New and Revised Mass Settings: Your Reactions?

Pray Tell has been tracking the use of new and revised Mass settings in conjunction with the new Roman Missal – see this and this, for example.

It’s been eight months since new and revised Mass settings have come into use. How is it going?

Pray Tell wants to hear about your experiences. Please report in, everyone:
* What new settings have you used, and how have they gone?
*What revised settings have you used, and how have they gone?
*What strategies for implementing new music have worked best?
*Have your thoughts changed about the usefulness of revised (“retro-fitted”) settings compared to entirely new settings?
*What input would you give to publishers about their resources?

Pray Tell friend Michael Silhavy hopes to make use of your input in his presentation on Mass settings at this year’s CCMLA – the Collegeville Conference on Music, Liturgy, and the Arts, June 18-21.

CCMLA looks to be a great conference this year, by the way. Here’s the title and description:

“For You and For Many: Unity Across Generations, Cultures, and Worship Styles”

Fifty years after the opening of the Second Vatican Council in 1962 and in our first year implementing the new English missal, the Collegeville Conference on Music, Liturgy and the Arts looks at cultural diversity (how do we include ‘the other’?), generational diversity (where are the youth?), liturgical diversity (are we going backward or forward?), and diversity in architectural and musical styles. How is the Holy Spirit holding “the many” of us together?

Looking forward to the reports on your experience with Mass settings.







  1. My strongest impression is that it was a replay of Y2K.
    All kinds of hand wringing and shouts of both triumph and dismay from those most involved, and then– not much at all from us in the pews.

    I have been traveling all year, and so I’ve been in more than just my home parish.
    In general, if “the Lord be with you…” is sung, response is perfect.
    Where new settings of the Mass, or the official ones in the missallette/Missal are used, the roll-out seems as successful as any new Mass setting would be. I’ve heard many but admit that none but the chant one has stuck with me, and that is probably because I’ve heard it in the most different places.
    Otherwise, in some areas parishes a few blocks apart might as well be in different dioceses, and dioceses that chose an official setting don’t seem to have chosen very well. There’s a Haas setting that is not appealing, but a De Brune (sp?) that has seme real merit.

    Re-treads, half a year on, are still a mess, although the Community Mass, Proul? seems to have taken hold. Creation has caused a train-wreck at several parishes I’ve been to everytime I’ve heard it..

    The dismissals that are sung seem to be very vigorous in places where the deacon “stays on script.”
    The men who improvised before are still improvising, and their assemblies are still confused.

    (I should add that I am a retired liturgy director, but now just a person in the pews.)

  2. We’re a downtown/low income parish visited by lots of tourists, in downtown Seattle (where the diocese didn’t mandate any Mass setting).

    We use “Mass of Renewal” by William Gokelman & David Kauffman. (We took the NPM recommendation very seriously.)

    It’s the only Mass setting we’ve used, starting in October, and we’ll use it every Sunday until next Advent. We have mixed it up with various Mystery of Faith settings, only singing the Kyrie during Advent and Lent, etc. The only “stinker” in the lot is “Water of Life” for its sprinkling rite (the verses aren’t very inviting for the assembly).

    The only tool we used was easing in a the next songs over a month long period. Example, starting with the Gloria, etc. And only after Pentecost this year we’ll introduce Form C of the Mystery of Faith.

    Kudos should go to the Publisher for making it very easy for the parish:
    * Their assembly booklets have all of the spoken Mass parts, so that was also the only aid we used for spoken lines (except a PowerPoint presentation for the 4 Sundays of Advent). People still pick up those booklets at every Mass, weekday and Sunday, even when there is no music at weekday Masses. (And we saved money by not having to buy 2 resources: 1 for music and 1 for the spoken parts.)
    * Their variety of settings, including their Contemporary/Youth setting have been extremely useful, so it adapts itself to all styles of worship and music. Our Gospel choir, our regular choirs, our cantors, etc. can all pick it up and make it their “own” without really changing a thing.
    * The publisher has also been very generous, sending free samples, and more free samples. When we needed just more copy of 1 instrument, they sent us an entire score for a huge discount, etc.

    I’m extremely glad we went with a new Mass setting. (Especially since we have a lot of people who visit us for 1 week.) When I go to other parishes with re-written settings, I’m easily confused.

  3. I have two comments:

    1. I find the new Gloria and Sanctus to be overly wordy and clumsy. I can’t blame the composers, so I won’t name them. The problem lies with the lyrics.

    2. My daughter told me this week, “Mom, I couldn’t take it anymore since the 2nd Sunday of Advent; I’ve been going to the Episcopal Church instead!”

    1. I’m wondering how the new translation of the Sanctus can be overly wordy as it has less words than previous translation?

      When I go to the Episcopal church it’s closer to the new translation than the older, but then, they use Rite I, which has the translations by Cranmer from the Latin. Going only one week doesn’t seem like she gave it much of a chance.

  4. The Diocese of Raleigh recommended that parishes use the Mass of St Frances Cabrini by Kevin Keil during this first year, and was very clear that it would be used when we gathered together as a diocese. Many parishes, like ours, learned this setting. Whether one agrees with the choice or not, it’s been beneficial that the diocese put out this recommendation and parishes took it seriously. For instance, when four parishes gather together here in May for a deanery-wide Confirmation Mass, we will sing the Cabrini Mass and everyone will know it. It’s been well-received, although there are a few problems, the Amen especially. It follows the melody of the Sanctus, until the end. In the Sanctus the melody moves from A up to B-flat, resolving to a B-flat chord. In the Amen, the melody is the same, except it moves from A down to G, and a G major chord. Guess what the congregation sings? Since it was just established in the Sanctus, a B-flat… to a modern-music lover like myself the effect of 1000 people singing a B-flat against the choir and organ in G major is pretty cool, but I’m not sure if this was the composer’s intention 🙂 No amount of correction has helped this. So we actually just eliminated a big Amen… the priest sings the doxology and all chant the Amen. Then right onto chanting the Lord’s Prayer. I prefer this anyway, so all’s well…

    During Lent and Easter we’ve employed the Mass of St Gregory the Great by Luke Mayernik. This is a beautiful setting, so easily sung by the congregation, so well-crafted by the composer. I wish settings like this got more exposure. Adding the instrumental parts for Easter was beautiful.

    For a setting that will work better for piano/guitar ensembles, we’ll start with Tony Alonso’s Mass of Joy & Peace over the summer. A simple, but beautiful and singable setting, that will work well with different voicing and instrumentation.

  5. I am in a unique situation in that I am a full time graduate student who is studying in one diocese, far away from my home diocese. I enjoy the ability to fill in for various musicians and experience a wide range of settings in different environments.

    At Home, we were asked by the Bishop to use only three settings: the ICEL Chant, Heritage (Alstott) and Mass of Renewal. All of which have a through-composed Gloria. The ICEL Chant was our “diocesan setting” that will be used at the Cathedral and pontifical ceremonies.

    I have been surprised at how well the ICEL Chant setting has gone over. I was not looking forward to it at the beginning, fearful that it would always sound like a dirge. Luckily, the communities that I have played for have been comfortable with a nice, brisk pace. In my experience, it was worked best on the organ with the melody solo’d out.

    I had always been a fan of the Heritage Mass. Heritage for me, growing up, was like Mass of Creation. Sung all the time and known well to many communities at home. Thus, its place in the allowed settings. I am not a fan of the revised Gloria at all. I find the repetition of eighth notes boring and hard for a congregation to maintain pace and thus creating an awkward tug-of-war with the organ and the congregation. In our experience, the ICEL Chant Gloria has accepted better than the Heritage. Aside from my critique of its musicality, it is just not catchy.

    I don’t have much experience with Mass of Renewal (OCP), but people in the Diocese seem to like it.

    It has been rumored that we will be “allowed” to use Mass of Wisdom (Janco, WLP) after July. I am looking forward to it.

    I really miss the feeling that I would get when I would start the Mass of Creation Gloria or Holy. People took to it like water and sang their hearts out. I find the new settings so “draining” and it requires such energy from the musician to pull the people along.

  6. One other thing… a pet peeve of mine is the ‘small’ amen with the ICEL chant setting. I know at one time Fr. Ruff put a three-fold amen based on the ICEL Amen on here, I can’t find it.

    We have been using Amen’s from Mass of Creation, Heritage and the oldie, but goodie – Danish Amen.

    We tried the Amen unaccompanied, but could not get a solid response from the congregation. They all wait for the second amen, and it never comes…

    1. I offer a threefold chant Amen in By Flowing Waters: Chant for the Liturgy (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1999) at #583. This is the “oldest” part of the book, “composed” in the 1960’s by yours truly.

  7. We began in September with the Eucharistic acclamations from the revised Mass of Creation. For our community, it was a non-issue. We had some catechesis and pew cards were made and distributed. The first 2 weeks had some confusion and giggles, but after that, they were singing it like troupers!
    The gloria we used for Christmas was the revised gloria from Michael Joncas’ Psallite Mass. We had learned the pre-RM3 version and the refrain is in Latin, so the assembly’s part did not change – the cantor and choir did all the heavy lifting and it was glorious!
    After Christmas, I began teaching a new and (as yet) unpublished setting. We began using it for the Lent/Easter season. This also has been very well and easily received. Both the ensemble and the assembly love it, and sing it with enthusiasm!
    So, unlike many of you, we have had great success with the revised settings.

    1. Linda, what’s the source of the revised Gloria from the Joncas Psallite Mass? That’s always been a favorite and I would love to keep singing it with revised verses.

  8. For daily Mass, I alternate between the English and Latin Sanctus as well as Agnus Dei. We have the first option for the Mystery of Faith down very well. Those who attend daily Mass know all these by heart and sing them with gusto.
    We’ve been using the Mass of Creation since Easter, but since it is so familiar to us and for years now, the congregation slips easily into the old translation for “God of power and might.” I feel that it may have been a mistake to maintain this setting. I’ve asked our “Chant” Director (formerly known as music director) to come up with two new choices apart from those in the Roman Missal. I like the Community Mass which my current parish doesn’t know and I hope we can find another that is singable.

  9. From November to the beginning of Lent we did a setting composed by our music director. People caught on to it fairly quickly. During Lent we did Greek/Latin which went OK — better each week, but by the time the congregation was getting the hang of it Lent was over. Now we’ve switched to the revised Mass of Creation. We’ve only done it for a couple of weeks so far, but it seems to be going OK.

  10. We’re a parish with 9 Masses in English each weekend. While there is some common repetoire among the various choirs and ensembles, we do not all use the same “playlist” each Sunday. Having said that we introduced Janco’s Mass of Wisdom in September. We did not phase in the introduction but did it all at once–all parts, all Masses.
    It worked as well as introducing a new piece of music does and it is my perception that using a newly composed setting rather than a revised made the learning process easier. We did use Proulx’s updated Missa Emmanuel during Advent, but with no gloria, there is no major restructuring of the Mass parts. We also used Hurd’s Missa Ubi Caritas for Lent but that has a Latin Sanctus and no Gloria so it was as easy as the Proulx. We will not introduce a new English Gloria until next September.

    For my part, I resisted using the ICEL chants. We spent a considerable amount of time in 2010-2011 teaching our congregations the Latin chants on which they were based so I don’t want to now put English words to them.

  11. One parish does the Revised Mass of Creation; another does the Mass that is being promoted by the diocese for diocesan events.

    Neither of the parishes provides the music. However both provide inserts with the text. The same old mediocrity that assumes the people will sing along with the choir prevails.

    1. The proper role of a choir and/or the use of a choir to encourage/guide congregational singing is worth some discussion.

  12. We have stuck with the game plan agreed upon last summer.
    The principal Mass setting for most English Masses has been the quite well received Bolduc MASS OF ST. ANN (WLP). Whether led by organist, pianist/cantor or ensemble, it has staying power. Our main “Missa cantata” continues to use local composer Royce Nickel’s MASS OF ST. THERESE OF LISEAUX (CCW). We’d started it SATB, but it has best been taken up as a unison chant. The high point of its use was at Holy Thursday’s “Glory to God.”
    The ICEL is infused now and then by all at our fifteen English Masses. A week ago at the parochial school Mass I’d forgotten we were within the octave, so as the pastor stared I awoke, started the ICEL with the kids and they sang it full force!
    Missa Simplex is used only at one Mass per month by one particular choir.
    We will meet soon to strategize the infusion of new or revised settings after Pentecost.

  13. The people in the parish have mastered the spoken responses with no apparent difficulty save, perhaps, with the prayer before communion. We began in September with the new Storington mass, introducing it a little at a time. The Gloria presented the most difficulties with its many “new” phrases. The acclamation of faith was better received and sung. Since winter ordinary time we have been using the revised mass of creation which has been much easier to sing. We got around the Holy issue by having the accompanist provide an intro which ends on the three fold holy. It works. Have no idea why Haugen altered his gospel acclamation seeing no reasonable objection to the old one.
    We are presently conducting a survey to see how well the folks are receiving all this. Will let you know how that goes.

  14. In response to Jeff Rice’s comments on the Mass of St. Frances Cabrini: First, I am honored that your Diocese chose my mass for the Diocesean celebrations. I am humbled. Concerning the Amen’s final cadence… That’s actually how I originally composed it, and then was shot down by the review committee at OCP. We “C” level composers have no real power. It was OCP’s way or the highway. To be honest, many of their suggestions were very good and improved the mass, by not the Amen. I will say, in my own parish, my children’s choir has no problem with the amen, but some is the assembly still do. What I tell them is that if they go up instead of down at the end, I will consider it harmony, and we will sound like a good Protestant church. LOL

    1. Kevin, I’m just reading your response, thank you for the explanation on the Amen. It’s disappointing to know that OCP would meddle to that extent. In any case, I’m sure your Mass will serve our Diocese well for many years to come.

  15. Kevin, thanks for chiming in. We also use your Cabrini setting and it’s been great. I wanted something that was pretty simple rhythm, but with a nice melodic contour and easy to sing. I thought yours was very good.

    For what it’s worth, I just make a very dramatic ritardando in the penultimate measure: we’ve never had a problem with it that way. (using the descant helps, too) To be honest, I don’t mind it, although the voice leading into that G major chord did make me wonder if it was a last minute edit! 😉

  16. in both my parish, where I’m not involved in music ministry, and at my wife’s campus where I assist students in their music for biweekly Sunday Mass, I am very disappointed in the quality of and response to the Gokelman/Kauffman setting. As a lector who can sing, I am astonished that these two believe that deacons and others who sing petitions for the the prayer of the faithful (or whatever it’s called now) will use such a low reciting tone.

    More broadly, with an opportunity to make a real change for dynamic new music — think the Church of England choosing Ralph Vaughan Williams for its 1906 hymnal revision — we got essentially more of the same stuff, not much different from the awkward editings of Haugen’s stuff our parish has also tried.

    The official ICEL chant is a misfit of an English text to Latin music, and it feels like interlocking your fingers the wrong way. Back in the 70s, Theodore Marier, expert and advocate for chant, wrote entirely new chants for the 1970 missal text rather than try to adapt the Latin chants. Just as in the translation itself, the tin ear of those in charge is frightening, irritating, saddening.

    As to the spoken responses, I think “And with your spirit” is fairly well adopted but my wife and I are still reading the cards for the Nicene creed and the pre-communion C- level “enter under my roof”.

    1. Let us not forget the signal contributions of Ted Marier for the cause of a fully musical liturgy sung by both priest and people. If only his example had been more widely followed, I suspect we could have avoided some unnecessary strife.

      1. Karl, an excellent point.

        It seems that truly great hymnals/liturgical books/etc., have great editors. This is why, to me, Cranmer’s revisions in the BCP have been so long-enduring. On a smaller scale, Proulx’s work with GIA was very high-quality, I daresay the only Catholic work other than Marier that has been on-par with equivalent Protestant efforts of editing. The Collegeville Hymnal (shameless plug for this blog, of course) is good in many ways, but not as cohesive, and never really took off in the places I have lived/worked.

  17. My large, wealthy parish in South Carolina is singing the ICEL chants with reasonable success. I’m not sure when we will be trying anything else. The congregation remains heavily dependent on handouts for the spoken responses, but I have heard no substantive complaints from the rank and file since early December.

    After 20 years as a cantor, I have thus far not been led by the Holy Spirit to sing or speak the words of the new Roman Missal. As a result, I suspect my time in music liturgy has come to an end. I am 44, so I may not live long enough to see a more theologically and liturgically satisfactory English translation adopted. I may be sticking to hymnody for years or decades to come.

    Spending much of the mass in silence is not the example I want to set for my young children, but I have thus far not found a more satisfactory solution. For good or ill, my own choices in worship will attract no attention in my large McParish, where anonymity is the norm.

  18. We published an “Order of Mass” booklet for use in our parish (with the necessary permissions from ICEL and the USCCB), in which we included the ICEL Missal chants, the Sanctus and Agnus from the Vermulst “Mass for Christian Unity” (mandated for use in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas during the transition period last Fall) and a home-grown parish setting (my “Mass in Honor of Saint Michael” published by Liturgical Press.) Since last September we have been using ONLY the Vermulst Sanctus and everything else from “Saint Michael.” After Easter, we’ll learn the rest of the ICEL chants, and next Fall the “Saint Michael” Sanctus and Vermulst “Agnus” will go into circulation. After next year, we’ll see where things want to go from there.

    Throughout my career I’ve been reluctant use my own compositions with the parishes I’ve served, not wanting to presume that the quality of my own work should outweigh the value of unity with surrounding parishes and with the regional and national “scene.” My friend Michael Silhavy reminded me, however, that the best process of distillation occurs when music is composed for a local setting and is then disseminated according to demand from others who like the work, and that it is going to take some time before worthy universal settings bubble up.

    So, we learned a setting unique to our parish, taught it thoroughly and well, integrated it into parish-wide catechesis, gave parishioners CD’s which they play in their car stereos. People have embraced it all with pride. Brides and grooms want it for their weddings. The Gloria I worried no one would sing is sung, warbled and croaked by just about everyone.

    We’re still working on chanting ritual texts, and the jury is still out on the translation in general, but we seem to be over the hump with the “Ordinary,” though not yet in union with anyone else.

  19. Last summer Ed Bolduc’s Mass of Saint Ann was the slight favorite of the music committee over Mass of Renewal. There wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm for either by the committee–and we looked at about twenty settings in total.

    Some second-guessing on the through-composed Gloria. Music leaders are concerned the assembly trails off about halfway through. But the assembly always sang the verses of the responsorial Glorias we used to use, so I think it’s just a matter of time.

    Mystery of Faith B: you don’t want to know how many times people have asked why the priest says “chalice” and the people sing “cup.”

    As for doubts about the assmebly receiving and singing the new texts, I had none. Unfortunately, the Lent committee did an atrocious job on clergy prayers. It’s a noticeable contrast: new music sung with quality and enthusiasm, and clergy stumbling over bad grammar.

    Have I mentioned plain stupidity? Sprinkling Rite in the appendix with no option for already-blessed water in an immersion font.

  20. The Diocese of Lansing mandated Mass for a Servant Church (Guimont, GIA) from Advent through Pentecost this year; once we found out that we could implement sung responses early, the diocese started in October adding one acclamation/response a week. Anything we did that was musical was implemented without a hitch at my parish, although most of the assembly wasn’t too fond of Guimont’s Mass. (I teach between 3-5 new hymns or songs a year, not including Responsorial Psalms, so they are used to new music). Personally I think it Guimont’s Mass setting is nice but the brass parts seem excessive unless you do the tempo very slow, especially on the Holy, Holy; we do everything fast here, which gets annoying sometimes. I am phasing in Liam Lawton’s Glendalough Mass over Eastertide and that is doing well so far, more in style with this particular parish’s tastes in music (Cather Comprehensive). Will do Mass of Renewal (Gokelman) sometime next fall or Winter 2013. Daily Mass, four days a week, will stick with Mass for a Servant Church for the foreseeable future, although I’m considering using Fr. Anthony’s Austrian Mass after 2013 but only at Daily Mass (not for Sundays/Obligatory days). Spoken dialogue has not gone quite as smoothly, but we’re getting there. Personally, none of the new musical settings I’ve seen (and I’ve looked at 40+) have wowed me, so I’m trying not to decide to early on what the remaining settings will be, I’d like six or seven to rotate each year by 2017 if possible.

  21. We’ve been using the Storrington Mass with bits of Mass of Creation. I don’t much care for the former, but that’s mostly an issue of taste and I claim it as such. The Gloria text is awful in any setting, to my ear.

    The new chants, we endure. Pretty much universal preference for the older chants, or something altogether different. It’s hard watching my choir director try to be enthusiastic and supportive of so much of this. . .

    I was away from home last weekend and attended Mass there, where one of David Hass’ new settings is employed. Although I really like almost all of his stuff, this particular one didn’t work for me.

    [Or maybe it was the overall quality of the music there that day. An older, tinny electronic piano with _painfully_ overdriven speakers can make a muddy mush of pretty much anything. The music leader’s headset at full volume didn’t help, either. But thge music was enthusiastic!]

    Then again, perhaps I’m just spoiled with the quality of music in my parish and city generally. Apart from a wonderful visit with my family, I came away with a heightened appreciation for what I do have musically. Even ths stuff I can’t stand, at least is done well.

  22. We have been using the Gloria from the Community Mass by Richard Prouix. This is singable, has been well received and best accompanied by piano. The rest of the Mass we use the revised Mass of Creation. For another parish that I serve, we are looking into the Mass of St Anne, which is also very singable but is more guitar friendly for the younger ensemble instruments. We have heard it sung at the largest Catholic Church in the USA, in a Charlotte, NC Church and the whole congregation really got into it. It was very moving. The reaL CHALLENGE for composers of the revised Gloria has been the addition of so many words, which lengthens the song. Therefore, repeated refrains make the song just too long. Both the Community Mass Gloria and the Mass of St Anne Gloria have managed to meet this challenge very well. The other parts of the revised Mass setting are minor, and easily sung.

  23. Last summer I started working for a Catholic organization. I don’t have a Catholic background and all of a sudden I found myself often entering into the Catholic Mass.

    I was really grateful when the Mass changed because all of a sudden there were a lot of prompts and booklets that helped me understand what was going on in the service. A few months ago I started a blog called, “Holy Unfamiliar: One Protestant’s Experience of Entering Into the Catholic Mass” in order to share about my experience. Check it out if you are interested:

  24. Our parish is fairly large in the suburbs of a big city. With the Mass changes came 6 beautiful gold candles and a crucifix on the altar, the Tabernacle moved back to the center behind the altar, the Station of the Cross banners were removed and replaced by 100 year old Stations that are gorgeous, the people are more reverent, and parishioners from other nearby Catholic churches are leaving their parish and attending Mass at ours where they feel fed…where they are fed with the Truth of the Faith instead of daft silly “theology”. The priest wears a cassock, the altar people wear black and white outfits (or whatever they’re called) and we have a large statue of Our Lady of Fatima to the right of the altar for the the month of May. We had a special Divime Mercy Mass the Sunday after Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday) and I love going to Mass because it’s so beautiful and the people aren’t unhappy like they were before. Nothing like the clean fresh air of the Truth to breathe in to make a soul feel glad to be alive, love life, God, and other people.

  25. I haven’t got a clue what a Mass setting is but will ask the Pastor for you and let you know. I am not a music person but a biblical scholar…the Gospel of St John mostly.

    1. Then why did you comment here, since you have nothing to say on the topic of the post, and by your own admission don’t have a clue about it?

      1. Father Anthony,

        Perhaps your response is a little sharp? It’s not the first time [not by a long shot] that we’ve seen a tangential post, or even one that drifted completely off the original topic. And Susan is coming back to the main idea. . .

      2. Lynn,

        Thanks for the gentle correction. I, like all of us, need it at times.

        Yes, my comment was too sharp for this context. I admit, I was importing my irritation from her comments elsewhere at the blog, but those should be separate from this.

        OR: Maybe I’m not wrong because I never am wrong, ordination has given me the charism of superior judgment in all things. Do you think?



      3. Father Ruff, I’m not 100 percent sure that it’s because of the charism of ordination, but I do think that you have superior judgment in all things – or at least, in all things relevant to this blog!

      4. Father,

        Indeed, we all need it now and again. Especially me.

        I think I won’t think on the matter of superior judgement based on ordination, but it is your blog to edit. And being never wrong seems like it would be awfully burdensome.



  26. AWR – I wasn’t responding to you, I was responding to Fritz Bauerschmidt. Sorry to clog up your blog with ignorant comments. I’m only a poor convert trying to learn.

    So anyway, Fritz B, I will find out since you so kindly asked.

  27. In reality not much changed. I usually attend the Latin Mass and I go to the Novus Ordo here and there. I have gone twice since the change and I can hardly tell the difference. More work and changes definitely need to be done to make it more like the Old Mass.

  28. Our archdiocese held several singing sessions during the summer of 2011, during which new and revised Mass settings were reviewed. Meanwhile, the musicians at my parish (and the parish to which we’re clustered) decided that we would support the continued composition of music by adopting a new setting. We reviewed the four options that would appear in our OCP Music Issue as of Advent, and selected the Mass of Christ the Savior (Schutte).
    When the archdiocese released its Mass setting selections (which were not mandatory, but were “encouraged” by the publication of a booklet that contained settings and text), none of the OCP options were included. Our feeling was that we didn’t want people to be fooling with an extra booklet in the pews, so we stuck with our first choice. The archbishop gave permission for parishes to begin teaching and using the new settings in September, which we did (temporarily using reprinted sheets, for which we had permission). We taught the Mass in sections, and it was sung in full–except for the Gloria–before the end of October. Because our pastor prefers a sung-through Gloria (not available with Christ the Savior), we taught the version from Curtis Stephan’s Mass of Renewal (also in OCP). Everybody was ready to go by Advent–no problem.
    After the Christmas season, we then taught the rest of the Mass of Renewal, using it during Lent.
    Both Masses are very singable, but different enough from each other that people don’t seem confused. We did make up a couple of nice looking signs that are hung above the hymn number board, so people–especially guests–know where to find the Mass setting, if needed. At the final CCD Mass of the season, the kids belted out the Mass of Christ the Savior as if they’d been singing it all their lives.

  29. We’ve been using the Apostles’ Creed instead of the Nicene. I guess the pastoral staff thought it might help to skirt around that heavily packed philosophical and theological term “consubstantial,” which perhaps maybe a third of the assembly may not know its meaning.

  30. Is that even permitted to substitute the Nicene Creed with the Apostles
    Creed? Also why is it so hard if people do not understand a word to just go look it up? You would think that if they are at Mass they would make some effort to learn what the words are and what they mean. I never understood this argument.

    1. It must be remembered that sloth, another word who for some, if not most, wouldn’t recognize, was not reckoned a capital sin for nothing. The point is that it’s an abstruse and technical term, and unless one takes a course in theology or is thoroughly well catechized, most of these terms go by the boards. The previous translation [“one in being with the Father”] made “consubstantial” more accessible. Here’s another example. When speaking of the Holy Trinity or other matters Christological, aside from the readers of this blog and the situation I mentioned above, how many would have heard, let alone “understand” the term “hypostasis”?

      As important as these terms are in our theological vocabulary, they need to be made more accessible to the whole Church, not just the specialists, so as to invite others and ourselves to journey more deeply into the mystery of God.

      1. I checked what the Teacher had to say about the Final Exam (Matthew 25:31-46), and those words are not going to be on the test.

  31. Three points:

    (1) It took 40 years to build up the previous repertoire. Composers would write a setting and each time they would learn lessons both from the process of doing it and from the experience of using it. Those lessons would be applied to the next setting written, so that the quality of what was produced gradually crescendo’d and got refined as the years went by.

    What publishers and composers have done this time is to try and do in just a few months what previously took decades to evolve. It’s not possible, in my view. Composers have simply not lived with the new texts for long enough to have them under their skin. I think that the better wine is some way down the road — say five years away — and that it is a mistake to think that what we have started with now is going to last, with few exceptions. Very few settings from the early 1970s survived into the 80s and beyond, and it will be the same with the new ones. Those from the later 70s onwards, however, have survived.

    (2) Using revised settings as opposed to brand-new settings is a very debatable issue. Some people find it OK, but many others find the confusion caused by assemblies trying to sing two sets of words simultaneously (and this confusion continues) unhelpful, to say the least. And, inevitably, not all revisions come across as fitting the texts well — indeed, some sound positively artificial. I was very reluctant to produce revisions of any of my settings for these very reasons, and only did so because people pressed me for them. For me, they do not represent an authentic response to the text.

    (3) I have to say that I think NPM muddied the waters with its competition. One of the entry rules was that no setting submitted could be under consideration by a publisher. That automatically meant that most settings would be second-rate settings that either (a) a publisher had already rejected, or (b) did not represent a composer’s first and best response to the texts, since those best settings would certainly have already been submitted for publication.

    They received several hundred submissions and eventually shortlisted four for the actual sing-through at the convention. Almost without exception, the extracts sung were dreary, unoriginal and derivative, with false text accents abounding, rum-ti-tum 6/8 Glorias and heaven-knows-what-else. The general feeling among convention participants seemed to be “If these are the best, what on earth must have the others been like?”. The Gokelmann/Kauffman setting that came out top of the vote (a dangerous way of deciding these things) was perhaps the best of the bunch, but there was much debate about whether it infringed the rules, seeing that the composers run their own publishing imprint and therefore the setting was inevitably under consideration by — themselves! In addition, there were some settings that did not make the shortlist which were in fact much better than any of the four that were sung through. I can only guess how jaded the judges doing the shortlisting must have become when faced with processing hundreds of settings, and I can only assume that their judgment was clouded by the sheer scale of the enterprise.

    I hope we can revisit this thread in a few years’ time and see how things are then.

    1. Your first point is well-taken. In essence, we’re back in the late 60’s, only with more adaptations of older music. But a fertile ground for new composers. If we apply the SLJ’s 60’s/70’s standard of liturgy-testing new works and revising as indicated, the only thing we’ve got are the revised settings.

      That said, our parish music committee agreed with your second point. The problem is that we just weren’t impressed with a dozen or so new published settings brought back from NPM last summer. The goal was one new setting last Fall, another by Lent. We’re still on setting one.

      I get your point three, but I harbor objections. The Gokelman/Kauffman setting was rejected by a publisher who had another “Mass of Renewal” in the stable. I see the publisher’s viewpoint on that. And yet, it also seems random and petty when you’re on the outside looking in to the world of publishing.

      For the record, our parish did look long at the Mass of Renewal, but we felt the work as a whole uneven.

  32. Paul – can you comment on a “like” development in our parish. A music director, very much caught up in the NPM and Salt Lake City venue, has now ditched 20 years of liturgical music experience and history in our parish. It has been replaced by his compositions or some of the New Missal antiphons – focus is primarily on one or two masses each Sunday with heavy involvement of the choir; little preparation or involvement of the congregation. He states in choir practice that “all of his friends in the Midwest” are seeing great responses to doing antiphons; he states that the music of the ’70’s and ’80’s is dead and will never come back; and that this is the future of liturgy.

    What I see is decreased attendance; non-involvement of the congregation; and a growing type of “high” liturgy that is disconnected from all of the other masses and sacramental experiences of the parish?

    Rather than take the best and begin to slowly explain and introduce, it throws out the baby with the bathwater while making superficial judgments.

    1. I find it ironic that whether it is in the service of “progressive” or “traditionalist” ideology, the next generation is equally willing to trash the achievements of the previous generation.

      1. It’s human nature for each generation to repeat the mistakes of the preceding generation, with the mistakes being somewhat re-arranged so that they are in that generation’s cognitive blindspots.

  33. Music changes associated with the New Missal may end up having more negative effects than the text change itself. Especially challenging is that fact people like familiar music more than unfamiliar music.

    Excessive unfamilar music may contribute to the exodus from the pews.

    (1) It took 40 years to build up the previous repertoire.
    (2) Using revised settings as opposed to brand-new settings is a very debatable issue.

    Both these imply that people in the pews are likely experiencing a lot of unfamiliar music and will likely continue to experience a lot of unfamiliar music for a long time. They will simply be less motivated to come to church as often, and therefore they will contribute less money. Musicians no longer have a captive audience.

    A music director, very much caught up in the NPM and Salt Lake City venue, has now ditched 20 years of liturgical music experience and history in our parish

    As in all changes pastors and musicians are piggy backing their own changes, exacerbating the problems of unfamiliarity. Again the probabilities are that the people they displease will come less often.

    The simple solution is a Catholic both/and. We should have kept the Old Missal along with New Missal and let both options be widely available.

    Slowly increasing the musical diversity within the parish is not a problem if the last 20 years of musical experience is not ditched. It is ok for a music director to say all of his friends in the Midwest” are seeing great responses to doing antiphons and that that this is the future of liturgy.

    However that the music of the ’70′s and ’80′s is dead and will never come back; creates a problem. If it is dying let it die a natural death, maintaining its use for those who are also on their way to a natural death.

    Creating more liturgy choices is better and will keep more people and bring more people in than giving people one choice or “the highway” which is self defeating.

    Giving people reasons not to attend Mass is immoral. This issue is not being taken as seriously as it should.

    1. Giving people reasons not to attend Mass is immoral. This issue is not being taken as seriously as it should.

      Words to ponder!

    2. “Giving people reasons not to attend Mass is immoral. This issue is not being taken as seriously as it should.”

      Interesting way to put it. I find myself, for the first time in my life, able to skip Mass deliberately and not feel particularly bothered by the doing [or lack of, I guess]. The new version, plus all the back story and other messes, has finally stripped the gears of engagement for me. I’m still singing in the choir, but I don’t know if I’ll be back in the fall. ‘Religion’ is getting in the way of my faith, in a big way. That’s a problem, and I don’t yet know how to address it. Or maybe I do – take a sabbatical from the Roman part of my catholicism. . .hmmm.

      1. Please, for the love of God (and I mean that literally), do consider participating in other Catholic liturgies if you’re thinking of skipping Mass. The handful of Byzantine Divine Liturgies I’ve participated in have been excellent spiritual experiences for me. They’ve showed me some of the variety of forms of worship in the Catholic Church and have been home to some of the more inviting congregations I’ve met. 🙂

      2. “I find myself, for the first time in my life, able to skip Mass deliberately and not feel particularly bothered by the doing [or lack of, I guess].”

        Many people have had the same thoughts as you, Lynn. And it’s not for a lack of loving God. We do love God. As you have so very well put it, the religion is getting in the way of faith, and the hierarchy in Rome don’t care what happens as long as they get back their version of the church.

      3. Jeffrey,

        If I can find such liturgies, they are a valid option and I will pursue them. I do many things literally for the love of God. But Mass is becoming more of a hindrance or distraction from that than anything else, and so, for the love of God, I may be doing other things for a time. Odd, because I make it my organizing principle to live my life like I really mean the things I say in church, and now to do that I’m not going to church so much. . .


        I wonder what ‘they’ will do when it becomes clear that their version of the church isn’t sustainable. There are certain temporal realities that must be faced. Electric bills, mortgages [well, sometimes], insurance premiums, groceries, etc. If the ‘church’ is small enough, it might be very pure, but it will probably be too poor to be more than a tiny crowd barely able to take care of itself, let alone reach anyone outside. Of course, from some points of view, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.


        I must surmise that the surveys in question aren’t too specific in the definition of which church, etc., so long as it’s regular attendance. I would venture, though, that it excludes attendance at services that regularly leave one more aggravated than uplifted.

    3. I certainly think people should become more not less “Catholic” spiritually by finding God in solitude, in the Divine Office, and in all things. Some Palestinian monks left their monasteries either on the last day of the Octave of Theophany (Epiphany, Baptism of Christ) or on the First Sunday of Lent to spend their time in solitude in imitation of Christ, obviously fasting from both the Eucharist and community life (but probably not from the psalms which they generally knew by heart). If one is going to fast from the Eucharist and community whether in solitude or service of others, it is good to have a “vision” of about how those things might lead to God.

      Nevertheless, the social scientific evidence is that people who both attend church regularly and have a religious network of family, close friends, and small groups are healthier, happier, etc than those who do not. Note well you have to have both.

      The Vibrant Parish Life study showed that people in the pews strongly buy into the importance of both worship of God, and of parish community. They just think that both are done in a very mediocre fashion in their parishes.

      Managers in the church, those who have control of things that control the lives of others, such as bishops, priests, music directors, etc. cannot escape moral responsibility for the poor liturgies and poor communities that are causing people to take their search for God elsewhere. God is likely to be far kinder to those who set out into the deserts of life to search for God than to those who drive people away from God and parish communities.

      I point this out since our bishops seem to be suddenly concerned about how they might be morally compromised by the provision of contraceptives which others may or may not use. How long is the list of things that they have done or have failed to do that have been or might have been the “occasions for sin” for others.

  34. I’m in a small parish in the UK. I haven’t heard any positive comments about the translation, and some negative from my parish and around, eg the wordiness, the creepy feeling from the obsequious style and vocabulary, the unpleasant sense of being transported back to a childhood world of repetitive chants. Spoken responses have become more varied as people carry on with the old as well as the new, or something in between.

    In the parish, the music has been affected. We are grateful for the amazing collection of new and revised settings which have been available, though sad for the ones which don’t work with the new words. One church I attended sang some old and some new settings – this would be a good way to go. The “Holy” is a bit fuzzy with the small changes. For the “Glory”, it is possible but not easy to use existing settings which have been adapted. The Pershore setting is going well, and the New Celtic and Lourdes. People are willing to sing something new, but not too much at once.

    I was interested to find the new texts adopted by the Ordinariate group, and suppose that they must value following the Vatican above quality of English language.

  35. It seems to me that the young clergy coming through seminary now want a liturgy that is more uniform, and more reverent to the essence of what the Mass is. Being that the Extraordinary Form brings to the table more uniformity and a stronger theological orientation towards the essence of the Mass primarily as sacrifice, I think many of the younger priests are drawn to it. I am reading the memoirs of Annibale Bugnini, and it seems that he, as well as those who implemented the Novus Ord liturgy, did not want uniformity. In fact, Bugnini wanted to overturn the tradition of the Mass, and readily said so.

    Bugnini tells us this clearly on page 42 of his book ‘The Reform of the Liturgy’, “This principle represents a momentous departure from past practice. For centuries the Church willed that all worship in the Roman Rite should everywhere show perfect uniformity. The two liturgical reforms which history has recorded – that of the eighth century and that promoted by the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century- had precisely that aim… Social, religious, cultic and cultural considerations, and indeed the entire psychological climate, have changed radically in our day.”

    It seems to me that priests are not satisfied with the change in attitude that Bugnini championed back after VCII. People often ask why there is such a variation of how the Mass is celebrated from parish to parish, diocese to diocese. It seems to me that it was designed that way from the beginning. Any thoughts?

    1. Bugnini – you have cited one quote but you are conflating apples and oranges. Bugnini’s approach did seek unity but not through uniformity and his achievements and reasons are documented. His reform was also modified in consultation with others, including Paul VI. There is a balance in his approach between “uniform structure” and “styles, choices, and liturgical differences allowed by culture, langague, society, etc.”
      You lay out a comparison and contrast that is too simplistic and you gloss over the depth and breadth of what SC and Bugnini and Consilium proposed. The liturgical renewal had begun well before VII – and it was both ressourcement (go back to the first centuries of liturgy) and reform (aggiarnomento).

      Your statement about the two major reforms is also a simplistic approach to liturgical history – read Josef Jungmann’s “The Mass of the Roman Rite”….it impossible to study that document and arrive at your conclusions.

    2. “young clergy coming through seminary now want a liturgy that is more uniform, and more reverent to the essence of what the Mass is.”

      That can be attributed to self-selection bias….

  36. Of course we had reforms of the liturgy before VCII. However, Blessed Pius XII’s idea of “reform” was much different than what came after him. He had no intenetion of going back to the first centuries of the Church, and that much is clear in Mediator Dei. You may consider my approach to be simplistic, but the fact is we can see what actually happened to the liturgy since VCII. The changes made recently to the Novus Ordo are not making much of a difference to what we had before. My point is, it is a fact that the Novus Ordo is not celebrated with much continuity, and newly ordained priests seem to want that.

    Secondly, it is clear that the Novus Ordo does not communicate the Sacrificial character of the Mass as well as its predecessor. Thanks to you both for responding to my question.

    1. “it is clear that the Novus Ordo does not communicate the Sacrificial character of the Mass as well as its predecessor.”

      Perhaps to you and some others, but not to everyone. For most Catholics for most of history, the EF did not communicate much at all, because much of the most important stuff was either inaudible or incomprehensible for most of them. So the idea that it communicated sacrifice well was more notional than real.

  37. We’ve been using Steven Janco’s revised “Mass of the Angels and Saints.” For us, it’s not so much a revised setting, because we’d used it only a little, and not for several years.

    It’s sort of catching on. We don’t sing the Gloria much–pastor’s preference–so the fact that the verses are pretty challenging is not really an issue. The “front half” of the Holy still seems to take the assembly by surprise–not because of the new words, but that they’re supposed to sing at all. But once we hit the sixfold “Hosanna,” all heaven rings out. The mystery of faith acclamation, not so much again; then the Great Amen–which echoes the hosannas–is, again, well-sung. (I guess if I could only have have *one* acclamation well-sung, it ought to be the Great Amen!)

    My plan is to use this setting exclusively through the summer, and this fall–by which point I pray we’ll be relatively accustomed to the new texts–to introduce another setting, probably revised version of a setting that had years and years of history with us.

  38. With some success, we implemented “Mass of Wisdom” (Janco, WLP) Eucharistic Prayer acclamations in Advent. For Christmas, we sang Laginya’s Christmas Gloria (GIA), in which the assembly sings the refrain from “Angels we have heard on high” and the cantor/choir sing the verses. This is a revision which caused some stumbling amongst the cantors and choir members, but that’s what rehearsals are for, right? 🙂

    In Winter Ordinary Time, we introduced the St Ann Gloria (Bolduc, WLP), which we had sung on Dec 8th, in refrain-verse form; this Gloria is also published in so-called through-composed form. We continued to sing the Mass of Wisdom. To my thinking, 13 consecutive weeks of any acclamation is plenty, even the ones I like a lot.

    So in Lent, we introduced Mass for Christian Unity (Vermulst, revised by Proulx, WLP). This was a revision of a setting which, as far as I could learn, had never been sung in this parish. Actually, it’s a return to the original (provisional) text for which it was composed. Beautiful choral writing.

    In Easter, we reverted to Saint Ann Gloria and Wisdom Eucharistic Prayer acclamations. It was my hope that this would evoke a mild “we know these” reaction from the assembly. So far, in a parish that sings well anyway, the assembly sings all these acclamations pretty well. There’s enough fine choral writing in Wisdom to keep my choirs on their toes. And the 3-part “praise band” harmonies of Saint Ann Gloria are satisfying.

    It had been my intention to teach the Saint Ann Gloria in refrain form until the assembly learned the verses well and then switch to the through-composed edition, but now I think that might be asking a lot of an already way-too-forgiving assembly.

    This summer, we will probably learn a second Gloria (through-composed probably) and return to Christian Unity. No plans for new Kyries, Alleluias, or Lamb of God settings any time soon.

    1. Siobhan: Three settings? IMO, that’s a LOT of new Mass settings for the assembly. We are sticking with 1 setting for last October until next Advent. Why so many?

      1. We have also used three settings since Advent: We introduced the Kauffman/Goekelman Mass of Renewal Gloria in September (as allowed in our diocese). It is the only Gloria setting we’ve used and will continue to use it for an entire year.

        We introduced the Mass of Renewal’s corresponding Eucharisitic Acclamtions in January Ordinary Time after doing the revised Mass of Creation for Advent & Christmas. We will use “Renewal” again for summer Ordinary Time.

        “Creation” has been our Advent, Christmas & Easter setting for several years and the first line change in the Sanctus was no problem for our assembly. All we had to learn was a “Mystery of Faith” acclamation. Used the Missal Chant for Eucharistic Acclamations during Lent.

        By keeping familiar Kyrie, Gospel Acclamation and Lamb of God settings, we made a fairly smooth transition, learning just one completely new musical setting (Renewal). Also purposely refrained from introducing much other new music since the implementation – bringing a new Communion Song into the repertoire during the Easter season, but that’s it.

      2. Chuck: We learned two settings of the Eucharistic Prayer (Wisdom, Christian Unity) and one setting of the Gloria (St Ann – the assembly already knew the Laginya Gloria from previous years … the choir/cantors had to learn new verses, true).

        It’s my considered opinion that singing the same acclamations for months in a row is a bad idea.

        For one thing, the opportunity to come back to something (more or less) familiar is lost. This return is somehow an important part of the learning process. I don’t what the brain is doing during that fallow period, but whatever it is, it’s amazing.

        In this parish and in others where I’ve worked, it has long been the custom to change acclamations seasonally. This has meant a repertoire of some 5 or 6 settings of the Eucharistic Prayer and perhaps 3 or 4 settings of the Gloria (more Gospel Acclamations, fewer Kyries). I think it will be some years before we have a repertoire of that size.

        But as of this date, these 2 Eucharistic Prayer settings and 2 settings of the Gloria are what this parish will be singing, if for no other reason than to mark the change of seasons.

  39. We started off with our diocesan setting in September, which is actually the Gloria from the revised Mass of Light and the rest of the acclamations from the revised Mass of Remembrance. Going in, I was thinking that our parish family (which likes to sing) would latch on to the acclamations because it was a minor change, but not the Gloria because it was a major change. It turned out the exact opposite.

    The only complaint I heard was that they didn’t have the music for the whole Gloria only the refrain in their order of service. People actually approached me about this, which is incredibly rare, and said they can’t read music, but at least can tell “when to sing higher and when to sing lower” when they have the music in front of them.

    I was thrilled that GIA put the whole Gloria text on Hymnprint and we did a custom order of service for the Mass of Joy and Peace, which we started at Lent and will use for a while longer. The folks downstairs seem to like having everything in their hands in a single order of service, so we’ll continue to do that for each setting we bring in. They’ve really responded well to the setting.

    I also have an OCP reprint license, and now that they’ve followed suit and made the whole Gloria available for many of their settings, I’ll add them to the mix of possibilities.

    As far as revised vs. new settings. I’d be glad to use a revised setting in which the original was never used in my parish.

    Next up: Hass’ Mass for a New World.

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