Corpus Christi—Following Liturgical Change in Hand Missals

Today is traditionally the feast of Corpus Christi, and in many countries the Church keeps to the traditional reckoning of the feast. In England it is transferred to Sunday, unless one attends an Extraordinary Form parish or chapel.

The post-conciliar decline in the liturgy, especially the liturgy of the Mass, is attended by a decline in the general understanding of the Eucharist and the Sacrifice at the heart of the Mass. Catechesis has been inextricably bound to liturgical reform as it has happened on the ground (as opposed to the lofty ideals of the reformers who seemed often to have little idea of real parishes and the faithful’s needs). The decline of one at the grassroots has been attended by a congruent decline in the other. One of the reformers’ great mantras, that rubber-stamps all sorts of distortions of the Mass, is active participation. Put bluntly, for many parochial reformers this means getting as many people to do things and make noise as possible, a concept wholly novel to the liturgy and reflecting late 20th-century obsession with uniform egalitarianism.

It seemed an interesting idea to look back through the old hand missals—missals intended for the laity and to foster their intelligent participation in the Mass—to see if we can catch glimpses of what we have lost, what avenues we might have more fruitfully walked, and whether the decline can be discerned in the production of these missals over the years. What follows is graphic-heavy and probably should be viewed via a broadband or wifi connection! The covers and descriptions of almost all the missals can be found in recent posts.

First up is The Roman Missal in Latin and English, with commentary by Abbot Cabrol, published first in 1922, though my edition is the 8th published by Mame & Sons/Herder in 1931. One of the smaller-sized missals, there is a lot packed in, and the typesetting is quite dense (though it keeps the typewriter’s double-space after a full stop). Nevertheless the editors found room for some suitable, traditional and decorous engraved artwork, and the pages are general in two columns, matching the Latin of the liturgy to the English translation. Cabrol’s introduction, with its charming francophone typo Sacrement, is excellent and comprehensive for the relatively small space available, providing the liturgical justification and history of the feast, as well as highlighting the virtues of Aquinas’ sequence for the feast, Lauda Sion.

From 1932 is the Missal-Vesperal with Commentary published by B F Widdowson & Co of London, with “symbolico-liturgical illustrations by the Rev. Fath. BERTHOLD, Carmelite”. This volume is one of those in need of repair, and I am touched and excited that Paula and Christopher have offered to have this and two other volumes repaired. Blessings upon them. Along with a fetching piece of engraved artwork is not only some commentary on the feast but on the artwork as well. Again there is some more excellent liturgical commentary, as well as a reminder that this feast once had its own octave (remember those?). Like Cabrol, the commentator posits the feast as a complement to, or even culmination of, Maundy Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Reading the commentary on the artwork one realises that here too much has been included in a small space. Again a two-column arrangement is used to set the Latin texts against their English translations. Since there is a vesperal included with the missal, the Magnificat antiphon for first vespers in included in the proper place.

From 1936 is another missal that comes with vespers for the major days, The Daily Missal and Liturgical Manual, published by Laverty & Sons of Leeds and edited by Fr Sylvester Juergens SM. This is another volume in need of repair, which will also be covered by benefaction. Perhaps with amazing foresight its calendar of moveable feasts finishes in 1966. The commentary is brief here, and with devotional flourish Fr Juergens uses indulgenced ejaculations to convey the “scope and purpose” of the feast. The antiphons for vespers are assembled together after the texts for the Mass, rather than placed chronologically before and after the Mass. The texts are, not surprisngly, in the two-column format we have seen so far. The engravings are beautiful and devotional, and there is a full-page engraving by J Verleye of various worthies before the Host exposed, though not all are shown kneeling—St Thomas Aquinas for example, who is too busy writing!

Next we jump to 1949, and the Saint Andrew Daily Missal with Vespers for Sunday and Feasts, the work of Dom Gaspar Lefebvre of the Liturgical Apostolate of St André Abbey near Bruges. St André was one of the powerhouses of the liturgical movement. This is one of the best missals ever produced, packed with detailed information and attractive decoration and illustration. This missal typifies what the classic liturgical movement was all about: giving the laity all they needed to participate intelligently and devoutly in the liturgy of the Church, and not just the Mass. There was also a four-volume edition produced for some years which I have not been able to see as yet. If you can only afford to get one classic pre-conciliar missal, this is the one to get.

For this feast the section begins with a very detailed and theological introduction, with a reminder that even back then Corpus Christ was celebrated on Sundays in some places. The introduction is slotted in immediately after the texts for the first Sunday after Pentecost. As pure text it is visually anti-climactic, though this hint of a let-down is rectified as soon as the page is turned, to behold a full page engraving that combines imagery of the Mass and the procession (with thurifers depicted facing forward rather than the pious nonsense of walking backwards). As densely typeset as any missal the typeface is well-chosen and has adequate leading, which when added to a sensible layout makes this an easy missal to use. Second vespers is given in some detail after the notes on the procession.

The 1950s was a period of significant liturgical change (significant in magnitude considered in historical terms, but nothing on the scale of the changes after Vatican II). Accompanying and informing it was an increasingly militant strand of the liturgical movement which was seeking bolder and wider-reaching changes. So we come now to 1957 and the Daily Missal of the Mystical Body, edited by the Maryknoll Fathers (and which would later be published as the Maryknoll Missal) and published by P J Kennedy & Sons of New York. My copy comes with its original box. A very attractive missal, its typography is more spaciously set, and has colour artwork from Beuron Abbey. For this feast the black and white artwork has taken on the look of early clipart, and the symbolism now centres almost exclusively on wheat and grapes, which in earlier missals (as above) took second place to more Christocentric and mystical imagery. That said, it is not unattractive, and the short introduction to the feast is pithy and highly-focused on Christ and his sacrificed body given to foster the “Christ-life in Christians and to make them all divinely one in Himself.”

Another change for the observant is that Latin is now only given for certain texts; but the readings, the sequence, and the priestly prayers are given only in English. This might seem logical, but in fact it seems less conducive to the full and intelligent participation of the laity. It is hard to understand how denying them the texts the priest is saying except in the translation he is not actually voicing. Nevertheless, it is a very user-friendly missal, attractively designed and full of devotional material. Yet, as we look through the missal we see the focus is being shifted, and the aesthetic radically modernised.

From 1959 is the Saint Joseph Daily Missal, edited by Fr Hugo Hoever S.O.Cist, and published by the Catholic Book Publishing Company of New York. This an a very useful introduction but very brief commentary indeed for this feast, basically seeing the feast as completing the joy at the institution of the Eucharist that was more muted on Maundy Thursday. The engraving is a rather fetching image of a parish procession with men in their Sunday best carrying the canopy and the thurifer walking forwards but looking backwards as though torn between the common sense of the rubrics and the sentimental practice of thurifers walking backwards in front of the Blessed Sacrament in procession. Very tellingly all the Latin texts are omitted and only the English translations are included. Again it is hard to see how the enhances participation in the Latin liturgy. Also included is a hint of recent liturgical changes as the commentary refers to the “Octave (now suppressed)”. Included below is the page that shows the ever-growing emphasis on participation, with notes on how to participate at the various stages of the Mass. In itself it is a sound piece of work, but seen with hindsight some may detect progress in the furthering of an agenda.

From 1961 is the deluxe Fulton J Sheen Sunday Missal, which while published in New York by Hawthorn Books, is actually an English work edited by the Jesuits Philip Caraman and James Walsh. This is a high-end missal, beautifully designed and typeset. The detailed and eloquent introduction is by Bishop Sheen, and there is further excellent introductory material including a detailed section on the vestments, as well as instructions for participating in sung and dialogue Masses as well as for High Mass. Again we see the liturgical turn to man beginning, but in no sense is there anything untoward per se. Here, however, participation is actually enhanced with, not a two column page with Latin and English, but a facing pages with Latin on the left page, the English on the right. It runs through the Mass for Corpus Christi from start to finish except for the Canon, and includes the rubrics in English as well. There is no artwork in this more cerebral missal, but neither is there specific on commentary the feast.

Also from 1961 is The New Roman Missal, by Fr James O’Connor CSsR and published in London by Burns and Oates. Fr O’Connor’s introduction is highly theological and quite traditional, though he is not isolated from the contemporary current and devotes space to the meal aspect of the Mass, participation and the Mass as public worship. The artwork has a modern look, though throughout the missal sections are ended with traditional black engraved ornaments of such things as smoking thuribles and angels.b The artwork for Corpus Christi has the soon-to-be-ubiquitous wheat and grapes. The commentary is brief. Except for the sequence, the Latin is omitted and only the English translations included.

In 1962 St André was still producing the Saint Andrew Daily Missal, still edited by Gaspar Lefebvre, but things have otherwise begun to change. The commentary for the feast is still detailed but the focus is now moved from Christ and the Father to Christ and the faithful, reflecting to the turn to man now very much the style of the day. The artwork is now quite modern and more obliquely Eucharistic, referencing the feeding of the five thousand with loaves and fishes. However Latin is reproduced in full along with the English translation and the sequence comes with the music, an obvious facilitation of the laity’s joining in the singing. This missal reflects an intelligent understanding of active participation.

However, in 1962 there seems to have been a desire to diversify at St André; so to supplement the work of Dom Gaspar’s Daily Missal there appeared the Saint Andrew Bible Missal, the work of the St Andrew’s Missal Commission. The excellent introductory material of Dom Gaspar is gone and not replicated. A letter of recommendation from Cardinal Cushing states the purpose of this missal, which does not want to reproduce the old style of missal “which suffered from a kind of literalness, merely reproducing the celebrant’s altar missal in another tongue, with perhaps added notes and comments.” In its place, says the Cardinal, is this “fresh approach” that should “bear fruit in holiness and sincerity of worship” (though what the older missals’ fruit was seems somewhat in doubt). In his Foreword the Abbot Coadjutor of St André, Théodore Ghesquière, claimed that this missal is not “a casual mass book” but “calls for a serious study of every mass before its celebration.” An implicit repudiation of Dom Gaspar is reinforced by the abbot’s assertion that a “missal cannot be prepared by one man”! Poor Dom Gaspar.

This missal deserves analysis elsewhere. For now we see that for Corpus Christi, artwork is dispensed with entirely. Instead there is an exposition of a theme, “Life and Death” for the feast, with an interesting section “Bible Background”. It has many merits but it is hard not to notice that an old way is being deliberately supplanted by a new approach to the liturgy which is scripture centred, and expects the laity to be budding intellectuals who would spend time studying each Mass before they get there. This is a highly laudable ambition, but just a little pie-in-the-sky. The experts were judging the laity by their own interests and preferences, and so they emphasise the Word over the Sacrament, reflection over devotion. Needless to say the Latin is largely omitted. It all makes for an interesting missal but I suspect the ordinary layperson would have been happier with Dom Gaspar’s contemporary missal. I would love to know how each actually sold.

From 1962 again is a missal not included in recent posts. This is the St John’s Missal for Every Day, revised by Fr J Rea and published by C Goodliffe Neale of Birmingham (UK). Despite the date the introduction has a very traditional focus, with such sections as “Method of Hearing Mass Well”, “Attitude During the Mass”, and “The Liturgical Chant”. However in other respects it has adopted the contemporary approach to missals. So for Corpus Christi despite the excellent traditional commentary there are no Latin texts, only the English translations, all squeezed into 6 small pages. The artwork has that clipart feel to it and again references the bread and fish of the feeding of the five thousand. Its catechetical material is excellent, that cannot be denied.

It was a busy year for missals in 1962. From the same year comes The Layman’s Missal published in England by Burns & Oates. No editor is listed but that is because in the preface we find that this is an English edition of the French Missel quotidien des Fidèles by Fr José Feder SJ, and published by Maison Mame of Tours. At the end of the preface we find that the editors are some of the leading English reformers: J D Crichton, Clifford Howell SJ, Harold Winstone and Sebastian Bullough OP. They employ new English translations that aim at a “direct and dignified style of English that avoids as far as possible the aridities of conventional ‘devotional language’…”. The volume has two introductions, a normal one and a “Biblical Introduction”, which reflects the contemporary liturgical focus, which no doubt explains the absence of artwork. It is a nice little missal however, and again for all its modish modernity it is still essentially sound and instructive. Continuum republished it in 2009.

The New Marian Missal for Daily Mass of 1963, published by Laverty & Sons in Leeds, using an editor they used way back in 1936 for the Daily Missal and Liturgical Manual, Fr Sylvester Juergens SM. The increased pace of change is reflected in a printed insert detailing the addition of St Joseph to the Canon by Pope John XXIII. The foreword, by Fr Ralph Gorman CP, is sound and clear, emphasizing the Mass as sacrifice but also the need for the laity to do more than “hear” Mass. The Missal has full-page colour rather cartoonish artwork, as well as the traditional black and white engraving of a devotional nature that we have seen in so many missals above. This contrast strikes me as slightly schizoid: to be modern yet also traditional. This is seen clearly on Corpus Christi. Fr Juergens reprises his indulgenced prayers as commentary, as used by him in 1936. The engraving is faced on the opposite page by a cartoonish picture of the feeding of the five thousand, now the favoured graphic symbolism in so many missals of this period. An annoyingly modern typeface, not quite Comic Sans but almost, is used for section headings. And, as commonly now, the Latin texts are entirely omitted, even for the procession hymns. Even the Pange Lingua (for which one has to flip back to Maundy Thursday) is also rendered only in English. Clearly active participation in Latin liturgy is no longer a priority; perhaps because even now it was seen that Latin liturgy itself would soon not be a priority.

From 1964 comes a four-volume hand missal that was aimed at the high-brow end of the market. The Saint Jerome Daily Missal, published by Virtue and Co in London and The Catholic Press in Chicago, was edited by Fr Thomas McDonough and Joseph Marren. In this volume the Introduction to Easter and Pentecost is written by a certain young Fr Andrew Greeley. The volumes have full colour sections with famous artworks depicting relevant biblical or devotional scenes. There are also black and white engravings by J B Sleper are of a most modern figurative style, interesting and often very beautiful. The liturgical commentary is detailed but very much of the period and its theological and liturgical priorities. Thus for Corpus Christi the nearly full-page introductory commentary we read that “(w)hen our Lord is sacramentally present on the altar, he is not there to be ‘treasured’ like a precious jewel or relic, but to be eaten in everyday form of bread so that we may live with Christ as he lives with his Father…” He we see the justification soon to be used to legitimize the imminent demise, even the demonization, of exposition and benediction. It will not surprise you to hear that the Latin texts are omitted entirely. The collects and priestly prayers have the same style that would mar the Novus Ordo missal of 1970. This attractive and comprehensive high-end missal is at the vanguard of the liturgical movement as it had developed openly from the 1950s.

Now we move to the post-conciliar period. The 1966 Maryknoll Missal reflects the Belgian abbot’s dictum that no one man can compile a missal. This volume lists a large editorial board. The foreword, by Cardinal Cushing, quotes the conciliar constitution on the liturgy, not surprisingly, followed in the introduction by a selective anthology of quotations from the same constitution. The general introduction to the Mass highlights the aspect of it as a “sacred banquet”. The detailed commentary on the parts of the Mass is very useful and is not labouring modernity, giving some weight to the more traditional emphases in understanding the Mass. Like the Saint Jerome Daily Missal, it gives special space to explaining the various English endings to liturgical prayers (collects etc). A vernacular liturgy is already clearly envisaged by the reformers, and being prepared for actively. Though there are some modern engravings in the missal, the entry for Corpus Christi is unadorned, and the introduction highlights the birth of the Church on Maundy Thursday! Of course the Latin texts, for what is still technically a Latin liturgy, are omitted.

Also from 1966 is the The Small Roman Missal of Laverty & Sons, Leeds. It is pretty much pocket sized. No editor is credited. It may be because it bucks the trend in many respects. The introductory commentary is highly juridical and rubrical, describing in detail the ministers of worship, ecclesiastical jurisdiction, liturgical places and furnishings, and a very traditional definition of the Mass emphasizing the Real Presence and the Sacrifice. The commentary is pithy but sound, and the engraving artwork is modern but devotional. It gives most, but not all, the Latin texts but places the Latin in smaller typeface in a block after the English. While this reflects the influence of the reform movement, it is a missal that in most ways bucks the contemporary trend.

From 1967 comes the St Paul Daily Missal with the latest changes, edited and published by the Daughters of St Paul of Boston. It is a handsome volume, though it favours the obviously very modish calligraphic typeface for headings. Fr Alberione SSP’s brief introduction reflects the buzz of the immediate post-conciliar period. The liturgical commentary is in many ways traditional, highlighting the Mass as sacrifice, but it also highlights the formulae for concluding collects etc in English. As well as explaining the parts of the church, vestments, church plate and liturgical linen, it also explains the stational churches! The clipart-style artwork is not too bad, and is supplemented by the occasional appearance of full-colour cartoonish art. Yet it reflects its time: Latin is omitted entirely with only the English translations included, which are of the 1970 Novus Ordo style. Corpus Christi gets no commentary or artwork at all. This is yet another conflicted missal, and seems to decides that for the missal proper, least said soonest mended.

The 1968 New Marian Missal (Australian Edition) reflects the relentless march of the reformers as they pursue their interpretation of the spirit of Vatican II. The missal has the imprimi potest of the bishop of Down and Connor in Ireland. This is a small, slim minimalist missal. It has a page devoted to Paul VI’s new rules for the Eucharistic fast (reduced to the current one hour). There is much less commentary, usually before each season only, and a brief page on “The Holy Mass” as the “unbloody Sacrifice of the New Law.” It is only two paragraphs but a rather fine and pithy summary of the essence of the Mass. For Corpus Christi we find abstract artwork (is it manna in the desert?), no Latin, emphasis on the Eucharist as food, and modern typefaces; yet also quite traditional English translations of texts and parts of the Mass. Again we find that schizoid air that marks some other missals being swept along by now the breakneck speed of liturgical reform. It is typically Australian for the period – torn between the comfort of tradition and the slavish need to fit in with modernity.

For the last of the pre-Novus Ordo missals to be considered here, let us step back a year to 1967. The makers of the St Joseph Daily Missal produced a smaller Parish Mass Book and Hymnal. No editor is named. This missal’s title page reveals the turn to man and to the congregation rather than the individual worshipper. It contains “People’s parts of Holy Mass for Every Day of the Year”, and is “Arranged for Congregational Recitation”, and done so “In accordance with the New Revised Liturgy” (well, as it briefly stood at this point of 1967). The little missal is very revealing. The congregation not the individual is its focus, so gone are any prayers for preparation for Mass or thanksgiving after Mass. There is no Latin in the missal at all, despite being designed for congregational recitation. Obviously Latin is already effectively dead, more than 2 years before the new Mass was promulgated. There is still only one canon, rendered in modern English and simplified much as it would be in 1969/70, though it still has the old formula for the consecration, just put in English. For Corpus Christi there is no artwork, a brief introduction with an emphasis on bible references. It is an attractive little book even with its modern aesthetic, and sturdily and well produced. The missals of the Novus Ordo would not match even the quality of this popular edition of a people’s missal.

Lastly, for the sake of interest and comparison, there are two recent missals for the liturgy of 1962. The Roman Catholic Daily Missal was published by Angelus Press in 2004. It is based on a another missal by our friend Fr Sylvester Juergens SM, The Ideal Missal of 1962 (which I do not have). This missal piggybacks on the imprimatur granted to Juergens’ missal in 1962. But, a little naughtily from an imprimatur point of view, it adds commentary from a number of other pre-conciliar sources. It is a most attractive missal, with well-designed layout and typography on excellent bible paper. The commentary for the Ordinary of the Mass is set in the margins of the page and is copious, and in this it reflects the highest ideals of the classic liturgical movement. For Corpus Christi there is included the same artwork from Juergens’ 1936 missal listed above, and the same indulgenced prayers as opening commentary.

The second recent missal for the pre-conciliar liturgy, and the last for this exhausting post, is The Daily Missal and Liturgical Manual, published by Baronius Press in London in 2009 as a response to Pope Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum of 2007, which liberated the pre-conciliar liturgy for the use of all. It also contains vespers for Sundays and feasts. Whereas the Angelus Press missal did not seek a new imprimatur, probably because it is affiliated to the Lefebvrist SSPX, the Baronius missal has a fresh imprimatur from the Bishop of Lincoln in the USA. This missal is based on yet another of Juergens’ missals, the 1960 16th edition of the Daily Missal and Liturgical Manual, the 1936 edition of which is listed above. The same artwork that graces Juergens’ missals has been used again, though Baronius has retouched them as necessary. Baronius has added supplements for Australasia and the USA. This Missal comes in a hard slipcase, and unlike the Angelus missal which employs red text along with black on white, the Baronius is black and white only. This no great issue as it is otherwise well produced and laid-out and the engravings are best in black. Thus for Corpus Christi it is much the same as the Angelus edition, save for different typography.

Both these recent missals for the pre-conciliar liturgy very worthy, their beauty reflecting a worthy attitude to the Church’s liturgy, and the highest ideals of the classic liturgical movement, which sought not to change the ancient liturgy of Christian worship but the hearts and minds of Christian worshippers that they might drink as deeply as possible of the rich wine of the Catholic liturgy of the Roman Rite.

 

6 thoughts on “Corpus Christi—Following Liturgical Change in Hand Missals

  1. The business in the 1964 St. Jerome about Jesus in the sacrament not being there to be ‘treasured like a precious jewell or relic’ reminds me of one of the most depressing post-conciliar statements I’ve heard, when back in the early ’80s, at a benediction service, the congregation was told that, in the past, ‘Jesus was carried about in golden vessels with incense and music and stuff as if he were some kind of king or something.’ Meanwhile, this detailed post I find truly helpful, both in understanding the liturgical developments and theological understandings of the recent past, and what one might look for in shopping for a hand missal today, used or new. The Maryknoll Missal I used as a boy back in the early 60s does not include many of the Latin texts, the scripture readings most notably for me, so it’s nice to know some others actually do.

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    1. Yes, this logic that Jesus gave himself to be eaten seems rather blinkered, even Pharisaical. Pure (ie the Church’s!) logic says if the Host is the body of Jesus, and Jesus is also God, then the Host should receive the same honour as Jesus as God. But the drivel of the St Jerome missal et al is is nothing new, and I suspect in every generation there will some who think it.

      Anyway I am glad indeed if this helps you find a good missal. The two recent republications are excellent. But for a little less money you can find a good old characterful pre-prayed missal. Abebooks or Ebay are good places to test the water.

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  2. You obviously have an amazing selection of missals which need to be brought to the notice of post Conciliar Catholics – just so they realise what beauty has been lost (or misplaced?). I, personally, try to attend EF Mass whenever possible but do not deny the validity of OF Mass. In the EF I much prefer to have the Latin & English printed so that it is possible to pray with the priest more closely.

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    1. The later pre-Novus Ordo missals seemed to be softening us up for the vernacular by removing the Latin altogether. This was not exactly promoting full and intelligent participation, but of course the new generation of reformers wanted participation only in the liturgy they were devising.Anyway, that’s the conspiracy-theory reading of it! 😉

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