Come Advent, parishes around the Diocese of Rochester will be singing a new song — one that is actually very ancient.
During the first year of transition to the new English translation of the Roman Missal, diocesan officials recommend that parishes use the plainchant setting for at least the Mass dialogues and acclamations of the Eucharistic Prayer.
According to the diocesan Liturgy Office, parishes will need to learn new settings for the sung parts of the Ordinary of the Mass, including the Gloria (Glory to God), the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy), the Mystery of Faith (formerly known as the Memorial Acclamation) and the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).
The new chant setting will create greater uniformity, enable parishioners to travel more easily among parishes, and give music ministers added time to evaluate the more than three dozen new and revised Mass settings that have been composed to accommodate the new translation, said Janet Andrychuk-Tedesco, music director for Peace of Christ Parish in Rochester and chair of the diocesan music committee.
“There is a common feeling across the country that the chant setting might be a good way to help introduce the people’s part of the Roman Missal,” Andrychuk-Tedesco said. “It is a way to introduce chant to people who have never experienced any chant because it’s a part of our Catholic faith and a way to get people to learn together and pray together.”
Although there are several forms of chant, the type most people know is Gregorian chant, which also is known as plainchant. Andrychuk-Tedesco said its simple form and lack of dramatic jumps makes it easier for congregations to sing. Gregorian chant is believed to have originated in the early days of Christianity and is a key part of Catholic tradition, she said. Many Catholics are able to sing a chant setting of the Lord’s Prayer, and the familiar hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” also uses Gregorian chant.
“Chant is like speaking — it is heightened speech,” she explained.
Even though chant melodies are simple, they can be adapted and accompanied by organ, piano, guitar or other instruments, or can be sung a capella, Andrychuk-Tedesco noted.
The use of chant in liturgies was called for in the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, which says that chant is specially suited to the Roman liturgy and should be given pride of place in liturgical services. Other types of sacred music, such as polyphony (music consisting of two or more independent but harmonious melodies), also may be appropriate for liturgies, according to the document.
“Sacred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion as it is more closely connected with the liturgical action, whether it adds delight to prayer, fosters unity of minds, or confers greater solemnity upon the sacred rites,” the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy states.
The use of the chant setting may help parishes live out that Vatican II vision of full, conscious and active participation in the liturgy, said Father Frank Lioi, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Auburn.
“The idea was that since there was a new translation, and the (U.S.) bishops wanted greater catechesis of the parts of Mass, this was an opportunity to implement a lot of things that should have been implemented 30 years ago,” Father Lioi said.
Chant is nothing new to St. Mary parishioners, he said. The parish celebrates a chant Mass on the first Saturday of the month, and parishioners also chant parts of the Mass, including the preface to the Gospel, during liturgical celebrations on feast days and special celebrations.
To help parishes prepare for the new chant setting, the diocese has sent CDs of the chant to priests, who also were able to consult one-on-one with a vocal teacher during a vocal camp in July. Andrychuk-Tedesco said they also have been encouraged to work with their parishes’ music directors to prepare.
“The more you sing, and the more you hear your own voice and practice, the more you can embrace it,” she said.
The diocese is planning music-reading sessions at locations throughout the diocese this fall to help musicians and other interested people learn the new Mass setting.
Some people may have already heard portions of the new music earlier in the year. During the priestly and diaconal ordinations at Sacred Heart Cathedral this spring, musicians incorporated a few selections from the chant setting, said Ginny Miller, music director for the Cathedral Community and a member of the diocesan music committee.
“It’s a way of getting people to hear it,” Miller said.
Father Daniel McMullin, director of the Cornell Catholic Community, said some members of the college community are eager to try some of the chants of the new Roman Missal.
“A lot of our students have a hankering for the older traditions,” he said, noting that when the community sings “Agnus Dei” in Latin, it often elicits a bigger response from the assembly than if it is sung in English. He attributed this to the large number of international students who worship with the Cornell Catholic Community.
He noted that some of the older members of the community, who have been worshipping there for years, may be slower to embrace the new translation and chant Mass setting.
Yet Andrychuk-Tedesco pointed out that parishioners may soon get to try out additional Mass settings as they become available.
“I would encourage people to give the chant Mass setting a chance, but also to understand it is just one part of the Mass,” Andrychuk-Tedesco said. “Our hymns aren’t changing — our repertoires aren’t changing. We feel that this will be the best way to help us learn the new prayer text so that ultimately we as God’s people can pray together.”Tags: Catholic Beliefs, Feast Days & Saints