I love, especially the interiors of, New England Congregationalist Churches; the sparseness, the severity, the simple laser-focus on the Word of God. Catholics have a very bad, imho, habit of accretion in liturgy, always trying to bloat the beautiful and the simple, and beautiful because of its simplicity; the old “more is better” canard. It’s not, unless it’s money, or some such. Some, especially non-caucasian architectural styles are especially this way, imho. Of course, I love Hispanic crucifixes with the very, very bloody and tortured Jesus as well. Really gets the point across, no?
But, I am Roman, particularly in my preferred style of liturgy: spartan, brief, severe-in-some-sense, focused, not languishing around with multiplication of too many words, like “too many notes!”, as a quote from the film “Amadeus”. 🙂
“Emperor Joseph II: My dear young man (to Mozart), don’t take it too hard. Your work is ingenious. It’s quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that’s all. Just cut a few and it will be perfect.”
Outside of Rome in the period before 1570, many other liturgical rites were in use, not only in Eastern Christianity (Liturgy typically, even today, takes 3-4 hours with LOTSA smoke & other stuff, icons galore!!! I love icons, but too much. I could never be Orthodox.), but also in the West. Some of the Western rites, such as the Mozarabic Rite, were unrelated to the Roman Rite that Pope Pius V revised and ordered to be adopted generally. But even the areas that at one time or another had accepted the Roman rite during the Carolingian reform, had soon introduced changes and additions.
As a result, every ecclesiastical province and almost every diocese had its local use, such as the Use of Sarum, the Use of York and the Use of Hereford in England, and traditional Celtic liturgies in Ireland. In France there were strong traces of the Gallican Rite. With the exception of the relatively few places where no form of the Roman Rite had ever been adopted, the Canon of the Mass remained generally uniform, but the prayers in the “Ordo Missae”, and still more the “Proprium Sanctorum” and the “Proprium de Tempore”, varied widely.
Western liturgy in the eighth century was influenced by the rise in power of the Frankish kings north of the Alps. Their ideal, especially under the later leadership of Charlemagne, was to create a Christian society in Western Europe. Stability and unification were brought about by assimilation of old Roman culture of the cities and “barbarian” cultures in the countryside, the official use of the Latin language, and the creation of a unified church-state. In order to consolidate their realms, the Franks sought to import Roman liturgy in an effort to standardize liturgical practice. Their efforts were eventually successful resulting in a uniform worship, but had the unintended effect of mixing Gallican elements with Roman practice creating a hybrid Roman-Frankish liturgy. Allegorical interpretations of liturgy changed how the rites were perceived and performed. This new hybrid liturgical style dominated the West and severely diminished the importance of other Western rites.
In 754 AD, King Pepin prescribed the Roman liturgy for use in his realm. Political unity was not the only factor in the promotion of Roman practice; pilgrims visiting Rome, especially bishops, were impressed with the beauty of the Roman ceremonies. The diversity of Gallican practice and the corruption of its Latin texts were other factors that lead to dissatisfaction with local rites. Still, Pepin’s decree met with limited success: Although Roman liturgical manuscripts copied outside Rome had already absorbed some Gallican elements, Roman liturgy was particularly suited to its local community and could not be transplanted easily into Frankish lands with very different liturgical and cultural traditions.
During the years 785-786 AD, Charlemagne enacted laws to bring the process of Romanization to completion and to suppress the Gallican rite. He asked Pope Hadrian (772-795) to send to Aachen a Gregorian sacramentary “in pure form” so that it could be used as a model for liturgical books in the Frankish realm. In 785 this Pope sent a sacramentary compiled around 735, now known as the Hadrianum. This book was ill suited for Charlemagne’s needs; it was incomplete, lacking formularies for the Sundays of the year, and it represented the more elaborate Papal liturgy rather than parish usage. (In the city of Rome two liturgical styles had already emerged. One form was used only when the Pope presided; the other simpler form for general use would have been a better model for Charlemagne’s purposes.) Perhaps Pope Hadrian misunderstood Charlemagne’s request for an exemplar book, and merely sent the most beautiful manuscript he possessed.
In order to develop a usable book as a model, it was necessary to supplement the Hadrianum with materials it lacked and adapt it to the needs of the Frankish church. During the years 810-815 Benedict of Aniane filled in the missing sections with texts from the Eighth Century Gelesian, another unknown Roman source, and Gallican material. The contents of this supplement are extensive: they include not only the missing Masses for Sundays of the year, but also diverse texts such as vigils for Easter and Pentecost, weekday Masses, common Masses for saints, consecration of clerics and women religious, ordinations for minor orders, votive Masses for special needs, funeral Masses, episcopal blessings and suggestions for the addition of Gallican feasts to the church calender. In his supplement Benedict was careful to clearly distinguish these additional materials from the Hadrianum text as he received it. The resulting hybrid Roman-Frankish sacramentary was used as a model for liturgical changes throughout the realm and eventually its hybrid liturgy made its way to Rome itself.
In addition to the spread of proper Roman liturgical books through his empire, Charlemagne wished the chant in his churches to follow the usage of Rome. He sent his best singers to the Papal chapel to learn the chant used there so they could disseminate it to the rest of his realm. This standardized repertoire became known as Gregorian Chant. While other rites use more poetic language, the Roman Rite is noted for its sobriety of expression.”
Love, wishing you peace & simplicity in your liturgy,