Ordinary vs. Proper

Anglicans tend to have our own vocabulary. As we are a people of books, I suppose that we come by this honestly and slightly unintentionally.

Our Book of Common Prayer (BCP) has lots and lots of words, and centuries ago lots and lots of people died for the privilege for us to have them in our own language.

Two such terms are Ordinary vs. Proper. No, not that “proper,” as in how our grandmothers made us sit up at the dinner table and fold our napkins in our laps properly.

And in the South, we want to always be anything but “ordinary,” yes?

The liturgy of the Mass, which is now our descended Holy Eucharist, has parts that are the Ordinary of the Mass, those said or sung parts that are always present and do not change Sunday to Sunday: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei. In modern BCP usage, our liturgy gives the choice of “Kyrie, Gloria, Trisagion, or some other song of praise.”

The Propers of the Mass are those parts that change week to week, following the Christian calendar of Sunday feast days: Introit, Gradual, Alleluia or Tract, Sequence, Offertory, Communion. Along with the scripture lessons, we count these down on the liturgical calendar, e.g. The Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost, etc.

The Requiem Mass, or Mass for the Dead, includes additional special liturgical pieces intended to specifically pray for the eternal rest of those who have died in the Lord, namely Dies Irae, Pie Jesu, Libera Me, In Paradisum, Lux Aeterna. Not every composed setting of the Requiem includes all of these movements, but many do.

In this parish church each Remembrance Sunday, the second Sunday in November, the Sunday nearest to Veterans’ Day and following on the heels of All Saints’ Sunday, we have the great honor of singing a Requiem musical setting for our 10:30 Sunday morning Holy Eucharist. Usually with orchestra, we sing these great choral works in memory of all who have died since All Saints’ Day the previous year.

This Sunday morning (Nov. 12) our Parish Choir and soloists will again be joined by our Holy Communion Choristers and the Rhodes College Women’s Chorus to offer the Dan Forrest Requiem for the Living. The liturgy will begin with the procession during the Introit/Kyrie and end with the plaintive, sublime Lux Aeterna as the recessional. During the service the Sanctus and Agnus Dei will be sung in their proper places (pun intended).

As the choirs sing and the chamber orchestra plays, we encourage you to read and meditate upon these rich, historic texts of the Church. Parishioners have confided in me their delight of sitting and contemplating these texts and “letting the music wash over them.” Our hope and prayer is just that: the beauty of this music may bring peace to the souls of those of us who remain on earth, that it may bring peace and rest to the souls of the dearly departed, and indeed, bring peace to the world.

Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at 13:00