As you know, Catholics Mass has changed somewhat since the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011. Revisions to some Mass prayers had been “in the works” for about ten years. They are now better translations from Latin, and are a bit more formal, a bit more poetic; essentially, they have served to distinguish the language we use in worship of God from the language we use in our everyday lives.
At the same time, the musical settings we use at Mass have had to change somewhat, in order to accommodate the revised translations. Changes to the Gloria and to the proclamation of the Mysteries of Faith, for example, have caused the singing of these parts of the Mass to seem a little foreign. Like the rest of the revisions to the Mass, they will only become familiar through practice, practice, and more practice. Luckily, no date has been set for when these musical settings will be played and sung perfectly!
Another element to be considered in any discussion of music and the revised Missal: Gregorian chant has been reaffirmed “to hold pride of place” in Catholic worship (2011 General Instruction of the Roman Missal, #41). This does not mean that all Masses have to be sung, but with the new English translation, in many cases the flow of the words naturally fit to be chanted by the presider and people. Many people are hoping that a positive result of the revision of the Roman Missal will be the increased use of chant—in English or Latin—by all participants at Mass.
In a similar vein, the emphasis in music has shifted from “songs” to “chants.” Songs are still allowed and encouraged, but you’ll probably notice an increase in the amount of chanting we do from the Psalms—the prayer of the Church—at Mass. This chant is sung alternately by the music leader(s) and the people, or entirely by the people, or by the music leader(s) alone.
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