I wish I was more talented as a musician than I actually am.
The issue of the settings for the new mass came up at our parish this morning. The head of the music group announced that the parish was seeking a setting which would “suit the specific needs of our community”. Afterward I asked her if she was aware of the standard chants that actually being printed in our new missals (all the chants and recordings can be accessed here; Dr Geoffrey Cox has written an organ accompaniment that has yet to be published). She wasn’t.
The fact is that these chants are being provided as the universal “setting” for the new translation of the mass. They aren’t designed to fit “the specific needs” of one given community, but of the whole English speaking Church. More than that, they are based on the actual chants for the Latin mass in the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal in Latin. In that sense, they are truly universal.
What concerns me is that a lot of parishes simply won’t bother to learn them and to make them the standard “setting of the mass” in their “community”. I have nothing against using other settings, I just think that it would be to the immense benefit of the whole Church if, as a whole, we had a way of singing the mass which was truly universal.
Many will find the chant setting “boring”. That has been said pariticularly of the chant for the Gloria in Excelsis. And yet it is a very easy chant to learn, and, I think, quite beautiful in its simplicity (that should please some readers!).
Here’s where I would like to make an appeal to the musicians out there – and to offer a challenge. Dr Cox’s accompaniment to the chant will, I think, become a standard, and that’s as it should be. But for variety, how about a few extra, more imaginative musical accompaniments to the chants that involve different kinds of settings and different kinds of instruments? I am thinking here of the many successful editions of various Gregorian chants you can get on CD’s these days that include very modern, even jazzy, musical backgrounds? I think this could be done. The people don’t have to learn new melody lines, but the musical accompaniment would provide the variety that they are looking for.
What do you think? If I were a proper musician, I would have a go at it myself. Any ideas from any readers who are musicians?