Friday, December 30, 2011

Ben Breedlove: Perspective

Friday greetings to you all. It's raining and dark and miserable here in Chicago; a place that has seen no real measurable snow yet this winter. I am not complaining; just tired of the dreary skies.

So much was put into perspective this morning when I read the story about the life and death of 18 year-old Ben Breedlove. This is a video he posted on Youtube just before his own death. If you have lost a loved one recently, this might bring you comfort. It is worth watching every single minute of this video. May he rest in peace.


Happy New Year.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Translation Thursday: A Look Back and a Heart Filled with Gratitude

"New Translation Thursday" greetings to you all.

I have something interesting coming up in a few weeks. I am leading the music for a retreat for Roman Catholic Army Chaplains. While I was putting the worship aid together, I needed to include a musical setting of the Mass parts. I chose Steve Janco's Mass of Wisdom, chiefly because of the fact that it is intuitive and just sings so well.

Then I thought to myself . . . what about the rest of the assembly's responses? You see, only one of the 70 priests in attendance will be the principal celebrant; the rest of the priests will be in the assembly. Wondering what it will be like for them on the other side of the altar? I am especially wondering about the "Lord I am not worthy . . ." Should be interesting.

As usual at the end of the year, I get nostalgic. I want to share with you what I wrote on this blog on the final "New Translation Thursday" a year ago, as 2010 came to a close:

I have spent a good part of 2010 crisscrossing this country of ours, talking to liturgists, clergy, catechists, musicians, and people in the pews about the new translation. I have been in places where I have felt like the sheep among the wolves. I have honestly expressed my own disappointments with regard to the way the process of this translation seemed to unravel in its last months. I have shared new and revised musical settings of the new translation and have watched many peoples' deep concerns transform into anticipation as they begin to "practice" the new and revised musical settings. I have advocated for the singing of the dialogues at Mass. I have urged bishops and priests to see the implementation of this new translation as an advent of a renewal in their own celebratory style at Mass. I have cautioned them that old approaches—like not even practicing the texts before Mass—will need to be jettisoned.
Here on the home front at WLP, I have watched a group of brilliantly talented composers, editors, designers, artists, music engravers, marketers, and customer service representatives serve the needs of the singing and praying Church. Good, solid, and beautiful musical settings have been composed that will address the various musical needs of the English-speaking world. First-class recordings of all these settings have been made. Hours have been spent researching appropriate art and photography for the covers of the various components of these Masses. Our customer service representatives have fielded countless calls from those we serve, fielding questions about the new translation and WLP's work to help the Church through the transition. Our marketing team has created ways to help make people aware of our new and revised Mass settings. Our rights and permissions manager has made sure that all notices are correct. Our editors have, at many times, agonized over all kinds of musical issues within these settings. We have all dealt with the frustrations associated with the last-minute changes to texts that had already received the recognitio—we have had to ask composers to re-compose parts of their Masses; we have had to go back into the recording studio several times to bring these recorded texts into conformity with the last minute changes.
As I look back at 2010, I am struck by what it really means when we say that our mission here at WLP is to serve the needs of the singing, praying, and initiating Church. It has certainly not been an easy year. Navigating a Catholic company like ours through these very challenging economic times has had its own challenges. It is our commitment to serving the Church that keeps us focused on the road ahead.
It is my hope that a year from now, the music that we have created here will be ringing in parishes across our country.

Well, folks, as 2011 comes to an end, I still feel a tremendous sense of gratitude to be working here at World Library Publications. This year was a dramatic one for me, as I transitioned into the Senior Management Team of the J. S. Paluch Company (WLP's parent). Even more dramatic were the many, many more trips to places throughout the United States to continue preparing people for the new translation. I guess it all came together for me at Midnight Mass last weekend when I was in an assembly which indeed did sing a WLP musical setting of the new translation, Steve Janco's Mass of Wisdom. As it rang out in that church, I couldn't help but feel a sense of pride as I leaned over to my nephew seated next to me and said, "That's one of ours!"

So I end this year of blogging with a huge thank you to Jennifer, Michele, Mary Beth, Deb, Israel, Norma, Mary, Marcia, Mike, Denise, Tejal, Chris E, Chris B, Geovanni, Steve, Raquel, Lisa, Gina, Ellen, Jude, Kathy, Didi, Patty, Ed, Peter, Alma, Tom, Pedro, Alan, Christine, Ron, and Keith. You are simply the best people to work with and to lead. Your contribution to the work of the Church can never be measured.



Happy New Year.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Prayers for Deacons and Prayers for Catechists

Wednesday of the Octave of Christmas greetings to you all.

It's WLP commercial time.

We have two new little prayer books in our Pray Today series, one for deacons and one for catechists.

Servant of the Lord: Prayers for Deacons is written by Deacon Peter Hodsdon. I met Peter at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress a few years ago and asked him to write this book for us. This is a must-have for the deacons in your parish.



Here's a sample from the book:

The Triduum – Thursday of the Lord’s Supper

Celebrating Diaconia

Do you realize what I have done for you?

John 13:12

Servant God, more than any other liturgical celebration, Holy Thursday is the feast of diaconal identity. In the midst of the eucharistic feast, we pause and reach out to others in a dramatic, symbolic way—by washing their feet.

As I prepare to assist the celebrant on this special day, let me take a moment to consider all the people I’ve served in the past year: lives I’ve touched in small ways, lives I’ve touched in major ways, both known and unknown. I thank you for this privilege. More importantly, though, I consider all your people who have served me in my ministry, who have washed my feet, and I thank you for their presence in my life. Together, as Peter so eloquently puts it, we are washed head to foot!
 
The second book, our newest in the series, is Sweeter than Honey: Prayers for Catechists, by noted author, Elizabeth McMahon Jeep. It is cleverly written in poetic sense lines, using punctuation and capitalization only rarely. I love this little book and (of course) think it is a great gift for parish catechists and catechetical leaders.
 
 
Here's the sample prayer for Christmastime:
 
Christmastime


Flight into Egypt

Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod. (Matthew 2:14–15a)

Sometimes you just have to move on, Joseph,
leave the life
you worked so hard to build
the client list
the easy chair
the Sabbath routines
that give a man shape in his community
today the dream changes
the Lord asks more:
join immigrants on their dangerous road
take only essentials
urgency overcoming inconvenience
retrace the path your namesake
followed centuries ago
seek safety for your wife and child
among a people
who have not forgotten how to dream

merciful God
you have called me to be a teacher
bearing Christ safely to a new generation
you alone command my destiny
you alone my goal, my path, my guide
be light to my journey
for I cannot see beyond the next turning
strengthen my courage and give me peace
in the name of Jesus your Son
Amen

Two wonderful little books that can really inspire our deacons and catechists. Thanks for listening.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Translation Tuesday: Christmas Mass

"New Translation Tuesday" greetings to all.

Safely back here in Chicago after the Christmas weekend in Florida with family and friends.

I attended Christmas Mass at Midnight at Saint Mary Magdalen Church in Altamonte Springs, Florida. I was the director of liturgy and music at the parish from 1984 to 1990.



The parish was well-prepared for its many visitors at Mass. Before Mass, the pastor welcomed everyone, made a financial plea, then did a short catechesis on the changes in the Mass texts, inviting us to watch the large screens during the Mass, where the new texts would be projected.

He chanted the sign of the cross and greeting. Unfortunately, it was just text that was projected, so those of us who had not been there during the Advent Season had no way of knowing how to respond musically. But kudos to the parish for encouraging the chant. At the end of each of the readings, the cantor chanted the concluding acclamation and we all sang "Thanks be to God" and "Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ." There was only one awkward moment during the creed. The person moving the slides hesitated too long at one moment and the creed just stopped, but we were soon all back on track. Before the creed, the pastor invited us to kneel during the moment when we proclaimed our faith in the incarnation. It was beautiful and dignified. I was so happy to see that the parish had chosen Steve Janco's Mass of Wisdom. The choir, brass, and timpani led us beautifully with these acclamations.


I was disappointed that the choir sang a "musical" from the evangelical protestant tradition for the forty-five minutes before Mass. There was no involvement by the assembly and each piece ended with a Cecil B. DeMille-esque finish that called for applause. The narration was strange; it was a mix of the actual Lucan infancy narrative and commentary on the birth of Christ. It was odd that the Gospel narrative was done before the actual Mass, the highlight of which is usually the Lucan Gospel proclamation of the birth of Christ. The choir obviously worked very hard on the music and I appreciated their work. It just didn't sound or feel very Catholic to me. I wanted to sing, but was prevented from doing so. Oh well.

The pastor prayed the new translation beautifully. He obviously was very well prepared. He prayed Eucharistic Prayer I. I found myself listening carefully, but felt that the language created some distance between God and me. This will all taking much more getting used to on my part.

The parish did an excellent job, over all, with the new translation this Christmas. I was proud of their work.

Well, I am one of the few here at WLP at work this week and I love it. No meetings; just time for doing catch-up and planning for 2012.

I hope that your Christmas Octave is filled with grace and peace.

How did the new translation "land" at your parish at Christmas?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Boxing Day

Happy Boxing Day to all.

I am still in Florida and plan to be back in Chicago tomorrow. Looking forward to sharing my Christmas liturgical experience with all of you and hearing about yours. Eucharistic Prayer I was interesting!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Blessings

Wishing all of you a blessed Christmas.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Translation Thursday: Who Is His?

"New Translation Thursday" greetings to you all.



Last Christmas, at "Mass at Midnight," those gathered in English-speaking countries heard this opening prayer:

Father,
you make this holy night radiant
with the splendor of Jesus Christ our light.
We welcome him as Lord, the true light of the world.
Bring us to eternal joy in the kingdom of heaven,
where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

This Christmas, "At the Mass during the Night," those gathered in English-speaking countries will hear this Collect:

O God, who have made this most sacred night
radiant with the splendor of the true light,
grant, we pray, that we, who have known the mysteries of his light on earth,
may also delight in his gladness in heaven.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

I have spent quite some time with the new text. In my opinion, the new text, which does not directly name Jesus Christ as the true light, becomes confusing when it refers to him twice later in the prayer, using the pronoun "his." Of course, theologically, we understand "the true light" as a descriptor for Jesus Christ but, without naming him as such (as did the previous translation), the prayer makes little sense.

I think this is a case where strict adherence to the Latin has resulted in a poor prayer, simply put.

I will be listening very carefully at Christmas Mass at midnight.

Your thoughts?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Showing Up

Wednesday greetings to one and all.



Last night, I joined other members of my parish's liturgy committee, as well as some volunteers from the choir, to decorate our parish hall (our worship space) for the Christmas Season.

This brought me so much joy! At first I thought that there were too many "cooks" and not enough chef's helpers, but we eventually worked together as a team. I brought a couple of bottles of wine and some pretzels, so that helped us gel all the more! Angels, hand painted by our parishioners last year, were hoisted along six section of walls between tall windows. The creche was nestled among evergreen trees and bales of hay were placed next to the creche, upon which were placed the three kings, who will slowly make their way closer to the Holy Family. This is all set up on our "stage," which is rarely used. We gather on the main floor of the auditorium for Mass.

When I was a full-time director of liturgy and music, I remember hoping that enough people would show up for the decorating of the church. Now I am one of those volunteers to whom the parish leadership looks, in the hopes that I "show up." Strange the way life turns itself around sometimes.

At any rate, I will not be at my parish for Christmas; I am headed to Florida to spend time with family members there. I will be worshipping at the parish where I had my first full-time ministry position. It's always great to return there.

Hope this final week of Advent has been a graced one for you.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Translation Tuesday: Christmas Hospitality

Ah, the final "New Translation Tuesday" before Christmas 2011.



I know that there is some anxiety out there regarding the throngs who will appear at our doors for the Christmas Masses. Some will know that changes in the Mass texts have occurred; many will not.

As I have traveled around the country over the past two years or so, I have asked people to consider seriously the commitment to hospitality during the Christmas Masses of 2011. For the majority of "regular" parishioners, picking up a worship aid has become a habit over the past four weeks. Those who are not "regulars" will not have developed this habit and will certainly be a little more than confused as they come to Mass this coming weekend. In order to be a welcoming parish, we'll need to be sure that these folks know that there have been changes. We'll need to ask them to use the worship aid for the entire Mass. Perhaps at Mass the First or Second Sunday of Advent, your parish priest reminded people to pick up the worship aid at various pivotal points during Mass. I believe that practice needs to be put in place for all the Christmas Masses as well. Greeters might remind people who enter to pick up the worship aid and take a look at the changes in the texts. Remember that the majority of these non-regular parishioners will not have had the benefit of months of catechetical preparation. Is there a simple announcement that can be made before Mass that simply outlines the reasons why the texts have changed?



Have you ever attended Mass in a parish that used a musical setting of the Mass with which you were completely unfamiliar? Most parishes simply do not give any indication to visitors regarding the musical setting. Perhaps it is in the parish's hymnal or missal; perhaps not. Being a frequent Catholic "visitor," I always think that there might perhaps be something at the doors of the church alerting visitors to the place where they can find the musical setting. It's so uncomfortable for me, a singer, to sing the hymns and songs at Mass in a parish but to remain silent for the acclamations. Perhaps this is a good thing to remember as Christmas approaches. Let's do everything we can to be sure that our visitors are given everything they need to celebrate the incarnation of the Lord.

Have you made additional plans for extending hospitality to your visitors this coming weekend?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mystagogy Monday and the Chicago Sun Times

Our Fourth "Mystagogy Monday" has arrived.



How'd it go in your parish yesterday? Are the "And also with you's" slowly but surely morphing into "And with your spirit's?"

On the plane flying to California on Thursday, I happened to catch this editorial in the Chicago Sun Times concerning the new translation. I was enjoying the piece until I got to the section about the nuns. I thought this was irreverent and insensitive. While I can understand attempts at Catholic humor, this went over the line for me.

Thoughts anyone?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, December 16, 2011

An 81 Year-old Retired Pastor, the New Translation, and Preaching

Friday greetings from the California desert. Each year I help out a dear friend, a retired 81 year-old priest, with a Christmas party at his home. I play the piano for the Christmas sing-a-long for a group of people I have grown to know and appreciate over the past eleven years of my friend's retirement. This is a beautiful area of the country and I feel blessed to be here.



It has also been quite interesting to be in conversation with this retired priest. He no longer presides at Mass in a parish, but does "say Mass" here in his home. I have sent him copies of our worship resources so that he can use the newly translated texts. His major complaint is not the texts themselves. He complains that the church has not done enough to address the real issues that affect peoples' (especially young peoples') attitude toward the Mass. He consistently complains that most preaching is poor and does little to draw people into the power of the paschal mystery for everyday life. He told me that it would have been so much more effective if the Church in the United States had spent as much time, energy, money, and catechesis on training those who preach, instead of what the Church has done with respect to the new translation.

Interesting points, for sure. As usual, what do you think?

Hoping your weekend and the celebration of the Fourth Sunday bring you closer to God.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Back in Action

Wednesday greetings from soggy, wet, dreary, dark Chicago! Yes, it is one of those days here in the Midwest. Makes you want to crawl back under the covers.

My technology problems here seem to be fixed, so I will be getting back into the swing of things in the next few days. I am traveling to California tomorrow for a few days in the desert and will surely have a "New Translation Thursday" post tomorrow.

Thanks for your patience. Lots to catch up on now that I have my computer again.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Couple of Infections

Hello folks. It is late in the evening of this "New Translation Tuesday." Got back yesterday from L.A. with a bad cold, only to find my computer infected as well.

Looks like I am back in the swing of things, technologically, at least.

Will try my best to post in the morning.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Light Dusting

Friday greetings. Chicago got its first trace of snow overnight; just a very light dusting. It is very, very unusual that we have not had a measurable snowfall this late. However, I am not complaining.



I wanted to say a special word of thanks to many of you who ordered WLP's Daily Mass Intercessions, by Bryan Cones, which I mentioned in Wednesday's post. I think this is a wonderful and helpful pastoral book.

I will be flying to Los Angeles early Sunday morning to meet with some of our artists and composers in southern California and I am looking forward to attending Mass at one of the parishes in the L.A. area. That is one of the benefits of travel; seeing and hearing the way Catholics pray and sing in other areas of the country.

I hope that your weekend celebration of the Eucharist brings you joy and the promised peace of thsi Advent season.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

New Translation Thursday: Out of Breath

Welcome to "New Translation Thursday."

At this past Sunday's Mass, I noticed that my pastor was trying his very best to deal with the length of the sentences in Eucharistic Prayer III. He told me that he chose the third prayer as his focus at Masses this Advent season. At one point in the prayer, I was listening closely to the way he was trying to connect the phrases in a particularly long sentence. When he got to the end of the prayer, he was clearly out of breath. I spoke with him afterward and he said that, because he was concentrating so heavily on trying to proclaim the prayers well that "his voice hurt."

When I mentioned this here at the office, someone came up with a comical image that I haven't been able to get out of my mind. The person said that perhaps there should be an overhead compartment above the altar with a control switch just under the altar. When a celebrant reaches a point of losing his breath, he could press the control switch and, presto,


an oxygen mask drops down for his use, so that he can muster the energy to tackle the next long sentence!

Folks, I think we need to mix in a bit of humor as we continue the implementation of these newly translated prayers.

If you are one who presides at Mass, let us know how you have handled these long sentences.

There is one section of Eucharistic Prayer III that I have found just lovely:

Listen graciously to the prayers of this family,
whom you have summoned before you:
in your compassion, O merciful Father,
gather to yourself all your children
scattered throughout the world.

It's a rather short section and I find it to be inspiring.

Are there passages that you have found particularly inspiring?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Daily Mass Intercessions

Wednesday greetings to all.

Followers of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray know that every so often I share some news about a helpful pastoral resource that we publish here at World Library Publications.

One resource that I believe every parish and religious institution should have is WLP's Daily Mass Intercessions.


Written by Bryan Cones, this is a great resource for those looking for inspiring intercessions for daily Mass or for daily celebrations in the absence of a priest. This year, we have changed the binding to a spiral binding, so that the book lays flat for ease of use.

So, faithful followers, before any more of the current liturgical years slips away, check this book out on our web site or call our helpful Customer Care team at 800 566-6150.

Thanks for listening to my little commercial and I hope yours is a pleasant day.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Translation Tuesday: Our Catholic DNA

"New Translation Tuesday" greetings to one and all.

Just a few words today; sorry that the day ran away from me without taking the time to blog.

Many of you have heard me talk about what the new translation means for our "Catholic DNA."

So I want to share this photo with you; me standing next to one of our whacky Christmas trees here at the office. Enough said.





How is your "Catholic DNA" during these days of translation change?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Just another Mystagogy Monday . . . week two.



How did it go in your parish over the weekend?

Well, at Saint James, I thought it went fine for the second week. About half the people are responding "And with your spirit" at those particular moments. The response at the sign of peace is the most challenging.

We have a particular challenge at Saint James. Our pastor is a Benedictine monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in southern Indiana. For his entire priesthood he has used the "Saint Meinrad Tones" for the prefaces and for those times when he sings the Eucharistic Prayer. These tones are really an ingrained part of his own "Catholic DNA." Apparently Fr. Columba Kelly, OSB, of Saint Meinrad, is working to set the new translation to the Saint Meinrad Tones, but he has not completed this work. So, my pastor is trying his best to use the chants as they appear in the Missal. I feel for him. For me it would be like trying to sing "Happy Birthday" in a different mode, or with a different melody, or in a minor key. Let me tell you what happened yesterday.

At the preface dialogue, the music director played a few cue notes for the chant as it appears in the Missal. And it went beautifully. The pastor then began to chant the preface from the Missal, only to discover that he had turned to the wrong page and was chanting a preface for Ordinary Time, which he had not prepared. It kind of fell apart. So, he simply stopped, looked at us and said, "Well I am still having some trouble finding my way around in this book, so let's start that again." It was an honest liturgical moment and I thought that his stopping and explaining was quite appropriate. I felt like the congregation was saying, "It's OK, Father, we understand; don't worry about starting again." So, he started again, only this time he reverted back to the Saint Meinrad tone for the preface. Before we had the chance to respond, the music director interjected, "Let's start that again." Then he played the cue notes again for the Missal chant and we were back on track. It all seemed very natural to me; just honestly moving through something very new for all of us.

As I said, I feel for my pastor, who not only to learn a new translation, he also has to learn these new chant tones. I have lots of confidence that we will eventually all get on the new translation highway.

As for me, I am having difficulty spiritually entering into the liturgy. I find myself too aware of what the next thing is to happen (Oh, I need to pick up the worship aid now to pray the next set of responses), and I feel I am not paying enough attention to what is happening in the moment. I know this will pass as I become more familiar with the new translation, but it is pretty frustrating right now.

So, I have two questions for you:
1. How did it go in your parish over the weekend?
2. How is it going for you spiritually?

Thanks for listening.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

New Translation Thursday: Looking Forward to the Second Weekend

"New Translation Thursday" has arrived once again.



I don't know about you, but I am finding myself looking forward to the second weekend of implementation.

From what I have heard from others around here, the parishes that had periodic accouncements made during the Mass last weekend ("Before we begin the Eucharistic Prayer, please refer to your card for the new responses," etc.) had much more success with the new responses. In my own parish, an announcement was made at the beginning of Mass, asking that people refer to the worship aid throughout the entire Mass. However, when I looked around about half way through Mass, more than half the people didn't have the resource in their hands. And they simply used the old words. Not sure if this means anything more than they just simply forgot to pick up the worship aid.  This is probably why I am looking forward to this coming weekend; want to see if people will have more intentionality about all of this.

Did you have periodic accouncements during the Mass in your parish this past weekend?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Translation Tuesday: A Restrospective

This is our first post-November 27th "New Translation Tuesday. Welcome.



I wanted to share a post with you today, one that I wrote over two years ago, on November 9, 2009. That Tuesday was the first "New Translation Tuesday." Here you go:

Happy Tuesday to you all. And welcome to the first (of many) installments of "New Translation Tuesday." I'll be spending time each Tuesday and Thursday offering commentary on the upcoming new English translation of the Missale Romanum.


I am doing this for a number of reasons. The first has to do with the fact that many people are wondering how publishers are handling this issue. Secondly, I am concerned about the people in the pews, so many of you who visit this blog on a regular basis. Thirdly, as always, you'll hear my own personal opinions as all of this unfolds. Those opinions will be based on my own understanding of the Church's liturgy, the reactions I hear as I travel around North America, my experience as a person in the pews myself, my experience here at WLP as an editor and publisher, and my experience as a liturgist and musician.

My plan is to create a plan for the coming months, plotting out topics that I hope you find helpful. To that end, I'd like to ask for your feedback. What would be most helpful for you to read on these pages on Tuesdays and Thursdays? Any feedback you provide would be most welcome.

I'd like to start by telling you that we at WLP have been preparing for this change in translation for approximately nine years. Shortly after I began working here in 1999 as the worship resources editor, I began to compile what I named "Roman Missal Source Files." Basically, I put together a number of electronic files of the following materials from the current Sacramentary:
Entrance Songs
Opening Prayers
Prayers Over the Gifts
Communion Songs
Prayers After Communion

My hope was that, once the new translation was approved, we could move through the current files and make simple adjustments where the translation had changed. After completing this work, I happened to mention my plan to someone closely connected with ICEL (The International Commission on English in the Liturgy). This is the group whose responsibility it has been to actually do the new translation. That person told me, "Jerry, just throw all those files away. The new translation will be markedly different; not just a few adjustments here and there." This was my first "wow" moment in the entire process. I realized then that what we are talking about here is more than a few changes here and there. And, after having seen the new translation of the Order of Mass, that "wow" has been confirmed. Just take a look here, if you haven't done so already. The USCCB's excellent web site on the Roman Missal is a great place to explore. You can find that here.

So, what I thought was going to be a very simple process has developed into a much more complicated one, from a publisher's standpoint. As you know, the US bishops will be voting next week on the completed translation, and, hopefully, sending it to Rome. Then the waiting game begins. We wait for Rome's recognitio, or really Rome's approval of the new translation. How long will this take? I've heard everywhere from one month to several years. There are texts in Rome awaiting recognitio that have languished there for many years. But, we are also told that the pope is keenly interested in having this new translation approved as quickly as possible. So, we wait and see.


I hope you can appreciate the impact that all of this has on a publisher of resources for praying and singing the liturgy. On the Tuesdays and Thursdays in the weeks and months to come, I'll share more with you. For now, let's remember that what is being re-translated from the Latin is what draws us all together in Christ.


Gotta sing. Gotta pray. And don't forget: you gotta provide some feedback and ideas focused on what you would like to see on these Tuesday and Thursday pages!

Folks, it's kind of amazing to look back from our current perspective. So interesting to see that this post was written the week before the US Bishops voted their final approval of the Missal. They spent nearly a decade discussing, arguing, wrangling, editing, substituting, crafting, re-crafting, theologizing, murmuring, and debating a text that they could finally approve as a body, which they did that following week. What happened after that remains a mystery. The so-called "10,000 changes" were made and the texts we are now praying are not the texts the bishops approved and sent to Rome for recognitio.

It has been a rocky two years, quite a ride for publishers and pew-dwellers alike. And we are just at the beginning of an era which we all hope is marked by a renewed mystagogical way of life. Hold on to your hats, folks!

Thanks for continuing to spend time with me on Gotta Sing Gotta Pray.

And, as always . . .

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mystagogy Monday: Week One

Welcome to the first of probably many "Mystagogy Mondays," days for us to reflect on our experience of the new translation of The Roman Missal, Third Edition.





Yesterday at Mass, I was ready, with worship aid in hand.
The parish music director set the sign of the cross and greeting to an orginal setting that picked up the motifs of the music of the beautiful Advent Gathering Rite musical setting he had chosen for us. He did this so that we wouldn't be singing the sign of the cross and greeting using the simple musical setting we have sung for a few years. I thought this was a very smart move: new words, new music. Unfortunately, the celebrant got musically confused and didn't sing what was written in our worship aids for the sign of the cross and greeting. His autopilot kicked in and he reverted to the older setting, so it just fell apart. Something similar occurred later. The preface dialogue chant from the Roman Missal was printed in our worship aids. I looked forward to singing the official chant. But the celebrant didn't sing the chant as written. Instead, he sang the melody he has been singing for years for the preface dialogue. That fell apart as well. I really felt badly for the guy. Perhaps way too much to handle on the first Sunday of implementation.

Most people in the church were fine with these stumblings and perhaps I should have been as well. And perhaps my expectations are too high, given the fact that this new translation has been such a part of my life for so long. There was a lot for the celebrant to prepare, for sure. He prayed the orations slowly, deliberately, and with care. The prayer after communion for the First Sunday of Advent still makes no sense to me. I am looking forward to the next few weeks as these bumps get ironed out.

On the more positive side, the celebrant's subject for the homily was the text of the newly translated collect. It was a brilliant homily.

The only inspiring moment for me with the new texts was the latter portion of Eucharistic Prayer III. Just lovely.

"For many." I understand the theology, but it saddened me.

"Consubstantial." Didn't seem like such a big deal.

"Chalice." Three times during the institution narrative is too much.

These are my initial observations.

Yours?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Translation Sunday: This Is It

Good Sunday morning to all.

It is very early here in Chicago. Yesterday, I arrived back here in Chicago after a wonderful New England weekend with my family. Lobster Rolls, Linguica Pizza, Pasta in the North End, traditional French-Canadian style Thanksgiving Dinner; what a culinary excursion!

Yesterday afternoon, several of us set up the Advent environment at Saint James. Very simple. For those new to the blog, my parish, Saint James, is on the near south side of Chicago. The over 150 year-old church building was shuttered a few years ago because of questions about the integrity of its structure. So, we have been worshipping in our Catholic school auditorium ever since. It's a tough place to decorate. Despite its architectural beauty, the windows are filthy, there is built-up grime in many places, the paint is peeling, there are gym mats hanging on some areas (the building was used as a gym for P.E. classes). Despite all of this, worship in this less-than-ideal space is wonderful. God, who calls this Catholic people together in this place, makes it all very holy. God's voice echoes throughout the space as we lift up our hearts and voices in thanksgiving and praise. The hands and feet of Christ are hard at work as the parish's food pantry serves somewhere between 1500 and 1700 families per month. And the Holy Spirit infuses a genuine sense of hospitality throughout the place. We are not a sterling assortment of Catholics. We just all come there to be fed and to feed.

In a few hours I will be in the second row (in my usual spot) for the 9:30 Mass. I will have my nose in the worship aid for most of the Mass. Newly translated words will begin to take root in my Catholic heart and voice. I have been preparing myself, the parishioners whom I love, and thousands of others across the United States for the past five years for this particular moment. I know I will cringe this morning when the prayer after communion is prayed; it's just a wrong translation. I know I will stumble on phrases that are unfamiliar. I know that I will feel a sense of loss for what has been familiar for most of my life. My hope is that these newly translated words will translate into a renewed effort at Saint James to take care of God's least ones.

When I look back at some of my Catholic experiences, I do gain some perspective. In the early 1980's, while still a seminarian, I traveled to Peru for a third world immersion experience. I remember going to Mass in a very crude "building." There was no flooring material; just dirt. There were crude benches upon which we sat. There was a locally crafted crucifix that emphasized the suffering of Christ to an extraordinary degree. And then there were the people; poorer than poor. Their smiles, their joy, their pain, and their sorrow are forever etched into my heart's memory. They had nothing. And they had everything. They owned nothing. And they owned more than I could ever attain.

Folks, as the new translation of The Roman Missal, Third Edition, begins to take root, let's not forget what we heard in Matthew's Gospel a few weeks ago about these "least ones." If you have never made the connection between Sunday Mass and Catholic action, take this time of transition to make that connection. Let's not "just sit there" and analyze newly translated words. Let's seize this opportunity to do what Catholics do: "Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life."

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New Translation Tuesday: Conversations

Very early on "New Translation Tuesday" morning here in Chicago. Waiting for a cab to my second home (O'Hare Airport), then to my family in Massachusetts.

Since I am part of a large mostly Catholic family, I am beginning to wonder if the conversations at Thanksgiving will focus at all on the new translation. Frankly, I hope not. I could use four new translation-free days!

But I can imagine the conversations turning in this direction. And there will be varying levels of knowledge about what is going to happen this weekend. Should be interesting.

Headed out soon. Please pray for the safety of all travelers.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bidding Adieu

Fr. Jim Martin's post touched my heart and summed up so much of my own feelings.

http://www.americamagazine.org/blog/entry.cfm?blog_id=2&entry_id=4764

Worth the read.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Blessing Missals

My pastor blessed our new missals yesterday after the accouncements at the end of Mass.

I wrote a blessing this morning, in case anyone needs one for this weekend. Here you go:

O God of infinite love,
send your abundant blessing upon this (these) Roman Missal(s).
As your people begin to pray the Mass in a new English translation,
inspire us to be more attentive to the words that shape our faith.
Give us patience, wisdom, and understanding,
we pray,
that we may grow closer to your Son, Jesus Christ,
who is Lord forever and ever. Amen.

Hope you find this helpful.
 
I am leaving tomorrow to spend time with my family in Massachusetts for the Thanksgiving holiday. Not sure how much internet access I will have, but I will try to post on the blog.
 
I hope that you enjoy a peaceful Thanksgiving.
 
Jerry
 
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Lamenting on a Sunday

Sunday greetings.

Flew into Chicago early this morning, in time to attend Mass at my parish. Deep sadness as I prayed these texts for the final time.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Indianapolis, Indeed

Friday morning greetings from Indianapolis. Here to speak at the NCYC. There are about 21,000 Catholic youth here from all over the country. It is an amazing gathering.



We are housed (along with thousands of teens) at the J.W. Marriott, a new hotel here in Indianapolis, pictured here:


Many of WLP's contemporary artists are here to minister to those gathered. They include John Angotti, Ed Bolduc, Danielle Rose, the Jacob and Matthew Band, Noelle Garcia, Jorge Rivera, and Aaron Thomspon. After arriving yesterday, I attended Mass with some of our WLP artists serving as music ministers. I have to admit that I love listening to these talented musicians. It was a proud moment.

I will have more to share as these days unfold. Just getting geared up today.

I hope your weekend is a good one.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New Translation Thursday: Mystagogy Mondays

Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Thursday."




Some of you might be wondering what the future holds for these new translation posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I have had conversations about this with my colleagues at WLP and we have come up with a proposal. I am thinking about introducing "Mystagogy Mondays." Every time I say that title out loud, I think about the Bangles hit song, Manic Monday. Here's the refrain:

It's just another manic Monday
I wish it was Sunday
'Cause that's my funday
My I don't have to runday
It's just another manic Monday

I do like the idea of a manic mystagogy Monday. For those of you who visit Gotta Sing Gotta Pray generally on Tuesdays and Thursdays, you might want to consider visiting on "Mystagogy Mondays" after the First Sunday of Advent.
 
"Mystagogy Mondays" will give all of us a forum to share our insights, wonders, disappointments, and joys that we have discovered as we pray and sing the new translation of The Roman Missal, Third Edition. I will offer my own commentary, of course, and invite you to join the conversation.
 
I am inspired here by a section from Bl. John Paul II's apostolic letter, Mane Nobiscum Domine:
 
"The best way to enter into the mystery of salvation made present in the sacred 'signs' remains that of following faithfully the unfolding of the liturgical year. Pastors should be committed to that 'mystagogical' catechesis so dear to the Fathers of the Church, by which the faithful are helped to understand the meaning of the liturgy's words and actions, to pass from its signs to the mystery which they contain, and to enter into that mystery in every aspect of their lives."
 
So, my hope here is that "Mystagogy Mondays" will give us all the opportunity to reflect on "the meaning of the liturgy's words and actions" as they are ensconced in a new English translation. I hope you are willing to join in this new conversation.
 
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Indianapolis Bound

Wednesday greetings.

I am gearing up for my final Roman Missal related trip of the year. Tomorrow I travel to Indianapolis for the National Catholic Youth Conference. On Friday, WLP's composer and artist John Angotti and I will be presenting a session on the implementation of the new translation of the Roman Missal to those in the adult track, mostly youth ministers. Our focus is on how to talk with teens about the new translation. Then on Saturday, I will be speaking to a group of college-aged Catholics about the translation.

This will mark the end of a five-year journey for me, which began with a presentation at a regional convention of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM) in August of 2006. That was the first presentation I led on the then upcoming translation and how musicians and parish ministers in general were feeling about change in general. Since then, especially in the last two years, I have spoken with thousands of people throughout the United States directly, and thousands of others around the world through this blog. It has been quite a journey, which comes to a conclusion over the next few days in Indianapolis.

Please pray for the tens of thousands of teenagers, young adults, youth ministers, speakers, bishops, priests, deacons, and chaperones who will be in Indianapolis over the next several days.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Translation Tuesday: A Pastoral Heart

Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Tuesday."



This past Sunday I attended Mass at Saint Matthias Parish in Somerset, New Jersey.

At homily time, the pastor spoke to us about the upcoming changes to the liturgical texts. He began with the statement, "I was the first priest in the state of New Jersey to sign the 'What If We Just Said Wait' petition, which asked if perhaps it would be a better idea to do some actual testing of the new translation before a full implemention." Folks, I sat there wondering what the rest of his talk was going to be about. Well, this pastor then told us that, even though he may not have been personally in favor of the way the new translation was being implemented, what he has come to realize is that the liturgy is, in fact, not his. He challenged us to think about this for ourselves. For instance, he said, we may think that a certain statue in the church building doesn't belong where it is; our personal tastes might dictate that we prefer the statue to be placed elsewhere. He reminded us that the liturgy does not belong to us as individuals. The liturgy, he said, is an expression of the Church. From there, he moved on to challenge us to ask ourselves the question: "Why do I come here? Why do I go to Mass?" He then turned the presentation over to a young lay pastoral associate who has recently begun liturgical studies at the University of Notre Dame. This young man walked us through a brief history of the reasons why the translation is changing. We all then watched a video about the "And with your spirit" change, which was quite good.

Then the pastor came back and really did a wonderfully pastoral job inviting us all to look at these changes as an opportunity to grow closer to the Lord. This was a man who showed a deeply pastoral heart. He obviously loves the people of his parish and he showed us that there is real possibility for growth and renewal in the next several months.

I spoke with him after Mass and thanked him for his words. I told him I thought it was the most pastoral talk I had heard about the new translation. Good man. Good pastor. I believe they will be doing similar things at homily time next week at the parish. And on Saturday they will be doing a "practice Mass" during which people will be using the new translation. They have also scheduled two talks by one of the priest-residents on the history of the Mass.

Even though this pastor honestly expressed his own reservations about the new translation, he was a faithful leader of his flock. I really appreciated his words.

How is it going in your parish?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bishops' Meeting in Baltimore

Monday greetings from Baltimore.

The U.S. Bishops are meeting here this week. Last evening, many of the publishers of The Roman Missal, Third Edition, were thanked for their work by Archbishop Aymond, the current chairman of the Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship. I was privileged to be in attendance, along with Mary Lou Paluch Rafferty, the owner of the J. S. Paluch Company and World Library Publications, as well as Bill Rafferty, our president. It was great to see our colleagues from the other publishing houses at the reception. There is a sense here that, with just a few weeks away, we are about to exhale our anxiety. I sang in the schola at morning Mass with the bishops. The Holy, Memorial Acclamation, and Lamb of God were sung to the Missal chants. In case you are wondering, the bishops themselves have not yet completely learned these settings, so we all moved through them together as best we could. It will certainly take time. It was interesting to listen to where in these chanted texts the bishops decide to elongate syllables or take large pauses. For instance, in the Holy, there is a huge pause between the final "hosanna" and "in the highest." Should be interesting to see how these chants end up being actually sung by the majority of Catholics.

I will have much to share tomorrow about my experience at St. Matthias Parish in Somerset, NJ, where I attended the 7:30 A.M. Mass yesterday. It was a time of very heavy and intentional catechesis about the new translation at that parish. More tomorrow.

I am spending the rest of the day here in Baltimore, in meetings to continue to plan the first annual Mid-Atlantic Congress for Pastoral Leadership.

Here's the view from my window overlooking the Inner Harbor here in Baltimore.





Beautiful day, as you can see.

Back to Chicago later today, then "New Translation Tuesday" tomorrow.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, November 11, 2011

On the Road Again . . .

My apologies for missing my posts these past few days.

I arrived back in Chicago early yesterday morning and the day just ran away; filled with meetings.

Then it was time to empty the suitcase, wash and dry the contents, and re-pack for the next trip.

I am currently in the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey. I just flew into Newark Airport from Chicago and just settled in at the Crowne Plaza in Somerset, NJ, pictured here.




When I went to place my room key into my wallet, I noticed that the room key from my hotel in Lynchburg, Virginia was still there. I think I need some extended time at home! Tomorrow I am presenting two workshops at the annual Metuchen Diocesan Faith Formation Convocation, "Apprentices to Christ/Aprendices de Cristo." My workshops are entitled "The Power and Potential of Liturgical Catechesis" and "The Roman Missal, Third Edition: Opportunities and Challenges for Full, Conscious, and Active Participation." I gave the keynote address at this convocation last year and enjoyed the dedicated Catholics here and their engagement with their faith.

On Sunday I leave New Jersey and head to Baltimore, where the U.S. bishops are meeting next week. The owners of the J.S. Paluch Company (WLP's parent company) and I will be attending a reception with the bishops on Sunday night. Publishers of the Roman Missal have been invited to this reception to mark the reception of the new translation of the Missal. Hopefully I will have lots to share.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Final Day of the Mission in Lynchburg

The final day of the parish mission here in Lynchburg has arrived.

It has been a wonderful experience here with a dedicated group of Catholics. Here's a photo a snapped last night:


We focused on the Eucharist last night, talking about the table of sacrifice, the table of nourishment, and the table of reconciliation. The sessions concluded with a ritual in which the parishioners were invited to reverence the altar.

I am grateful for this opportunity to have spent time with these Catholics excited about learning more about what it means to live a Catholic sacramental life. Two more sessions today. We are focusing on the meaning of the sacrament of Confirmation in our lives. Then we will talk about what this mission experience has meant in their lives.

Looking forward to another day of faith sharing here in Lynchburg.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Translation Tuesday: Some Anxiety

Welcome to this "Virginia" installment of "New Translation Tuesday."



Well, the days are counting down; we are nineteen days away from implementation and I have to admit that I am feeling some anxiety as the date approaches.

Here in Virginia, I attended three Masses this past weekend at the parish in which I am presenting a mission. The pastor has a wonderful sense of the ars celebrandi. He prays the Mass beatifully. He is engaging and strong as a celebrant. This is a priest who knows the Sacramentary. We have had several long discussions about the newly translated missal. He has spent lots of time preparing for a new day in his priesthood. As my pastor has done, he has echoed the sentiments of many priests with whom I have spoken. They say things like, "These are the prayers into which I was ordained." "These are the prayers that have shaped my Catholic life, both personally and as a leader of prayer." "I love these prayers." "While I find places in the current Sacramentary where the translation is week, it remains the book that has guided my life."

Every one of these priests has been trying their hardest to prepare for what is to come, which is most definitely a very different English style of prayer. They are working hard to figure out ways to pray texts that do not roll off the tongue easily. I have a tremendous amount of respect for these men. And you know that I have been praying for them.

As I watched the members of the congregation this weekend as the presidential prayers were being prayed with confidence and strength, I wondered what this particular parish's experience will be in a few months. I am hoping (honestly I feel sometimes against hope?) that everything will be fine. This is where my anxiety creeps in. What about those places where the priest has done little to prepare; those places where there is a sense of ambivalence about liturgical prayer in general; those places where there has been little or no preparation for what is to come? Because in these places dwell my brothers and sisters, I am anxious about them.

As these days of the current translation wane, how are you feeling? What is your heart telling you?

Thanks for listening.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Mission Begins

Monday greetings from Virginia. Had a few free hours yesterday and went for a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway. With the trees without leaves in the higher elevations, the vistas were stunning. Took my breath away.

The parish mission here at St. Thomas More in Lynchburg begins in about an hour. This morning's focus is on "re-claiming the power of baptism." Wonderfully hospitable people here. Here's a fuzzy shot I took of one of the many posters placed around the parish center.


One of my friends, when seeing this photo, said, "Wow, Jerry, I didn't realize that you take care of the refreshments and the childcare, too!"

Please pray for the folks here at the parish as the mission unfolds.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Greetings from Lynchburg, Virginia

Sunday greetings from Lynchburg, Virginia, a beautiful area of our country.

I am here for several days, leading a parish mission entitled: "Washed, Anointed, and Fed: Now That We Belong to Christ." We will be spending time focusing on what it means in our lives that we have been baptized, confirmed, and receive the Eucharist each week.  Here are a few photos of this beautiful church.





Folks, I think I need this parish mission more than anyone here. After a whirlwind year, it's time for me to take some time to listen to the Lord, to re-focus my own spiritual life, to figure out new ways to respond to the call issued on the day of my own Baptism, to put to good use the gifts I received on the day I was confirmed, and to be renewed in my own love for the Eucharistic Lord.

Please pray for the good people of St. Thomas More as this mission unfolds. I plan to post regularly in the next few days.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

New Translation Thursday: Just a Link

Welcome to "New Translation Thursday." I have an insanely packed day, really no time to dedicate to the blog, so I have decided to share this link with you, in case you have not yet read it.

16-year-old Latin whiz finds new liturgy language lacking


Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Please Do Us a Favor

Wednesday greetings.

I don't ask the followers of this blog for direct help all that often, but this is an easy one. We are preparing for the NCYC convention (30,000 + teenagers!) in Indianapolis in a few weeks. We are asking for some input to some simple questions for one of our presentations. And if you could get a teenager to reply, that would be great.



Please visit WLP's Facebook Page and add your comments to the questions about belief. I would appreciate it. (And if you haven't become WLP's friend on Facebook, please do so during your visit.)

Thanks so much.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New Translation Tuesday: Truths Trapped in Translation?

Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Tuesday."



I am trying to take a little time each day to spend with the prayers in the newly translated Missal. Some days are more inspiring than others. Here is the Collect for Holy Thursday, with which I have been praying today:

O God, who have called us to participate
in this most sacred Supper,
in which your Only Begotten Son,
when about to hand himself over to death,
entrusted to the Church a sacrifice new for all eternity,
the banquet of his love,
grant, we pray,
that we may draw from so great a mystery,
the fullness of charity and of life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

My goodness, there is a lot going on in this prayer. I have read this aloud over and over again. While I certainly understand that the proclamation of the theological truths expressed in this prayer are essential to forming a Eucharistic faith, I am left wondering if this is one example where the strict translation rules have produced a text that is virtually impossible to proclaim well and whose meaning is impossible to grasp when heard at Mass. I am wholeheartedly behind a translation that recovers what our current translation may have paraphrased or glossed over. I just wonder if, when actually proclaimed and prayed, the truths expressed might be lost because of the difficulty celebrants will encounter when preparing and proclaimng this prayer. As always, time and actual experience will be the key.

My ears are going to be much more attentive beginning in Advent. How about yours?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Diwali at Saint James

Monday greetings to all.

Yesterday at my parish, Saint James here in Chicago, we celebrated our annual Mass that the Indian members of our community help prepare. Coinciding with the Indian Diwali celebrations, this Mass helps us celebrate Christ as the light of the world. In a ritual just before Mass begins, members of our community's various ministry organizations are entrusted with a lighted lamp; we pray that Christ our light will burn brightly in the various ministries throughout the coming year. Each person in the community is invited to come forward and pray that Christ the light will enlighten our minds and hearts. Some photos:


The Mass celebrated the great diversity of our parish and focused us on Christ the light of the world. After Mass, we were treated to a taste of Indian food in our basement hall. And it was delicious!

My thoughts today are with my family members in New England who are still without electric power after this weekend's very early "winter" storm.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Confessions of a New Alto

Friday greetings from chilly Chicago. At least it's not snowing here as it has been on the East Coast. Bundle up!



For those of you who read my post last week, the one about my sister joining her parish choir, you might be interested to read this follow-up, which I received this morning. I am including it here, especially for those of you who are choir directors:

"I thought I would update you on what's happening with me and my choir worries. It is going better. Tonight was my third practice. I'm an Alto now. If that's what you want to call it. I'm still having problems reaching high notes. At practice I sit next to Yvonne (the organist / pianist). She sings alto and has been helping me along. (Thank God!!) We have been working on "Sing Out Your Praise". What a pretty song. Tough to sing but we are getting there. We also are working on "Prayer of Saint Richard of Chichester". Reminds me of Godspell. My younger days are coming back. I'm not as frustrated. I'm not saying it's getting easy because it's a lot of work. Oh well, I will hang in there. I have a new found respect for Choir members and directors."

Well, there you have it. (Thanks, Janet, for giving me some subject matter for the blog!) So often as music and liturgy directors we rarely get the "other side of the story." It's been fun to listen to my sister's experience.

I have no talks, presentations, or workshops this weekend; the first time in a very long time. Hoping to enjoy a lovely autumn weekend here in Chicago. I hope that your weekend is a good one as well.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New Translation Thursday: The Final Presentation

Where has this "New Translation Thursday" gone?




I spent the morning with a group of people in catechetical ministry in the Diocese of Joliet here in Illinois. I was invited there to talk about about three things:
1. Get tips on how to fine-tune your parish Roman Missal implementation
2. How to deal with anxiety in the pews
3. Ask questions and hear what others are doing to implement the Roman Missal

It was a spirited morning. I asked those in attendance to share their own parish's efforts thus far with the preparation work for the implementation. Much, much work has already gone on in many places in that diocese. There was a sense of "OK, bring it on" in some peoples' minds. There were some parishes in which not very much has been done yet; others are really gearing up for the next month (implementation is one month from today).

I also spent an extended period of time being interviewed by the National Catholic Register; kind of a publisher's viewpoint with regard to the Missal and musical settings of the Mass.

Well, the end of the day has arrived and I am pretty exhausted. Today was my last scheduled presentation on the implementation of the new translation. Glad about this. Waiting to begin praying these new texts.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Translation Tuesday: The Challenge Moving Forward

New Translation Tuesday has arrived once again.



Following my presentation on the new translation on Saturday at Saint Anthony of Padua Parish in Fairfield, Connecticut, there were two responses that I feel are worth mentioning.

The first came from a man who was probably in his mid-seventies. He raised his hand and simply said, "Jerry, good luck with this." When I asked him to elucidate, he said something like, "You know, I am a life-long Catholic and the language that we use at Mass right now is of a style that draws me into a close relationship with my God. What you have shown us this morning is a style of language that distances me from God. Good luck."

You know, this idea of a "sacral vernacular," which comes to us from Liturgiam Authenticam, is a tough pill to swallow for many Catholics who have become used to a more common or familiar style of vernacular. One comment on this blog of a few days ago:

Cherish the dying days of the Mass in the vernacular and delay the inevitable Roman juggernaut as long as you can. The new "sacral vernacular" (which denies the definition of vernacular) is clumsy, jarring and has given up entirely on elegance and subtlety, giving us, instead, mangled wording and unproclaimable proclamations. Enjoy the lull while it exists.

This is a sentiment that I have heard time and time again. Of course, we will need to wait for the actual experience of these texts prayed at Mass before making definitive conclusions. At Saint Mary on the Hill Parish in Augusta, Georgia last week, something interesting happened at the beginning of the presentation. After the pastor there introduced me, he told those gathered (200+) that if they had serious questions about the new translation or wanted to complain, they needed to contact someone in authority. He then held up a large portrait of Pope Benedict XVI and humorously quipped, "Call him." At the question and answer time, the pastor walked to the front of the church, with his new Missal in hand and told us that he had just received his new Missal that morning. He told us that he knows that he has a lot of work to do to prepare for the proclamation. He said that he wanted to give us an example. He then tried to pray the Collect from the Nativity of John the Baptist. Here it is:
 
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that your family may walk in the way of salvation
and, attentive to what Saint John the Precursor urged,
may come safely to the One he foretold,
our Lord Jesus Christ.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

He shared the fact that he had never heard the phrase "Saint John the Precursor" before and he felt that people would not necessarily "get" the meaning at all. I had to admit that this phrase is awkward.
 
OK, back to Fairfield. After the concert on Sunday evening, a woman who had attended the new translation the previous day said this to me: "Jerry, thank you for the talk yesterday. It was very helpful. You know, you could talk an undernourished nation into adopting Weight Watchers." I smiled and thanked her. I should have pursued the conversation. I haven't been going around to dioceses and parishes in an effort to sell people on the new translation. My aim has been to help them gain some knowledge as to why we are where we are right now with respect to the new translation. I try my best to explain the shift in translation guidelines. I try my best to help people to situate this current change in the context of the history of the development of codified liturgical prayer over the centuries. I give people examples of how a new set of translation rules has resulted in a new set of translated texts. What I don't do is tell people that this new translation is the best thing since sliced bread. And I cannot do that because I have not yet had the experience of praying these texts. I tell people that there are beautiful prayers. I tell people that there are prayers that capture scriptural and other inspiring images that were deleted, glossed over, or paraphrased when the translators (using approved Vatican guidelines) gave us our current translation; there is much that has been recovered. I also tell them that there are places where the structure of the prayers is quite awkward and stilted. There are places where one has to read the text over and over again in order to figure out the meaning. And herein is the challenge. Take the example above, which uses the phrase "Saint John the Precursor." Without some kind of catechesis, some kind of explanation of the term "Precursor," the meaning will simply fly over the heads of the majority of Catholics, young and old alike.
 
We have a new English translation of The Roman Missal. It's here and we will start praying these texts in a few weeks. But in order for the meaning to be communicated, there will be times when praying the text well will simply not be enough. I am encouraging Catholics to take time before Mass (time they might normally spend preparing by going over the readings) to read the prayers that will be prayed at Mass. Someone asked me if it would be necessary to bring a dictionary to Mass with her. Everyone laughed, but there was something very serious about what she was suggesting.
 
We have quite a road ahead of us. I hope we are up to the challenge. We have a new English translation of The Roman Missal. That's a fact. It's going to take a lot of work as we move forward.
 
What do you see as the greatest challenge ahead?
 
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Grateful Heart for Hospitality and Kindness at St. Anthony in Fairfield, Connecticut

Monday morning greetings. Flew into Chicago from LaGuardia very early this morning.

Last night, at Saint Anthony of Padua parish in Fairfield, Connecticut, my friend Denise La Giglia and I presented a piano and flute concert; actually it was more like a musical retreat. Here's a photo I took:


The staff and people of the parish exhibited such kindness and hospitality to us. The pastor is a seminary classmate of mine, whom I hadn't seen since 1983 (and neither of us has changed a bit!)

We attended two Masses and the singing was quite strong. The homily was one of the best I've heardin years; it was a pleasure to hear it twice. That area of Connecticut is just beautiful. New England in the Autumn just can't be beat.

I gave a presentation on the new translation on Saturday morning and I am looking forward to sharing some of that experience with you tomorrow.

For now, just know that my heart is filled with gratitude to the people of Saint Anthony's.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Delaying the Implementation of the Missal

Friday greetings. Sorry for the missed post yesterday; the day got away from me after a very early morning flight from Augusta.

At Saint Mary on the Hill parish in Augusta, over 200 people came to the new translation workshop. It was a grand evening in a grand space. I had never been to Augusta and really loved the short time I spent there.



When I arrived this morning, I found this e-mail waiting for me:

Jerry, I have a really serious question. My pastor is not going to be implementing the New Roman Missal at my parish until after Christmas. He just started talking about the changes in the liturgy this past week in the bulletin. He briefly mentioned the changes and that he would talk about them later on in future masses. My concerns are that this is not allowed. On a music front, the choirs are pretty much ready to go (except the children and teen choirs). I am a music minister and have been the primary reason our music director even started working on the changes in the first place. I understand that change is hard, yet we can't put it off until after the implementation date. I obviously am not going to tell my pastor that I disagree with his decision. He doesn't even want the music changes made until after Christmas since we "don't sing the Gloria during Advent." I think this is an odd situation that is unfolding in my parish. I don't agree with what's going on with the changes. I was actually excited for these changes, but now that our pastor is delaying them, I'm not so sure what I am. Any advice/ words of encouragement? Other parishes in our area have started implementing the music and their congregations are getting used to them just fine.

So, faithful followers, how would you respond to this query?

Here was my response:

Thanks very much for your e-mail. Your pastor’s decision is regrettable on a number of fronts. If you have visitors or new parishioners transfer in at this time, and they come from places where the implementation has begun, there will be confusion for a few weeks. Also, do you have a worship resource that contains the Order of Mass? If it is periodical, then the new texts will be in beginning on November 27, which also may cause confusion. One more thing to consider is that the media (both secular and religious) will be reporting on the changes for November 27. If your people read the reports, they will be very confused as to why your parish is not in step with the rest of the Church. If they trust your pastor’s judgment, things will probably be fine. I hope he has thought of all these issues.



All in all, I think you will probably just need to be frustrated for a very short period of time. His delay is rather short and by some time in January (just a few weeks behind everyone else), you will be implementing fully. I like to look at things with a long view. Considering the history of the Church, a few weeks don’t have great importance. The big thing is that I hope your parish does a solid catechesis for the implementation.


Hope this is helpful.
How would you have responded?
 
Leaving in a few hours for LaGuardia in New York, then a short trip north to Fairfield, Connecticut for a Roman Missal workshop tomorrow and a concert on Sunday afternoon.
 
I hope that your weekend is a good one.
 
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"I Just Want to Sing Along"

Wednesday greetings from Charlotte, where I am on a layover on my way to Augusta, Georgia.

I fly a lot. Things usually go smoothly. This morning's flight proved to me why we "fasten our seatbelts low and tight around our laps." Turbulence was horrifying. Our Blessed Mother must have heard many of us during that flight!

Wanted to share a little bit of a conversation I had with my sister Janet last night. She is living with cancer and doing quite well right now. When she answered the phone and I asked her how she was feeling, she said, "very frustrated." I was hoping that this answer didn't have anything to do with her health or healthcare and I was right.

She said that her frustration stems from the fact that she has joined her parish choir. This in and of itself made me chuckle a bit. She is a recent returnee to Catholic practice. And she has never been in a choir. Now while all of us Galipeau's can certainly carry a tune (you should have heard my older sister Gina's and my rendition of Leavin' on a Jet Plane), we all know that joining a choir is something a little different.



Janet said that she was frustrated because she was joining the choir because she wanted just to "sing along." She has a deep voice, so I asked her if the director put her in the alto section. She said, "No, I am a tenor apparently." She said she didn't realize that she would not be singing the notes that she sings when she is in the congregation. One of the women in the choir, sensing Janet's frustration, said, "Janet, you are trying to be perfect and no one is perfect in the choir. You need to be patient." Janet replied, "I just want to sing along." And the women replied, "Janet, that's what you do when you are sitting in the congregation. This is the choir!" Janet then told me that she always thought that she could "read music," that is, until she joined the choir. She asked someone about that squiggly thing on the staff and she was told that was the bass clef sign. "What's that for?"

All through this conversation I was giggling along with her. Made me think that it might be a nice thing to publish a "Welcome to the Choir Orientation Packet" for people like my sister.

I am so proud of her and I told her so. She says that she is going to do her best to stick with it. Just amazing to me.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Translation Tuesday: Will We Comprehend?

Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Tuesday."



On Sunday our parish held a town hall meeting between the two Sunday morning Masses. The pastor led the presentation and discussion on the new translation of The Roman Missal, Third Edition. I was disappointed in the turnout, maybe 100 people, but I guess in a parish of just about 250 people, this was a good turnout. Father was well prepared and used a Powerpoint presentation to help make his points. He wove in some Benedictine history and amusing anecdotes (He is a Benedictine monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey). We practiced the various responses and he asked us to do so with vigor. People asked questions about the new words in the Nicene Creed, words like "consubstantial" and "incarnate" and "I."

I thought the morning went well. I am proud of the way my parish has approached the preparatory catechesis. Now we will see how all this shakes out when November 27 arrives.

On Sunday afternoon and evening, I gave repeated presentations at Our Lady of the Ridge Parish (which interestingly enough is in Chicago Ridge, Illinois and is on Ridgeland Avenue!). Great turnout for the afternoon session, less so for the evening session (the Chicago Bears were playing).



The talks went well and people were very attentive. John Black, the parish's fine music director, asked me to lead the people assembled in the singing of the new acclamations, which the parish will begin singing this coming weekend. John had chosen WLP's Mass of Wisdom by Steven Janco as the first set of acclamations the parish will sing. At the afternoon session, several members of the parish choir were present, so they came forward and helped us all with the melody of the Gloria. Later we sang the Holy, Memorial Acclamation 3, and the AmenJanco's Mass setting uses similar harmonic and melodic structures throughout, so people catch on quite easily. It is intuitive and interesting. Steve ends the Holy and the Memorial Acclamations on the "fifth" of the scale, which means that when you arrive at the last note, there is a sense of wanting to sing more. Steve did this because he felt strongly that these acclamations are placed in locations where there is indeed something more that follows, something to which the assembly should be anticipating: the unfolding Eucharistic Prayer. Finally, on the Great Amen, the final note is on the "one" of the scale, creating a sense of finality, a sense that the prayer is now completed. It is a wonderful musical device that supports the movement of the Eucharistic Prayer. Bravo Steve. Listen to the clips of these acclamations again by clicking on the links provided above to see what I mean.

One thing that my pastor said on Sunday was interesting. From his perspective, he has come to a conclusion about the style of English in the new translation. He told us that he feels that the current translation is geared for a second grade reading and comprehension level. He then told us that the new translation is geared more to the reading and comprehension level of someone in their senior year of high school or the first or second year of college. I hadn't thought about it in these terms and I am not sure that I agree. What I do agree with, however, is that the new translation is certainly not in a style common to everyday English speech and conversation. This new "sacral vernacular" certainly introduces a new and more complicated style of speaking and praying. After hearing my pastor, I wondered if there will be scores of people (whose reading and comprehension levels are not well developed) who will be unable to comprehend the meaning of the prayers. If this is the case, we've got a problem. What do you think? Here's an example of what I mean.

Here's the original Latin for the Collect for the Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time:

Deus, cuius providentia in sui dispositione non fállitur,te súpplices exorámus,ut nóxis cuncta submóveas,
et
ómnia nobis profutúra
concedes.
Per
Dóminum.


Here's the current translation. Three simple sentences:

Father, your love never fails.
Hear our call.
Keep us from danger and provide for all our needs.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

And here's the new translation:

O God, whose providence never fails in its design,
keep from us, we humbly beseech you,
all that might harm us and grant all that works for our good.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


I really do think that Catholics will need some catechesis on this newly translated text, in order to grasp fully its meaning. Someone said to me, "I thought providence was the capitol of Rhode Island!" The current translation is a beautiful and simple prayer, but it simply does not fully capture the meaning of the original Latin text. The new one does; but is it too much to grasp when we hear it at Sunday Mass?

Ah, these are the questions that we will be faced with as we begin the implementation of the new translation. I, for one, am ready to sink my teeth into more active listening. I am also excited, and not a little apprehensive about hearing and reading about peoples' reactions to the prayers, clergy and faithful alike.

Thanks for listening to this long post today. As always, feel free to comment by hitting the comments tab below.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.