What in the world is going on with music in our parish right now?
It is certainly difficult to sing when the music is unfamiliar. I have found that it can be frustrating when visiting other parishes and I am unable to sing as I am used to doing. It can be even more frustrating when I do not understand what is happening in my own parish.
Ideally, this letter would have come to you two weeks prior to now; our parish continues to be in need of better communication regarding our various ministries and programs, and the music and liturgy structure are no exception to this. Your patience has been and continues to be greatly appreciated!
As in every ministry, the parish music program must: take into account the goals and expectations of our pastors, support and instill interest in the wonderful volunteers who give of their time and talent, and minister to the needs of each of us coming to Mass to hear what God has to teach us. As any progress toward these goals involves change, it is important to communicate what is happening this year.
New Mass Setting – Mass of St. Michael
Since the new translation of the Roman Missal came out in 2011, the parish has been exploring different musical settings of the Kyrie, Gloria, Acclamation, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. Originally, the Archdiocese asked all parishes to sing the Mass for Christian Unity as we learned the new text. Following this, we used the Heritage Mass and Missa Verbum Caro (last year), but neither of these seemed to fit the goals listed above.
This year, (with the exception of Lent), the parish will be using the Mass of St. Michael. The melody lines - after some repetition - are easy to remember and recall, complicated rhythms have been avoided, and the vocal range is comfortable for the average person – making this an easy setting to sing together as a parish, regardless of an individual’s musical background. Additionally, the Mass of St. Michael was written for the text of the new translation of the Roman Missal.
From Sunday, September 28 – Sunday, October 12, the cantors and choir are singing through different parts of this mass setting with everyone prior to the beginning of mass to help us learn the new melodies. While the music can be found in the St. Michael Hymnal, there are also assembly cards in the pews to make it easier to follow along.
Recitation of the Entrance and Communion Antiphons
The “Propers” are Scripture passages sung or spoken by the people or choir and are part of the Catholic liturgy. They take the form of Entrance, Offertory, and Communion Antiphons, as well as what we commonly refer to as the “Responsorial Psalm.” Reciting these Scripture passages together helps draw us into the particular lessons and themes of the readings of the day.
Last year, the cantors and choir began re-introducing the Entrance and Communion Antiphons to the Sunday liturgies (we were already reciting them at daily mass). This year, we are taking another step to more fully integrate the Propers in our regular Sunday worship. While the choir will continue to sing the Propers, the cantors are now inviting you to recite the Entrance and Communion antiphons with them, as we do at daily mass. To assist you in participating in this tradition of prayer, the cantors are announcing on which page of the missalette the text of the antiphons are found.
Last year, we used the seasonal missalette offered by World Library Publications, as this was the primary resource used at St. Joseph and St. Patrick churches prior to the parish merger. Beginning in Advent, the parish will be using the Breaking Bread missal offered by Oregon Catholic Press. Here are a few highlights:
Most importantly, this new missal is less costly than the seasonal missalettes we have used.
The missal’s organization lists the Propers next to the readings for the day, making it easier to navigate.
The missal contains hundreds of additional hymns, expanding our resources for musical selections.
With more hymns available, we will be able to restore some of the hymns unavailable in the current missalette and St. Michael Hymnal.
This missal is an annual publication rather than a missalette that needs to be switched out every few months, allowing the parish to use its resources of time and treasure for other priorities.
While a benefit of the new missal is the additional music selections, we will continue to use the St. Michael Hymnal each week as well.
The parish music workshop held on August 30 was a fantastic success – the attendees represented all of the four churches of the parish. We now have more singers and instrumentalists giving of their time and talent than we ever have. You may hear some new voices and see some new faces leading music during the mass. Please show your support and appreciation for their service through prayer and words of encouragement. If you discern a call to serve the parish as a cantor, chorister, pianist, or organist, please contact me via email (listed in the bulletin).
If you are interested in more information about the music program and events, please visit our parish website and click on the Music Ministry tab. The parish choir spent the summer working hard and has recorded a second CD of sacred music that will be available in time for Advent this year. Thank you to Fr. Gabriel and Abbot Barnabas for their constant care for and leadership of all of us!
St. Benedict, St. Joseph, and St. Patrick: pray for us!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, we place our trust in Thee!