Friday, June 17, 2011

Permission to Sing the New Translation Granted

Well, it's official. The USCCB has voted to allow parishes to begin using the sung parts of the Mass employing the new translation early - beginning in September, if the local bishop permits. Here is the statement.  Kudos to the bishops for realizing that Advent is rather a poor time of year to begin singing new settings.  Sentiment around the web (on Facebook and the blogs) has been mixed, but mostly positive. 

This change will mean that parishes can begin learning the new Gloria text in the fall, so that the first time they sing it will not be at Christmas liturgies.  Sure, the people who only come for Christmas and Easter will be confused, but that, frankly, is not our problem. (I am of the mind that "you snooze, you lose".)  At least the "regulars" in the pews and the musicians will have had exposure to it during September through November, so Christmas renditions of the Gloria should be properly strong and unconfused.

I have been in consultation with our parish music director - and after an experience last fall where we attended a choral reading session with both new Mass settings and re-worked familiar ones, we are in agreement that new, at least for now, is better.  Somehow, music and words get entrenched in our brains together, so that changing words to familiar tunes (and adding extra notes to accommodate the extra words) seems to make it much more difficult.  We, as trained musicians and pretty good sight readers normally, found it very hard to put new words to old music. Maybe later, when we learn the new words well, it will be easier to go back and resurrect old settings.

So, with the opportunity to introduce the new sung parts more gradually, and the spoken parts beginning in Advent, parishes should have an easier time of it. The bishops' decision is one of great common sense.


  1. Agreed: I'm very glad to see the bishops responding to a reasonable request from folks "in the field" for a more gradual implementation.

    Also agreed that new Mass settings will make it easier to learn the new words than reworked settings. As hard as it may be to set aside the Mass of Creation, its use at this time will only make the transition harder.