Thursday, July 14, 2011

New Translation Thursday: Accompanied Roman Missal Chants

"New Translation Thursday" has arrived once again. Welcome.

Someone standing next to me at Mass this past Sunday asked me--after Mass--why I followed along in the worship aid when we sang the chant version of the Gloria that we sing in the parish during Ordinary Time: "Don't you know the Gloria by heart?" he asked. I told him that I am beginning to get confused at Sunday Mass because for about two years I have been immersed in the new translation and, especially during the Gloria, the two translations get mixed up in my mind.

Got me wondering about what it's going to be like for those first several months for Catholics at Mass. Sure, there will be that period when we are pretty much glued to the missalette, Order of Mass booklet, hymnal, Mass card, or worship aid. Slowly, I woud imagine, we will need to rely less and less on these resources as the texts begin to sink in. I know that it will take quite awhile for me to get used to the new translation of the Nicene Creed. It's just so natural now. And I guess I will probably pay much closer attention to the tenets of the faith expressed in the Creed because the words will be new and I will need to be much more "fully conscious and active."

We have been hard at work here at WLP preparing for the National Pastoral Musicians convention next week in Louisville. I just met with the wonderful women who make up our Customer Care team here at WLP. They have been receiving lots of calls about the chant setting of the Mass in The Roman Missal. They asked me to clarify the whole issue of the so-called "ICEL chants." So, I gave them a little tutorial, explaining that the bishops of the United States are requiring publishers who publish any Order of Mass with music embedded in that Order to print the chants from the Missal first, before any other musical setting. I showed them our Order of Mass booklets and pointed to the chants and the fact that they appear first, before Steve Janco's Mass of Redemption setting.

The people who are calling our Customer Care team are asking about accompaniments for the chant. Of course there are two schools of thought on this. One says that, since this is chant after all, there is no need for an accompaniment at all. The other school says that the chant, especially when sung for the first several times, needs some support by an accompaniment. We know that many of the parishes that we serve have very limited music resources. Sometimes the music ministry consists of an organist with a microphone; the organist simply announces the hymn number, plays the introduction and, without a cantor, everyone simply begins singing. We have heard from these parishes; they would like an accompaniment to the chant. Many other parishes, even those with many more musical resources, are asking for the chant accompaniment as well. Several months ago we commissioned a chant scholar, composer, and pastoral musician, Charles Thatcher, to compose accompaniments for the chants of the missal. Charles is one of WLP's fine composers. He did a splendid job. We did a simple recording in a local church with a pipe organ and a few singers just the other day. This recording will be available next week at the NPM convention, as well as samples of the accompaniment. The chant accompaniment will be a part of our new We Celebrate Hymnal Accompaniment. (The newly re-designed We Celebrate Hymnal arrived here just a few days ago. We are giving them as samples to all who attend the WLP showcase at NPM next week; they are gorgeous!) It will also be included in our supplement to our Alphabetical Accompaniment, which serves the users of Seasonal Missalette and Word & Song, our terrific annual missal/hymnal. We talked about these Charles Thatcher chant accompaniments and decided, just this week, to publish these in a separate volume. Keep a close eye on WLP's web site for this new resource.

These are very busy days. I'd like to take the time to thank you, faithful followers of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray, for following my musings regularly and for offering your comments. I appreciate it. If you are at NPM next week, please sop by the WLP booth, find me, say "Gotta Sing Gotta Pray" and I'll give you a small token of my gratitude.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

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