Monday, September 27, 2010

Music at Mass, The Gloria, and Cleveland

Happy Monday to you all.

Autumn has begun to take its grip here in Chicago. We are beginning to see just a touch of the autumn colors on the trees. Won't be long before we start seeing a few snowflakes?

At Mass at my parish, St. James, on Sunday, I was struck with just how eclectic parish music programs can be. Here is a rundown on what was sung and the style in which it was sung.

Opening (All Are Welcome, with piano, trombone, djembe, guitar)
Sign of the Cross and Greeting (chanted with light piano accompaniment)
Gloria (chanted in English a cappella, alternating between two male cantors and assembly)
Responsorial Psalm (through-composed setting with male cantor, piano, and assembly)
Gospel Acclamation (Celtic Alleluia with piano, trombone, guitar, djembe and other percussion instruments)
Preparation of the Gifts (I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say, with piano and trombone)
Preface dialogue (chanted a cappella)
Preface (chanted a cappella)
Eucharistic Acclamations (Haas Do This in Memory of Me, with piano)
Lamb of God (Haas as well)
Communion Procession (Pan de Vida, with piano, trombone, percussion)
Post-Communion (Choir piece Spirit Song, SATB with piano)
Closing (For the Healing of the Nations set to St. Thomas tune, with piano, trombone)

Congregational participation was strong throughout the liturgy. The worshipping community a St. James goes from style to style with relative ease.

It struck me that solid musical leadership, as well as a singing celebrant, make a world of difference. As we sang the "Christ has died" text for the memorial acclamation, I couldn't help but wonder what things will be like in another 14 months when the new translation begins to be implemented. I also wondered about the Gloria. As you know, the implementation date for the new translation is the First Sunday of Advent in 2011, a Sunday when we refrain from singing the Gloria. 

The first time that the majority of Catholics will sing the new text will be at Christmas (of course, some will sing it on the feast of the Immaculate Conception as well). I can't imagine music directors trying to teach a new Gloria on Christmas eve or Christmas day. On the one day that the Gloria should be as festive a setting as possible (echoing the song of the angels), parishes will find themselves in a bit of a bind. Using a chant setting might be the answer, or perhaps a setting with a very, very accessible refrain with the choir or cantor singing the verses is the answer. What do you think?

I hope the week ahead is a good one for you. I'll be traveling to the Diocese of Cleveland tomorrow. Dinner with Bishop Lennon and some of the diocesan staff tomorrow night, then two workshops on the RCIA on Wednesday. The Diocese of Cleveland is inaugurating a three-year program of formation for  those ministering in Christian initiation. My job is to kick this off with two presentations (in two different areas of the diocese) focused on the vision of the RCIA for the Church. I am excited about these presentations and working with a diocese that has a solid vision for formation of those ministering with catechumens and candidates. I'll do my best to post on the blog each day.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Carl said...

I think you do an old edition that the parish and visitors will sing and know. The next year when he regulars know what they re doing, it wont be so jarring to the Christmas. Easter people. The "leaders" hae been working on this for ten years, I dont think the Lord will care what translation we use.

Anonymous said...

Is there any reason that the congregation can't be taught the new Gloria - before Mass - during the four Advent Sundays? I think you might be able to really get their attention. "We will be practicing the new Gloria the next four weeks so that we can sing it beautifully on Christmas".

Certainly the novelty and anticipation might be enough to get some participation going!

church lady said...

There are at least two settings (but I think there are actually several more) that employ the refrain of the Christmas carol GLORIA ("Angels we have heard on high") in alternation with through-composed verses in one case or chanted verses in another case. Latin text - no translation needed. Granted, it's an incomplete text, but it's not an incorrect text. And who's to say what portion of the text comprises a refrain, since the Roman Missal text has no refrain.

Anonymous said...

I would have said, rather, "using a chant setting is THE answer."

There is no excuse for fussing with new English settings according to someones musical preference before the chant in the missal has been learned and sung by the people.

(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)