Friday, October 16, 2009

Less Jarring Rite

Happy Friday to one and all.

I'd like to continue my comments about last week's blog I called "Jarring Rite." I commented about how schizophrenic the introductory rite seemed when we began with a strophic hymn, sang a Kyrie in Urdu, them moved right into a chant setting of the Gloria. When I substituted at the parish this past Sunday, the opening hymn was Now Thank We All Our God, followed by the sign of the cross, greeting, and the invitation to call to mind our sinfulness. After a period of silence, we sang the Lord Have Mercy in Urdu. The week before, the cantor jumped the gun and began the chanted Gloria before the celebrant had a chance to say, "May almighty God . . ." So, in essence, the reverberation of the Urdud Kyrie had not even faded before we heard the chant begin. However, this past weekend, the cantor waited for the celebrant to say these words, then we began to chant the Gloria. Just that few seconds of prayer, and our "Amen" made the whole experience less jarring for me. 

As far as the suggestion posted about singing the Latin as a way of being more inclusive . . . the way I read that document was that when Mass is celebrated in large international groups of Catholics from many lands, the Latin could be used a sign of unity. I have no argument against this; it makes perfect sense. This is why it's important for parishes to re-introduce, over time, the main sung parts of the Mass in Latin. But I am not sure that my tiny parish experience is the kind of gathering that the document intended to address. In a parish where many cultures are represented, but the dominant spoken language is English, singing in English most of the time makes the most sense. Peppering our liturgies with the Latin chants that we already know and re-introducing those that we don't know is simply a good idea for us. We'll see how our parish handles this as we move forward.

I hope that, wherever you are, that your weekend is a good one. Gotta Sing. Gotta Pray.


Chironomo said... I correct then in understanding that the Kyrie (I assume this is a "Lord Have Mercy" in Urdu) was chanted in Urdu, the Priest's invocation (May Almighty God..) was said in English and then the Gloria was chanted in Latin...and that was less jarring?

I know that the current situation is so far evolved that there is almost no chance of reclaiming the original intention, but wasn't the original intention of permitting the use of the vernacular in the liturgy to increase comprehension, specifically of the readings and the homily? I'm perplexed at the suggestion that a tri-lingual liturgy (I recall the Mass at Washington Nationals Stadium as an example) is somehow more easily comprehended than a liturgy entirely in Latin (I'm assuming that people have heard of Latin/English Missals)? How many languages can be incorporated in a liturgy before the whole "comrehension" argument no longer holds...4 languages...5 languages? And how does such a liturgy avoid the kind of "tokenism" that Pope Benedict has spoken so strongly against? These are valid questions even in a small multi-language parish, not just at the "large scale" gatherings referred to in Sacramentum Caritatis.

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

The Gloria was chanted in English. Everything else was sung in English. We sang Steven Janco's Mass of the Angels and Saints for the Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, and Amen. The hymn during the communion procession was bilingual (Spanish and English). I didn't have the sense that this was jarring. As a matter of fact you (or perhaps someone else - no time to go back now and read the comments) suggested that the Gloria doesn't need to feel "uplifting" and the Kyrie doesn't need to feel like a "downer" musically. This gave me a better appreciation for the chanted Gloria in English and actually made me pay closer attention to the meaning and beauty of the text, so thanks for that. I have to be honest and say that (even though I studied Latin in the Seminary), I would have struggled to pay close attention to the beauty and meaning of the Latin text, because I would have to struggle my way through the pronunciation of the text.

Chironomo said...


OK...when I hear "Chanted Gloria" I assume the Latin, but I suppose there is an English language chant as well.

I find your comment about having to "struggle my way through the pronunciation of the text" particularly relevant. Many of us feel the same way having to struggle our way through musically distracting settings to the point that we give up trying to get any meaning from the text... it all just ends up being noise anyway.

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

And some would say that about the Latin chant as well!

Chironomo said...

Oh... they would and they have.