Thursday, May 26, 2011

New Translation Thursday: Davenport and Cheerleading

Welcome to this Saint Louis installment of "New Translation Thursday."

Saturday of this past weekend, I presented a keynote and WLP reading session to over one hundred musicians in the Diocese of Davenport. The session was held at St. Mary and Matthias Parish in Muscatine, Iowa, pictured here:

The diocesan liturgical leadership is to be congratulated, particular Deacon Frank Agnoli, the director of the office of worship, for encouraging parish musicians to attend this session, as well as another similar session led by WLP's Alan Hommerding in the Davenport diocese a few weeks ago.

I spent time presenting a very brief history of how we have arrived at this point with respect to The Roman Missal, Third Edition. I talked about the evolution of codified liturgical texts in the history of the Church, as well as the differences between dynamic and formal equivalence. There were very few questions or discussion points. I think we may be reaching the point that people are beginning to realize that we are now at a serious point of welcoming the newly translated texts.

This diocese took this approach with the musical settings. The diocesan office (in consultation with other musicians) suggested that three settings from each publisher be suggested for use in parishes. I led the musicians through the three chosen from WLP: Stave Janco's Mass of Wisdom, Scott Soper's Mass of Awakening, and the Vermulst/Proulx People's Mass. They also chose Richard Proulx's Gloria Simplex. We were in a wonderfully reverberant space and the musicians sang their hearts out.

I want to make something clear about what I tell people when I am invited to talk about the new translation. I tell them that I am not a cheerleader for the new translation. The reason I tell them that is the fact that we have not yet had the actual experience of singing and praying these texts at Sunday Mass; we simply cannot make judgments or jump on the cheerleader or boo-leader bandwagon until we begin using these texts. I tell them that I find real challenges in some of the sentence structure of the prayers, as well as in the way the translation can appear stilted and awkward when read. I also tell them that there are places where the faith is expressed so much more clearly than it is in our current translation. You who follow this blog regularly know that my hope is that the advent of the new translation will bring about a new moment for liturgical catechesis.

I am flying back to Chicago this afternoon; in the office tomorrow for a whirlwind day, I'm sure.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Anonymous said...


Thanks to you and Alan for the travel, time, and generous sharing of your talents with us.

We are looking forward to having you back with our clergy in June.

Dc. Frank

Anonymous said...

I am not a fan of dioceses choosing which mass settings of the new translation are to be used in parishes. I think that it gives the parish more ownership if people can go through the new mass settings and help pick their favorites. I have found that at many parishes, it works well to have different masses at the same parish use different settings (as they have different styles of music).