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CNP Feedback - Rite Rubrics

Q. Dear CNP:

After having served for twenty years as a professional musician in the mainstream Anglican church, I find myself, after five years in a very high Catholic church, still feeling like a total ignoramus regrading rubrics. It's compounded by the fact that I'm sure my parish tries to pass off as "absolutely correct" things that are actually just local custom, or habit.

Can you recommend a good book for people like me? Something like "Everything you always wanted to know about screamingly high Catholic liturgical practice but were afraid to ask for fear of being dismissed as a ill-educated low-brow."

-Hoping for All the "Rite" Stuff

A. Dear Hoping:

Welcome to the often confusing, but decidedly inspirational world of Roman Rite rubrics!

There is a great book, written by then Monsignor (now Bishop) Peter J. Elliott of Melbourne, Australia, called Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite. The book is a practical, "how-to" guide about the precise and correct way to do things in the liturgy (e.g. entrance processions, incensation during Benediction, bishop's visit). The author stays meticulously close to the rubrics found in the official books. If there's an option, he may offer a suggestion, but is clear about it being an opinion only. He safeguards us from being swayed by liturgists on either extreme — those who think pew kneelers are totally anachronistic; and those who insist on triple swings of the censor, maniples and double genuflections.

I find the book valuable in innumerable situations when I want to know not only what will look good about the ceremony, but what is correct.

The Elliott book focuses solely on the Ordinary Form (Novus Ordo). If you need musical information on the Extraordinary Form (Traditional Latin Mass), the book, Ceremonial for Sacred Music, by The Rev. Scott A. Haynes, SJC, will have it.

Gary Penkala
CanticaNOVA Publications

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