Even though the council of Trent had urged pastors to frequently explain to the faithful during the mass some of the readings, and to provide some instruction about the mass, (32) the liturgy continued to focus on the actions of the priest, with the faithful being reduced to mere spectators. It had entered what liturgist Joseph Jungmann calls “the age of rubricism”.(33) The void left in the faithful’s participation was filled with polyphonic music and instrumental music in the baroque period, becoming a “feast for eye and ear”.(34)
The situation continued largely unchanged until 1833 when Prosper Gueranger set to work in the liturgical reform of the French liturgy, considered by many scholars as the start of the liturgical movement. The decrees of Trent had never been officially promulgated in France, and as a result, many French bishops reserved to themselves the right to make liturgical changes in their dioceses.(35) There existed in French dioceses at the time a great number of missals and breviaries in use. Gueranger had served as a chaplain to religious from Rome, and in that way came into contact with the Roman missal, which he considered to be a great treasure.(36) Gueranger had come to regard French liturgical innovations as corruptions flowing from Jansenism.(37) Gueranger set out to express his love for the Roman liturgy in tangible form by re-founding the St. Peter’s Abby at Solesmes.(38) Monastic life at St. Peter’s centered around the liturgical year, the choral office, and the Eucharist; always closely observing the Roman Ritual.(39) Gueranger saw the liturgy as the most important act of the Church, and the primary way in which the Church teaches. He hoped the monastery would serve as a model for secular clergy and the laity too. He favored the participation of the laity in uniting themselves to the celebrating priest, and in singing the psalms and hymns of the liturgy, rather than being occupied with other devotions.(40) His focus on the Eucharist and his vision of participation for the laity found their definite expression in the reforms called for the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council. The efforts of Gueranger and others, succeeded in placing the liturgy at the forefront of the push for renewal. In 1903, Pope Pius X issued his motu propio Tra le Sollicitudini, concerning sacred music. In this document we find expressed the main aim of the liturgical movement: The conviction that “active participation” in the liturgy is the “indispensable source” of the “true Christian spirit.”(41)
32. Adolf Adam, Foundations of the Liturgy, p. 35.
33.Josef Jungmann, in Alcuin Reid, The Organic Development of the Liturgy, loc. 6083.
34. Adolf Adam, Foundations of the Liturgy, p. 35.
35. Robert Tuzik, Leaders of the Liturgical Movement, p. 16.
36. Ibid., p. 18.
37. Keith F. Pecklers, The Unread Vision: the Liturgical Movement in the United States of America, p. 2.
38. Robert Tuzik, Leaders of the Liturgical Movement, p. 18
39. Keith Pecklers, The Unread Vision, p. 3.
40. Anthony Ruff, Sacred Music and Liturgical Reform: Treasures and Transformations, p. 203.
41. Rita Ferrone. Liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium (Rediscovering Vatican II) (Kindle Location 118).