Apr 15, 2001


Online Edition – Vol. VII, No. 2 – April 2001


Theodore Marier, Gregorian Chant Expert Dies | "American Adaptations" of new Mass rules proposed | Canonist claims genuflecting is against Church law

Theodore Marier, Gregorian Chant Expert Dies

Theodore Marier, world renowned scholar, composer and masterful teacher of Gregorian Chant, died February 24 in Boston, ending a half-century of distinguished service to the Catholic Church, and leaving a valuable legacy in his many students and in his compositions. He was 88.

Cardinal Bernard Law celebrated Marier’s funeral Mass on February 27 at St. Paul’s Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Marier was founder and director-emeritus of the Archdiocesan Choir School.

Marier once said he "got hooked on chant" as a college student in the 1930s when he heard a recording of the choir of the Abbey of Solesmes, France. "It was the most beautiful music I had ever heard", he said. He later studied at Solesmes.

"Professor Marier effective transmitted his inspiration about Gregorian chant to generations of Catholic musicians", said Helen Hull Hitchcock, editor of the Adoremus Bulletin. Several years ago she had been recruited to sing in a schola Marier conducted at a symposium of the Church Music Association of America where she had given a lecture on liturgical translation. "It is a privileged memory", Mrs. Hitchcock recalled. "His enthusiasm was as impressive as his musical expertise. No one has done more to promote the musical tradition of the Church in America".

Marier was Justine Bayard Ward Professor and faculty adviser of the doctoral program in liturgical music and Director of the Center for Ward Studies at The Catholic University of America; a member of the board of directors of the Institute für Hymnologische und Musikethnologische Studien, Maria Laach, Germany; former president of the Church Music Association of America; editor of Hymns, Psalms and Spiritual Canticles; and a fellow of the American Guild of Organists.

Marier also studied at Cambridge University, England, and made recordings with the Boston Symphony under Seiji Ozawa. He received honorary doctorates in music from The Catholic University of America and from the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, Rome.

Marier’s English Chant Mass appears in The Adoremus Hymnal, and a recording of it can be heard on the accompanying CD.


"American Adaptations" of new Mass rules proposed

The US Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy [BCL] announced that proposals have been prepared as "American Adaptations" to the new rules for the celebration of Mass in the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani.

Items to be "adapted" include paragraphs on gestures and postures of the people at Mass and during Communion, materials used for the altar, chalices, etc., and other matters that national bishops’ conferences may alter. The list of paragraphs affected, but not the actual proposals, appeared in the most recent edition of the BCL Newsletter, Jan.-Feb. 2001.

The proposed adaptations, drawn up by the BCL, are to be voted on at the June 2001 plenary meeting of the bishops.

The Institutio is part of the "third typical edition" of the Roman Missal, approved by Pope John Paul II on Holy Thursday 2000. The rules for the celebration of Mass were published separately. They appeared last July in Latin and in a draft English translation prepared by the BCL.

The complete Latin text of the new Roman Missal was scheduled for release last fall, but has not yet appeared. Informed observers believe that the delay is caused by objections to the Institutio of many liturgists and by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL).

Liturgy groups in the US strongly objected when the new Institutio appeared. At a meeting of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions in October 2000, members voiced their strong objections. The "We Believe!" group has issued a list of demands for changes in the Vatican regulations for Mass (see AB News, February).

Conferences of bishops may propose "adaptations" to the Institutio, intended to reflect variations in practice from the general norms of the universal Church.

Changes in the universal liturgical norms require the positive vote of 2/3 of the Latin Rite bishops in the United States and the approval of the Holy See.

UPDATE: See information on the revised "American Adaptations" from the October 2002 Adoremus Bulletin.


Canonist claims genuflecting is against Church law

Father John Huels, an infleuntial canon lawyer who frequently writes on the liturgy, recently stated that to genuflecting before receiving Communion is a "disruptive" practice that should be suppressed; that it is "against universal [Church] law". He also said that "there was unanimity among liturgists in their opposition to genuflection" in a survey he conducted.

Father Huels, professor of canon law at St. Paul University, Ottawa, gave his interpretation of the new Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani in an article in the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (FDLC) newsletter. December 2000-January 2001 (pp 1-4).

The FDLC is on record as objecting to the publication last summer of the draft translation of the Institutio.

To support his assertion, Father Huels argues that §274 of the Institutio, which concerns genuflection of the clergy while in procession, applies to people receiving Communion because, in his view, the people are in a procession.

His opposition to genuflection, however, is not supported by other sections of the Institutio, or by other documents, such as the 1967 instruction, Eucharisticum Mysterium, or the new Pastoral Introduction to the Order of Mass §32 which describes gestures of reverence in detail.

As was made clear in a response by Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez, the Holy See did not intend to prohibit the people’s genuflection or kneeling during Mass. Read the cardinal’s letter, published in AB (Dec/Jan, p 6). (AB will revisit this subject in the future.)

UPDATE: Read update on Father Huels from the September 2002 Adoremus Bulletin.



The Editors