Tuesday, January 8, 2013
New Translation Tuesday: Many Musical Settings
"New Translation Tuesday" greetings to one and all. A few days ago, the following comment was submitted to Gotta Sing Gotta Pray:
Maybe it's been discussed in one of your posts previously, but what are your thoughts regarding the number of options now available for Mass Settings? I especially became aware of this as I was living at my parents house in the NW suburbs and not attending my own church. Decided to take the opportunity to visit other churches. What are the chances of you visiting a church where you know the mass setting? The one church I visited was using the Gloria from St. Ann, and Dan Schutte's Alleluia, Holy, Holy etc. Another church I attended for Christmas used the revised setting of the Mass of Light. Then I return to my church for the feast of the Holy Family to hear the Mass of Joy and Peace. I'm a musician, I have been involved in the liturgy. If I am feeling this way, what do visitors feel like? What about participation? I believe it's more of a challenge now with so many settings to choose from.
I think this musician poses some good questions. When I saw the sheer number of new and revised Mass settings that had been published (and continue to be published) with the new translation, I had some of the same sentiments. There are those who would say that the answer is simple: simply sing the chants from the Mass as found in the Missal. I think this is a fine idea, but most parishes, even maybe having learned the Mass chants, choose other settings for fesitive occasions like Christmas. And that has inevitably meant that there are many, many settings being sung at parishes around the country. Musicians need to exercise common sense when it comes to choosing settings for high feasts of the Church, paying close attention to the fact that there are visitors galore in our pews. Settings that rely on common melodic material throughout the Eucharistic Prayer, for example, can help the occasional Catholic feel somewhat at home within the prayer. It is important that we provide something that lets visitors know where they can find the acclamations: announcements before Mass about where they are located in a particular hymnal, missalette, or worship aid. Or perhaps we continue to provide Mass cards with the musical setting. I don't think it is a bad idea to make a little announcement toward the end of the preparation of the gifts, alerting people to the location of the music for the acclamations during the Eucharistic Prayer. Even if people have not sung the setting before, they will feel that the parish cares about their own participation.
Admittedly, we need much more time for things to settle. As a publisher, I have already seen some Masses soar in popularity and others not soar as high. Time will tell. Feel free to add your own comments.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.