I've always thought liturgical wars were something unique to our post-Vatican II era, but I was wrong. Here's how it was many, many years ago:
The improved Curial Breviary was imposed on the churches of Rome by the Franciscan Pope, Nicholas III. (1277-1280), and henceforth it is called the Roman Breviary. Thus we see that the book used daily by priests got its name in the thirteenth century, although the divine office is almost from Apostolic times.
...And the friars strove for the greater perfection and beauty of the new Breviary...They loaded the Breviary by introducing saints' days with nine lessons, thus avoiding offices of three lessons. And by keeping octave days and days within the octave as feasts of nine lessons, they almost entirely destroyed the weekly recitation of the psalter; and a large portion of the Breviary ceased to be used at all. The Franciscan book became very popular owing to its handy form... But the multiplication of saints' offices, universal and local, no fixed standard to guide the recital, and the wars of liturgists, made chaos and turmoil...
...The Humanists, Cardinal Bembo (1470-1549), Ferreri, Bessarion, and Pope Leo X. (1513-1521) considered the big faults of the Breviary to lie in its barbarous Latinity. They wished the Lessons to be written In Ciceronian style and the hymns to be modelled on the Odes of Horace. Ferreri's attempt at reforming the Breviary dealt with the hymns, some of which he re-wrote in very noble language, but he was so steeped in pagan mythology that he even introduced heathen expressions and allusions,..
The traditional school represented by Raoul of Tongres, Burchard, Caraffa, and John De Arze loved the past with so great a love that they refused to countenance any notable reforms, A third school, the moderate school, was represented by Cardinal Pole, Contarini, Sadolet and Quignonez, a Spanish cardinal who had been General of the Franciscans.
The work of reform of the Breviary was undertaken by Cardinal Quignonez (1482-1540)...After seven years' labour at the matter and form of the Breviary, his work, Quignonez's Breviary (Brevarium Romanum a Francisco Cardinali Quignonio) appeared in 1535. ...So popular was his work that, in 1536, six editions had appeared, and in thirty-three years (until its suppression by St. Pius V,) it went through no less than a hundred editions...
But it was felt by scholars that Quignonez's reforms were too drastic. Tradition was ignored. The labour for brevity, simplicity and uniformity led to the removal from this Breviary of antiphons, responses, little chapters and versicles, and to the reduction of lessons at matins to three, and the number of psalms in each hour was usually only three... The Pope, who commissioned Quignonez to take up breviary reform, requested the Theatines to take up similar work. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) took up the work of reform. But the Council rose before the work had made headway, and the matter of reform was finally effected by St. Pius V. (1566-1572), by his Constitution, Quod a nobis (1568)...
And so on, and so forth...Meanwhile, in our present time:Coffee and Canticles by Daria Sockey
Today our Bishops voted to go forward with the work of editing, amending, and in some cases re-translating the elements of the Liturgy of the Hours...
Bishop Taylor argued for an amendment to expand the Office of Readings to include a two year cycle of scripture readings (such as Spanish breviaries already contain), and also a 2 year cycle of patristic readings. Archbishop Broglio also spoke in support of this, as did Cardinal DiNardo, who also mentioned that many of the current patristic readings were poorly translated and needed to be re-done. However, this amendment was voted down. Divine Worship Committee chairman Archbishop Aymond agreed that this should be done some day, but now was not the time. He argued that the priority now was to harmonize the current breviary with the Latin breviary, and that overhauling the Office of Readings would add years to the project.
Does this mean the Latin breviary+LotH get to be "harmonized" (hybridized?) ahead of the EF+OF of the Mass? Just wondering.
Bishop Paprocki argued in favor of an amendment that would include more than just the (translated to English) Latin breviary hymns in the new breviary (i.e. a selection of the more modern hymns that we have now). Lots of discussion pro and con ensued. Cardinal O’Malley and Bishop Coyne argued for some kind of hymn supplement or appendix containing hymns that people already know how to sing.
Cardinal George argued forcefully against this. He said that tasking the Worship Committee a hymn supplement would put them in charge of determing which hymns were truly classic and which were mere period pieces. He said the current breviary is full of the latter, and that many of them, though perhaps meaningful in the seventies, were now “an embarassment”. The Latin hymns, he argued, had stood the test of centuries, and are now in use in the British Isles and in India. There is still permission to substitute other hymns, so this option can be exercised by using hymnals, missals, and missalettes.
As expected, the prickly issue of "lirurgical music" rears its head, as it does in every liturgical war.
Cardinal Dolan then called for a vote on the whole project. It passed handily with 203 in favor, and 14 against.
Then something strange happened. Bishop Brom asked to be recognized. Apparently he had missed his chance to speak earlier either through his own confusion or Cardinal Dolan’s overlooking him–it’s not clear which. Cardinal Dolan let him speak. What followed was Bishop Brom’s attempt to criticize not so much the proposed breviary project, but the new missal which was approved and has been in place for nearly a year. His way in to the discussion was to object to the new missal collects replacing the concluding prayers in the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer. He went on at length claiming that his priests and some of the laity did not like the new collects and prefaces, bringing up old objections about the style of grammar, length, etc., that had been hashed over years ago when the new missal was debated. He concluded by saying that before any discussion of a revised Liturgy of the Hours, the missal had to be re-visited since, he claimed, his own priests found it “more of a burden than a blessing.”
Too late! Is that thread still open?
Then Bishop Trautman made a complaint about the brevity of response time allowed during recent regional meetings about the breviary project, and for that reason lent his support to Bishop Brom’s idea of putting a new breviary discussion on hold.
Bishop Trautman hasn't given up, has he?
Bishop McDonnell (I think) argued that going back to critique the new missal was counterproductive when so many were working hard to support it, to “communicate the awesome and transcendent nature of the liturgy”. Criticism would only encourage disunity, he said, and if priests would just review the collects and prefaces before mass, they would know how to read them with understanding.
Due to these after- the- fact objections, Cardinal Dolan allowed the vote to be repeated. Thankfully, the plans for a revised breviary still passed, although this time the majority vote was only 189. Still the two thirds required, but obviously affected by the last minute attempt by some to stall it.
So you see, today's liturgical wars aren't too different from those of 500 years ago. Cheers, everyone!