Once again I'd like to thank those of you who have been visiting this blog. I've heard that some friends have been posting the link in their parish bulletins. A special thanks to those who offer your comments in a civil manner. The issues that this blog has raised are ones that elicit strong emotions. I appreciate the kind tone reflected in your comments.
As most of you know, within the next two to three years (hopefully), Catholic parishes in the English-speaking world will be asked to embrace a new translation of the Missale Romanum. In other words, many of the texts we pray at Mass will be changing. The National Association of Pastoral Musicians has been offering workshops at their conventions for the last few years on how we will deal with the changes. I've been privileged to have been asked to lead two of those sessions. Musicians in attendance were generally wary of the changes. They voiced strong opinions, saying things such as: "Why is Rome doing this to us?" and "Are you saying that what we have been praying for years are inferior or bad texts?" These responses, I believe, are understandable first responses. As humans, reaction to change is, at first, usually filled with negative reactions. I challenged them to try to move beyond these first responses. Whether we like to admit it or not, when the changes do occur, it is the clergy and parish musicians that will bear the brunt of the assembly's first reactions. I guess I would like to throw a question out there to the musicians, and faithful pew Catholics who read this blog. How will we negotiate this change of translation?
Some have suggested that we gradually introduce new texts and new, or revised, musical settings of these texts. Others have suggested that we simply change everything at once. Others have suggested that we not pay any attention to the new translations and simply sing all the changed texts set to Latin chant. Others have said that, particularly with the dialogues at Mass (i.e. The Lord be with you. R/. And with you spirit., The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit. Lift up your hearts. R/. We lift them up to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. R/. It is right and just.) that we immediately, upon implementation, chant these texts, so that we appropriate them right away as essential musical elements of the Mass. The thinking here is that people will have less of a negative reaction to changing their response, for instance, to "And with your spirit" if they were asked to sing it right at the start, rather than reciting it (and probably fumbling over the words).
Thoughts out there? You can find the new translation of the Order of Mass on the web site of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Click here for the link.