Throughout the next year, and until the implementation of the New Translation of the Roman Missal, The Authentic Update will focus on issues surrounding the New Translation and developments in Sacred Music arising from it. I hope you will visit here frequently and join in the conversation as the Church enters into this remarkable period of liturgical transformation.

Monday, January 31, 2011

LITURGICAL MYTHBUSTERS: Singing the Mass Takes Too Much Time

With the implementation of the new translation of the Roman Missal, there has been a call for a renewed emphasis on the singing of the Mass, particularly the dialogues between the Priest and the assembly. The USCCB guidelines for music in the liturgy, Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship says the following about the importance of singing the dialogues at Mass:

Among the parts to be sung, preference should be given “especially to those to be sung by the priest or the deacon or the lector, with the people responding, or by the priest and people together.”90 This includes dialogues such as "God, come to my assistance - Lord make haste to help me" in the Office, or "The Lord be with you - And also with you" in the Mass. The dialogues of the Liturgy are fundamental because they “are not simply outward signs of communal celebration but foster and bring about communion between priest and people.”91 By their nature, they are short and uncomplicated and easily invite active participation by the entire assembly. Every effort should therefore be made to introduce or strengthen as a normative practice the singing of the dialogues between the priest, deacon, or lector and the people. Even the priest with very limited singing ability is capable of chanting The Lord be with you on a single pitch. (SttL #115a)

Accompanying the new translation of the Roman Missal are new chanted settings of all of these dialogues (as well as all other parts of the Mass). It is clearly the intention that with the implementation of the New Translation, there is to be also an implementation of the practice of singing these dialogues. This simple addition to the liturgy is perhaps the easiest and most effective step towards "full, active and conscious participation" that can be taken at any parish. It should be a liturgical "no brainer"...

I say "should be" because there are always those persistent myths surrounding things liturgical, and the practice of singing the dialogues at Mass is certainly no exception. Very often the objection is raised that Fr. So-and-So "can't carry a tune in a bucket", or some other variation of this complaint. But the dialogues aren't "tunes"... they are, for the most part, single pitches on which the text is spoken. And SttL even addressed this point in saying "even the priest with very limited singing ability is capable of chanting The Lord be with you on a single pitch." I have to agree with them here... this is really an excuse rather than a reason.

Which brings me to the topic of this post and the other frequently heard objection:

"Singing the dialogues takes way too much time."

Well, we do have to consider how long Mass takes... especially in parishes with a full Mass schedule on Sunday morning, when issues of parking lot politics come into play. We certainly don't want to routinely institute practices at Mass that will extend the Mass time by 10 or 15 minutes. That would be unwise and would likely elicit complaints from the parishioners, and justifiably so.

But consider also that many parishes regularly introduce features into the Mass that might extend the time. At more than a few parishes, it's customary to read announcements from the podium after communion. Of course, that would probably only add perhaps a minute, maybe two minutes, so it's not really a big deal. And it's an ubiquitous feature in many parishes across the country for the celebrant to "take a few moments" before the closing prayer to thank the servers, the Extraordinary Ministers, maybe call for a round of applause for the Choir and Cantors... but again, that takes maybe a minute or two depending on the number of "Thank You's" and the extent of the applause. And then there are various times set aside for blessing children or recognizing visitors to the parish...but none of these really takes more than maybe a couple of minutes. Nothing like the extra time it takes to sing the Mass rather than just speaking the texts.

But are we being maybe a little bit hasty in this assessment? It does take time to sing those dialogues...but it also takes time to speak them. And you do have to either speak them or sing them... it's not as though they are omitted if they aren't sung. So how much extra time does it take to sing the dialogues as we are encouraged to do rather than speak them?

There's an easy way to find out.

I recorded the dialogues (from the new translation) that would ordinarily be sung at Mass -

Introduction to Mass
Orate Fratres
Preface Dialogue
Our Father with Introduction
Deliver Us Lord…
For The Kingdom…

I recorded them spoken, and then the same texts sung using the notation indicated in the new missal translation.



And so how much longer would Mass take if you sung ALL of these dialogues? I asked a few people this past weekend, including two Priests, and got quite a range of responses. One person guessed that it would probably add about 10 minutes to Mass. One of the Priests guessed that it would only add about 7 or 8 minutes to Mass. Another said that it would only add about 5 minutes or so to Mass...

But when you actually compare the time that it takes to speak and sing the same texts, we get a very different answer. (click below for larger image)

In reality, it would only add about 1:18 - a minute and eighteen seconds - onto the Mass time! And that would be if we sang ALL of the dialogues... and the Lord's Prayer! That's less time than it takes to make a few announcements, or thank a couple of servers at the end of Mass. And in realistic terms, we're talking about the difference between ending Mass at 11:58 or ending Mass at 11:59. That doesn't exactly seem like an unreasonable extension of the Mass time given the importance that has been attached to the practice of singing the dialogues.

So when the issue of singing the dialogues comes up as you begin preparations for the new translation, and the inevitable voice is raised in objection - "that takes way too much time during Mass", you can point out that it takes probably 3 times longer to sing the closing hymn... and so perhaps we should discuss cutting that out first.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Musica Sacra Florida Conference - April 1&2, 2011

I will be presenting a breakout session at the 3rd Annual Musica Sacra Florida Gregorian Chant Conference, sponsored by the Florida Chapter of the Church Music Association of America in conjunction with the Department of Music, Ave Maria University, Ave Maria, Florida on April 1st & 2nd.

Liturgical Chant and the New Translation

Jeffrey A. Herbert
Director of Music
Church of the Incarnation
Sarasota FL

“The new translation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal will begin use in parishes across the English‐speaking world in Advent of 2011. As this date approaches, two questions become relevant –

“In what ways can liturgical chant be used as a tool to introduce the new translation to the faithful?”

“How does the new translation call for a greater use of chant in the liturgy going forward?”

Answers to these two questions will be explored in the context of the Church’s musical tradition of Gregorian chant, the ICEL chants, and the increasing availability of online resources.

This is a topic I have spoken on a number of times in different venues. I was quite happy to be asked to give this particular session at this conference. I can't really stress enough how important this issue is at this time... with the implementation of the new translation coming in less than a year now it is time to begin the transformation of our liturgical music that has been called for, first by Pope John Paul II in his Chirograph on Sacred Music, and then again in Pope Benedict's Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (and in numerous other addresses, writings and letters before and since that time) and by the Bishops of the United Sates in Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship.

I am going to try to address the practical resources and suggestions for how to do this, in a normal parish with average choir members. I'm also going to try and address this convergence of events that makes this the time. I hope that you will be able to join us at the conference. I will post the link to the registration and information site when it is put online. In the meantime...put the date on your calendar!

Monday, January 24, 2011

An Intriguing Detail in the Order of Mass

Reading through the Order of Mass (New Translation), there are a few interesting details compared to the current version. Take for example the instruction to begin Mass...

Current Version:After the people have assembled, an opening song or entrance antiphon is sung or recited as the priest and the ministers enter the church and process to the altar; after reverencing the altar (sometimes also using incense), they go to their chairs

New Version:When the people are gathered, the Priest approaches the altar with the ministers while the Entrance Chant is sung.
When he has arrived at the altar, after making a profound bow with the ministers, the Priest venerates the altar with a kiss and, if appropriate, incenses the cross and the altar. Then, with the ministers, he goes to the chair.
When the Entrance Chant is concluded, the Priest and the faithful, standing, sign themselves with the Sign of the Cross, while the Priest, facing the people, says.....

Now, maybe it's just a detail... but maybe not. Notice that there is no longer any mention of an 'opening song", but rather the Entrance Chant... and it is capitalized. And it's mentioned twice, once when it starts, and again indicating when it ends. That seems quite specific, indicating that the Entrance Chant (not something else) is to be sung at this point.

And the specificity just gets greater when it comes to the Offertory...

Current Version: The Offertory Antiphon may be sung as the gifts are brought to the altar

Now, this is one of those instructions that seems to say one thing, but could actually mean just about whatever the reader would like. Certainly, the Antiphon may be sung, but there's nothing saying that something else can't be sung here. This confusion is certainly cleared up in the new version...

New Version: When all this has been done, the Offertory Chant begins. Meanwhile, the ministers place the corporal, the purificator, the chalice, the pall, and the Missal on the altar.

22. It is desirable that the faithful express their participation by making an offering, bringing forward bread and wine for the celebration of the Eucharist and perhaps other gifts to relieve the needs of the Church and of the poor.

(and then a little later)

Then he places the paten with the bread on the corporal.
If, however, the Offertory Chant is not sung, the Priest may speak these words aloud; at the end, the people may acclaim:
Blessed be God for ever.

(and a little later still...)

Then he places the chalice on the corporal.
If, however, the Offertory Chant is not sung, the Priest may speak these words aloud; at the end, the people may acclaim:
Blessed be God for ever.

Three times the Offertory Chant (again, capitalized... this is a specific term, a "thing", the actual Offertory Chant, not something else sung during the offertory) is identified, either to be sung or NOT to be sung. No mention anywhere of "...or some other song". The intention here is clear. Either the Offertory Chant is sung, or it isn't sung. There is no option specified for something else to be sung. Certainly that option exists, doesn't it? Hmm...

But it is the instruction at communion that is the most telling....

Current Version: No Instruction

Now, we all know that in the absence of an instruction, one is free to make up any instruction that one might wish. And that has certainly been the case when it comes to communion. But what does the new version say?

New Version:em>While the Priest is receiving the Body of Christ, the Communion Chant begins.

So far, this is like the previous two examples. Clear and unequivocal... the Communion Chant (capitalized) begins at this point. No mention of something else going on here. But it is the final instruction at this point that really makes the point I think...

Then the Priest may return to the chair. If appropriate, a sacred silence may be observed for a while, or a psalm or other canticle of praise or a hymn may be sung.

I say "WOW", and here's why. At this point it becomes clear that Entrance Chant, Offertory Chant and Communion Chant are not generic terms.... there are such things as psalms and canticles of praise and even... gasp HYMNS!! They specify them for this point in the Mass... but NOT at the entrance, offertory of communion processions... at those points they specify other things... the Chants appropriate to those processions!

I think there is something going on here... or there WILL BE something going on here that we don't yet know about. Just as the rather odd statements and instructions in Sing to the Lord make a lot more sense in light of what we now know about the new translation and liturgical developments since 2006, I wonder what may occur in the near future that will make these instructions necessary....

Kinda makes one think a little!

Music Resources for the New Translation of the Roman Missal

I would like to pass on the link to my website for "Music Resources for the New Translation of the Roman Missal"

A couple of notes on this page, which I hope will grow into a resource page for a lot of what is out there in the way of chant (Latin and English) and other good quality, FREE sacred music.

First, I don't want to be accused of taking other people's material, but if it is posted online and available for download at no cost, I'm going to assume that it is OK to link to that material as a resource. If that isn't the case, and you find your material on my site and would like me to not promote it or link to it... just let me know and I will be happy to remove it.

Second, if you have materials online and you would like me to link to them, please let me know and I will be happy to do so. I strongly believe that the more online, FREE resources there are, the better quality material there will be produced in the future. A non-monopolistic marketplace is an amazing thing.

Third, you may notice that the original title of the webpage was "Resources for Sing to the Lord". Although the project has expanded way beyond that in the past few years, I think this is an appropriate title. Looking back at SttL knowing what we now know (and what we DIDN'T know in 2006), it becomes obvious that SttL was intended as a document to implement the musical vision presented to us in the new translation .... expanded use of chant, sung dialogues, increased emphasis on sung Propers... and the list goes on of concepts set forth in SttL that made little sense at the time, but which make lots of sense in light of the new translation. So I'm keeping the title, at least as far as the address is concerned!

I hope that you will visit (and return!) to this page frequently and avail yourselves and your parish of the opportunity to have great, beautiful music at Mass!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

We Sang A New Translation and... nobody noticed?

Hmm... This over at Jerry Galipeau's "Gotta Sing, Gotta Pray" blog:

There have been some great comments posted recently, comments from musicians like Kevin Keil. These musicians are beginning to implement the new texts, set to new and revised musical settings, now, in order to prepare their communities gradually for the upcoming change. I found Kevin's comments quite interesting:

"With all the variations of texts currently used in our present repertoire, no one noticed that it was a new translation; just another variation of the Gloria. Interesting."

As I have said before, I think the transition will be the easiest for the people in the pews; much more challenging for bishops and priests.

In Jerry's defense, yes, he has indeed said (well, for the past half year or so...) that the people in the pews will have less trouble. Even so, I still sense that he is uneasy that there is going to be all kinds of opposition, complaints and the such.

But... and here's my reason for posting this... I have been excoriated recently by an anonymous commenter (well, they believe themselves to be anonymous at least... :) ) who recently said the following:

(I had said)"The original post at PT that spurred this article was so transparently made from the point of view of a discouraged progressive who sees the time of the NewChurch coming to an end, wishing with all her strength that her unlikely predictions (of massive opposition to the new translation) might come true."

(the anon commenter then said) Baloney,

You've been chanting the same neum here there and on every blog for months now, and it's just not true, though it would certainly make it easier for you to deal with the incompetence and politics that produced the final, far inferior final version if it were true. So keep chanting.

All together now in Mode 1: "A-at le-ee-east we have a new-ew transla-a-tion now ..."

Now, that comment refers to another article at Pray Tell by an author who was predicting doom and gloom and insurrection by the faithful as soon as they heard the new translation. There would be pestilence and famine... riots and massive hordes leaving the church in rebellion.

But now we have Kevin Keil who (well, perhaps slighly under the radar...) introduces the Gloria... the most changed text for the faithful in the new translation... and.... NOBODY EVEN NOTICES THAT IT IS A NEW TRANSLATION.

I expect that this will be the reaction in most places.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming....

Friday, January 14, 2011

CHANT: "Just Do It"

This is the year, this is the time.

The past 10 years or so have gradually and inevitably led us to this point, a point where the Church's Chant tradition has once again come to the forefront, as it has throughout history following periods of rejection, disuse and insurgency by popular and/ or secular forces from without and within. And yet the church always resists that insurgency and re-asserts tradition.

Summorum Pontificum
The Papal Masses
Sacramentum Caritatis
Anglicanorum Coetibus
The New Translation
The New Evangelization

And Chant......

Now is the time. JUST DO IT!

Beginning today, The Authentic Update will be dedicated to providing resources and links to online resources for "Just Doing" chant in your parish setting. Whether it's the Ordinary Chants of the New Translation, or Proper Chants for your Choir. Whether in Latin or English (or as I've seen recently, in Spanish!), chant needs to be brought into the liturgy NOW if we are to realize the vision of the Second Vatican Council when it said:

“Gregorian chant holds pride of place because it is proper to the Roman Liturgy” (GIRM 41)


“the Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as especially suited to the Roman liturgy; therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.” (SC 116)

We can't keep kidding ourselves and pushing this under the rug because implementing chant in a parish is "difficult" or "divisive". It's neither, and it is easier now than ever. This doesn't mean throwing the hymnals in the dumpster and having a Schola sing the entire liturgy in Latin. It DOES mean presenting chant in the liturgy as it was meant to be and incorporating other musical forms when appropriate. It means taking your job as a Music Director or musician seriously enough to be willing to do some work and provide education and leadership in your parish.

I will do what I can this year here at Authentic Update to assist Music Directors, musicians or just concerned Catholics in this effort. You may reply or contact me here and I will do my best to help when needed.

May God Bless Your Efforts!

Deo Gratias...