Today is the 269th anniversary of the promulgation of Annus, qui hunc, which set forth guidelines on ecclesiastical discipline and sacred music. Benedict XIV, concerned about the spiritual welfare of Catholics who would go on pilgrimage in Rome in the Jubilee Year of 1750, as well as the opinion of other visitors during said time, issued the encyclical a year ahead of the celebrations.
The epoch may be remote, but the problems Benedict XIV identifies and attempts to remedy are as fresh as a pulsating newly-caught catfish. With this, we invite everyone to re-read the encyclical towards the end of this post, either in the original Latin or in the full English translation we provided. We opened a series quoting in three parts the words of the encyclical on organ music (here, here, and here). If the length daunts us, then let us offer it as penance this Lent.
We came to the Traditional Latin Mass under different circumstances. We stayed. And, in 2009, we decided to sing. Eleven of us gathered in that first practice we ever had to stake our future on Attende, Domine, glowing nonchalantly on the back of our heads the enervating sun of that second Saturday in February 2009, right after afternoons began to swelter, when the amihan would usually and disappointingly whimper into a mere memory of Siberian coldness.
In the course of our nine years the demographic of this first eleven has become a fascinating factoid, not because our youngest was then a teenager and our oldest not yet quartering a century, nor because most of us were still working for our undergraduate degrees, but astonishingly because most of us unexpectedly and perplexingly came from that institution, which, as a neonate, allegedly received in 1910 the moniker la escuela del diablo thanks to a parish priest from Surigao . It must really be quite disarming that most of the first members of the choir—many came and went; many stayed—pursued and finished their education in the University of the Philippines (click on that doughnut graph and look!).
Novem abhinc annos, we continue to whittle down a little and swell up a little. And so we soldier on, in season and out of season. Not because change is so fearsome we would rather bury our heads in our enormous chant books, but because nothing out there can quite replace the beauty of the sacred music we are privileged to sing and experience in the Traditional Mass. “We carry a mission transcending time and space: the transmission of Tradition that has gained for the Church triumphant greater glory in heaven, the Church militant assiduous warriors on earth, and the Church suffering spiritual respite in purgatory” .
Today marks the 63rd anniversary of the parish. On 20 September 1954, the future-Cardinal Archbishop of Manila, Rufino Santos, erected the parish on a territory abstracted from the parishes of Santísima Trinidad and Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, both of which still remain under the Archdiocese of Manila (click the thumbnail to see the decree that erected the parish). When the Diocese of Cubao was established on 20 June 2003, with the issuance of Quo satius, the parish came within the territory of the new ecclesiastical circumscription.
Today marks the 10th anniversary of the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum. To celebrate this milestone, having a soft spot for namesakes, we find the occasion opportune to release our full English translation of the landmark encyclical on ecclesiastical discipline and church music issued by Benedict XIV on 19 February 1749: Annus, qui hunc. (The repository of documents we have curated is here.) Unlike Saint Pius X’s Tra le sollecitudini, whose English and even Latin translations are already available online, the only full translation of Annus, qui hunc we have seen so far is Italian.
The encyclical is rather long and, while its tenor is chronologically situated close to the Jubilee Year of 1750, it surprises us with how current the problems it raises are. For example, when Benedict XIV states that there is no other evidence of a bishop’s bad administration besides his own priests going about in ugly clothing celebrating Mass haphazardly, aren’t we reminded of those vacationing Filipino priests who say Mass in shorts and flipflops? Or, when he condemns music that merely sounds more like an accompaniment to dance and theatre rather than to prayer, aren’t we reminded of those Masses where the sacrilege of dance itself was incorporated in the very heart of the Liturgy?
Cardinal Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini, the future Benedict XIV, was known to be a consummate intellectual, hailed as one of the greatest scholars of Christendom, and his encyclical, published nine years into his papal reign, just shows that. He synthesised his arguments from at least three Ecumenical Councils and seven local Synods, two collections of documents, four Doctors of the Church, five popes, six cardinals (including himself), two archbishops and four bishops, six monks, five canons, seven priests, one deacon, one musicologist, two musicians (who were choirmasters of the Papal Chapel), one scientist, one philologist, and one divine. Religion-wise, Benedict XIV quoted six Jesuits, five Benedictines, three Dominicans, two Cistercians, and two Oratorians. He only went as far as to quote an Anglican divine to drive home his point about the necessity to distinguish between the music that is churchworthy and that which is not, and this he did with a disclaimer that the source was heterodox, and on a section that referenced Saint Augustine.
We will not go as far as to provide a review of this encyclical, however delicious the prospect appears to us, if only to juxtapose it against the recent irreversibile speech, which, incidentally, is also noteworthy for the selectivity of its bibliography. But indulge us with this one whim. See below a rough structural outline of the encyclical:
Upcoming Holy Year
State and upkeep of churches
Time and fulfilment of the obligation to recite the Divine Office
Sobriety of polyphonic and organ music
Authorities who disapprove the use of polyphonic music
Authorities who approve the use of polyphonic music
Authorities who propose a distinction between theatrical and ecclesiastic music
Theatrical vs. Ecclesiastic music
Singing proper to churches
Method and rationale of singing in church
Musical instruments permitted in churches
Instruments tolerated in churches
Sound, as accompaniment to singing, tolerated in churches
Sound, by itself, tolerated in churches
Application of the law
Propriety of priestly attire
One more thing. We might have gotten too carried away with the references. The footnotes that we added are as kilometric as the encyclical itself.
Ut quae prava sunt, corrigantur ; quae infirma, curentur ; quae mala, amoveantur.
When Benedict XVI promulgated Summorum Pontificum ten years ago in order to grant universal access to the Traditional Latin Mass, that the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms enrich one another became its corollary goal. Thus, the Italian possono arricchirsi a vicenda later encouraged the conceptualisation of mutual enrichment, on which topic, debates continue to produce intelligent proposals, respectful disagreements, reasonable discernments, and disarming predictions.
There are two sides to mutual enrichment: what it means to the Pope emeritus; and what it means to us. Concerning mutual enrichment, in his letter introducing his motu proprio, Benedict XVI said: “New Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal” . Some of us might feel hurt that the Pope emeritus only saw the virtues of the Novus Ordo, but let us not dismiss the possibility that he considers these two as the only virtues of the Ordinary Form worthy of emulation.
While this papal ideal remains a vision as we strive to attain stability, the enrichment has already begun and continues to gain momentum in the opposite direction. Mutual enrichment begins with our attitude, our disposition, our outlook. Once we attend the Old Rite, it will be quite hard to set aside meaningful habits—those gestures of humility and vestures of modesty—that we have acquired in the Old Rite. Veiling and appropriate attire are an example. Kneeling for Communion is another. The longing for silence, for an interior communication with the Lord, in the Mass, dispose our souls towards what happens at the altar.
Oftentimes, however, when we are in the Ordinary Form, noise and ugly music imperil our disposition. This is where enter church musicians who have been touched by the Extraordinary Form, conscious of the liturgical prescriptions of the Ordinary Form. Sacred music is one of the easy ways through which we can enrich the OF with the EF. We can begin with a serious Catholic musician who is in good terms with his parish priest. Patience and perseverance and gradual amelioration possess an underestimated power to reshape attitudes over time.
As the clock edges closer to the 10th anniversary of Summorum Pontificum’s entry into force, let us pray for all musicians serving in the EF, who many days in a week battle the absurd prejudices in their home parishes.
Diva Caecilia, ora pro nobis. Dive Gregori, ora pro nobis.
 Letter Con grande fiducia (7 July 2017) near the middle: AAS 99 (2007) p. 797. Ibid.
We came to the Traditional Latin Mass under different circumstances. We stayed. And, in 2009, we decided to sing. And so we soldier on, in season and out of season. Not because change is so fearsome we would rather bury our heads in our enormous chant books, but because nothing out there can quite replace the beauty of the sacred music we are privileged to sing and experience in the Traditional Mass. “We carry a mission transcending time and space: the transmission of Tradition that has gained for the Church triumphant greater glory in heaven, the Church militant assiduous warriors on earth, and the Church suffering spiritual respite in purgatory” .