The modern monastic : the developing vernacular in monasteries of the United States




McElveen, Amelia C.

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This report covers the modern liturgy and chants of Catholic monasteries of the United States since the Second Vatican Council in 1962-1965. One of its constitutions, Sacrosanctum Concilium, stated that the Catholic Church could use the vernacular language instead of Latin for Mass. Following Vatican II, the Congress of Abbots commenced and concluded that Benedictine monasteries would adopt the vernacular language as well. Historians, catholics, and musicologists were dismayed by what they believed would be the inevitable loss of Gregorian Chant within the Church.
Since Vatican II, however, monasteries have composed original, vernacular chants or have translated the traditional Latin plainchants into English text with original musical settings. This case study surveys these new twenty and twenty-first century chants and compares them to their medieval and later Latin counterparts. Even though the Gregorian chant tradition has diminished since 1965, the Catholic Church has seen an increase in active participation and communal worship in congregations worldwide. The six monasteries in this study are Assumption Abbey (Ava, Missouri), Conception Abbey (Conception, Missouri), Saint Benedict’s Abbey (Bartonville, Illinois), St. Benedict’s Abbey (Atchison, Kansas), St. Scholastica Monastery (Boerne, Texas), and St. Gregory’s Abbey (Shawnee, Oklahoma). My fieldwork investigates the current use of English chants and how the vernacular has been a positive change for the monasteries through oral histories and observations made at each monastery by tracing the effects of the new liturgy among the religious that most prominently advocated for the changes.



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