Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: A Concerned Priest

Welcome to this edition of "New Translation Tuesday."

On Thursday and Friday of this week, I will be teaching in the University of Notre Dame's SummerSong program, which brings together musicians from various places in the United States and Canada for a week of intensive formation in liturgy, theology, and music. My task is to present two sessions. One is focused on a publisher's perspective on the work done thus far with respect to the new English translation of the Missale Romanum. Another is on a pastoral perspective as we look toward implementation.

The publisher's perspective will be fairly easy; kind of a telling of the story of the last three or more years. The pastoral perspective might be a bit more challenging.

My plan is to help the participants paint a picture of the current ecclesial pastoral landscape both in the United States and Canada. As a starting point I'll share some of the comments made on WLP's general survey about the new translation of the Missal. If you haven't yet taken the survey, you can find it here. These comments represent a wide range of opinions and feelings regarding the new translation. My hope is then to have the students comment on their own assessment of the pastoral landscape. We will then come up with what they believe are sound pastoral strategies; helpful ways to sing the new translation into existence. I am greatly looking forward to these few days.

I also wanted to share an e-mail communication I received this week from a priest who was very concerned—as you will see—with WLP's new and revised musical settings of the Mass (which you can find on our dedicated Web site: http://www.singthenewmass.com/)

I responded to his concerns in the body of his e-mail, so I am sharing my return e-mail to him, which includes his original text as well. My response is in large and bolder letters. Here you go:

Thank you for your e-mail regarding WLP’s new and revised musical settings of the new translation of the Missale Romanum.

I would like to address your concerns in the body of your e-mail:

I am extremely unhappy with several of the Mass Settings being offered by WLP for the Third Roman Missal. In the spirit of keeping with the Latin in the Missal, why do some of your Mass settings have refrains in the Glory to God, repetition of phrases in the various parts of the ordinary, and added titles of Jesus in the Lamb of God?

Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship #149 addresses the issue of the Gloria:
“While through-composed settings of the Gloria give clearest expression to the text, the addition of refrains is permitted, provided the refrains encourage congregational participation.”

Personally, I feel that a congregation should learn through-composed settings of the Gloria. This is a marvelous way for people to learn the entirety of the newly translated texts. Steven Janco, the composer of Mass of Redemption agrees and, when he revised this particular setting, he completely re-composed the musical setting of the Gloria. In the older version, there was a repeatable refrain. In the new version, it is completely through-composed. Of the five revised settings, three have through-composed Glorias. Misa Luna has a refrain for the Gloria, which can be sung in English or in Spanish, making it very useful in bilingual settings. Rev. Michael Joncas’ Sing Praise and Thanksgiving Mass has always had a refrain and he decided to keep it that way. While I believe personally that a through-composed setting is best, we do serve many, many parishes that prefer the refrain-style. And, since it is allowed by our bishops to encourage congregational participation, we have opted to provide some settings of the Gloria with a refrain.

Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship #188 also addresses the issue you raised with respect to the Agnus Dei:

“When the Agnus Dei is sung repeatedly as a litany, Christological invocations with other texts may be used. In this case, the first and final invocations are always Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).”

These destroy the sign of unity among Catholics which the new Missal is trying to create! Composers have had the English translation since 2008; therefore, there is NO reason for music which goes against the wishes of the Holy Father.

I am not sure what you mean by the phrase: “against the wishes of the Holy Father.” We have followed the guidelines issued by our own bishops, as you can see above.

Of the major Catholic music companies in the US, I was relying on WLP to follow the wishes of Pope Benedict. You will be confusing visitors from parishes who are complying with the instructions for music at Mass, if some of your present revisions and new Masses are released. Who gave permission for these unacceptable texts?

All of our settings were submitted to ICEL and to the United States Bishops Committee on Divine Worship. They all received approval from theses bodies.

The Bishops from all English speaking countries are to follow the norms for the Third Edition of the Roman Missal. And, again, since the translation was given to musicians in 2008, there is NO reason for not composing music that is in compliance with the guidelines of the Roman Missal. Where are the Gregorian chant-style Masses which the Holy Father asked us to use along with contemporary settings, contemporary settings fitting for the bestowal of the meaning of the translation?

ICEL has commissioned a group of scholars to create Gregorian style chants for the new texts in English. I have found these settings to be quite good; easily grasped and very easily sung. These will appear first in the Order of Mass in all of our worship resources. One of our new settings, Mass of Grace, is composed in chant-style, as is Richard Proulx’s Gloria Simplex.

WLP will not be my source for Mass music, if the previews on your website are published in your hymnals.

I have just returned from the annual convention of the National Association of Pastoral musicians. The three major publishers gave the musicians in attendance a “taste” of the new musical settings. All three publishers have taken a similar approach to revising and commissioning new settings. I was particularly happy with WLP’s settings since we were the only publisher to have commissioned (thus far, at least) through-composed chant settings of the parts of the Mass.

It is my hope that the musical settings will greatly assist parishioners in the appropriation of the newly translated texts. Of course, I will need to disagree with you about our new and revised settings; I believe that we have done a fine job in having new settings composed and older settings revised, keeping in consonance with the wishes of the bishops, as well as balancing it all with the needs expressed by the parishes that we serve.

I will be more than happy to continue this conversation. I will do everything I can, Father, to be sure that WLP serves your needs as well as the needs of your parishioners.

Yours very truly,

Jerry Galipeau

I received a very nice response from this priest, who expressed his appreciation for my explanations.

As you can see, there are all kinds of levels of interpretation floating around out there. There is information coming from all kinds of sources. We are still in a waiting posture for the final text of the Missal. Some say we should have it by the end of July; some say by summer's end; some have mentioned the month of October. In the meantime, we wait.

Please feel free to add your own comments to this blog. You can do some by clicking the comments link just below the body of this text.

And, in the meantime, gotta sing, gotta pray.


Anonymous said...

Isn't the problem with "troping" the Agnus Dei that the practice, while it was a suggestion that found its way into various national conference documents, has no precedent and is not permitted by any universal liturgical law or prescription?

I have heard, (but have no citation for this,) that its continued endorsement in SttL by the American bishops is one of the reasons that that document was not submitted for recognitio, nor made law.

(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

In my own parish, these Christological invocations are really never sung any more, since the pouring takes place during the Preparation of the Altar and Gifts, rather than at the time of the fraction. Not sure if the entire point is moot at this point or not. Others?
Thanks for your comment.

Paul said...

Oh good Lord...is this guy for real? We're all in trouble if this is the kind of Priest the Seminary is putting out. Lord help us all and please Jerry, continue your fine work on these mass settings at WLP.

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

Hello Paul,
Thanks for your comment. I know that this man has been a priest for some time. I do think that there needs to be so much catechesis on all levels about the new translation. I admire dioceses that are beginning this catechesis with their priests.

Fr. Gene Vavrick said...


I think this priests' "concerns" reflect the great confusion that exists among priests in the U.S. who do not regularly avail themselves of good sources like the USCCB website, the site for the BCDW, and participation in organizations like NPM. Thanks for your balanced responses and wisdom!

Chironomo said...

I have heard, (but have no citation for this,) that its continued endorsement in SttL by the American bishops is one of the reasons that that document was not submitted for recognitio, nor made law.

It may have been a minor factor. The primary reason was that it was well understood that if submitted, the document WOULD have been approved, and therefore become particular law. The Bishop in charge, Bp. Trautmann, was less than enthusiastic about making a document into particular law that essentially mandated the singing of the Ordinary in Latin and the re-introduction of the sung Propers at Mass rather than hymns and songs. The document was withdrawn, not because it wouldn't be approved, but rather because it would have been.

This was confirmed to me by two different individuals who were there, one of whom contributed to the document, specifically the sections on Latin and chant.

Marie said...

Jerry, your comments to the priest were nicely put and I must agree with Paul in the hope that this priest's concerns are atypical. We need clergy with greater focus on the church -- as we are the church --and a more balanced focus on the rule books.

I serve a parish which has long been considered progressive, pro Vatican 2, focusing on social justice issues. They also LOVE good liturgy and sing out in full voice like no other congregation I have ever heard. For us, a refrain Gloria is a must, with verses appropriate for the assembly. I was discouraged at NPM to hear through-sung Glorias, or worse yet, those with cantor-only verses. Adjustment will be difficult enough for some without having them feel as if they are being left out.