Mass of Renewal – the NPM winner

Pray Tell reported on the NPM convention in July and the new Mass setting which won the NPM competition. Here it is – audio and sheet music. “Mass of Renewal” by William Gokelman and David Kauffman.


  1. It would be nice to see some of the other compositions that were up for “voting” for those of us unable to attend the convention this year before we start bashing these gentlemen composers. If this is what “won” then what else were they up against?

    Anyone have info? Recordings? “Connections?”

    1. I was able to attend the convention in Detroit this year, and the buzz—before the results were even announced—was that the Mass of Renewal (aka “Option C from Wednesday”) was easily the most singable of the four finalists. That said…

      Paul Inwood wrote in this comment to an earlier thread: “Of the four that were presented, it was undoubtedly the best of a pretty poor bunch that won.”

      Another composer I spoke to at the convention said that you could’ve swapped any of the individual elements from any of the four finalists and still passed them off as the same work. There did seem to be a very similar (safe, vanilla) aesthetic for picking the finalists, and unfortunately that didn’t make for a lot of variety or distinctiveness among them.

      Personally, while I don’t think it’s too bad, it’s no standout when you consider everything else currently on the table. I certainly don’t see it achieving the same kind of ubiquity that Mass of Creation currently enjoys.

  2. Ever since I heard and sang the Mass of Renewal Gloria at the convention, I’ve been troubled by the composers’ decision to split the text where they did. (Yes, if you already despise refrain Glorias, it’s obviously got a hit against it—but that’s not what I mean.)

    In the first verse, Gokelman and Kauffman jump from “your great glory” back into the refrain, and begin the second verse with “Lord God, Heavenly King”—leading right into the section addressing “Lord Jesus Christ” in the same verse. Thus:

    VERSE 1: We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory.
    REFRAIN: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.
    VERSE 2: Lord God, Heavenly King, O God Almighty Father. Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son…

    There are a number of problems with this. The second verse begins with a sentence fragment. It’s unclear who the litany in the first verse addresses, and turning on a dime between Father and Son in the second verse is jarring. The structure of the prayer and the primacy of the text are compromised to fit the musical structure.

    It’s a shame that the composers couldn’t find a better solution to preserve the structure of the prayer, because I do think it’s an accessible setting of an admittedly awkward and difficult text.

  3. One aspect of about this and other settings of the ordinary is the lead-in music for the memorial acclamation and great amen. It turns these responses almost into stand-alone pieces and obscures their position as responses. Put another way, the cue for Amen should be “Through him, with him, etc.” and not the musical introduction.

  4. Does anyone know whether OCP will be including this in its missalettes or is it too early to tell?

    Will there be another competition in 2011?

    1. This is pure conjecture, but based on past behavior and current marketing strategies, it appears to me like the Big Three will be publishing their own in-house settings exclusively in their missalettes and/or hymnals, plus the official ICEL chants. OCP and WLP will probably include GIA’s revised Mass of Creation in their materials, but I think that’ll be the only exception to the rule.

      Good for the Soul Music, which is basically a self-publishing house for David Kauffman, has not had any of its music printed in the missalettes or hymnals from the Big Three thus far.

  5. The NPM competition rules stated that no composition submitted should be under consideration by a publisher. And yet the winners run their own publishing house, so presumably the winning composition was under consideration by their own house (and will now be published by it).

    Do I sense a breach of the spirit of the competition rules, if not the letter of them?

    1. I don’t know, but this seems unnecessarily legalistic to me. Anybody can self-publish, especially in this egalitarian Internet age.

      Good For the Soul Music is David Kauffman, and doesn’t publish anybody else. I think it’s fair to say that it doesn’t have an iota of the distribution powers (or editorial review) of OCP, GIA, or WLP.

  6. Mr. Ryan – is it a prayer or a communal proclamation of faith? Seems we can decide how best to make that proclamation – singing, verbally, etc.

  7. I was hoping that the elevated tone of the new Missal translation would lead to a similar improvement in the liturgical music of our American Catholic churches.

    Unfortunately, this sounds like new banal music to replace that which we already have.

  8. I’m looking into new mass settings, of course, and enjoyed listening to the Gokelman/Kauffman offering. Not sure if we’ll utilize it or another setting. I applaud their efforts and congratulate them for their award.

    I do have to say that I’m disappointed in the tone of the comments listed here. As I look for new mass settings, it would be a wonderfully inspiring to find an elevated tone of collegiality among composers and critics.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *