Certain questions, problems, and issues arise in trying to understand the mass of detail in the Use of Sarum. This page serves as a place where these questions can be explored.
[The question is often asked as to the ‘legal status’ of the Use of Sarum in the Roman Catholic Church. A useful discussion appears here.]
1. ‘Deo gratias’ response at the end of mass. (See Missal: 1194.)
Question solved, August 12, 2022!
I note now the rubric in Missal 1513:149r. and in pother printed missals: ‘Et statim post Deo gratias. incipiatur in choro hora ix. quando post missam dicitur.‘ This rubric confirms very strongly that the response ‘Deo gratias’ was normally sung at the end of Sarum masses, even though it does not normally appear directly after the indication Ite missa est or Benedicamus Domino in the sources. Presumably the reason it does not appear in the missals at that point is that the priest does not say it.
[Previous to my recognition of the above evidence, I stated the problem this way:
‘Deo gratias’ (Thanks be to God), the response to Ite missa est or Benedicamus Domino, is expected by congregations at the end of mass in our day. However there appears to be no definitive Sarum source that would either confirm or refute the notion that this response was intended to be sung aloud, except on the vigils of East and Pentecost, for which a musical setting of Deo gratias is provided. It will be noted that when Requiescant in pace is said at the end of a requiem mass, the response Amen is indicated to be said. It will also be noted that the use of Sarum explicitly omits the response to the versicle Benedicamus Domino when it is sung at the end of Vespers and Lauds, but the response Deo gratias is sung at the end of the little hours, where it is sung to a the simple versicle-tone and at the little office of the Blessed Virgin, where is is said (sung) recto tono. There is merit in the notion that when Benedicamus Domino or Ite missa est is sung to an ornate melody, the response is not made aloud . . . thereby averting the danger of making an error in the response . . . but that the response is sung aloud when the music is of the simplest nature. It must be remembered also that normally only the soloist(s) know which ornate melody will be chosen for the versicle.]
2. ‘Deo gratias’ response at the end of the canonical office.
There is no substantial evidence that ‘Deo gratias’ is to be sung at the end of either of the ‘Benedicamus Domino’ that conclude vespers and lauds of the canonical hours. In contrast, it is evident that ‘Deo gratias’ was an audible, sung response at the conclusion of prime, terce, sext, none and compline. It would seem that the response ‘Deo gratias’ was made only silently at vespers and lauds, and we may presume that this practice is related to the use of more ornate melodies at those hours.
3. ‘Deo gratias’ response at the end of matins lessons.
So far only one instance of such an indication has been located in the Sarum sources: in the Legend-1518:121r., at the end of the third lesson of Easter day. The question is whether such a response was ever intended to be sung or said, or perhaps to be an inaudible response.
4. The employment of ornate Benedicamus melodies at vespers and lauds.
There is evidence that more ornate melodies were sung on more important feasts. But there is no clear evidence as to whether a distinction was made between the first and second Benedicamus. The first Benedicamus marks the conclusion of canonical vespers and lauds, while the second Benedicamus marks the conclusion of the memorials and procession after vespers, if there is one. Seeing that the versicle and prayer tone for the memorials and procession is the simple one, it may be appropriate to also use the simple vespers and lauds ‘Benedicamus’ tone, even if a more ornate tone is used for the first ‘Benedicamus’. Brandon Wild has pointed out to me that in the Use of York when on feasts with two rulers the first ‘Benedicamus’ at Vespers and Lauds is ornate, the second ‘Benedicamus’ uses the simple tone. This information appears in the GB-AR York Antiphonal:4rb. (This source also indicates ‘. . . tempore Paschali excepto.’ Thus, in the absence of further information, Sarum should follow the York Use here.
5. Pater noster and Ave Maria.
The sources do not make clear whether it is intended that Ave Maria be said (silently) on each occasion when Pater noster is said silently (as in the preces, and in the nocturns before the lessons. The New Ordinal indicates Pater noster and Ave Maria before the lessons, but only Pater noster at the preces. Again, a thorough survery of sources might be illuminating on this point. It would be helpful to do a survey of the sources on this question. From a historical point of view, it is likely that at the earliest stage only Pater noster was said, but that gradually Ave Maria came to be said as well, on some, or on all occasions.
6. Pater noster (and Ave Maria) before each lesson.
The Sarum sources do not appear to make clear whether it is intended that Pater noster (and Ave Maria) are to be said silently before each lesson at matins, or only before the first lesson of each nocturn. My own practice is the latter. This practice also appears in the Liber usualis and other Roman liturgical sources.
7. Bowing at the doxology in the canticle Benedicite.
While it seems clear that a bow is intended at the penultimate verse of the Benedicite, it remains unclear whether this bow is to conclude at the end of that-verse–which would match the content of the typical psalmody doxology-bow–or the end of the last verse–which would match the formal design of the typical hymnody doxology bow, i.e. the entirety of the penultimate verse. Having sung this canticle many times, it seems most natural to conform to the psalmody style, and bow only for the penultimate verse.
8. Repetendum in the invitatory antiphon.
Many invitatory antiphons conclude with the text ‘venite adoremus’. Page 170 of the Breviary provides a rubric that indicates that in all such cases, the repetendum should begin there, at ‘venite’. And yet there are instances in which the indication for the repetition is to an earlier point in the antiphon. For example, on the third Sunday of Advent, the indication to repeat beginning at ‘Natum de Virgine’ appears in Brev-1525, Brev-1528, Antiphonale-1519, Portiforium Festivalis (no date), and BL-52359. On the basis of this evidence it would seem that consensus is impossible. Presumably the practice varied from time to time and from place to place.