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.


FJH 3rd said...

Jerry, in various blog posts and comments over the past few months I see references to Catholic churches employing large projection screens for the texts. With all your travels to various parishes, are you finding this to be widespread? I have never seen it, however I certainly don't get around very much to parishes outside my immediate area in central Ohio. But even in visits to "progressive" areas like Milwaukee, I haven't seen this. Just wondering if this is a growing feature of Catholic worship, or a rarity...

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

I think there are more and more parishes adopting this approach, but I would not consider it "widespread." Many places just cannot install screens because of the architecture of the space. I, for one, like to have what I need in my hand. At this particular parish in Florida, we sang the carols from a hymnal, but the responses and musical parts of the Mass were projected. I know of very very few parishes here in the Archdiocese of Chicago with projection screens. Merry Christmas to you, and thank you for your faithful following of the blog; I enjoy what you bring here.

md said...

For the most part, our liturgies have moved along fairly smoothly. We fumble a bit with some of the "new" music and often enough, we slip up on the responses. But during the Eucharistic Prayer of the Christmas Midnight Mass, I found myself getting really impatient. Father was doing well, but it just sounded so labored, cumbersome -- where is the beauty?!? Makes me wonder what this is all about....

Anonymous said...

As a Chicagoan, I completed a course where we talked about the use of media, such as the projection screens. I attended a suburban church in Chicago that uses the screens. I don't like it - everyone is staring up at the screen. There's something to what Jerry said about having it in your hand. I also think there is something to "moving" around with a worship aid and hymnal. The words on the screen move at a pace that does not meet the needs of everyone. I know some argue that it's green to have it projected on the screen, but a hymnal goes a long way.

Our church did well with the new texts. The pastor who was presiding at the mass I attended did well in sharing with those who have not been around that some things have changed. There still remains a "distance" of some sort. A recent article in the Chicago New World newspaper discussed about how the new translation will deepen and enrich our prayer together...how do we know?

Gabriel Pellegrino said...

I feel that the Christmas celebrations went well at our church. On Christmas Eve, due to the size of the crowd, we scheduled two simultaneous Masses, which were at 4:30: one in the church, and one in the parish center. Because of this overflow, I had to have additional worship aids ready for the parish center group. There were enough for everyone. I resisted the temptation to do the Chant Style Gloria, with the Angels We Have Heard on High refrain (now called Christmas Gloria by WLP) even though we have done it for many years. I felt that since we had invested so much time rehearsing, learning, and singing the Gloria Simplex (Proulx) during October and November, that we would do it at all our our Christmas Masses. I was not disappointed. Of course many visitors did not know it, but the regulars sang it with joy. The Gloria Simplex has been very well received and sung at our parish. At all the Masses, the celebrant reminded everyone to consult the worship aids for the texts, especially for the Creed. For the most part, everything went smoothly. In fact, except for some strange choice of chant at the dismissal that was foreign even to me, I felt that the congregation (and the choir, for the Midnight and 10:30 Masses) were well prepared. We understand that people who visit are going to have a hard time. They'll eventually get used to it. We are all struggling a bit, but soon these new prayers will be in our hearts as the old ones were. Regarding screens, we have a big one above the altar, which we used for some catechesis during Advent Masses, but we would never think of using it at Mass. The pastor and I want people to have the words and music in front of them for all the spoken and sung responses. I am grateful that our clergy has really made the effort to catechize.

Anonymous said...

Have had declining attendance in recent years--one packed early Christmas vigil--the rest half-full to nearly empty. But a new pastor seems to have reenergized the parish and contributed to record attendance. That was very nice to experience.

All the assembly's responses, spoken and sung, were printed in the Christmas worship aid. There was a brief announcement by the cantor before Mass to follow along closely. Folks were attentive and positive.

Because of this attentiveness, I must say it was the best participation for the spoken and sung responses I've ever heard at a holiday with so many visitors.

We're transitioning with the Gloria, pastoral circumstances didn't allow a chance to teach a new setting before Immaculate Conception (or Feast of St. Andrew during the first week of Advent!). In the interim assembly is singing Latin response from Taize or for Christmas the "Angels" refrain. A cantor has chanted the "verses" with a St. Meinrad tone and it has actually worked out quite well. May keep the Taize/Meinrad combo in the repertoire for daily Mass.

The assembly sang with gusto the Eucharistic Prayer Acclamations with Steve Janco's "Mass of Redemption" revision. We got to experience the brass parts for the first time and it was glorious. In my opinion, "Mass of Redemption" is the most natural, versatile, singable, solemn, joyous, adaptable setting of the new translation available. I'm looking forward to teaching the MOR Gloria this month. (Hope Jerry doesn't mind the WLP commercial!)


Regarding screens... I too am in central Florida, very near where Jerry attended Christmas Mass. It seems that more and more of our local parishes are having large screens installed. My experience is that there are three causes: 1)Pressure/Upselling from A/V companies that install sound systems into new and remodeled churches. 2)Pastors and building committees that are fascinated by the latest gadgets and hope to find new methods to evangelize in a digital/media age. 3)A feeling that our Catholic parishes need to compete with the local evangelical Protestant mega-churches which are, unfortunately, attracting some of our parishioners.

That being said, there are positives and negatives to each of those scenarios. AND there are positives and negatives to the use of large screens during Mass. I've experienced them used both ways within the same liturgy at local parishes. I think our parishes are still learning how best use the screens to enhance rather than distract from worship. Some parishes are doing quite well.

But hasn't our past taught us that any new technology can enhance prayer and liturgy when used well, intentionally, skillfully, and artfully? And haven't we all had our sensibilities offended when the opposite is true? Pick a technology: electric lighting, microphones, even the pipe organ. My spirit has been moved by liturgy enhanced by all three and annoyed to no end by liturgy encumbered by all three.

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

Hello Anonymous from Central Florida. Thanks for your comments; we would love to use your description of Mass of Redemption on our web site. Please e-mail me at galipeauj@jspaluch.com
Thanks again.