Thursday, June 23, 2011

New Translation Thursday: "I'm Singin' in September..."

"New Translation Thursday" has rolled around again.

Yesterday's session for musicians in the Archdiocese of New York was a good one. I snapped a few photos of the interior of Immaculate Heart of Mary parish church in Scarsdale, where the sessions took place.

There were approximately 150 people present, mostly musicians, but there were several priests in attendance as well. Monsignor Anthony Wadsworth gave two presentations, one focused generally on the reasons why we have a new translation. His style is simple and direct. His second presentation focused on music and the missal. His fundamental point is that this edition of the missal signals in a much stronger way that the celebration of the Mass is a musical celebration. Monsignor argues for much more singing of the parts of the Mass (the people's parts, the dialogues, prefaces, proper antiphons), but does not advocate just one style. I found his presentation to be refreshing and very pastoral.

Two local musicians then offered some tips on teaching the new musical settings. The first made an interesting point. He said that he would never rehearse music before Mass because he strongly feels that this is his parishioners' private time to prepare spiritually for Mass. He would consider a rehearsal an intrusion. Interesting. He also shared that he and his pastor are planning a big music night in the parish, a night when all the choirs (adult, contemporary, children, teen) will sing the parish's new Mass setting and invite those in attendance to sing as well. He plans to serve pizza and ice cream for the event. He also said that he will be hiring other musicians (brass and timpani) to really give the setting a boost. This sounds really cool to me!

The second local musician had about fifteen young girls from her Catholic school's children's choir there to help her with her presentation. Basically, she showed us how she teaches plainchant. She taught them (and many of us) the Gloria from the missal. No accompaniment; just a simple approach. I believe it gave those in the church a real boost, especially those for whom chant might seem daunting.

I was struck by a few things as the day progressed. There was a question and answer period that revealed an uneven-ness in peoples' awareness. One musician asked for clarification about whether or not these changes in the missal were mandatory. As I listened to his question, I wondered to myself, "What planet does he live on?" Then I had to remind myself that not everyone, not even all church musicians, have been living with the missal issues every single day as I have. Another person wondered when people in the parish should start hearing about the changes. Monsignor Wadsworth suggested that this very week might be the best time.

All in all, a good day in the Archdiocese of New York. I did find it interesting that several people stated something like the following: "Well, now that we can begin singing the new Mass parts in September..." There were no qualifications to these statements such as, "If the local bishop permits the early implementation." So, I am wondering what the general sense is out there about beginning the singing in September. I know for a fact that there are many parishes across the United States that have already begun singing the new Mass settings. And, frankly, when you realize that the official date of implementaation is exactly five months from this coming Sunday, is a few months really such a big deal?

Would be glad to hear your comments.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Anonymous said...

“What's the big deal?”

The big deal is those waiting until the date set by the Church are being respectfully obedient and humbly faithful to what the Church has asked, as opposed to being, impatient and immature; or worse, just arrogant and basically defiant. It's really the difference between the kids who wish to open their Christmas gifts way before the 25th of December but refrain, as opposed to those who do not refrain and open them as they will.

Whatever happened to us being One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church? It is kind of sad that some cannot exercise enough restraint so that all of us can share this event as One Church (in the universal sense, not just parochial); a full community of faith. To do so would only take some creativity, a bit of work and some community effort. Why can’t parishes prepare for this event the way they prepare for Christmas and Easter; the way people prepare for a birthday. One does not have, a pre-Christmas, a pre-Easter or a pre-birthday; but rather, one event.

One(ness) makes it more special. The first week of Advent 2011 should be that special.

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

Hello Anonymous,
Thanks for the post, but I am having difficulty understanding your position. Can you give us a little more about your position in the Church; are you a music director? Many, many diocesan bishops are allowing (or going to allow) the settings to be sung in September. In the total context of the implementation, which we all hope will bring us closer to the eucharistic Lord, why wouldn't earlier implementation of singing the Gloria, Sanctus, Mystery of Faith make any kind of difference that would warrant your concern?
Again, thanks for reading the blog and for your comment.

Anonymous said...

I am a music director in a medium sized parish in rural Ohio. I have worked hard with my neighboring Catholic music director to put in place what we think was a solid plan to introduce the new Mass setting we have chosen for our parishes. It almost felt as if a balloon had been popped when I heard of the early implementation of the sung parts of the Mass in Sepetember. Come on, we have known about the translation for what seems like an eternity now...why a jump start of a couple months? With a well executed plan, is this really needed? What about the folks who want to introduce the preface dialogue when sung? Is it ok to use "and with your spirit" then? What is the assembly to think then? It is total confusion! Why can't everyone follow the same guidelines? Wouldn't our church be a more cohesive body if we did?

Fr. Gene Vavrick said...


Just to let you know, the Bishop of Trenton gave permission to us to start using the new musical settings of the new translation. I don't think he was back in Trenton 24 hours after the end of the meetings in Seattle before he granted the permission. Lets hope other Bishops follow the same practice.

John Black said...

I would avoid early implementation in our parish, primarily because our preparation schedule is already in place, built upon the November 27 date.

But I also see maintaining the Advent date as a sign of organization and unity in our church. A "shotgun start" implementation might prove confusing and frustrating to those faithful who attend Mass at different parishes. I can't imagine going to Mass and trying to maintain two Glorias and/or Creeds for three months. And, I would expect some seriously bad PR. Does the church need to present itself as further disorganized and disjointed?

We are hoping for an uplifting of the Mass with the formality and reverence of this new translation. A change from the unified and planned date could erode the integrity of this change.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it is wise to wait for the Frist Sunday of Advent to sing the new parts. I can see asking the priests to wait until then for their prayers and parts but the entire congregation makes no sense considering that we don’t even recite/sing the Gloria in advent anyway save for Immaculate Conception. All the new mass parts should be able to be sung beginning in October so that by the time First Advent arrives the Mass will be set.

Fr. John P.

Chironomo said...

A few comments...

First, I agree 100% with the director who advised against "pre-Mass" rehearsals. I stopped doing them several years back when the number of complaints to the Pastor, many in letter form, finally convinced me that this was a real issue, not just a pet-peeve of a few individuals. Having observed a few such "rehearsals" myself lately from out in the pews, I see their point in a way that is really not possible to see from the position of the one leading the rehearsal. I will never again do such a thing.

Secondly, concerning the date of implementation. Permission has been given for the implementation of the assembly texts in September, so those who opt to do so are not either "jumping the gun" or being disobedient. There is nothing particularly "special" about the November 27th date... 5 years ago it was November of 2009, and in 2008 it was given as Advent of 2010. I think we can agree that it is (was) a somewhat "arbitrary" date to begin with. The First Sunday of Advent was chosen as it is the beginning of the Liturgical Year and coordinates well with resource publishing schedules.

Anonymous said...

The idea of avoiding pre-Mass rehearsals is excellent. However,as music director of a parish of 1200+ families (Masses each weekend), I would like suggestions as to how the new/revised settings could be taught well other than before Mass. Over the course of a liturgical year, we rotate 8 different Mass settings and to think of being confined to only one because there is no optimum time to teach it just doesn't seem like a good idea either. "Boring" is the word that comes to mind. :)

The idea of a special music night is wonderful (especially with food!)--but we would not get a large percentage of those who attend on weekends and it is just as important for them to feel like they own the music, too. Other ideas?

Jerry, thank you for your insight, patience, and level-headed comments on this whole situation (that being the most charitable word I could find to describe RM3).
Mary G

Anonymous said...

Oops--post should read "four" Masses per weekend.

Anonymous said...

When I wrote my comments, as far a I was aware permission had not been granted. If it has since been granted, my comments regarding “impatient and immature; or worse, just arrogant and basically defiant” no longer apply. However, I do agree with what has been voiced by a number of people and what is a part of my original comment—that they have (already) prepared for and look forward to the 1st week of Advent implementation, that all starting on one date shows the unity of the Church and cuts down on confusion for worshipers.

As for my “position in the Church”—I have enjoyed many years as a choral director, parish organist and worship committee chairperson. Within all of these positions was the obligation to follow what the Church asked. Activities related to these experiences rank among the most fulfilling of my life (so far). Currently I am on hiatus from such work, having relocated to another part of the country and looking to take a bit of a break before reentering. I still have interested in all of this as it is a time of promise and excitement.

As far as the question posed: “In the total context of the implementation, which we all hope will bring us closer to the Eucharistic Lord, why wouldn't earlier implementation of singing the Gloria, Sanctus, Mystery of Faith make any kind of difference that would warrant your concern?” What difference does it make, Dr. G., as far as “my position in the Church”—whether I am an everyday parishioner; musical director of a major cathedral program; or the Pope, who was just surfing the web, came across this blog and decided to respond—It warrants my (and each Catholics) concern as one trying to follow what the Church asks and encouraging others (even those in loftier and more responsible positions within the Church) to do the same.

Thanks for allowing my response. Here’s to wanting only the best for the Church and its members.

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

Hello Anonymous,
Thanks for you response; my question was based on my curiosity; sometimes it's helpful for readers to understand where people are coming from in order to better understand a comment.

Anonymous said...

Chironomo is incorrect.
Permission has not been given for national impelementation ahead of the November date... all that has been said is that individual bishops in their dioceses may allow the use of new Mass settings beginnign in September. Note, of course, that does not include allowing the new texts to be SPOKEN at that time... only sung.

My Thoughts said...

I just spent a week with a Graduate Theology conference. We sang the new translation all week. It took about two days for people to catch on. It's not so bad at all. Let's get going.