned to us by Holy Mother Church. I suppose I could study the rubrics better in order to avoid distraction at Mass. 🙂

    My own personal beef is that people who very well might sing, who appear to have the time and talent, sometimes don’t make an effort to learn the chant- but then complain when the singing is not all it should be. As someone who was not brought up in Tradition I nearly combust 😤 when people want the same old Kyriale over and over again. Do we not appreciate the great wealth of beautiful Church music?

    Hey, if I can learn six Kyriales in a few years, so can others!

    I suspect the frequent dislike of Sung Mass dates back to our being unable to have singing on account of the Penal Laws against Catholics….Catholics in Britain and Ireland are just not used to it.

    A challenge from a relatively new Trad: get out your earphones and your rubric books!

    June 27, 2017 at 4:32 pm
    • editor

      Sentire Cum Ecclesia,

      I absolutely LOVE music and I appreciate beautiful liturgy – no question about that.

      However, we are living in crisis times and for some of us, just getting to Mass is a work of art in itself. I don’t know where you live, but here in Glasgow there are people with large young families who have to get to Mass in the city centre of Glasgow from all parts of the central belt, sometimes using public transport. Having to get in early to be in place in a choir, would not be easy and for the family men who are working, getting into choir practice would be – for several that I can think of, off the top of my head – very difficult if not impossible.

      The parish in which I was brought up did have a choir, and there seemed to be no shortage of members. But they lived locally and could easily get to the church for practice etc without disrupting their entire family and working life.

      I’ve only skimmed your post, so forgive me if I have missed something that requires comment, but I have things to do, people to see, chocolate to eat prayers to pray blah blah, so…

      I’m off – singing all the way! I LOVE singing! In fact,with permission from our priest, when nobody else would take the lead, I intoned the hymn “Sweet Heart of Jesus” to mark the Feast of the Sacred Heart last Friday. Choir-Mistress? Well… OK… I’ll think about it… 😀

      June 27, 2017 at 7:24 pm
    • Athanasius

      Sentire Cum Ecclesia

      It is not the Tradition of the Church to have regular sung Masses in parish churches. I am of course open to correction on that but I think I’m correct in stating this as fact. The sung Mass was always reserved for special occasions or for the relatively few monastic minded lay people who liked the Mass sung.

      You paint a lovely picture of the sung Mass, but it’s an ideal not the reality. The reality is, in my experience, freezing churches in winter with a handful of ill-trained singers trying to stay on tune while the rest of us check our watches. Sorry but that’s not my idea of assisting at Holy Mass. No wonder St. Pius X cautioned that if the Mass is not sung beautifully then it should not be sung at all. A badly sung Mass, more common than the sublime alternative with a trained choir, downgrades the solemnity of the Holy Sacrifice in my opinion. It is a distraction for those who wish to contemplate Calvary, no doubt about it.

      And am I not correct in saying that the Modernists also argue that Holy Mass is not for personal recollection but rather for the whole community of the faithful, “who should actively participate”?

      At any rate, those pushing the sung Mass at all costs in Britain are actually influenced by the French spirit. It was not our Catholic culture to have regular sung Masses in our parish churches and that had nothing to do with the Penal Laws. It was the Church being wise, prudent and practical. The norm was the low Mass and it was a universal norm.

      Once again I state the obvious: there was no singing on Calvary. Unless and until the Magisterium of the Church tells us that the sung Mass must be the norm in parishes I will stick with the non-distracting low Mass, thank you. I do not accept innovations from Modernists and I will not accept them from Traditionalists. The average parish Mass should be a low Mass and no one, no matter how beautiful they believe the sung Mass to be, has the right to trample that cultural heritage of ordinary Catholics under foot to suit their personal preferences.

      I’m all for a beautifully sung Mass on occasion, but let’s not pretend that the Church ever attempted to make it more than it is, the Mass for special occasions or the last Mass offered in larger parish churches on Sundays, during which Holy Communion was not administered.

      June 27, 2017 at 8:00 pm
      • Sentire Cum Ecclesia


        1. I am not motivated by personal preference, but by the tradition of the Church. I have just found a teaching which confirms what I have heard many times from oral sources, that the High Mass is the norm. “This high Mass is the norm” see “The Present Roman Mass”, paragraph 4, in the Catholic Encyclopedia on It was granted a Nihil Obstat in 1910. Now quite obviously, if Sung Mass is the norm, then we should be at least making efforts towards one every Sunday.

        2. “There was no singing at Calvary” – neither were there any vestments, as it happens, nor Holy Communion, but no one argues they should be taken from the Mass.

        3. Where do you get the idea that Sung Mass is an “innovation”? Historically, Low Mass is far newer than Sung Mass. Not that I am motivated by any spirit of antiquarianism, to abolish the Low Mass in favour of the Sung. Far from it. I recognise that practically speaking it is not possible on a daily basis to have the Sung Mass, except in some monasteries and convents.

        4. All right, if there aren’t the resources to do it properly, well and good…..I suspect Our Lord will have something to say to those who could have worked to make the liturgy more beautiful and who didn’t, though. I guess I’d have more time for this argument if critics of the music were prepared to attend or organise sessions of chant practice. In my experience they are, in most cases, great hurlers on the ditch, or armchair generals as you’d say in England.

        5. Finally, I know lots of people whose personal preference is Low Mass, but this does not equate to its being the norm on Sundays and feast days!

        June 27, 2017 at 9:28 pm
      • Athanasius

        Sentire Cum Ecclesia

        Your reference to the Catholic Encyclopedia is misleading. The paragraph you mention as proving the Church’s norm to be the sung Mass in fact refers to Masses in Cathedrals, Collegiate churches and religious houses, NOT parish churches.

        The explanation commences thus:

        “In cathedral and collegiate churches, as well as in those of religious orders who are bound to say the Canonical Hours every day publicly, there is a daily Mass corresponding to the Office and forming with it the complete cycle of the public worship of God. This official public Mass is called the conventual Mass; if possible it should be a high Mass, but, even if it be not, it always has some of the features of high Mass.”

        The text then goes on to describe what it calls “the scheme of the high Mass” in this context, i.e., the rubrics, etc., and it is strictly in reference to these Cathedral, Collegiate, religious order high Masses that it is stated “This high Mass is the norm”.

        What I did find interesting, and John R touches well on this in his comment, is that the Missa Cantata is a modern compromise with the High Mass. In other words, it’s a low Mass sung with a few borrowed elements from the High Mass. A proper High Mass must have a deacon and sub deacon assisting. Here’s what the Catholic Encyclopedia says about this:

        “A sung Mass (missa Cantata) is a modern compromise. It is really a low Mass, since the essence of high Mass is not the music but the deacon and subdeacon…” Note that the essence is not the singing.

        So the question really comes down to whether or not the faithful want a silent or a sung low Mass. Before Vatican II it was the silent low Mass that every parish favoured and most of the faithful attended, so that was, and remains, the Church’s norm. A sung low Mass (Missa Cantata) was available in some larger churches as the last Mass of the Sunday for those who prefered to chant the prayer responses and understood that they would not receive Holy Communion.

        In fine, this business about the Missa Cantata is really just a storm in a teacup since it is ultimately the low Mass with chant and incense. The proper High Mass is reserved for the visit of a bishop and incorporates the deacon and sub deacon. This alone represents the full ceremonial beauty of the Mass. The Missa Cantata is a poor reflection of the High Mass and frequently a distraction to the faithful by reason of bad singing. Besides that, it’s not our Tradition in Scotland to have sung low Masses and that’s why most people in the congregation remain silent.

        June 28, 2017 at 12:19 am
      • Sentire Cum Ecclesia


        I do not dispute your argument that present resources often do not allow for a properly sung High Mass. In fact, I would argue that that is why in the 1950s Low Mass may have been heard more often than Sung Mass. I totally understand that some people may find Sung Mass distracting, though I also think that people could make more effort to learn the rubrics and Kyriales, were they not prejudiced by this idea that Low Mass is somehow the ideal and norm.

        What I do dispute is that we should not try to strive for at least one beautiful High Mass in each parish on every Sunday and every feast day. I also dispute that Sunday Low Mass was considered the ideal, or (as you claim without documentary evidence) the norm as judged by the “Magisterium of the Church”. Your claim is essentially “The Church allowed Low Mass therefore it’s the norm.” Well, the Church as Mother often allows deviations from the ideal (e.g. The Parish Mass being Low instead of High) because of the needs of her children. This does not equate to the “Magisterium” setting her seal on Low Mass as the ideal!

        Evidence for the Sung Mass being the ideal and norm on the Sunday comes from the liturgy itself, where for example, the Asperges (Sung Mass only) is performed by the priest at the main parish Mass. In the article to which I referred, the writer explains that many ceremonies at Low Mass can only be understood by reference to the High Mass.

        The quote about the High Mass being normative comes from the part of the article called “The Present Roman Mass”. I quote: “The normal ideal may be taken as High Mass sung by a priest on an ordinary Sunday or feast that has no exceptional feature.” It is quite clear from the subtitle and development of the article that, in this part of the article, there is reference to the whole church, not just cathedrals or monasteries. The writer makes this clear when he says “the rubrics of the Ordinaru of the Mass always presuppose that the Mass is High.”

        So, to sum up: High Mass, the ideal, Low Mass, the practicable.

        And a plea: please do not ensure that High Mass is always impracticable.

        June 28, 2017 at 11:25 am
      • Athanasius

        Sentire Cum Ecclesia

        I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this. My experience with the sung Mass over the years has put me off for life.

        I see the ideal you’re aiming at but it’s simply not practical and even quite often disastrous. I’m all for a Pontifical High Mass when a Bishop visits the Church, but for ordinary Sundays the silent low Mass is what the Church always provide for in parishes. The Missa Cantata is just a compromise between the low Mass and the high Mass, and it frequently is very distracting. It’s mostly certain clergy who are pushing for this Missa Cantata every week, not something the faithful are requesting in large numbers. Quite the contrary in fact.

        June 28, 2017 at 8:05 pm
      • Sentire Cum Ecclesia

        Ok I’ll leave the topic there, with just a remark that the Holy Mass is very well studied in traditional seminaries, so I will certainly be listening to the priests’ suggestions there. After all, once the parish priest does not command something sinful, it is virtuous to obey him without complaint…. as I will now try to do when he orders a Low Mass for pastoral reasons 😁

        I’ve said over my share anyway. Happy Feast day tomorrow and I hope it brings you many graces!

        June 28, 2017 at 8:29 pm
      • Athanasius

        Sentire Cum Ecclesia

        I think we all have to keep in mind that almost every heresy that has afflicted the Church from the earliest centuries has been started and spread by the clergy. Vatican II is a disaster made by the clergy. So while I agree that we should value, respect, obey and pray for our clergy, I’m a million miles away from blind submission to every priest, especially the ones who are more learned, unless they have humility in equal measure to their great learning.

        My safety is in obeying Tradition and measuring my obedience to the clergy by that standard. It’s not always something directly sinful that can hurt souls. They can be as easily harmed by a wilful priest who tries to impose a perfectly good thing in itself against the heritage of the flock under his care.

        Like you, I have said more than my share so I should now shut up. Thank you for your kind wishes. I also wish many graces for you on tomorrow’s great Feast.

        June 28, 2017 at 10:50 pm
  • Sentire Cum Ecclesia

    Dear Editor, go for it!

    June 27, 2017 at 7:53 pm
  • Josephine

    I don’t know if this adds anything to this debate, but I found this article in the Catholic Encyclopaedia online about sacred music –

    June 27, 2017 at 11:04 pm
    • Sentire Cum Ecclesia

      Thanks, Josephine. See especially the article “Congregational Singing” detailing the Motu Proprio of St. Pius X in 1903, asking for “special efforts” to be made to restore the use of Gregorian chant by the people.

      June 28, 2017 at 11:53 am
  • John R

    The tradition which I was used to as a boy was that there was an early morning Mass and that was followed by a general Mass at which the children used to attend and sit with their teacher…Yes, their teacher! and finally there was the 11-00 am Mass which was a sung Mass (Not usually a HIGH Mass) at which only the priest would receive Holy Communion but the congregation did not. Of course we were fasting from midnight at that time. The difference between a Sung Mass and a High Mass is that for a Sung Mass there is just the priest and the congregation doing the singing, whereas at a High Mass there is the priest, a deacon and also a sub-deacon all of whom sing at some stage during the Mass and the congregation (and/or choir) singing the responses.
    At Mass it should be (b)The Mass(/b) which is sung and (b)NOT(/b) hymns. Hymns are NOT part of Mass. Hymns are fine at Benediction or some other liturgy but they do NOT belong at Mass.

    June 27, 2017 at 11:14 pm
    • Petrus

      John R

      Are you sure about that? I’m sure in the old days hymns were sung at Mass. Maybe that’s just the way it was done in your parish?

      June 27, 2017 at 11:18 pm
      • John R

        Petrus, yes indeed hymns were sung at Masses but that is not what the Church intended. What should be sung at Mass is the Mass and not hymns. The MASS is the LITURGY which should be sung. Hymns are NOT part of the LITURGY of MASS.

        June 27, 2017 at 11:29 pm
      • Petrus

        Yes, I’m aware that hymns aren’t part of the liturgy of the Mass, but you said that hymns shouldn’t be sung at Mass. Could you provide a source?

        June 27, 2017 at 11:45 pm
      • Athanasius

        John R

        In my experience only one hymn is sung at Traditional Masses and it’s not during the celebration of the Mass, it’s usually after the Mass as the priest is leaving the Sanctuary to return to the sacristy. I very much approve of this.

        June 28, 2017 at 12:27 am
  • John R

    Perhaps I should add that it was fairly common for people to attend the early morning Mass and then go back again for the 11-00 am Mass which was the sung Mass. Hence they received Holy Communion at the early Mass and did not receive Holy Communion at the Sung Mass.

    June 27, 2017 at 11:23 pm
  • crofterlady

    I remember when I was a child that, on Sundays, we had a Low Mass every hour and a Sung Mass at 12 noon. At the Low masses we had 2 hymns, one at the Offertory and one at the end. I know the last hymn was a cert because one of my brothers always sneaked out during it!

    As for preference between sung or low Masses, I haven’t any. It depends on time, commitments etc., which I would attend. I would say however that long sung Masses can be very off putting for the young. As children, devout as we were, we avoided them like the plague! Also, sung Masses are more distracting.

    June 27, 2017 at 11:29 pm
    • Vianney


      In my former parish in Edinburgh the 6.45 and 7.30 Masses were low without any music, At 9 it was low with two hymns and at 10 it was low with four hymns while 11.30 was the Sung Mass.

      June 28, 2017 at 11:19 pm
  • crofterlady

    P.S. As for God “caring” re Sung Mass, Low mass, I would think that it is our internal disposition He cares about.

    June 27, 2017 at 11:31 pm
  • RCA Victor

    Given my (limited) experience thus far with Tradition, I’m a bit puzzled as to why there should be a preference for either Mass. I say that because, in my experience, Low Masses are offered during the week, whilst High/Sung Masses are offered once on Sundays, as well as on Holy Days of Obligation and major feast days. So for me it is not a matter of preference at all, but of the liturgical calendar.

    That said, however, I can see where a High/Sung Mass would be a painful experience, if the choir and/or the cantor sounds anything like this:


    June 28, 2017 at 12:25 am
    • Athanasius

      RCA Victor

      A lot depends on the cultural heritage of different countries. In Scotland, and I’m sure in most parts of the world, the low Mass is what our parents and forefathers grew up with. This should be respected, as it is by the Church, not trampled underfoot by those who want to impose their preference.

      Besides that, I have heard some very badly sung Masses in my time, believe me, and it makes me shudder. There’s something liturgically degrading about a badly sung Mass, which, incidentally, is not High Mass with bishop, decon and sub deacon.

      I’lll go have a listen to old Flo now!

      June 28, 2017 at 1:08 am
      • RCA Victor


        That is very interesting – I had always assumed that the Society’s liturgical schedule (as I sketched yesterday) was the same everywhere around the globe. But the apparent predominance of Low Mass in parts, or most of Europe sheds some light on another feature of liturgical life: that music is not given nearly as much emphasis as it is in Protestant “churches.” In fact, I’d have to say, based on my own experience thus far, music in the Mass is pretty much an ad hoc afterthought…..which, being a musician, is very disappointing, to say the least.

        On the other hand, having grown up a Protestant, I know that those churches, and esp. the more well-endowed ones, put a great many resources into musical excellence (though I find it highly ironic that they love to sing the very Masses which they have rejected!!).

        As far as imposing a preference for High Masses, I’m not sure I understand your objection. To me, a High Mass is clearly designed to give greater glory to God, with its more complex and majestic ceremonies and rubrics, music, larger numbers of personnel, etc. If that is the case, and since High Masses are reserved for certain days in the calendar, why then would a Catholic feel that this has been imposed on them?

        June 28, 2017 at 3:24 pm
      • Athanasius

        RCA Victor

        I’ll start by reminding you that High Mass is a Mass celebrated by a bishop with deacon and subdeacon, not to be confused with the Missa Cantata which is really just a low Mass with music.

        My opposition to the Missa Cantata is really a reaction to thirty years of priests enforcing it on congregations knowing that the handful of people who constitute the schola can’t actally stay in tune. It has put me off the sung Mass entirely, as it has many others.

        I really don’t know why this issue about the sung Mass is such a big issue with Traditional Catholics these days as it was not the norm in parish churches prior to Vatican II.

        In this time of crisis our duty is to stick fast to the Traditions handed down. That means we want first the Mass of our fathers, which was primarily the low Mass in parish churches. If some want more than that then they will have to wait until the Church speaks in healthier times. Right now, it’s just the Mass as it always was in parishes that we want back, not a hybrid between the High Mass of a bishop and the silent low Mass. It just didn’t happen in most parishes before Vatican II, probably for practical and prudential reasons that I now well understand having heard way too many badly sung Masses.

        June 28, 2017 at 8:27 pm
      • RCA Victor


        I’m sorry to say that this is getting muddier for me, not clearer, .The Mass you have described was what I thought was a Pontifical High Mass (with the bishop, deacon, subdeacon), whereas a Solemn High Mass is with a priest, deacon and subdeacon.

        Also, see Laura’s post and link in response to my (dumb) question early in this thread. Two of our priests have meanwhile confirmed that a sung Mass is indeed the same thing as a High Mass (but not a Solemn High Mass or a Pontifical High Mass).

        Could you also clarify what you mean by “…the Mass of our fathers, which was primarily the low Mass in parish churches”? Does that mean Sunday Masses, before the revolution, were mostly Low? Not having grown up Catholic, I have no experience with that era, only with the past 8 years in a Society chapel.

        As for the sung Mass being a Low Mass with music, that also puzzles me. At our Low Masses, there is no procession/recession, no incense, only 2 servers (AC1 and AC2), no music at all, and frequently no sermon, or a very short one. Among other things, it concludes with the St.. Michael Prayer.

        At one of our High Masses, however, 9 AM on Sundays, Holy Days and major feast days, there is a procession/recession with the Crucifix and hymns, 11-12 servers (no deacon or subdeacon, just MC, TH, AC1, AC2, CB and 6-7 TBs) (torch bearers), sung Propers and Kyriale, sung motets during the Offertory and Communion, incensing of the altar, long sermon, prayers of thanksgiving after Mass, etc. etc. Moreover, these are listed as High Masses in the bulletin.

        Sorry for all the questions, didn’t mean to keep you up all night!

        June 28, 2017 at 10:55 pm
  • RCA Victor

    Also wanted to point out another obvious yet festering sore in the Church regarding the Vat. II revolution: with the advent of the Novus Ordo, there are no longer different types of Mass, as far as I know (except concelebrated ones, i.e. several dentists standing before an ironing board, as someone once put it). There is only the pseudo-Catholic/Protestant Novus Banality.

    June 28, 2017 at 12:28 am
  • Sentire Cum Ecclesia

    What Our Lord prefers is simply what the Church wants, encourages and allows.

    I invite everyone to study the Catholic Encyclopedia on the Mass for further clarification on this point., Nihil Obstat in 1910

    June 28, 2017 at 11:28 am
  • Vianney

    This is a Missa Cantata from St. Nicolas du Chardonnet.


    June 28, 2017 at 11:12 pm
  • Vianney

    This is from Canisiuskirche, Saarlouis, Germany.


    June 28, 2017 at 11:14 pm
  • Helen

    Vianney, this is all very beautiful. I have never attended a sung or a High Mass. I’m lucky to get to a TLM at all! Thank you for posting these video clips.

    June 28, 2017 at 11:52 pm
    • Vianney

      You’re very welcome Helen. St Nicolas du Chardonnet has five Masses on Sundays, three Low plus a Sung Mass and a High Mass. As you can see, it’s a very busy church and the aisles look like Princes Street on a Saturday with the congregation of one Mass leaving and the that of the next Mass entering.
      The church in Saarlouis is a former Jesuit church which had closed and was used as a store until the Fraternity of St. Peter purchased it and opened it as a church again.

      June 29, 2017 at 8:49 pm
  • WurdeSmythe

    When I converted to the Faith I was a sponge for knowledge about everything Catholic. I was so inquisitive and persistent that one old-timer became short with me, and to put me in my place he said to me, “I have forgotten more about the Faith than you will ever learn.” Undeterred, I observed that perhaps if his generation had forgotten less and remembered more, then perhaps the Church wouldn’t be in the conciliar mess it’s in today.

    Over 18 years later I’m still normally keen to learn more about what the Catholic Church was like before the Council; it was a very different world from the one I knew the first 30 years of my life. I do not presume that what was done back then is necessarily a true guide to how everything should have been done; I try to take the measure and discern between what was genuinely good and what was simply habitual and perhaps not optimal or ideal.

    A French traditional priest of my acquaintance assured me that the common adoption of the low Mass contributed to the tolerance of poor habits of worship and devotion that produced the Second Vatican Council. I don’t know if that’s true, but it does echo the point already raised about how the French Catholics favor a sung Mass.

    In the part of the USA where I live, summers are especially hot. In the pre-conciliar, pre-central air-conditioned days, local Churches gave the choir off in summers as a respite from both singing and the heat; thus, Sunday Masses in summer were low Masses.

    At my chapel (with central air-conditioning), we have high Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, and low Mass other days of the week. Where that can be done I think it’s good; certainly, much depends on the personnel – i.e. trained servers and choir. That’s not always possible. Where it is possible, I think it should be done. The disposition we bring to worship is foundational; there is also a public aspect to the worship that should be as beautiful and majestic as our meager abilities and resources allow. It also makes a great impression on newcomers (e.g. yours truly some years ago), who don’t see anything else like it anywhere.

    June 29, 2017 at 11:30 pm
  • Michelangelo

    I expect both are equally pleasing to God. Personally, I prefer as little singing as possible. In the Novus Ordo setting of my local parish, I find they seem to be allergic to silence; I find the post-communion hymn particularly irritating and distracting! No peace and quiet to pray! Quite often singing in NO circles is all about the glory of the singer rather than God!

    That said, the sung SSPX mass in Glasgow is delivered well and I find this acceptable!

    July 1, 2017 at 10:21 pm
    • editor


      I’m no expert on music, but your concluding praise does not reflect the general opinion of the music-lovers in Glasgow. Sad to say.

      July 11, 2017 at 1:10 pm
  • Duarenus

    Athanasius, your experience and objections are not and cannot be normative. If and where possible, the main Sunday Mass and the Mass on Feastdays should be sung and solemnly celebrated. Doesn’t the Psalmist say “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord”? There is a place for both Sung and Low Masses. Anyone who’s been to a traditionalist monastery and spent some time there can see that there is no contradiction between the two.

    July 11, 2017 at 11:51 am
    • editor


      The Psalmist hadn’t been to Glasgow when he wrote that!

      In fairness, though, I do have a young relative singer who has participated in sung Masses elsewhere, and she loves them. We tend to stick to simple Gregorian chant whereas she has experienced choirs singing in many parts and says it is beautiful.

      July 11, 2017 at 1:11 pm
    • Athanasius


      Sadly the noises I’ve heard during sung Masses (with one exception) have been anything but joyous ones. They have sounded like someone turning a vacuum cleaner off and on repeatedly. I’m sorry to say that, but it’s true and it degrades the Holy Mass and distracts the faithful.

      My objections are actually normative. It is not in our Traditional Scottish Catholic heritage to have sung Masses on Sundays and Feastdays. Before Vatican II the sung Mass was an optional extra, the last Mass of the day for those who liked it. There was no Holy Coomunion given during those Masses.

      At any rate, the sung Mass is not a solemn high Mass, it is merely a low Mass with singing and incense, a compromise between solemn high Mass and low Mass without deacon and sub deacon. Hence, it is neither necessary nor preferable to have sung Masses in countries that never had them before Vatican II. I personally find them very distracting, as do many others I know. Some may not find them distracting and think that they have a right to overthrow our cultural heritage to suit their fancy, but that’s not what the Church does.

      If a handful of people want sung Masses all the time then let them go off to a monastery where they can have all the Gregorian they want, only properly and beautifully sung. I’m just a poor simple Catholic who wants what the Church had before Vatican II, a low Mass during which I can contemplate Our Lord’s suffering and death in silence.

      July 11, 2017 at 4:40 pm
  • Petrus

    This comment is slightly off topic, but I guess it is permitted given that this is a “Mass” thread.

    It has recently been made clear to me that Una Voce Scotland is a danger to the Faith and its Chairman, Mr Fred Stone, is clearly a man of bad faith.

    This sorry saga begins last week when I noticed that under the tab of “Traditional Latin Masses in Scotland”, the Una Voce website advertises the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite. This is an adapted form of the Anglican liturgy designed for use in the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, erected by Pope Benedict XVI. It is not a Traditional Latin Mass. Believing this to be misleading, I sent a message to the Una Voce Facebook group, asking why the Anglican Use Rite of Mass was advertised since it isn’t a Traditional Latin Mass. I was informed that I would have to contact the chairman, Mr Fred Stone.

    I sent Mr Stone an email asking these questions. I received the following reply:

    Do not communicate with me again.
    F. Stone

    I have now been banned from commenting on the Una Voce Facebook group.

    Astonished, I replied informing Mr Stone that, to the best of my knowledge, we had never met, nor had we communicated electronically, therefore I felt he should explain his outrageous reply. I await his explanation.

    However, I have since found out that this is not the first time Mr Stone has responded in this way. I believe that after a midweek Traditional Latin Mass in Immaculate Heart of Mary, Balornock, Mr Stone instructed a fellow Mass goer to “never speak to him again”. He now routinely ignores this person, week in, week out.

    How any Catholic, let alone the chairman of an organisation promoting the Traditional Mass (although clearly it doesn’t if it is advertising novelties) could behave like this is beyond me. As far as I am concerned, Una Voce and Fred Stone should be avoided.

    July 11, 2017 at 7:52 pm
    • editor


      I decided, reluctantly, to respond to your post about the Chairman of Una Voce Scotland, in the absence of any other commentary.

      Our newsletter has carried reports about the strange fact that Mr Stone, despite being Chairman of Una Voce with responsibility for promoting the Traditional Latin Mass throughout Scotland, actually fulfils the Sunday obligation by attending the novus ordo Mass in St Aloysius Jesuit Church in Garnethill, loosely described by those in the know as the GHOH – Garnethill House of Heresy.

      The reason given by Fred Stone when questioned about this by one of our readers, is that he likes the singing; he recounts that he was invited to join the choir by a member of St Aloysius school staff – the same member who threw some of us out of a meeting at the school, addressed by a modernist “nun”, Sr Gemma Simmonds, exhorting us to “Write to Rome” if we didn’t like it, thereby displaying his utter contempt for the Church’s authority and teaching.

      We had not disrupted the meeting. Not at all. We sat through Sister’s baloney talk, myself marvelling at the lengths she had gone to in order to “respect” our national culture (tartan skirt/kilt) but, unfortunately, did not go to the same lengths to ensure that she’d got the Faith right, a tad more important than working out which clan she ought to represent with her fashion choices at the event.

      At the appointed time for questions, I raised my hand to ask a perfectly reasonable question (not that I can remember what I asked, but am I ever unreasonable? Say nothing.)

      In seconds, I had the microphone withdrawn and afterwards, a women stopped me to say that she would never want me teaching any child of hers. When I asked her to point out/quote anything which I had said that was either untrue, theologically suspect or in any way rude, she replied that it wasn’t so much WHAT I’d said, just that Sister Gemma was our guest and should not be challenged. Straight out of the latest edition of Logic For Dummies.

      Anyway, I mention the above only to underline the fact that the staff member (at the time, I think he was Deputy Head) didn’t like that “dissenters” from the dissent had asked questions at the Q & A session and we were asked / told to leave. My parting shot brought no suitable answer: “Why” I asked “if this new Church is so broad, is there no room in it for the likes of us?”

      I was to learn, to my shock-horror, that this same Deputy Head later asked Fred Stone to join the choir and participate in the Sunday novus ordo Masses in St Aloysius. Done and dusted.

      Yet, as one member of Una Voce has complained to me, Stone is always there in his capacity of Chairman of UV when there’s a presentation to be made to a priest, always fussing round the visiting priests when he attends the fairly frequent sung Masses in Balornock. Any events, and he will be there, quite happy it seems, on those occasions, to be present at the TLM. He’s no problem attending a weekday or Saturday TLM – it’s the Sundays where he can’t make it due to his singing engagement in Garnethill. Truly, you couldn’t make it up.

      Final word: I have told him personally and in person 😀 that I think it is unconscionable for him to encourage others to make sometimes lengthy and awkward, difficult journeys to attend the UV Masses given that Sunday public transport services are not good, while he sails off into town for the novus ordo. Those same people making those difficult journeys could just as easily attend their local novus ordo Mass – and maybe even join the choir. At the very LEAST, he should resign his position at Una Voce.

      So, I am one (not the only one, though) of those who has been told not to approach or communicate with him again. Well, it’s sure to make it easier to live with his conscience, if nobody draws attention to his apparently contradictory position. One would think there ought to be something in the Una Voce Constitution that would prohibit a Chairman or other officer from this sort of duplicity, for that is how many see the situation.

      July 12, 2017 at 10:16 pm
      • Petrus


        I’m astonished at this. To think that the Chairman of Una Voce fulfils the Sunday Obligation by attending the Novus Ordo in the worst parish in Glasgow is unbelievable ! He’s not a very good role model, in terms of his (lack of) attendance at the Traditional Mass and his lack of charity. At least I am in good company being told not to communicate with him! It seems any Barney, Betty or Wilma can contact Una Voce but not Catholic Truth!

        July 12, 2017 at 10:27 pm
      • editor


        In all seriousness, I suggest we pray for him.

        July 12, 2017 at 10:30 pm
      • Petrus


        Indeed. He needs it.

        July 12, 2017 at 10:32 pm

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