Foiled! I can’t find the official Latin edition of the principal text for anyone who wishes to understand the role of Sacred Music in the Liturgy.
You ask, “what is the fundamental text for those who wish to understand the role of Sacred Music in the Liturgy?”
That is an excellent question and very well phrased to boot. Here are three words which, by their mellifluous sound, indicate the musical nature of what they signify, to wit,
“Tra le Sollecitudine”
Try saying that 10 times fast.
One would think that the Vatican website would have it, but I checked and only found the English, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese translations.
Someone needs to alert Pope Francis about this. No wonder the music in our churches is so awful.
Here is a little taste of this important text in English
Sacred music, being a complementary part of the solemn liturgy, participates in the general scope of the liturgy, which is the glory of God and the sanctification and edification of the faithful. It contributes to the decorum and the splendor of the ecclesiastical ceremonies, and since its principal office is to clothe with suitable melody the liturgical text proposed for the understanding of the faithful, its proper aim is to add greater efficacy to the text, in order that through it the faithful may be the more easily moved to devotion and better disposed for the reception of the fruits of grace belonging to the celebration of the most holy mysteries. (Tra le Sollecitudine Pope Pius X Instruction on Sacred Music Motu Proprio promulgated on November 1903)
The immediate question that I have is “from what does the word complementary translate?”
Well- I happen to know. The question was purely rhetorical.
The Latin word is “integrans.” In other words the English translation should read,
“Sacred music, being an integral part of the solemn liturgy…” (parte integrans)
How do I know this? Well – just take a look at the Italian, Portuguese and Spanish texts
“La musica sacra, come parte integrante della solenne liturgia, ne partecipa il fine generale…(Italian)
“Como parte integrante de la liturgia solemne, la música sagrada tiende a su mismo fin,…” (Spanish)
- A música sacra, como parte integrante da Liturgia solene, participa do seu fim geral…(Portuguese)
I am not saying that I know any of these languages, but after staring at these sentences for about half an hour, I couldn’t help but to notice certain similarities.
But I also have an ace in my back pocket, because I happened to stumble across this:
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
JOHN PAUL II
FOR THE CENTENARY
OF THE MOTU PROPRIO
“TRA LE SOLLECITUDINI’
ON SACRED MUSIC
and Blessed John Paul II quotes the very line that I am talking about!
…the special attention which sacred music rightly deserves stems from the fact that, “being an integral part of the solemn Liturgy, [it] participates in the general purpose of the Liturgy, which is the glory of God and the sanctification and edification of the faithful”
But, why oh why does the English translation have to say complementary?!?
The problem with the word complementary is firstly, the word complementary sounds exactly like complimentary and is therefore often confused with it. If Sacred music is merely complimentary, then it is obvious that sacred music is something that we can all live without.
The word comlementary makes sacred music’s role something akin to the role that a cherry plays atop an ice cream sundae.
As we all know, one is able to have a perfectly acceptable ice cream sundae without a cherry. An ice cream sundae without a cherry is a perfectly acceptable ice cream sundae. Nothing is missing that belongs to its own definition qua ice cream sundae.
Sundae with a Cherry
Sundae without Cherry
Secondly, even if we use the word complementary to mean “completing” which is what it means, we still tend to use the word in a weaker sense such as “enhancing.” Thus we might say that “bread is a good complement to the dinner” or “flowers complement the dinner table.”
If we were all to agree that “complementary” mean strictly “to complete” then I wouldn’t mind. Because then the phrase
“Sacred music, being a complementary part of the solemn liturgy…”
has more ‘bite’ to it. The phrase would indicate to us that Sacred music is something that is necessary- necessary that is to anyone who would like a complete liturgy.
Now I know exactly what you are thinking. You are thinking,
“Well certainly one is able to have Mass without music. Why…as a matter of fact all those Irish priests in 1709 had to say Mass in secret without music because of the British “penal act” which attempted to force priests to take an oath etc. etc.”
Well, before you go on and lecture me about Irish history and Queen Anne and penal acts and all sorts of things that will obscure the argument, allow me to say that you have succeeded in nothing but making my point even clearer!
An integral part is not the same thing as an essential part.
For example one is able to have a man without hair on his head. Hair is not an essential part of a man. But would we say that a hairless man has all the parts that make up a complete man? No, a man should have hair! Every man is supposed to have hair by nature! And furthermore, I don’t care about that recent article in the WSJ about how bald men make more money!
Ok, so now you are thinking “Yes maybe a bald man is in fact a complete man” and now after reading the article in the WSJ you are probably contemplating a trip to the barber.
Well what if a man was lacking an arm? Do we have a man? Yes we do, because an arm is not an essential part of a man.
But we would still admit, with regret, that an armless man appears to be lacking something which he should have. There is a deficiency that will no doubt have to be made up for in some other way. An armless man wants an arm, much more than, say, he wants a bow tie or a top-hat.
An integral part is the kind of part that allows us to have a complete thing, while noting that if something is missing its integral parts we might still have the thing- but not in its completeness.
On the other hand if a man lost his head, we would have to say that we really do not have the man anymore. The head is something more than an integral part. I might venture that the head would appear to be an essential part. A sine qua non for having the thing itself.
(In my humble opinion The “Headless Horseman” was not really a man at all in sofar as he was lacking an essential part!)
That probably goes for the torso as well.
I am not a doctor, but I bet a doctor would be able to make a decent list of essential parts of the human body and another list of integral parts.
The point is that integral parts, while not being essential, are still necessary if one wishes to have the whole of what a thing is.
If you think there is no difficulty for a person to lack eyes, or arms, or legs, or even eyebrows, or fingernails or whatever…then go ahead. You will also claim that it is fine for a mass to lack sacred music.
But the truth is that something is missing which should be there.
As Pope St. Pius X taught, and was reaffirmed by the council fathers in Sacrosanctum Consilium, and his teaching was reiterated recently by Pope John Paul II…
sacred music is an integral part of the solemn liturgy.