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 chantThis 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.