We have started singing Mass IV in our Sunday Masses. Like most of the ordinary settings in the chant books of the Roman Rite, this ordinary is soubriqueted with the incipit of the trope traditionally sung to the plainchant Kyrie.
The trope appears in the manner below (click on the image to open the file):
In the Middle Ages, this Kyrie occupied the bread-and-butter niche that Missa de Angelis now inhabits amidst many Traditional communities. Troped Kyries were usually sung alternatim in such a way that each Kyrie line was chanted in full before each trope line. Hence, if tropes were still sung in Masses in the usus antiquior nowadays, instead of nine-fold, we would have an eighteen-fold Kyrie.
The tropes in a Kyrie are often arranged such that the first three address the Father; the second, the Son; and the third, the Holy Ghost. This schema is evident in the tropes of this Kyrie. Here are the first tropes for each of the three sets, from the Codex Calixtinus. And here is a sample rendition of some of the tropes.
Today starts the observance termed in many places in Luzón as Undás. In the Visayas, many call the observance Kalag-kalag. Descendants of familias de gran abolengo would probably still prefer the term Todos los santos over the rest. As for the commercialised version of Halloween shamelessly curated for events fetishists, let us leave it in the silence that it deserves.
The traditional Ordo of the Philippines indicates three pious activities customarily exercised by Filipino Catholics during this period. (Click the thumbnail above to see these devotions in pp. 156–157.) First comes the most enduring of all: the practice of visiting cemeteries to pray for the souls in purgatory. We repeat: to pray for the souls in purgatory. Not to sing karaoke. Not to play with candle fire. Not to stage an impromptu graveside picnic. This is something lost in the ordinary Filipino, so we keep on repeating it: We visit cemeteries to pray for the souls in purgatory. The Ordo recommends reciting at least six Pater, Ave, Maria, and Gloria Patri for this intention.
Next comes the origin of the term undás. It came from honras (a palabra llana, not a palabra aguda), which was a shorthand way for referring to the honras fúnebres, which were typically celebrated in honour of a deceased person. The celebration of the honras covered two days, both with Offices, Masses, and sermons. Sermons for the honras, as was expected of all Requiem Masses before, were delivered after the Mass and before the absolution. During the honras, such a sermon was called an oración fúnebre or an oración panegírica. It is the loftier, nobler, soberer, more honourable, and more dignified cousin of what we commonly understand as eulogy. In the Manila Cathedral, amid the splendid music of a full coro de tiples accompanied by an orquesta, both under the direction of the maestro de capilla, nobody but the canónigo magistral delivered the oración. During the honras for Fray José Aranguren, who died archbishop of Manila in 1861, the magisterial canon delivered the panegyric in full Latin. Obviously, nobody organises this anymore. And yet the name endures.
Third comes the general processions for the dead. Before the absolutions at the catafalque, the priest first goes in procession, around the parish or inside the church or in church ground, whatever be the more reasonable situation, stopping at predetermined stations, penultimate of which is the churchyard. The last station itself is the catafalque. At every station, the priest performs an absolution reciting the prayers indicated in the ritual book. The Manual de Manila recommends, besides 2 November, scheduling the processions on Mondays, or on the first Mondays or first Wednesdays of each month, as far as the rubrics permit. Perhaps the only remnant of this custom is the practice of visiting cemeteries on Mondays, observed in some places.
Todos los santos is now upon us. This reminds us of that small commotion amongst Filipino churchly circles that recently erupted concerning bells, after the CBCP “[appealed] for the pealing of church bells at 8:00 pm during the same [forty-day] period in remembrance of the souls of those killed” . This national appeal was preceded by appeals at the diocesan level outside Metro Manila , and followed by diocesan instructions on what day to begin the observance, what time to ring the bells, and how long the pealing should be .
The critique to this appeal mainly questioned the motivations behind it. Observers noted that by singling out “those killed in the government’s campaign against drugs” , even though including in the appositive “all victims of violence and the war in Marawi” , as beneficiaries of the exercise, the CBCP politicised its revival of the ancient custom. Strengthening this observation is the fact that the revival was specified only for forty days. An optimist perhaps would say that the CBCP is laying out guidelines for a present issue. Extending it beyond the specified time remains at the hands of individual bishops and parish priests.