The sung Mass remains the normative form in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church � but it is not the norm in most parishes. �A liturgical service takes on a nobler aspect when the rites are celebrated with singing,� says the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy (1964). Another church document refers to the sung or chanted Mass, saying �For the celebration of the Eucharist with the people, especially on Sundays and feast days, a form of sung Mass (Missa in cantu) is to be preferred as much as possible, even several times on the same day.� (Musicam Sacram, 1967). Chanting the Mass was once common in England, for example, before the Reformation and the reign of Henry VIII.
The Catholic Church reflects various traditions and customs, as well as various liturgies that have come down to believers over the ages. For example, the Byzantine rite of the Divine Liturgy, or Mass, is sung in plain chant by cantors who lead the congregations. While congregations of the Byzantine rite once used Church Slavonic exclusively, they now overwhelmingly use the vernacular. The Roman rite predominates in the United States and elsewhere in the Americas and, while it once used Latin for liturgies, it moved to using vernacular languages in the 1960s.
However, with the recent release of Pope Benedict XVI�s Motu Propio document that allows the option to priests of the Roman rite to celebrate the Tridentine ritual of the Mass in Latin (as was the case universally before the Second Vatican Council), some priests in the US are scrambling to learn and chant the rituals of the Mass in Latin. An example of the use of innovative teaching technology in this vein is found at Sancta Missa, a website sponsored by the Society of St. John Cantius and dedicated to web-based tutorials for priests interested in learning the Latin Mass.
A seminar to teach priests to chant the Latin Mass is to be offered October 17-19, 2007 by the Church Music Association of America in conjunction with St. John Cantius Catholic parish in Chicago IL. According to a press release issued by the Church Music Association, the goal of the seminar is to provide a full initiation into the method and manner of singing the Mass in the Roman Rite. The seminar covers: basics of common tones; pronunciation; singing the collects, readings, prefaces, and other parts of the Mass; musical rubrics for the Roman rite; integration of the celebrant, schola (choir), and people; literature and the wide range of options; vocal production and style.
It would be wonderful if more an more Masses were sung and I do hope the interest in chanting the Mass for the extraordinary form will translate into chanting the Mass in the ordinary form. I do love when they chant the Mass at my parish for the ordinary form of Mass whether in English or in Latin. A sung Mass seems to me to add to the transcendence of the Mass and to help me to pray with the Mass more.