Friday, May 22, 2009

ICEL's Music for the English Language Roman Missal - A Gem

Many of you probably already know this, but ICEL (The International Commission on English in the Liturgy) has posted an introduction entitled Music for the English Language Roman Missal. You can find it here. I have not yet had the time to read through this introduction in its entirety, but at first glance it looks like a very valuable resource for clergy and musicians as we approach the time of implementation of the new translation of the Missale Romanum. The dialogues, set to chant in English, appear in this introduction. A story here. At Sunday Mass in my parish a few months back, after the entrance song had been completed, the pastor (who had never done this before with us) looked up at us, began to make the sign of the cross, and he chanted it. Without hesitation, we chanted our "Amen" right back at him. In a large gothic structure, with no absorbent material anywhere in sight (save our clothing), the chant was glorious, as it is when we chant the preface dialogue each week and the Lord's Prayer in English during Lent. There is a transparent and simple beauty to this unaccompanied chant. My hope is that musicians and clergy everywhere will read the introduction on ICEL's web site and begin talking and experimenting (not at Sunday Mass yet, of course) with these new texts set to these tones. What is very helpful about ICEL's introduction is that it walks us through the committee's decision-making process on many of these chants, letting us in on the reasons why one or another chant setting was discarded. And to actually be able to see and sing the approved and discarded settings is so helpful. All will obviously not agree on every decision, but this is a great piece of history and catechesis all at the same time. Bravo to ICEL.


As we move into the celebration of Memorial Day, I'd like to wish every one of you a peaceful and relaxing weekend. I, for one, am greatly looking forward to three days off. Let's remember those who gave their life serving in the armed forces of the United States, as well as those who died in service to their own countries throughout the world. Perhaps we can take the opportunity this weekend to pick up the Gospel mandate and—as we pray for those who have died—also pray for our enemies.

2 comments:

Scelata said...

"At Sunday Mass in my parish a few months back, after the entrance song had been completed, the pastor (who had never done this before with us) looked up at us, began to make the sign of the cross, and he chanted it. Without hesitation, we chanted our "Amen" right back at him. In a large gothic structure, with no absorbent material anywhere in sight (save our clothing), the chant was glorious, as it is when we chant the preface dialogue each week and the Lord's Prayer in English during Lent. There is a transparent and simple beauty to this unaccompanied chant."

Indeed.
Musicians who have been paying attention have known this all along. Thomas Day mentions how the FCAP we SAY we want to achieve actually IS achieved almost universally on the chanted Lords Prayer, or Pater Noster -- and yet the reasons why this is so are more often than not ignored in preparing liturgies. "What can we do that is new/different/lively/fun?"
I don't mind anyone trying to re-invent the wheel,.
I do, however, resent his trying to make me ride in the conveyance so tricked out...

"My hope is that musicians and clergy everywhere will read the introduction on ICEL's web site and begin talking and experimenting (not at Sunday Mass yet, of course) with these new texts set to these tones."

Most of the musicians with whom I associated HAVE made "the time to read through this introduction in its entirety," and I agree with you.
But I am curious, since the texts themselves are in free circulation, why the secrecy about the rest of the music?
Why do only certain musicians and publishing concerns have access to them.
The leadership of the American organization that is associated with the Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae doesn't even have access. Does NPM, or do you only have access through WLP?
Do you know?
Any information on this would be a great boon to concerned Catholic musicians everywhere in the US.
(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

Chironomo said...

Not only have we read it in its entirety...we have analyzed and scrutinized it as well.

My HOPE is that this is a serious effort... by that, I mean an actual commitment to a sung liturgy in the Roman Rite Church...a sung liturgy that is not an "optional" sung liturgy, but one which is the normative liturgy. That HOPE would include an instruction "from above" that vernacular settings other than those included in the Missal (Dialogues / Ordinary/ Pater Noster) may not be used in the liturgy. A single set of "normative" English language settings is enough. There are 18 settings of the Ordinary in the Graduale if you really feel that variation is needed.

Some of the language in the Introduction is curious to me...there are some strange things said that I have pointed out elsewhere that gives me pause, as does the "secrecy" surrounding this. I can dismiss the secrecy with the understanding that the incident in Africa of implementing the new translation when it was specifically asked that not be done is going to make one a bit more careful with releasing such things thereafter. Maybe they're just being cautious.

That being said...it would be nice to know what is coming down the pike 18-24 months ahead as it takes TIME to make changes at a parish if you don't want disruption. All of these preparations are going to have to be done contemporaneous with the regular week-to-week liturgy preparations. Some of us don't want a repeat of the DISASTER that was the implementation of the Novus Ordo.