As a musician, I am keenly aware that I have developed a musical soundtrack to my life based on both the sacred and non-sacred music I have encountered over my 52 years on this planet. Most songs have a positive, bittersweet memory while others can make me recall rough or even painful times in my life. With the advent of the Revised Roman Missal about to begin in our parishes next weekend, I wanted to take some time to say a proper “farewell, old friend” to a number of compositions that have served the Catholic Liturgy well over the years. These musical pieces have been a part of our liturgical DNA and will be missed by the assemblies they served.
Mass of Creation Memorial Acclamation A – Christ Has Died
Like Dorothy said to the Scarecrow – “I think I’ll miss you most of all.” Melodically easy and sung by mostly all in the English speaking Church for almost 30 years, this short acclamation will be noticeably absent due to the sad fact that it has no Latin equivalent, is not addressed to Christ, and was an addition to the English Sacramentary only. Yes, most of us are tired of playing “Massive Creation” but folks still sing it with full throat at most Masses I’ve participated in and I, for one, am glad that most of it has been reworked for the new translation (the Gloria, however, is a hot mess and I won’t be using it). It is funny to note, however, that most folks I’ve spoken with at my presentations on the Revised Roman Missal don’t even realize Christ Has Died is missing from the list until I point it out to them. Interesting…
Mass of Light Glory to God
The next three are causalities of the drastic revisions to the Gloria and each one has a different good memory for me during my years as a pastoral musician. David Haas’ setting was one that I used in both parish and school settings, with the latter really catching on to and actually enjoyed singing. The revision, like the Haugen above, just can’t live up to the original in my estimation and I will miss not praying musically with it.
Peter Jones Glory to God
A HUGE parish and cathedral favorite, I am a bit surprised this one hasn’t been retrofitted – yet! I am hoping that Mr. Jones is getting lots of requests from folks over the globe to re-work his popular composition but if he chooses not to, I hope he realizes that many of us are grateful for this musical gift that we were able to use with our assemblies for many years. To quote Steve Jobs – “it just works” – and maybe it would lose its sparkle if redone. Still, one can wait in joyful hope…
Alexander Peloquin Gloria from Mass of the Bells
Now this one is definitely an old chestnut and one that dates back to my childhood but has secretly been my all time favorite (perhaps because I’m a Southern New Englander who grew up with Peloquin influences). Yeah, it’s a tad schmaltzy but harmonically tricky in places (both vocally and instrumentally – just try playing it at authentic tempo sometimes!) and always a joyous rendition of the angels’ announcement of Jesus’ birth. I was still using it in the last parish I served as a musician and will mourn that it will now only be heard in sacred concerts (hopefully) as an example of early compositions for the Vatican II liturgy.
Ok, those are my contributions to our liturgical music “wake” and I know there are many others out there. Do you agree or disagree with my selections? What are YOUR favorites that are going into quietly into that dark night? Let’s share and discuss as we await the arrival of the new missal together.