I am off to Notre Dame shortly to teach in the Summer Song program there. But I wanted to share two very interesting responses from our survey about the new translation. Here's the first comment:
I am a strong advocate of the new translation, and insofar as I am responsible for the musical direction at our parish, I see this as a unique opportunity being presented. It is apparent that there is a strong desire to move in the direction of greater solemnity and towards a more "traditional" (i.e - chant based music) approach to liturgical music, and so I am resolving to use this time to reshape the music program at our parish towards this goal.
And here's the second:
The other thing that I have been unhappy about is that the plan is for people to learn some of the new musical settings, such as at least the Gloria, in chant at first. Composers have already worked on introducing great contemporary settings for the new liturgy and I would rather have these introduced right away. I believe that it will lessen the pain of switching to the new liturgy if the new mass settings are in the contemporary style that most people are used to.
I believe these two comments represent two very strong trends; the former—at least I believe—to a lesser extent than the latter. After having spent last week in Detroit singing through many new and revised musical settings of the Mass, I came away not really having a sense of a clear direction in the minds of musicians or publishers, for that matter. As a Catholic publisher, we need to serve the singing Church and, at the same time, we need to show leadership as well. Many of those who work here at WLP are degreed musicians, liturgists, and theologians. Many are doing weekend music work in parishes. While we must work with our composers to produce settings of the highest quality, settings that will satisfy the needs of those represented by these two comments, we also need to move people in directions that are consonant with what our bishops are hoping for us as a Church. This blog has tried carefully to maneuver a way through all of this. Many of you have offered "proof texts" for why we should follow one direction or another. We have reached a conclusion that perhaps our greatest contribution to the implementation of the new translation of the Missale Romanum is to publish the very best music in styles that will support the praying of the texts, so that the texts will help change our lives and move us closer to a living encounter with the Eucharistic Lord. I don't believe that there is only one style that accomplishes that more than another. But, there are people—real people—for whom one style will accomplish those realities more strongly than another. Some have argued that this approach is too close to a "cafeteria" approach to Catholicism. Perhaps there is a kernel of truth there; but it happens to be the living reality of the Church, at least the Church here in the United States and Canada that I have had the privilege of experiencing over the last twenty-five years.
Please pray for the students at Notre Dame over the next several days.
As always, comments welcome.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.
(Sorry about the font issues today; not time to fix right now.)