We are blessed at St. Monica’s and St. Blaise to be singing the Ordinary parts of the Mass in Latin during this season (and often during the season of Advent). The Ordinaries (put to music in different Mass settings) are the parts which do not change – as opposed to the Propers, which are particular to each Mass (I’ll post on the Propers sometime in the future).
Becoming comfortable with Latin is incredibly helpful in deepening one’s faith. In praying with the language of the Church, it helps us transcend our local perspective, praying with the same words as other Latin Rite Catholics around the world, as well as with our brothers and sisters in previous generations. Through this, our prayer expresses a desire for unity in peoples of various nations, tongues, and time periods, fulfilling the universal meaning of the word “catholic.”
To assist with learning the Latin Ordinaries, I thought I would post a few videos so that you can become more comfortable singing them during Mass. You may notice with these videos that the rhythm is a little different from the way it is sung in church. This is because the music books that we have in the pews are written in modern (“round note”) notation, which is based on time measurements, as opposed to the free rhythm that occurs in chant (“square note”) notation. (See the post on the Pater Noster for a more complete explanation). I’m using videos with chant notation for learning because the modern notation is actually aiming for the same sound, it is just difficult to translate because the difference in musical language.
You will also notice the different Mass #s associated with the chants. This is because the Latin setting that was composed for the Ordinary Form was created by choosing the melodies from various Masses (there are 13 Mass settings in the Extraordinary Form) that were most accessible to the average person. When a full Chanted Mass is offered, we sometimes use a complete setting from one of the original Latin Masses, which can be learned by the congregation, but it just takes more time.
This chant is actually sung in Greek. If you’re curious about why that is, you can read a very interesting article from Aleteia here. In the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, each verse is sung three times, giving it a Trinitarian quality. In the Ordinary Form, the verse is sung by the priest or cantor, then repeated by the congregation.
Lord have mercy / Christ have mercy / Lord have mercy
We often do not use the more elaborate melody for the final verse, but pay attention to the cantor at Mass – maybe it will be used at some point – it would be good to be prepared ; )
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
This element was not part of the Traditional Mass, and is a bit unusual in that we have different responses available in English, so many in the pews might not know what is actually being sung. Unfortunately, the translation is not included with the music in the books, but it is on the white handouts in the pews. This acclimation is based on 1Corinthians 11:26.
The mystery of faith. r. We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection, until you come again.
In the Extraordinary Form, the cantor sings the beginning of each verse with additional voices joining in after the asterisk (as occurs in the video). In the Ordinary Form, the congregation often sings straight through after it is initially intoned. It is helpful to be aware of this difference if you attend an EF Liturgy. (See John 1:29 and Revelation 5)
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.
Although the Gloria is not sung during Advent or Lent, here is a video of the chant in case you encounter the Latin ordinaries outside of those seasons.
Lastly – if you haven’t already – please consider “following” this blog through the link on the bottom right. An email will be sent to you when a post is added, so you will stay up to date with helpful information and upcoming chant opportunities. Feel free to share the page with anyone you think might be interested.
Have a great week!