Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Tridentine YouTube

It's no secret that YouTube is endlessly useful for teaching purposes, whether it be obscure television shows, documentary footage, or simply opera clips when you are too lazy to find the video.

One more possible use: I think we would all agree that when you're teaching that part of a music history sequence that involves medieval plainchant, and you have to explain the structure of Roman Catholic Mass (the Proper, the Ordinary, etc.), it is pretty hard to make a dynamic presentation. There are lots of Latin terms, for one, and it seems like there are lots of arbitrary rules that don't make sense.

Enter YouTube! Just before teaching this stuff myself, I realized that one can find all sorts of videos of the traditional Tridentine Mass in Latin. With a video of the Mass, suddenly everything makes a lot more sense, and you get a sense of how all these seemingly random chants work in practice.

I ended up using this one, recorded in 1941 with a proper all-male choir. It's even subtitled, which makes it easy to find sections. (Sometimes the titles are a bit off, so be careful.) The downsides are that it is in black and white, is a bit fuzzy, and the musical settings of the Ordinary are, as the description delicately puts it, "of its time."

If you want full color and better quality, there is a contemporary video done by a conservative parish in Paris. I went with the older one because it seemed a little more, well, medieval, but either would work well.

These videos are, of course, somewhat propagandist, produced by organizations opposed to Vatican II liturgical revisions. The comments sections and some of the narration involved with these videos are fascinating, especially to a non-Catholic such as myself. One could easily ignore these in class, but I actually tried to use it as a teaching moment: in the wake of Summorum Pontificum, there is a lot of impassioned discussion of the liturgy out there, and it can be a good window into how the Roman Mass got to be the way it is.


Dan B. said...

Just restage the Bernstein. You know you want to.

PMG said...

You're right, that would be rather brilliant.

"Half the people here are stoned...."