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Music For The New Texts Of The Mass


Peter Clark
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Guest Patrick Coleman

It is to be hoped that the musical provision is not as stilted as the new translation, or as contrived as some of the 1975 settings.

 

Reading the document, however, I realise my hopes are to be dashed - there is plenty both of stiltedness and contrivance.

 

If the editors think it's too hard for congregations to sing the preface dialogue to solemn chant, they should attend any one of a vast number of Anglican parishes which do just that every Sunday.

 

More to the point in an organ discussion board, do you know if any composers (RC or others) are working on their own settings either for the major congregational/choir texts or for major texts to be sung by the celebrant? And who will adapt Gregory Murray... ?

 

Am I alone in suspecting that the new English translation is intended to sound so silly that it will drive people to use the Latin instead? :rolleyes:

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Patrick I share your fears! For a start I cannot see how "and with your spirit" is any more meaningful than "and also with you". Does this mean then that only the celebrant has a spirit? As to the music, as one who has done a lot of settings for parish and choir use, I am concerned that the new texts will stifle composers rather than inspire them. I know of nobody who is currently working on music for the new texts (which are not as yet officially released).

 

From a theological viewpoint I am disturbed by the proposal to restore "for many" at the consecration of the wine. This may be an accurate rendering of "pro multis" but does not convey the meaning of the Hebrew/Aramaic rabin which means many in the sense of the many including the "all".

 

Back to the music. I trust that the Bishops' Conference will allow the continued use of current settings for at least five years after the change. Watch this space.

 

Peter

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Guest Patrick Coleman
That's neither one thing nor the other. It's a bit like stepping out in a Barbour jacket plus Tudor ruff.

 

Shh! You'll start a fashion!

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En route yesterday to my annual attendance at the (Anglican) Sunday evening Corpus Christi liturgical extravaganza at St Mary's Bourne Street (where they prove that religion can be deeply moving and devotional in a very spiritual way whilst also being enormous fun) I was diverted via the 11 am High Mass and 3 pm Solemn Vespers, Procession of the Host and Solemn Benediction at Brompton Oratory (they only had priests - the Anglicans in the evening had Pontifical Benediction!!!). Both places were packed with very large congregations and, not surprisingly, both produced music and liturgy of an exceptionally high standard. I suspect that many Anglicans and Roman Catholics (although my no means all) are just beginning to regret throwing out baby with the bathwater and are trying to rectify the situation. One of the things I particularly liked about High Mass at the Oratory (all in Latin, although using the Ordinary Form) was the total lack of those nasty, divisive things that impede the flow of decent liturgy. I think they are called hymns.

 

Why do so many churches say "Ite Missa Est" or one of its various English translations and then stand there for 4 or 5 minutes singing a hymn? What a nonsense!

 

Malcolm

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Guest Patrick Coleman
Why do so many churches say "Ite Missa Est" or one of its various English translations and then stand there for 4 or 5 minutes singing a hymn? What a nonsense!

 

Malcolm

 

This is, often correctly, the conventional interpretation of the Roman Rite, which basically tries to get the people to go forth and do after receiving the means with which to do it. There is, however, no reason why they should not go forth singing (or even listening to an organ voluntary!) :rolleyes:

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This is, often correctly, the conventional interpretation of the Roman Rite, which basically tries to get the people to go forth and do after receiving the means with which to do it. There is, however, no reason why they should not go forth singing (or even listening to an organ voluntary!) <_<

 

I'd go further and say that the concluding organ voluntary should be seen as an integral part of the liturgy, a response to or a summing up of all that has gone before.

 

Peter

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I'd go further and say that the concluding organ voluntary should be seen as an integral part of the liturgy, a response to or a summing up of all that has gone before.

 

Peter

Although it can't be "part of the liturgy" if "Ita Missa est" has been proclaimed.

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Patrick I share your fears! For a start I cannot see how "and with your spirit" is any more meaningful than "and also with you". Does this mean then that only the celebrant has a spirit? As to the music, as one who has done a lot of settings for parish and choir use, I am concerned that the new texts will stifle composers rather than inspire them. I know of nobody who is currently working on music for the new texts (which are not as yet officially released).

 

From a theological viewpoint I am disturbed by the proposal to restore "for many" at the consecration of the wine. This may be an accurate rendering of "pro multis" but does not convey the meaning of the Hebrew/Aramaic rabin which means many in the sense of the many including the "all".

 

Back to the music. I trust that the Bishops' Conference will allow the continued use of current settings for at least five years after the change. Watch this space.

 

Peter

 

There is, of course, a hark back to former liturgical language in the proposed new liturgy as in "and with thy spirit". To my mind (and to others) the criticism of the present liturgy is that it is somewhat banal. To say, "and also with you" is a bit akin to someone saying "have a nice day" to which often comes the reply, "and the same to you." One must not forget also that at the holy Mass the celebrant is Persona Christi and it is therefore fitting that the spirit of Christ is manifest throughout. But just as the last revision of the Mass was criticised, don't expect things to change when we eventually have the new missal. I'm just grateful that at the monastery where I attend for Mass there's still a great deal of Latin used.

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One of the things I particularly liked about High Mass at the Oratory (all in Latin, although using the Ordinary Form) was the total lack of those nasty, divisive things that impede the flow of decent liturgy. I think they are called hymns.

Cranmer would have agreed. "For this cause be cut off Anthems, Responds, Invitatories, and such like things, as did break the continual course of the reading of the Scripture" - the "such like things" of course including hymns. I wonder where we would be today if he had mentioned them explicitly.

 

The rot set in very early, however, with the admission of the occasional metrical psalm.

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There is, of course, a hark back to former liturgical language in the proposed new liturgy

But whose former liturgical language? Thees thys and thous have never been part of the RC liturgy, for the simple reason that prior to the translation currently in use there was no vernacular mass, and I for one am severely p****d off that the Italian-staffed CDW is determined to inflict cod-Cramnerian prose upon the 21st century Church for no very clearly stated reason beyond a vague feeling that it's somehow more churchy.

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Guest Patrick Coleman

The stated aim of the 'new' translation is to reflect more accurately the cadence and rhythm of the original Latin.

 

The original ICEL translators had it right in principle by creating a very simple and occasionally banal form of English. Bearing in mind the need for it to fit into the various styles and traditions of the language that exist throughout the world - and the fact that liturgical Latin is hardly a match in style for Cicero and Livy - they didn't do a bad job. The problem for them was that others had been at work before them. Let alone the work of Cranmer in and before 1549, and the later texts that became part of the 1662 BCP, there had been fine 20th century translation panels that got some liturgical measure into their work before the final ICEL texts became normative. As a young altar server, I became very accustomed to the NLC texts in the late 1960s/early 1970s. Then there were the Glenstal translations that remain in my view the finest of modern liturgical translations, and remain very much in use in The Divine Office.

 

The new translation will need a very long time to 'bed in'. RCs have become used to the plainness of the 1975 texts; in the mean time Anglicans and others have (finally) developed a style of modern English that is as fine as Cranmer's was in its time, for, however some may criticise the Common Worship provision for its variety of choice, the modern English in it works well to supply the framework of beauty and simplicity of language which assists in true worship.

 

To get back to the point, the new chant settings that Peter refers to don't work because they ask English syllables to bear too many neums. Latin endings have a weight and a grammatical significance which can carry a strong melisma; very few English words have such endings. If you are Handel, you can get away with it by creating a fugal structure, but in plainchant it just doesn't work. Anglicans have been know to make this error when chanting texts to bastardised versions of plainsong; it may well be that the ex-Anglicans in ICEL are making the same mistake over again?

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From my own stance as a rather "extreme" Anglo Catholic layman I (humbly, I hope, in view of his considerable expertise in these matters) tend to agree with Patrick. I have said the (RC) Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours daily in English in its entirity for a number of years now and find it to be by far the best version of the daily office currently on offer anywhere although I agree with well-known Anglican blogger Fr John Hunwicke that the intercessions are beginning to feel a bit dated. The other advantage is that you only need one book! (The disadvantage is an annual dose, in September of St Augustine to the shepherds!) I also happen to think that the Common Worship series of publications contains the finest liturgy that the C-of-E has ever produced; my only problem is that, compared with the RC rites, it is so complicated because there are so many alternatives all the time. Many have cottoned on to the fact that one can make the CW Mass almost identical to the RC Ordinary Form.

 

On the website of the New Liturgical Movement there is a link (published on the site yesterday) of new, simple and effective chants for choirs of the propers of the Mass which can be downloaded, printed and used by church choirs gratis, free and without charge (as they say). They look rather better musically than the utterly horrendous books of responsorial psalms that Anglicans and Roman Catholics have been largely dependant on for a number of years now, especially those from one publisher in particular. They are well worth downloading and investigating.

 

Malcolm

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Yes, but the point that Patrick hasn't made is that from circa 1975-2000, ICEL retranslated the Missal. This work was completed, approved by the English speaking bishops' Conferences and sent to Rome for recognito whereupon it was (after a delay of 5 years or so) thrown out by the CDW, the ICEL management and staff replaced and the current translations produced according to some hastily drafted rules in which, as Patrick says, the rhythm and cadences of the mediaeval Latin were given priority over the creation of something that 21st century people might recognise as the language they speak.

 

The choice therefore was not between the current "plain" versions and the proposed ones: a carefully thought out via media that had been approved by the National Conferences of all the English speaking bishops was rejected by non-native speakers of English. Go figure.

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Guest Patrick Coleman
Yes, but

 

The point is well made.

 

Go figure.

 

Indeed. In Rome itself I watched this process taking hold; after ordination in 1983 I watched it at close quarters in this country and in Germany. I had enough of it by 1992, and since 1996 have been safe from it within the Anglican Communion. It encompasses far more than translations of the Liturgy. And even though I now observe from a distance, that doesn't mean that I don't care.

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On the website of the New Liturgical Movement there is a link (published on the site yesterday) of new, simple and effective chants for choirs of the propers of the Mass which can be downloaded, printed and used by church choirs gratis, free and without charge (as they say). They look rather better musically than the utterly horrendous books of responsorial psalms that Anglicans and Roman Catholics have been largely dependant on for a number of years now, especially those from one publisher in particular. They are well worth downloading and investigating.

 

Malcolm

 

It may be me Macolm but I couldn't find the link. Could you assist? Thanks.

 

P

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It is in an article posted on Sunday 14th June entitled "The age of new music for Mass" by Jeffrey Tucker. Worth reading anyway. Find that and click on "Choral Gradual by Richard Rice". Alternatively go direct to

www.musicasacra.com/books/simplechoralgradual.pdf

 

Malcolm

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It is in an article posted on Sunday 14th June entitled "The age of new music for Mass" by Jeffrey Tucker. Worth reading anyway. Find that and click on "Choral Gradual by Richard Rice". Alternatively go direct to

www.musicasacra.com/books/simplechoralgradual.pdf

 

Malcolm

 

Thanks Malcolm

 

P

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