A more important question is the relation of the “Tridentine” liturgy to its predecessors. The historical context of its emergence is: flourishing local liturgies, the destructive liturgical movements of the Renaissance, and the confusion caused by the Protestant Revolt. In this situation, the Council of Trent had to restore order and — at least according to its desire — return to the pristine Roman tradition as was clearly explained in the introduction to the Missal. The restoration or return had two components: the approval of all cathedral or monastic liturgies that had existed from time immemorial while removing some of their excesses; and secondly the proposal of a new exemplary Roman rite, originally only intended for those who did not possess a venerable, ancient, and basically Roman cathedral liturgy.

The basis of the “Tridentine” liturgy was the rite of the Roman Curia. This Ritus Curiae Romanae evolved at the turn of the 11th—12th century on the basis of old Italian and Roman traditions. In comparison with the other cathedral rites, it was a somewhat simplified variant of the same common order. The motivation for simplicity was twofold: limiting the increase of the Frankish-Roman liturgy (e.g., indifference toward the Offices of new saints, slowing the growth of trope and sequence repertory); and the separation of priests working in the Curial bureaucracy from the elevated public sung liturgy of cathedrals and parishes.

And thus many rich elements of the Holy Week liturgy, for example, fell victim to the Curial reform.

To sum up: the “Tridentine” liturgy belongs to the family of the Roman liturgy. All its essential features are identical with that liturgy. In other words, it is one of the many variants of the Roman liturgy – the ‘Tridentine” liturgy is Roman liturgy! In this sense, the “Tridentine” liturgy exists not only since the 16th , but since the 8th or 9th, or in some sense since the 4th century. But the Roman liturgy is not identical with the “Tridentine” liturgy: it is more than that. Those who follow the “Tridentine” liturgy, celebrate the Roman liturgy. But the Roman liturgy also lived in other, and in certain respects perhaps more perfect, forms.

Is the confusion of terminology in contemporary discourse the outcome of neglect or lack of knowledge? Instead, I think it is a conscious and malevolent deception.

When the choice is described in terms of the dichotomy: “conciliar liturgy — ‘Tridentine’ liturgy,” an impression is created that the matter concerns the opposition of two liturgical forms which are equally “zeitbedingt” or time-bound. The logic of this mentality is that the “Tridentine” rite is the liturgy of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, which perhaps worked well for the past 300 years, but today the needs of a new age and of modern man must be met with the new Vatican II liturgy. Accordingly, he who favors the “Tridentine” liturgy over the “conciliar” one desires to perpetuate the formalities of bygone times, and thus endangers the renewal of the Church. But if, on the contrary, the “Tridentine” liturgy in its essence is nothing other than the ancient Roman liturgy itself, it cannot be written off as Renaissance or Baroque or “zeitbedingt.” And then, the truth is that the recent innovations overrode not some 300-year-old custom, but in fact broke with the entire tradition of the Roman Church insofar as it is recognizable for us.

Laszlo Dobszay, The Bugnini-Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform (2003)

As the Byzantine Church spread to regions inhabited by pagans, new branches of its rite sprang up in the new languages. This process involved not only the texts of the celebrant, but also the chant which began to be sung in the new languages without any speculation about the linguistic character or difficulties caused by different prosodic conditions. As an obvious procedure the same chant was sung, changing only the language. This process is so natural that I myself once met a cantor who sang ex abrupto in Serbian from the Bulgarian ritual or vice versa, as necessity required.

When the Hussites or Luther and his followers decided to change the language of the service, they could have gone down the same path. But rather another path was opened, namely, the replacement of liturgical chants with new examples. At first these were more or less related to the chant, but later they became poems with only a slight reminiscence of liturgical or biblical texts, and finally they evolved into fully independent congregational hymns inspired by subjective religious experiences. The divergence of these two paths took place in connection with changes in the history of literature, liturgy and music. Byzantine chant consists of artistic prose enunciated in an idiomatic musical language, while literature in the age of the early Protestant movements was dominated by strophic verse, the “poem,” and the music by melodious, syllabic, metrical singing.

Strangely, Protestantism while advocating “sola scriptura” proved insensitive to the wording and musical form proper to the Bible taking instead the late medieval trope and cantio as a starting point for its chant. A genuine reform, the longed-for return to “origins” would have meant basing the singing of the congregations on the prose text of the Bible by adapting idiomatic musical material. However, the Reformation simply continued the development of the late Middle Ages in liturgical chant (as in many other matters), instead of returning to the primordial Christian traditions. In this matter, too, it was a child of its time.

Laszlo Dobszay, The Bugnini-Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform (2003)

Above all, Professor Draper seems to know nothing of the magnificent hospitals of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries, beautiful architecturally, well planned for ventilation and the disposal of waste material, with abundant water supply, with large open wards, windows high in the wall, tiled floors that could be thoroughly cleansed and which, alas! were to be replaced hundreds of years later by the awful hospitals of the first half of the nineteenth century, which with their small windows, narrow corridors, cell-like apartments and little doors, were to be more like jails than refuges. Some of the worst hospitals ever built in modern history had been erected in Professor Draper’s own lifetime. Some of the most beautiful hospitals in the world had been erected in Italy and other countries during the later medieval and Renaissance period, before the Reformation, under religious influence,–but Professor Draper knows nothing of them. The history of hospitals here in America is as largely religious as it was in other countries and times.

James J. Walsh, The Popes and Science (1908)

[T]he arguments advanced to show the opposition of the Catholic Church to science are founded on actual ignorance of the history of science or misunderstandings of particular incidents of that history. Not only was there no policy of opposition to science, but on the contrary encouragement of interest in scientific subjects, patronage of scientific workers and even definite endowment of scientific research by the ecclesiastical authorities. The tradition of Church opposition to science is founded especially on lack of knowledge of what was done for science in the medieval period and a misunderstanding of the medieval universities. This tradition owed its origin partly to the Renaissance, which, having rediscovered Greek, despised whatever Western Europe had accomplished during the preceding centuries and spoke of all that was done as Gothic, as if only worthy of barbarous Gothic ancestors.

Another large factor, however, in the creation of this tradition and one which meant more for us here in America than the Renaissance, was the religious revolt of the sixteenth century in Germany which has been called the Reformation. The reformers made it a point to minimize, if not actually to misrepresent, what had been accomplished under the old Church regime, and this Protestant tradition lived on here in America with much more vitality even than in Europe.

The consequence was the bringing up of a series of generations, who, if not actually believing as so many absurdly did, that the Pope of Rome was the Scarlet Woman and the Church the Babylon of the Apocalypse, were quite sure at least that no good could possibly have come out of the Nazareth of pre-Reformation times. It is only in recent years that we have come to recognize that all the talk about the Dark Ages is, as John Fiske said, simply due to ignorance of the time and its accomplishment. The later medieval period might well be called the “Bright Ages” for its art and architecture, its magnificent literature, its interest in education and in scholarship, its development of democracy and its formulation of the great laws and constitutions by which the rights of men were guaranteed in practically every country in Europe. Just as soon as this true state of affairs with regard to the medieval period is recognized, then all question of any policy of Church opposition to education and science disappears.

James J. Walsh, The Popes and Science (1908)

Most of what is said as to the opposition of the Church to medicine during the Middle Ages in A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, by Andrew D. White (Appleton’s, New York), is founded on a supposed Papal prohibition of anatomy and on a subsequent equally supposed Papal prohibition of chemistry. These two documents are emphasized so much, that most readers cannot but conclude that, even without further evidence, these are quite enough to prove the contention with regard to the unfortunate opposition of the Church to medical science.

Without these two presumably solid pillars of actual Papal documents, what is said with regard to the Church and its relations to medical science in the Middle Ages amounts to very little…Indeed, this supposed Papal prohibition of dissection is definitely stated to have precluded all opportunity for the proper acquisition of anatomical knowledge until the first half of the sixteenth century, when the Golden Age of modern anatomy set in. This date being coincident with the spread of the movement known as the Protestant Reformation, many people at once conclude that somehow the liberality of spirit that then came into the world, and is supposed at least to have put an end to all intolerance, must have been the active factor in this development of anatomy, and that, as Dr. White has indeed declared, it was only because the Church was forced from her position of opposition that anatomical investigation was allowed.

Since so serious an accusation is founded on a definite Papal document, it cannot but be a matter of surprise that those who have cited it so confidently as forbidding anatomy, and especially dissection, have never given the full text of the document…Many references have been made to this prohibition by Pope Boniface VIII., but no one has thought it worth while to give, even in a footnote, the text of it. The reason for this is easy to understand as soon as one reads the actual text. It has nothing to say at all with regard to dissection. It has absolutely no reference to the cutting up of the human body for teaching purposes. Its purpose is very plain, and is stated so that there can be no possible misapprehension of its meaning.

James J. Walsh, The Popes and Science (1908)

[T]here is no doubt at all that men made great achievements in physical science in the Middle Ages, some of which unfortunately were lost sight of later, but many of which remained to form the basis on which our modern scientific knowledge has been built…To most people it will be utterly uncomprehensible, however, that after all that they have heard about Church opposition to science and Papal discouragement of education as dangerous to faith, there should now be an absolute denial of the supposed grounds for the assertions in this matter. Most readers, even among educated people, will be very prone to think that their impressions in these matters cannot be entirely wrong, and that previous writers on the subject cannot have been either deceiving or deceived.

In all that relates to the Roman Catholic Church, however, before the date of the so-called reformation, it is important to remember that there came into existence a definite body of Protestant tradition, the creation of the reformers who wished to blacken the memory of the Old Church as much as possible to justify their own apostasy, and who therefore spared no means to pervert the facts of history or to exaggerate the significance of historical details so as to produce this false impression. Subsequent generations were oftener deceived themselves than deceiving. They were sure that the Church was opposed to education and to science, and consequently it was not hard for them to read in certain incidents and documents a meaning quite other than their actual significance, because this added meaning agreed with their prejudices on these subjects.

James J. Walsh, The Popes and Science (1908)

The Tridentine reform did not aim at creating a new, up-to-date liturgy. All it wanted to achieve was to prune off the wild shoots of the late Middle Ages, of humanism and Reformation. It meant to be a reform in the original sense of the word: the restoration of the “pure” forms of the Roman rite. The Trident rite is therefore a special form compared to the liturgy of Paris, Cologne, Prague or to that of the Dominicans, Premonstratensians. The Tridentine reform slightly impoverished the Roman liturgy and mutilated its integrity by disregarding these traditions. (It must be acknowledged, however, that it happened in spite of the original intentions since the norm of Trent was established to replace the 16th-century “modern” reform liturgies, and not the traditions having survived “from time immemorial.”)

These drawbacks, nevertheless, can only be discovered if we compare the Tridentinum with eminent representatives of the Roman liturgy. Compared with other rites outside the sphere of the Roman liturgy or with the Bugnini liturgy, the Tridentinum proves to be a member of the Roman liturgy. In this respect the Tridentine rite is identical with the centuries-old Roman liturgy, being one of its branches itself, while the Bugnini liturgy does not belong to the great family of the Roman liturgy.

In my opinion this distinction was neglected by no means innocently or by negligence. It was done with a purposeful manipulation. The reason why the Bugnini liturgy was introduced as if it differed not from the Roman tradition, but only from the Tridentine rite was to create the misleading impression that all we had to depart from was a 400-year-old “Baroque” tradition. In fact, viewed in the light of the essence of the liturgy, breaking with the Tridentine rite entailed a break with the entire Roman tradition up to that point. If the Roman liturgy is identical with the liturgical order documented from the earliest sources up to the year of 1970, then the Tridentine rite is definitely a member of this tradition, while the Bugnini liturgy is not.

Laszlo Dobszay, The Bugnini-Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform (2003)