Si,-Writing as a member of the Methodist Church for over 20 years, and as one who is hoping to be received into the Catholic Church in October, may I heartily endorse all that Fr. Ciifford Howell. Se., writes in his article. Certainly "Let the people sing " has been and still is a great tradition amongst Methodists. How I miss their stirring hymns! Trusting I shall not be counted one of the indolent or ignorant when I say that at the moment I attend 11 a.m. Mass because the sung Mass has to me very great appeal. I am always conscious, however, of the very "thin" singing compared with the services have been used to.
With the Psalmist of old, Catholics must " Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands: sing forth the honour of his name; make his praise glorious."-Ps. 66. e
DoeoTrer CLEARY. 51 Templeton Road, Gt. Barr, Birmingham 22.
Ste,-Whilst 1 agree that, strictly speaking, it is true that, as Mr. Ernest B. Moss says, hymns are not part of the Liturgy. I can tell him why this correspondent at least is so concerned with English hymns." In the first place the Holy Father has asked for more congregational singing. It is little use giving the people Latin hymns because the average Catholic neither understands the Chnrch's language, nor can he pronounce it.
Secondly, I believe that hymn singing is likely to effect what instruction has failed to do; encourage the laity to take a more intelligent part at Mass instead of being mere passive spectators.
Thirdly, I am interested in seeing more and more non-Cathofics attracted to our Holy Faith, Other reasons for using English are given much better by Fr. Gosling in his article on " English in the liturgy." 23/6/50).
79 Belgrave Road, London, S.W.1.
SIR-My suggestions for the most us-gently needed reforms are: (I) The placing of a surpliced male choir in the choir of the church (i.e., not in the gallery at the rear). This would give a greater dignity to the sung Masses and services, give a better lead to the congregation and attract more male recruits to the choir.
(2) The adoption of a simple chant.
(3) The substitution of Vespers or Compline for the Rosary in the evening service.
(4) The standing of the congregation during the singing of the Credo, even if it cannot be persuaded to join in.
F. P. MEADOWS. B.Sc., A.M.T.E.E.
8a Crown Parade, Uxbridge Rd.. Hayes, Middx.
SIR.-There are. in my opinion, two reasons why we do not get the same response as in the Protestant chu rches.
(a) Most of the early Mass people mentioned by Fr. Howell, 5.J., prefer to follow the Mass in their own w.i), and ie their own time, mingling with the Mass their own private prayers. A sung Mass would be a serious distraction to those going to Holy Communion.
(b) I have been in Catholic churches all over the country, arid the number which have sufficient money to do as the Protestant churches do and provide hymn books, is very small.
Another and very important reason for the lack of congregational sing• ing is the necessity (as ii seems) for the hymns to be played in too high a key for the majority of the men to join in.
H. W. ROBINSON. 5 Swanbourne Road, Sheffield 5.
Stems May T express my heartfelt appreciation of Fr. Clifford Howell's recent articles on Singing in Catholic Churches.
Probably the chief dissentients will be found among the members of our church choirs. The remedy seems to me to lie in the foundation of Catholic Choral Societies throughout the country, where elaborate church music could be studied, and rendered at periodical sacred concerts. Regional choral festivals and competitions might be staged annually; and in this way our enthusiasts for fourpart harmony might exercise their zeal without hindering our Sunday Masses.
Chee OF Thos.', AMATEUR ORCANISTS.
SIR.-Fr. Clifford Howell merits our sincere thanks old congratulations for his two excellent articles on Singing in Church. He has certainly given us the teaching of the Popes, in clear language,and has added some sound practical advice, as a result of which we can all afford to strike our breasts a little.
I hope, in particular, that these articles have been read and meditated on by your correspondent "Peace." I hope, too, that he has read your account of the great Corpus Christi Procession in Rome, and has learnt that the Holy Father showed no signs of looking upon "deafening acclamations" or " waves of applause (to use your own phrases) as irreverent, even in the presence of the Blessed Sacra ment, That ought to put paid to "Peace's " queer notions filet the Pope would stop those who sing out or speae out in church.
All praise. say f, to the stentorian " leader." complained of by "Peace," who is trying to do his bit in the carrying out of the Pope's comma nds.
If " Peace" travelled a bit in the Latin countries, he would soon find out that the gentle and subdued murmur which we (scarcely!) hear in our churches, even when the congregations are praying in the vernacular. is not the only kind of prayer used by the Church and acceptable to God.
Should those carrying out the Pope's commands be dubbed " modernists "? The Church has to progress; new things have to appear within her. Let me remind "Peace" that Benediction, the Rosary, and Stations of the Cross, nay even the Mass and the Gospel of Christ, were once "modern " things.
SER.-Is not Fr. Howell aware that scores upon scores of parish organists and choirmasters, like myself, have spent half our lifetimes advocating the exact same thing. namely, congregational singing of the Mass and Divine Office? is he also not aware that many pitiable efforts to get the thing going have resulted in miserable failure?
Two years ago I asked a parish priesi why he dropped Compline after only five or six performances. He replied that it was difficult to sing (for the laity) and that in any case Benediction and Rosary " was easier to get going." " Missa Cantata" is often refused because it would mean keeping the people in church four or five minutes longer at the last Mass.
If five of the usual fifteen minutes of the morning and evening sermons were devoted to explanation and instruction for congregational singing. and if our priests tried to inculcate into our people a whole-hearted enthusiasm, and if they keep the music simple, then we would get our people singing and love doing it.
On the few occasions that Sunday towline has been sung in my own parish. the church has been full, not only with our own people but with people front nearby parishes where the same old monotonous " Rosary and Benediction " is hackneyed all the year round. Yet, as I have shown, my own P.P. says it is too difficult for the people,
No, sir, the fault for the lack of singing in our beloved land is certainly not that of the people: let our priests get on their hind legs in our pulpits arid personally lead the people.
REcitNALD NI. CLOUGH, Organist, St. Joseph's Church, Branksome, Bournemouth.
SIR,-May I write to say that spent three or four years in a country parish in the Southwark diocese during the war, and the priest there introduced the Dialogue Mass (not singing). L have found it the greatest help in "praying the Mass" ever since, especially as it encouraged me to learn the Offertory and subsequent prayers by heart.
[Owing to the number of letters: received. we have been obliged to cut somewhat severely 'no:: of those usta-Editor, C.11.1