A Plea to the Publishers

In the wake of the third typical edition of the Missale Romanum and Liturgiam Authenticam all of the major music publishing houses associated with the Roman Catholic Church put a freeze on the publication of new settings of the Ordinary of the Mass. Recently, publishers have been announcing their plans for new music for the new translations, which collectively amount to a combination solution of re-tooling and re-fitting of old favorites plus introducing new compositions. Well and good, and a necessary measure for the integrity of the liturgy of the Roman Rite.

But what about the rest of us that use a western rite liturgy and adopted ICEL/ICET/ELLC translations in the heyday of liturgical renewal? We are Anglicans/Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, United and Uniting Church Christians, and Disciples of Christ. Some of us sing these texts every week, others once a month; some more frequently, some less. What about us, who have no plans to opt into this set of translations? What, then, shall we sing?

Oh, we have our denominational hymnals and supplements, to be sure. We sing our own stuff. But we sing yours too. Not an Episcopalian in the United States doesn’t know Richard Proulx’s Community Mass. Imagine my surprise when, attending a youth rally in New Jersey, we sang Matt Maher’s setting from Spirit & Song 2. In Chicago, on successive weeks and in churches of various denominations, I’ve sung Christopher Walker’s Celtic Mass, Michael Joncas’ Sing Praise and Thanksgiving and Marty Haugen’s Mass of Creation. Jan Vermulst’s People’s Mass and Grayson Warren Brown’s Mass of St. Paul seem to be favorites among middle-American Episcopalians, and Steve Janco’s Mass of Redemption gets at least an occasional singing in some New York Lutheran parishes.

And frankly, I like them all. I enjoy singing them, and ceteris paribus, I think they’re all fairly good ritual music for congregational singing.

Roman Catholics are sometimes surprised to walk into churches of the catholic-but-not-Catholic traditions and find Gather Comprehensive II, Journeysongs, Spirit & Song, and We Celebrate in the pews. For most of us, who love to sing, having a second or third hymnal available just enriches the repertoire. And because the publishers associated with the Roman Catholic church have music from composers that we simply don’t (for better or for worse), having additional hymnals is a happy necessity — and the same happy necessity holds true in keeping the octavos of various settings of the ordinary in the parish music library.

My point is this: keep the old settings around, at least for a while — and make them easily accessible on your websites and in your catalogues: don’t make us hunt or beg, like second-class Christians, and don’t make us bust our budgets trying to buy up everything we might want all at once. If there are settings you’re planning on putting out of print, let us — and let our denominational publishing houses — know: we just might buy you out.

In an ideal world, I’d also ask that the publishers make new settings available with the old texts. . . I’m afraid that would be too much to ask.

The alternative? Let’s just not go there right now….

23 comments

  1. Here, here!

    There is a vague possibility I will be working in an Episcopalian parish soon. They use the “old” ICEL texts (for the most part). Thought one was, “O Good, I won’t have to deal with those awful new translations.”
    Following hard upon was, “Crap- all the Mass settings I like won’t be available.”

    It’s like the publishers are asking us to commit copyright crime and Xerox all our personal copies. Not good. Haven’t you people heard of print on demand?

    Maybe the Protestants will be able to buy up defunct used copies of everything from all the Catholic parishes that aren’t allowed to use them anymore. Of course, that assumes Catholic parishes will stop using stuff that isn’t allowed anymore. Not likely.

    1. As a Catholic, I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that so many Protestant denominations followed the lead of the Catholic Church after Vatican II to develop their own liturgies in line with what was happening in our Church. I did not know until recently that the Mass of Creation is by an Episcopalian.
      Unfortunately, these communions followed the worst of what was allowed immediately following the Council. Sorry we led you down the garden path, like lambs to be slaughtered. But maybe now, you can follow us to a more authentic translation of our Mass parts. I’m particularly shocked that so many in the Anglican communion gave up their good English translations for our lame duck ICEL translations, I’m speechless in that regard. 🙂

  2. Cody wrote:
    “My point is this: keep the old settings around, at least for a while — and make them easily accessible on your websites and in your catalogues….” And “In an ideal world, I’d also ask that the publishers make new settings available with the old texts….”

    Alas, the “old” texts are held in copyright and the publishers are, in essence, unable to keep selling products that are no longer authorized by the owners of the copyrighted texts.

    1. The texts, insofar as they appear in the Book of Common Prayer, are in the public domain: you won’t find a copyright notice in the Prayer Book, whether of an Episcopal claim, or a permissions notice. That was one condition of our accepting the ICEL/ICET/ELLC texts into our liturgy: they came unencumbered, or not at all.

      So that line of reasoning would only hold true for two of the current Roman Memorial Acclamations.

  3. I, being a composer published by GIA, and who has composed several mass settings over the years… I asked my editors at GIA a while back this very question. It is my understanding that the older scores/versions of these Mass settings from GIA (Mass of Creation, Mass of Light, German Mass, Community Mass and many others) will remain in print – as they pointed out to me, they serve many different Christian traditions. I have not heard any thing to the contrary recently.. so I am presuming that Protestants will still have access to the Mass settings using the present texts, while at the same time the “retro-fitted” new versions of these will be the ones available in Catholic publications such as hymnals and missalettes. I do know for a fact that the new settings (ones composed from scratch that utilize the new texts) will not be available with the what will become, the “older” texts. I would recommend that those interested contact GIA, OCP, and WLP to confirm this.

    1. David, thank you. I know you have prepared (and GIA has published) works of yours directed to a non-Roman market. Those are appreciated; I’m afraid such various editions will have to proliferate as we move father and farther away from common texts and, alas, common song.

  4. “As a Catholic, I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that so many Protestant denominations followed the lead of the Catholic Church after Vatican II to develop their own liturgies in line with what was happening in our Church.”

    That’s becuase our liturgical renewal was sound and the liturgical movement was ecumenical. Eucharistic Prayer IV was broadly adopted and ICET texts collaboratively developed. David Holeton has often spoken eloquently of the disdainful manner in which curial congregations and bishops’ conferences dismissed ICET work.

  5. Bari said:

    Alas, the “old” texts are held in copyright and the publishers are, in essence, unable to keep selling products that are no longer authorized by the owners of the copyrighted texts.

    But the ICET/ELLC texts are not copyrighted. So how can the USCCB say the publishers cannot continue to sell the music which sets these texts?

  6. That’s becuase our liturgical renewal was sound and the liturgical movement was ecumenical. Eucharistic Prayer IV was broadly adopted and ICET texts collaboratively developed.

    Fascinating! I don’t think I have ever heard Eucharistic Prayer IV used in a Catholic church. Is it really popular among other churches?

    1. Eucharistic Prayer D (TEC) and the Roman Missal’s Eucharistic Prayer IV are both based on the Alexandrian version of the Anaphora of St. Basil (4th century). In the points at which they differ, the Episcopal Church’s version of the Prayer is more faithful to the source. For Methodist I believe it is M1. Lutherans and Reformed churches use it as well. There are adaptations in every case, but ICET adopted it from the RC reforms to have a truly ecumenical (shared) EP.

      I hear it quite often at the RC parishes I worship at as Haas’s Mass of Light. It seems to be a manageably sung EP for presiders – and one the worshiping community seems to find highly prayerful.

      I’m not sure of the extent of its use in other traditions. Methodist EPs seem generally structured according to the Alexandrian – and thus it might be utilized more often there (speculation).

  7. Sounds to me like a great reason to stop the business of throw away “worship aids” and music books full of stuff that most parishes don’t use. Sounds like a better reason to settle on a hard cover service book-hymnal that folks can take ownership of over a period of years.

  8. I agree with W. W. O’Bryan, in my previous parish, we used the Worship Hymnal that had the readings and responsorial psalms for Sunday at the back of the book. We purchased them in 1992 and though they are old the parish still uses them and has never purchased a single missalette since then. While many of the hymns in the Worship III hymnal are not sung by the parish, a good number are and they know them well, very well and blow the roof off. They’ve settled on three or four Mass parts that are changed according to season.
    We need something updated either from GIA or World Press, hardback with the full liturgical musical settings for introits, antiphons, Mass parts and hymns etc, and the readings and psalm setting at the back for all three cycles.
    As an aside, I don’t use the 4th Eucharistic Prayer very often on Sunday because it is redundant in term so the Credo that was prayed prior to it. But I do use it sometimes, but I find it clunky.

  9. I’m particularly shocked that so many in the Anglican communion gave up their good English translations for our lame duck ICEL translations, I’m speechless in that regard.

    Maybe the old ICEL translations aren’t as bad you think. Clearly many, many people and organizations under no obligation to the Bishops thought highly enough of them to adopt them voluntarily.
    Or, maybe everybody was stupid in the 1970s.

    1. I got the impression from some here that everyone was stupid before 1960, then became brilliant, and then became stupid again sometime in the 90s.

  10. This liturgical juncture offers an excellent opportunity to try English language adaptations of the Graduale Romanum. Perhaps parishes might even try the Graduale in the original. I’m impressed at the high quality of these vernacular adaptations and their fidelity to the original chants. I commend those parishes that give the gradual its proper place at Mass.

    Can a priest at said Mass read the gradual and offertory prayer directly from the Graduale Romanum? In other words, can the priest circumvent the Responsorial Psalm and reintroduce the gradual and missing offertory verse? I never understood why graduals and offertory verses aren’t printed in the missals of the reformed liturgy. I understand that these parts are proper to the choir, but I don’t see why a priest could not say them at a said or private Mass.

  11. Just wanted you all to know that this issue has been on our radar here at WLP for a number of years. We know there are congregations that will continue to sing the musical settings of the Mass that we have published over the years. We are currently working on an approach that will work for all. Keep in mind that there are other issues involved. Imagine being the customer service representative who answers the phone call from someone who wants to order Steve Janco’s Mass of Redemption. “Would you like the new translation or the old translation?” “Well, I didn’t think we had a choice . . .” After working here for nearly eleven years, I know that we can handle any challenge. Please know that we are working on this issue.

      1. Saints preserve us! It’s a publishing company, not the CDF.

        I know several parishes that have already decided not to utilize the new ICEL texts when delivered. They will be ordering “the old translation.” And, quite fankly, will get such one way or another.

        I’m surpised by those who don’t seem to understand we live in a different world than 1952 Benzinger Bros. – on a whole host of issues.

        Besides, now that its been proven you can hold out for your own “use” – pick a Missal year, or century – it will only continue.

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