Part 2

NEW WORDS FOR WORSHIP PART 2: SINGING THE NEW TEXTS

The revision of the English translation of the Missal will require new musical settings for a number of the parts of the Mass sung by the people. These include the Gloria, Holy and Memorial Acclamations. There is no change to the Kyrie, Lord‟s Prayer or Lamb of God. Most of the texts sung by the priest celebrant will also change.

The music subcommittee of ICEL (International Commission for English in the Liturgy) has prepared musical settings of the English chants in the revised Order of Mass. They are traditional plainsong tones based on Gregorian and other chant melodies which can be sung easily. In some cases both simple and solemn settings have been provided.

Last year, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, through the National Liturgical Council, invited composers to submit musical settings of the new Mass translation for use in Australia. Approximately 50 settings were received from 43 composers, including both well-known names and newcomers. The works cover a range of musical styles: simple chant-like settings; compositions utilising cantors, choirs and instruments in traditional harmonic styles; and those which reflect a more „contemporary‟ musical genre.

A number of submissions are re-workings of existing Mass settings to accommodate the new text. Such settings will enable parishes to achieve an easier transition from the current texts to the new texts. Quality musical settings will play an important part in how the new texts are received and embraced in the pews.

Submissions have been sent to a group of eminent Australian liturgical musicians who will make recommendations. The National Liturgical Council Music Board will consider the reviewers‟ assessments and make a final selection. (This has been done and the Australian Bishops have recommended several settings – the Choir is preparing for to one to be sung from Easter.)

Only a few settings will be recommended and promoted so that a common core of musical repertoire can be developed across Australian parishes, something which does not exist currently. Knowing and using common musical settings will foster unity and facilitate singing at large regional and national celebrations.

As mentioned in an earlier article, the introduction of the new Missal does not mean that the entire repertoire of existing liturgical music will become redundant. It is only the musical settings of the Mass parts, not the hymns sung in liturgy, that will change and the change-over process will be done in stages and with pastoral sensitivity.