Mass at the Lichtentaler Pfarrkirche, Vienna : 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A, 2011)


With choir numbers dwindling as the summer holidays approach, and yours truly in Vienna for a (day-job) conference, we allowed ourselves a Sunday off. We’re back for one more Sunday Mass next weekend, before we break for August. At the Cathedral, the plan was to try a congregation-only setting of the new Missal text, in the form of Paul Inwood’s Gathering Mass. I wonder how they got on?

In Vienna, I went to Franz Schubert’s parish church, where they were celebrating the 300th anniversary of the chapel of St. Anne, the oldest part of the church building, and so the 300th anniversary of the parish itself. The music, accompanied by organ and a splendid brass ensemble, was Michael Haydn’s Deutsche Messe - the prototype German or Austrian Singmesse, in which the people sing hymns loosely based on the Mass Ordinary, in place of the Missal texts themselves.

In the days long before the liturgical renewal was dreamt of, these songs would have been sung while the priest got on with the real business of the Mass. I suppose they represented a more “full, conscious and active” mode of participation than was otherwise available to participants in the Low Mass. But now, might they be an obstacle to participation rather than an aid to it? Wikipedia has this to say:

The Betsingmesse became obsolete with the liturgical reform introduced after the Second Vatican Council and with the introduction of vernacular liturgy in the celebration of the Missa cum populo. The tradition of carrying out parts of the liturgy in the form of German songs that are not necessarily a German rendering of those parts of the liturgy: e.g., by a “Song at the Gloria” or a “Song at the Sanctus”, however, has been retained in many parishes, even if it is regarded critically by liturgists and is not supported by the official documents as part of the modern Roman rite.

The singing, it has to be said, was strong and reverent.

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