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….