Thursday, December 3, 2009
The New Translation: Musicians and the Implementation
Happy "New Translation Thursday" to one and all.
One of the questions floating around out there regarding the new English translation of the Missale Romanum has to do with how parish musicians will approach the implementation. Having been a director of liturgy and music for many years myself, I have wondered about just how I would approach the introduction of the new translation into parish life. In the past, when introducing a new musical setting of the Mass, we would follow a carefully laid out plan. We would begin working on the setting at choir rehearsals a few months in advance of teaching the congregation. We would spend time with our parish cantors, coaching them on the way we would slowly introduce the setting. Usually, the teaching of the new setting would take place over a period of weeks. When the appointed "release" Sunday arrived, we would usually begin by teaching the assembly the new setting of the Gloria. The people would have been given a copy of the Mass's musical setting (we printed our own worship aid). We would move through the Gloria (sometimes that meant just a refrain; sometimes that meant a refrain and other congregational parts scattered throughout; sometimes that meant a through composed setting). We would then use the next few weeks to teach the other parts of the Mass.
What will be new, of course, with what is to come is that not only will the music change, but in most cases, the words will change as well. I think that good musical settings will help carry the implementation along. And WLP, of course, will have wonderful new settings and revised settings to assist the singing and praying Church.
But, in the past, we didn't have to worry about people remembering the words when we taught them the new musical setting. Now, it's going to be new (or revised) music and new words. I can hear some musician friends now, "This whole thing wasn't my idea; please don't shoot the parish musician!" I believe that musicians and priests are going to be the ministers that people will go to with their complaints or their kind words of encouragement. As I mentioned on Tuesday, as much advance catechesis that we can do about all this, the better.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.