A Short History of the 
Roman Mass

 by Michael Davies

Chapter 15
Revisions after 1570

There have been revisions since the reform of St. Pius V, but until the changes which followed Vatican II these were never of any significance. In some cases what are now cited as "reforms" were mainly concerned with restoring the Missal to the form codified by St. Pius V when, largely due to the carelessness of printers, deviations had begun to appear. This is particularly true of the "reforms" of Popes Clement VIII set out in the Brief Cum sanctissimum of 7 July 1604, and of Urban VIII in the Brief Si quid est, 2 September 1634. The "reforms" of these two Popes have been used as a precedent for the reform of Pope Paul VI, but it is only necessary to glance through the Briefs of these popes, to see how utterly nonsensical such a comparison is. 34

St. Pius X made a revision not of the text but of the music. The Vatican Gradual of 1906 contains new, or rather restored, forms of the chants sung by the celebrant, therefore to be printed in the Missal. In 1955 Pope Pius XII authorized a rubrical revision, chiefly concerned with the calendar. In 1951 he restored the Easter Vigil from the morning to the evening of Holy Saturday, and, on 16 November 1955, he approved the Decree Maxima redemptionis, reforming the Holy Week ceremonies. These reforms were welcomed and have been highly praised by some of the traditionalists, who implacably opposed to the reform of Pope Paul VI. 

Pope John XXIII also made an extensive rubrical reform which was promulgated on 25 July 1960 and took effect from 1 January 1961. Once again this was concerned principally with the calendar. In none of these reforms was any significant change made to the Ordinary of the Mass. It is thus unscholarly, dishonest even, to attempt to refute traditionalist criticisms of the New Mass by citing changes made in the Missal by the popes just named.

However, the unbroken tradition of East and West for over 1600 years, that the Eucharistic Liturgy should never be subjected to radical reforms-----although it might develop through the addition of new prayers and ceremonies-----was breached in 1970 when the newly composed Missal of Pope Paul VI was published, the New Order of Mass having been published in 1969.