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)

  • 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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