Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounc'd it to you, trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth it, as many of our players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines.
I just realized I have been somewhat reluctant, for a variety of reasons, to explore the upcoming changes in the people's parts of the Mass in any depth beyond a quick glance. I think I was a bit in denial and somewhat in dread of what I might find and what it is going to mean to me as a cantor and member of the Assembly. So, tonight I bit the proverbial bullet and went to the USCCB website where they have posted the new and old parts side by side for comparison: http://www.usccb.org/romanmissal/assembly.shtml.
Of course, I knew about the "and with your spirit" response to the opening greeting and the change from "We believe" to "I believe" in the Creed, and some of the other particulars that have been argued and re-argued in the news and in Catholic blogs around the web. Honestly, besides the substitution of the 4-syllable theologically specific and Latinate "consubstantial with the Father" for "one in being with the Father" (described by some commentators as an opportuntity for using the dictionary) the change that concerns me most is the opening of the Gloria. (I will deal with the possible loss of the current Memorial Acclamation A in a separate post.).
Here is the current version of what is most often used as the refrain to the Gloria: "Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth." Simply put, in terms of poetic meter this is mostly dactylic (2 long-short-short "feet") followed by a spondee (long-long) and the same followed by a single beat. A such it is simple to set to triple meter (3/4 time or 6/8 time) music. Think of all the great refrain settings - and most are either in triple meter, or in 4/4 with triplets.
If I were a composer I would be tearing my hair out over the choppy new version: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will" - the first line is the same as before, but then it segues into an anapestic (short-short-long) 2 trochaic (long-short)and another anapestic foot. Setting this and singing it are going to require some skill on the part of composers, musicians and assembly. Triple, then double, then triple meter all in one line. If the Assembly parts are to be simple and singable, this will be a challenge. We have lost the poetry in the translators' zeal to recover the literal meaning. And with it, our most beloved musical settings. Composers will be hard-pressed to squeeze all that text into the current tunes.
And so, my dear Hamlet, our lines will not trip easily off our tongues. True, in time we will no doubt get used to this and it will take on its own character. The transition, however, may be as disruptive as the performance of the play within the play in Hamlet.