Singing the New Translation of the Missal – Arundel and Brighton style

Tonight I went to a practical session organised by my diocese, Arundel and Brighton, to help people ‘learn’ how to sing the new Missal translation. It was run by a very enthusiastic woman from the Portsmouth Diocese who seemed to have committed to memory every Mass setting written in English in the last twenty years.

I thought we would be looking at the ICEL chants. I did not anticipate singing through Mass settings which ranged from Marty Haugen to Paul Inwood to Stephen Dean. Have your ever turned up at a party in fancy dress only to discover that everyone is dressed normally? I got that same sinking feeling as l walked through the door and was handed an informative sheet with lots of different ‘Glorias,’ most which have ‘Glory to God in the highest’ as a refrain and a ‘cut out and keep’ article from The Tablet entited ‘Sing to him a new song.’

I must be positive about the experience but I felt like an alien just landed from a planet, far far away. A kind man from Dabcec, (diocesan organisational arm) who was very hospitable and friendly, came up to me at the break to chat. I was the only one sat on my own with no one to talk to, the only one that would not know the ‘Creation Mass’ by Marty Haugen in a Catholic karaoke booth. He said ‘you’re from St Mary Magdalen’s – you do things very differently…”  Well, I suppose we sing what is in the Missal.

So what have I learnt from this evening:

  • 1. That all those Masses we sang in the 1980s, like Peter Jones’ ‘Coventry Mass’ have been re-written to the new words. Phew – congregations cannot possibly be expected to learn new music.
  • 2. That Stephen Dean’s ‘Sussex Mass’ and Christopher Walker’s  ‘Belmont Mass’ are the most popular Mass settings in our diocese.
  • 3. That some of the new Mass settings in the ‘Celebration for Everyone ‘supplement are regretfully missing guitar chords because they had to rush through the publication.
  • 4. That it is not worth trying to teach Gloria XV to congregations. It is too hard.
  • 5. That I quite liked ‘The Heritage Mass’  by Owen Alshott. No, I really did.
  • 6. That Paul Inwood’s ‘Gathering Mass’ has been banned in Portsmouth Cathedral. No comment.
  • 7. That whilst the ‘Clapping Gloria’ and other popular pieces which don’t quite employ the accurate text should really not be used anymore, it is ok to use them at other times in the Mass. The suggestion was that you might want to sing the ‘Clap Gloria’ as an entrance hymn.
  • 8. That we seem to be the only parish in the entire universe that sings in Latin and has the priest intone the Gloria. Apparently, they do not have to do it, especially if they are of a nervous disposition.
  • 9. That the ICEL board approving the new Mass settings (they only meet once a month) are not looking at the quality of the music. They are only interested in whether you have all the correct words in the correct order. Someone told me the other day that his lovely Mass setting had been sent back because he has not written a memorial acclamation…  I thought there was a perfectly acceptable chant one in the new Missal?     UPDATE – I’ve just found the approved list on the Liturgy Office website. HERE. Nick Baty has written twelve different settings..
  • 10. That ‘Taste and see’ is modern-day Gregorian chant
      This is a video of how my parish will be preparing for Sunday Mass from the first Sunday in Advent.
  • 11. That I want to be an Anglican.

21 thoughts on “Singing the New Translation of the Missal – Arundel and Brighton style

  1. Patricius says:

    This is grim news indeed. But there is hope!
    I attended a day in my own diocese recently where we practised the missal chants and a mass by a local composer. The latter was dire sub-Rutter but at least the ICEL chants were on offer and they appeared to be well received- including the Gloria.

  2. Mark F says:

    A very frequent comment I get from ex-Anglicans like myself is that the dire music in the Catholic Church is one of the real sacrifices we have had to make when we enter the Church.

    However one of the good things about this is that there are now so many ex-Anglicans in my church (somewhere in Sussex) that we are beginning to have enough influence to do something about it.

  3. leutgeb says:

    You do not want to be an Anglican.

    We have valid orders and sacraments and a whole lot more fun.

    We keep going with our thing. It is what we are supposed to be doing.

    The Gloria from Mass XV is pentatonic and repetitive. If they could sing that tune at the time of Our Lord in the Temple in Jerusalem, why don’t we want to do it now?

    My choir love the Parish Book of Chant and the congregation at the 10.30 Mass sing all the responses and the Ordinary brilliantly. People thank me for doing Credo I. When I told one lady in the choir that Credo I is over 1000 years old she was almost moved to tears. On Friday we sing adoro te devote written by St Thomas Aquinas. Now that’s what I call quality. Think of all the people who have sung that down the years. We are singing the best music ever written for the Mass across 2000 years.

  4. leutgeb says:

    PS From memory, tomorrow it’s a votive Mass of the Blessed Sacrament and Mass IV.

    No guitar chords; must have beenin a hurry when they published the Graduale Romanun.

  5. david says:

    All I can say is thank God for the EF Missa Cantata where you do not have to endure this dumming down ie guitars and clapping.

  6. Clare says:


    But the saddest thing of all about the OF Missa Cantata is that it should have the same or similar music to the EF. The guidelines are all there for the OF, (Graduale Romanum, Sacrosanctum Concilium etc) but because they are not mandatory rules, they are dismissed.


    Votive Mass of Blessed Sacrament? Phew sounds like something l know, and unbelieveably can all be sung from one book (or one ipad.) If only singing the OF had the technological advancements that the EF has.

  7. Ian Williams says:

    It’s a good job the anonymous, wholy unnacountable Panel aren’t making any musical judgements, Clare, as otherwise they might insist on guitar chords, as their Canadian equivalent has. Fortunately, such considerations are outside the clearly stated purpose of their terms of reference – textual fidelity. Mind you, that’s not stopped them from rejecting textually faithful settings on other grounds, such as failing to include a memorial acclamation, so watch that space and brush up on your guitar-chord notation – or find ways of getting round them 🙂

  8. Ian Williams says:

    ps if many parishes continue to sing the same old, same old, do we expect a rush of ex-Anglican musicians to the Ordinariate parishes? Merbecke, Leighton, choral Evensong & Benediction here we come!

  9. Ronald Harvey says:

    As an Anglican musician looking at the Tiber from my side, I can only quote John Bunyan, “….and all the guitars sounded for him on the other side.”

  10. James Findlayson says:

    Point 10 shows the influence Godspell, rather than God, still has on liturgical planning for those of a certain age…

    • Mark F says:

      Sadly true, James. I think the real problem is that those people who were inspired by “the spirit of Vatican II” when they were young are still stuck in the 1970s.

  11. Ian Coleman says:

    Clare, I deeply sympathise with you on your rather depressing experience. The problem I often find is not so much what music is presented at these occasions (and I have to confess I’ve been involved with a couple myself…) but the not-very-well-concealed subtext that ‘OK there’s this rather irritating change in the text, but in terms of liberal Catholic post-conciliar liturgy it’s “business as usual”‘.
    The sheer smugness of this not-so-hidden agenda is what is so dispiriting and isolating. Isolating, that is, for those of us who know that a genuine and exciting change is taking place in our liturgical life – a re-discovery of the neglected riches of the Roman Rite.
    Don’t let these people get you down; they belong to the past.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s