Thursday, May 19, 2011

New Translation Thursday: Share the Responsibility

"New Translation Thursday" is once again upon us.

I am preparing a keynote presentation I will be delivering on Saturday morning to the musicians of the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa. My aim is to assist them in their overall plan for teaching new and revised settings of the new translation of the Mass. One of the tips I have been sharing with musicians has been to share some of the responsibility for learning a new or revised setting with the members of the parish. I suggest that parishes post links on their parish web sites (and/or publish those links in their bulletins) to the electronic music files for the chosen Mass that appear on the publishers' web sites. I have suggested in my own parish that we do this. Father could make an announcement on a given Sunday, telling the members of the congregation that they have "homework" to do in the coming week: "Everyone is asked to log on to the parish web site and click on the link for the new Gloria. Next week our music director will be rehearsing this before Mass; wouldn't it be wonderful if many of us did our "homework" and we filled this church with the singing of the newly translated text of the Gloria?"

So, faithful followers, how do you think this approach would go over in a parish?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Chironomo said...

Well, I think that is going to depend on the demographics of your parish.

In my parish here in SW Florida, that would go over like the proverbial lead balloon. Not that it would be objected to or anything... it would simply be ineffective for a few reasons.

First, the computer literacy, let alone INTERNET literacy is still not quite where it should be. Downloading MP3 files is not always the most "user friendly" task. Perhaps if they were in the You Tube format that would be better, but still....

Secondly, and this is maybe the greater point, I would have to wonder aloud whether there is that great a desire or motivation to learn these settings ahead of time on the part of the assembly at large. Again, not that there is any real objection or resistance... I just doubt that there is a widespread feeling among the parishioners that these settings have to be learned by the First Sunday of Advent. Catholic Worship, like it or not, has historically been a ritual experience learned by "osmosis"...repetition and predictability are key.

Yes, the assembly will eventually learn the Gloria and the new memorial Acclamations... it may take 6 months or a year of hearing them over and over again each Sunday, but that's "how it's done" in the Catholic Church. It may be different in your parish, or other parishes in other areas of the country....I don't know about that. But in the half dozen or so parishes I have worked at over the past 32 years, pre-Mass "rehearsals" and other efforts at teaching the assembly music settings are viewed as more of an imposition and interruption than anything useful, so I ceased doing them several years back. My point is most people are content to "listen in" until they pick it up in the usual way.... by hearing it done over and over again each week.

Given that attitude, I'm not sure that most of our parishioners would make the effort to actually log onto a website, listen to examples and teach themselves to sing them. That pre-supposes quite a level of musical self-confidence.

BTW... the Word Verification I'm being asked to type below is not really appropriate for a Catholic Site! I know they are random and you have no control, but just thought you might like to know....

Brent McWilliams said...

It's a very interesting thought. Do we run into copyright issues or is the onus upon the downloader and not the provider of the link (the parish)? Asking, because our parish is dealing with copyright issues and education on the importance of complying with the laws of the land regarding copyright.

Chironomo said...


Don't know about the commercially produced settings, but the ICEL chants (PDF and recordings)are already posted online for free use. There are also quite a few new settings that are published in Creative Commons that have MP3 recordings online for free as well as the music in PDF format.

Anonymous said...

As a non-music minister, I agree with Chironomo. I am a faithful member of the assembly, at a parish I love, and I am someone who has been learning more about the new translation through blogs and articles on my own. Yet, I would be very unlikely to go to my parish website to "listen and learn" new musical settings. I'd venture to guess most of my family and friends are the same. We'll learn as we go, reading information in the bulletin and using the missalettes or cards provided once the changes take place. But actually making a special effort to learn the settings by going online or by going to a special event about them? Probably not.

Anonymous said...

While I, too, don't think the majority of parishioners will take the initiative to learn the parts of the Mass in advance, posting links to MP3s and videos is pretty easy. It might help a few people. And it's another effort a parish can make to communicate well.