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Home : Special Features : New Mass translations
9/1/2010 12:04:00 PM
Musicians developing an ear for changes
Catholic Sentinel photo by Gerry Lewin
Catherine Russell sings during Mass at St. Monica Parish in Coos Bay.  Words to Mass parts — including sung prayers — will change by Advent of  2011.
Catholic Sentinel photo by Gerry Lewin
Catherine Russell sings during Mass at St. Monica Parish in Coos Bay. Words to Mass parts — including sung prayers — will change by Advent of 2011.
Catholic News Service


DETROIT — Changes coming next year in the English text of the Mass, and how the transition to the revised liturgy can best be managed, appeared to be the principal concerns of the nearly 2,000 people attending the 33rd annual convention of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians this summer in Detroit.

"All of the musical settings need to be rewritten," said Annette Wright, director of music at St. Francis of Assisi/St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Ray Township, Mich.

While that will mean challenges for pastoral musicians, it also will mean the opportunity for composers to write new music, said Wright, who is also outgoing local chapter director for the national association and a member of the committee that planned this year's convention.

OCP, which publishes this newspaper, had its musical composers write five new settings for the new translations and revised four settings.

Worshipers also need to be taught about the reasons for the new wording.  

"Any time there's change, there's going to be the challenge of catechesis — of understanding it and communicating it," said Tim Smith, a composer for OCP.  

Smith called it "a welcome thing" that the revised texts "are more true to the original," but he said parish musicians face the challenge of learning new musical settings and helping parishioners understand the changes.

Just as there were many Catholics who balked at the introduction of Mass in the vernacular four decades ago, some parish music directors are expecting some members of their congregations — especially some of those who were young when changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council were introduced — to resist the changes coming next year.

"Text fluidity was a challenge," says Ken Canedo, a liturgical composer and pastoral musician at Holy Trinity Parish in Beaverton. He wrote a recent book on the history and influence of the folk Mass.

The new Glory to God is significantly changed, with words of praise preceding the identity of God — the opposite of current texts.  

"On the plus side, this is a marvelous opportunity for catechesis," Canedo says. "The Mass is once again at the forefront of Catholic discussion in the media and in the parishes on a scale not seen since the days of the Second Vatican Council. That is certainly a good thing."






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