Sunday, December 12, 2010

Words and Music

The First Sunday of Advent next year, 2011, the Church throughout the English-speaking world will begin using a new translation of the Mass. This is the third bulletin letter I have used to start getting you ready for this big change.

You will be pleased to know that the Our Father will not change at all. But a lot of things will change that you say now from memory, including the Gloria, and the Creed. Both of them change in small but substantial ways.

The Gloria will begin: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will. We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory, Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father. Which is a better rendition than what we have been using of: Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. Laudamus te, benedicimus te, adoramus te, glorificamus te, gratias agimus tibi, propter magnam gloriam tuam, Domine Deus, rex caelestis, Pater omnipotens. You don’t need to be a Latin scholar to see that.

The Profession of Faith will change right at the beginning from We believe to I believe. That better translates the word in Latin, Credo, which is in the first person singular, and reflects that while we all believe it together, we speak of our own, personal belief. Some of the things that we will profess to believe will be changed in formulation as well, including all things visible and invisible; and the only begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. There are changes like that throughout the Creed. I don’t know about you, but will probably be about ten years before I try that without having the text in front of me!

Right before the Eucharistic prayer, when the priest says Let us give thanks to the Lord our God, you will respond, It is right and just (Dignum et iustum est) instead of It is right to give Him thanks and praise. In the Holy, holy, holy, one little thing will change – Lord God of power and might will become Lord God of hosts. The Priest will leave out, Let us proclaim… and just say, The Mystery of Faith!; then, every one of the memorial acclamations that you can say in response will change, at least a little.

Because all of these texts are changing, something else that we are all familiar with will be changing as well: the music. The musical settings of the English Mass parts that we have all grown accustomed to will be left behind with the old texts – it would be too confusing to try to squeeze new words into old melodies, and new melodies will help us learn the new words. Our music leaders and I will begin working soon on finding the best new settings for us to use. Don’t worry, we will do what it takes to help you learn them – even if that means practicing!

In the face of this change, we of Saint Bernadette have an advantage. We already are familiar with the Mass in its original form, since we have been singing the Latin commons (Gloria, Sanctus, etc.) for over a decade. Did you notice last week that Fr. Bonifacio had no trouble singing along with our Gregorian chant? It is a link for us to Church members around the world whatever languages they speak. And that union in prayer will continue to be enhanced as we plunge more deeply into the Mass and its meaning. God bless you to sing His praises!

Monsignor Smith

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