New Translation of the Mass in my parish

This morning in my parish, the parish priest introduced the Gloria and Creed – both spoken – from the new translation. This is a little counter-intuitive, as these are (in my parish) both spoken pieces and both quite lengthy, involving the greatest decree of change in any of the pieces. I would have recommended starting with the sung Sanctus, which has only one small change. But part of the difficulty is that we have not yet hit upon which musical settings to use for the new translation, so I guess this was easier.

The new texts were on the overhead screen. The parish priest highlighted the new wording in each in red, which alerted the people to those parts in which they need to be more careful in their recitation. In the main, there were no stumblings, and I didn’t hear any comments afterwards over coffee (there may have been some, but I didn’t hear them).

Ironically, the only place where people DID stumble was on a word that in fact has not been changed, and was in the old ICEL texts, but which by general custom in this parish has been omitted from the Creed on a regular basis. I refer to the word “men” in the phrase “for us men and for our salvation”. It wasn’t highlighted as a “new” word, but it was there in the text where usually it has not been before, and I heard a good majority omit the word even then in their recitation.

Personally, I was wondering what the PP would do with this, and am glad – OH so glad – he didn’t omit it. This has me wondering if he was in fact just waiting for the new texts to reintroduce the full phrase into our usage as required by the Church. He’s only been in the parish a couple of years, and this was a situation that he found when he arrived. So, in charity, I now recognise that there was probably some wisdom in choosing to make sure the word was reinserted along with all the other changes.

I will keep you updated on how the introduction goes. For myself, I am looking forward to Easter. Then we might get a chance to sing the Gloria to its new words.

About Schütz

I am Catholic, married to Cathy, father of Maddy & Mia. Since 2002, I have been the Executive Officer of the Ecumenical & Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I was once a Lutheran pastor, but a "year of grace" and soul-searching led me into the Catholic Church. It was a bumpy ride, but with the support of my (still Lutheran) wife, I was finally confirmed on June 16, 2003.
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3 Responses to New Translation of the Mass in my parish

  1. Gareth says:

    Hi David,

    Over the weekend there was a write-up in my own parish bulletin about the translastion.

    I can report back that my concerns that my parish priest may not have been the biggest supporter did not come to fruition, and despite a few barbs about lack of consultation, the write up was generally supportive and asking people to embrace it on a positive note.

    I was pleasantly surprised.

    I think in five years time, people wont know any difference.

    • Schütz says:

      Yes, you may have detected a note of “pleasant suprise” in my own comments, too, Gareth. My PP had made some disparaging comments early on in the piece, so I am quite relieved and overjoyed to see him getting behind it whole heartedly now. I agree with you. This may be a trend we see as time goes on. People will wonder “Why was ther all that fuss? This is OK.”

  2. RJ says:

    David,

    just picking up on your comment about Mass settings – as far as musical settings go, in our parish the first stop is going to be the ICEL chants, which are already available online. In principle, these should constitute the common musical language for the English liturgy, so we might as well get off on the right foot. This style of music, I believe, is effective in leading people deeper into prayer, at least once they’re accustomed to it. (Down the track we might look at some of the ACCB’s other six ‘chosen’ settings.)

    I find the chants provided for the Sanctus and the Acclamations very attractive and singable, and well-suited to the atmosphere of their liturgical moment; a very nice accompaniment is already provided for the Acclamations. Last time I looked, there wasn’t yet an accompaniment provided online for the Sanctus, but it’s not hard to make up one’s own harmonies – a good variety of major and minor, but with the former predominating.

    The Gloria chant, I must admit, I wasn’t going to use, because it seemed rather dull. However, (as with the Sanctus) re-harmonizing it predominantly in major keys (rather than the minor ones that predominate in the provided accompaniment), but keeping plenty of harmonic variety, gives it a big lift. A bit of preliminary work, but it pays off. And probably not suitable from a musical purist’s point of view, but much more attractive for the congregation. The last thing we need at this point is to turn people off with music they find dull. (And I guess, for a real musical purist, the chants would have to be unison and unaccompanied anyway!)

    The other thing is the key – at the given pitch they’re certainly singable, but not comfortably singable, at least by the average person in the pew. If they are to be primarily used by the choir, no problem at all, but if we want as many people as possible singing with gusto, we need to take them down a bit. They are presently written at about the pitch of some settings we already use – which parishioners have told me they find somewhat high. Not that g-a-b are particularly high in themselves – it’s just when people have to stay up there for almost the whole time. If people are having to strain, they’re thinking less about prayer. So, I’ll transpose the Gloria and the Sanctus down a tone and a half, and the Acclamations down a tone.

    (The Kyrie and the Agnus Dei I haven’t looked at much as yet – since their translations aren’t changing, there’s no urgency to learn new music. We’ll keep their settings as they are for the moment – the people will have quite enough changes to assimilate without throwing non-essential extras at them.)

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