Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: Newly Composed Mass Settings: Your Opinion?

Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Tuesday."



Last night, here in the Diocese of San Jose, approximately forty musicians gathered at Saint Martin of Tours Church to sing through musical settings of the new translation. Some had not yet seen the new texts. We moved through a variety of settings. It is always a delight to hear this music come alive. This was the first session at which participants sang from the actual choral scores for these Masses. You can see samples and listen to sound clips over at singthenewmass.com.

More and more musicians are telling me that they are deciding to use completely newly composed settings at first. They are saying that new settings will help the text become a part of the peoples' prayer, without the burden of re-learning an established setting. What are your thoughts about this?

Today I will be attending a session with the bishop and clergy of the diocese. I have been asked to give a kind of "state of the union" with respect to the implementation processes I have witnessed across the country. I am looking forward to this opportunity.

Well, I've gotta get on the move here. I hope your week is going well.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Our parish will likely use a new setting (yet to be decided) With the words changing, I see this as a golden opportunity to introduce the best quality settings of music to our parish. While many of the revised settings are okay, I think it will be wiser to use a setting written specifically for the new text.

Steve Raml said...

Still studying settings, but leaning toward a brand new setting for Gloria, while incorporating revised settings for Sanctus. We change Memorial Accl every season, so teaching a new Mystery of Faith Acclamation is easy, as long as the connected Sanctus has a "little changed" first line in the melody. We don't necessarily tie our Gloria musically to other mass parts.

Anonymous said...

Right now it looks as if we'll be learning new settings of the Gloria because of the substantial changes to the language of that text - the new music will better fit the new text and should enhance people's ability to learn and pray with the new text. Still, our repertoire will probably include the Holy, Mystery of Faith, Amen and Lamb of God from revised Mass of Creation. This will help us at occasions like weddings and funerals that attract people who don't come to our community's Masses regularly, and it might also help minimize the shock of the new words for our regular Massgoers. It looks as if the only change to the Holy will be in the first line, the Amen and the Lamb of God should stay the same, and we'll be learning new Mysteries of Faith no matter what settings we do.

jdonliturgy said...

I was at a choral reading session last summer given by one of your competitors when an entire room of parish musicians "stumbled" on the first verse of the revised setting of the most well-known setting of the Gloria (you know which one I mean!). I found the completely new settings were much easier to sing with the new words than revised ones... probably because they have created well-worn neural pathways in our brains in their current versions!

Christian Cosas said...

We will definitely be using a new setting of the Gloria in my parish. I'm disappointed that none of the major music publishers will be doing a through-composed Gloria setting that has the option of a refrain. It seems that, with the first introduction of the new Gloria text on Christmas (or Immaculate Conception), this would be the most congregationally-friendly way to get people to sing it. Then, ideally, once they're familiar with the verses, drop the refrain and you have a composition more faithful to the original structure of the prayer.

I've personally decided to put away any old settings of the Eucharistic Acclamations (including Creation) for at least year, and maybe even two or three. I definitely think that learning the new texts to new melodies is the best way to go. Once the new words are comfortably in our mouths (and one would hope, in our hearts), we could try bringing back the Mass of Creation Eucharistic Acclamations.

For funerals and weddings, I'm torn about whether I should use the setting we're singing on Sundays or the official ICEL chants. If things go well through Advent, Christmas, and the beginning of Ordinary Time, I'd like to switch to the ICEL chants for Lent.

Of everything I've seen (and I've seen a lot), I think the Proulx Gloria Simplex, the entirety of Janco's Mass of Wisdom, and the Psallité Mass from Liturgical Press are the most singable and the best candidates for introducing the new texts.

Anonymous said...

We will use "new" settings as well, for the same reasons mentioned by many here...but on the other hand, the top two or three on my list are not "new" at all--they are revised versions of existing settings that we just never got around to learning here. Honestly, none of the "brand new" settings have grabbed me the way several of the revised ones have. So that's the direction we'll be leaning.
--Jennifer

Liam said...

I generally believe the idea of re-worked settings is a waste of time and money, and of the preciously narrow window of attention of our congregations.

John Black said...

I've decided upon new settings. I had been leaning toward the revised to keep the familiar for the assembly. The prospect of the un-training, if you will, of the assembly persuaded me to choose new. (The un-training thoughts also involved introspection--I could see myself, while nodding something feverishly at the choir, subconsciously playing the old accompaniment...that wouldn't derail things much.)

Some of the composers have relayed disenchantment with their revised versions. The music just wasn't laid out to contain the new texts.

The opportunity to introduce new service music played strongly into this choice. The current settings have been in place for many years. Fresh music will help introduce the fresh texts.

Our assembly picks new pieces up well after a few hearings. The musicians and choirs will begin learning the new settings after Easter. In the Fall, I plan to hold several singing sessions for the parish. Whatever attendance I have will then be distributed throughout the church--a liturgical flash mob, perhaps--to bring the rest of the assembly along.

I'm excited for the teaching and catechesis opportunities that the new translation affords. The orientation to the new texts will draw more people than a catechesis session would. If we stay focused on the opportunities this affords, I think we can have our own liturgical renewal (next Gotta Sing...).

Joanne said...

I guess I'm going to be the contrary voice and say that I would rather use the revised lyrics of, in particular, the MASS OF CREATION for Advent/Christmas 2011 rather that something totally new. Think about it - the whole process of a new missal might leave our assemblies a little rattled to begin with in the first few months. Using a familiar setting such as the MOC, with its minimal adjustments in the Eucharistic Acclamations (the Gloria is a whole other issue no matter which older setting is used) would provide some continuity with the past. Contrary to what some might say that would not necessarily be a bad thing. Then by Lent, perhaps a new setting would be appropriate to fold into the mix. In this way, our liturgical rhythm would help ease us into the new translation rather than just starting everything new on 1 Advent 2011. My prayer is that we can learn from how revisions were imposed in the past (1969, 1974) and try not to duplicate their negative qualities as we attempt this next transition.

Anonymous said...

I'm really hoping the reworked settings can be re-introduced to our congregations in a few years, once the new words are comfortable on our lips. And again, I think the re-worked texts are highly useful if only for those of us who never got around to, say, the Misa Luna before but can learn it now in its newer incarnation...
--Jennifer