Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Mass news...

As we've discussed in past posts, many of the words that we say during the Mass are changing. For years, it has been recognized that the current English translations of the Mass prayers (which are translated from Latin), are, at best, inadequate, or, at worst, incorrect in many ways. So, new English translations of the Mass will be introduced throughout the English-speaking Catholic world this year on the First Sunday of Advent (November 27, 2011, to be exact).

A lot of things will change. When the priest greets us in the opening dialogue of the Mass with "The Lord be with you," we will respond "And with your spirit." Many of the priest's prayers are different, too (we're all in this together). To facilitate a smooth transition to the updated texts of the Mass, our bishop has decided that all parishes within the Jackson Diocese will use the same musical Mass settings for a period of time. This means that, beginning on the Fist Sunday of Advent, the ordinaries (i.e. the Gloria, the Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei) that we use at St. John's, will be one of two approved for use in all parishes throughout the Diocese of Jackson.

A couple of months ago, Mary Woodward, the diocesan director of liturgy, invited all of us who are involved in parish music to a diocesan-wide meeting and workshop held in Gluckstadt, MS. Our input was invited in helping the bishop to select a Mass setting to be used throughout the diocese for a period of time beginning at Advent. In the end, two Mass settings were approved and the thought is that with all parishes using the same music for these settings, it will be easier for all to learn the new responses and ordinaries, even if they travel to different parishes from week to week.

So, what are the two newly-approved Mass settings? They are the Belmont Mass by Christopher Walker and the Missa Simplex by the late Richard Proulx. You can visited the linked sites to listen to samples of each setting. Both of these settings are beautiful and, in accordance with the Church's musical heritage, are based on chant settings, which means that they will be easy to learn and remember.

The important thing in all of this is the wonderful reality that the Church is improving her liturgy. She is stepping back and undertaking a sober reflection on the ways in which she worships. We are all called to enter into a more refined and more prayerful Mass which, hopefully, will lead all of us into a deeper reverence for the beautiful and timeless mysteries of our Eucharistic worship.


The news of our diocese-wide implementation of the Mass settings has hit the internet and made waves on a some other blogs.

The blog Pray Tell had an initial piece on the news a few days ago. And Jeffrey Tucker's Chant Cafe also covered it.