" . . Old forgotten far-off things, and battles long ago"

Well it does to the people who post here... dispassionate and reasoned debate, with a good deal of humour thrown in for good measure.

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Dom Perignon
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" . . Old forgotten far-off things, and battles long ago"

Post by Dom Perignon »

From quaeritor » Mon Jan 24, 2022 12:24 pm

Do you remember those now distant days when we tried to change from "singing at Mass" to "singing the Mass"? Seems like my efforts in our parish have been wasted! Granted the restrictions imposed by the pandemic have shot away a lot of what we have been able to do, but our "music group" that provides the music on alternate Sundays to the choir (for which I am responsible) has taken the opportunity to refine its selection of music to just three hymns. Alarmingly, before they resumed a few weeks ago, I happened to be chatting to the pp, and was surprised to discover that he was completely unaware that there had ever been a time when hymns were not sung at all, or that their introduction was a temporary measure to allow time for vernacular setting of the Ordinary to emerge, or that there are rules - or guidance if you prefer a gentler term - about the degrees of importance to be ascribed to the different items that might be sung. Some of that is fair enough, I suppose - you'd have to be well into your seventies to remember what went on before the introduction of the vernacular - but you might expect the clergy to be aware of the GIRM even if the lay folk have not got beyond "we do the stuff we can play".

So, do I quietly fold my tent and tiptoe away, or do I try to start the whole process all over again?

I don't fancy trying to persuade everyone involved in music at Mass to read the GIRM - it's forbiddingly un-English title is enough to put people off! - but was there ever a digest or summary of its references to music - I've a feeling that I had one at one stage, but it might just have been working papers from one of the study sessions at the time of the introduction of the new Missal.
(I do know the single-sheet leaflet"Singing the Mass" on the Bishops' Conference website.)

Still seeking!

Q
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John Ainslie
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Re: " . . Old forgotten far-off things, and battles long ago"

Post by John Ainslie »

Cheer up! In Barnet the folk happily sing the chant Holy, Eucharistic Acclamation and Lamb of God, if only through sheer persistence by the choir - and the vocal support of the priest.

I've given a lot of thought to what can be done about the Gloria. Getting the people to sing it throughout requires a good setting and a good accompanist and/or vocal group to lead it. Otherwise they are limited to a repeated refrain. In most churches it is mumbled through at most Masses, which doesn't sound much like giving glory.

So I came up with a two-note wonder (attached). It only requires a priest or cantor to lead it. It took all of two weeks for the folk to learn. No music required. Yes, there is an optional accompaniment to help, and the more adventurous accompanist can embellish it, but not to drown it - it might be better left unaccompanied. A piano is probably better than an organ.

It has all the necessary approvals and permissions, and is free to copy and use. Go for it!
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quaeritor
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Re: " . . Old forgotten far-off things, and battles long ago"

Post by quaeritor »

Thanks for responding, John Ainslie (and thanks, Moderator, for sorting out my missing Subject line), but my question was not so much "What should I get my choir to sing", but more "do I re-engage in all the arguments we had ten or more years ago about what should be sung, (in our case by the Music Group with which I am not directly involved) or do I just concede that whatever principles are laid down by those who feel they are able to lay down principles, the practitioners and their Parish Priests will probably remain blissfully unaware of said principles and, aware or not, will carry on doing whatever they like."

I'm getting a bit too old to go crusading! :(

Q
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Nick Baty
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Re: " . . Old forgotten far-off things, and battles long ago"

Post by Nick Baty »

I have similar feeling of gloom.
Currently working with a group of undergrads. All very lovely, intelligent young people. But they want "solid Victorian Catholic hymns", 17th century polyphony and Gregorian chant.
If I mention a Communion Processional, they look at me strangely. And the Gospel Procession: "Have never seen that...."
Just before Christmas I was making suggestions for music for Jan/Feb. One of them said: "What's will all this fitting music to readings? Never heard of that before."
And I've also heard: "In my country only priests write music..."
Am sure I have a few copies of Terry's Mass in C somewhere. :lol:
justMary
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Re: " . . Old forgotten far-off things, and battles long ago"

Post by justMary »

Don't have arguments. Don't make a song and dance.
Just quietly continue to include / focus on Mass parts on your weeks. Change them only infrequently, so they become very well known.
Let people notice which ones are sung best.
alan29
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Re: " . . Old forgotten far-off things, and battles long ago"

Post by alan29 »

In the last 10 years or so, singing the Mass has been dealt two massive body blows.
The first was the revised translation. And the second has been Covid.
Our congregation which used to sing the Mass lustily now is barely audible through their masks during the four hymns that all our PP allows.
Its very, very sad.
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Nick Baty
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Re: " . . Old forgotten far-off things, and battles long ago"

Post by Nick Baty »

alan29 wrote: Sun Jan 30, 2022 1:33 pmOur congregation which used to sing the Mass lustily now is barely audible through their masks during the four hymns that all our PP allows.
Its very, very sad.
Would love to ask your PP why the virus is a less of a risk during hymns that it would be during the bits we're supposed to be singing! 8)
alan29
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Re: " . . Old forgotten far-off things, and battles long ago"

Post by alan29 »

Nick Baty wrote: Sun Jan 30, 2022 8:34 pm
alan29 wrote: Sun Jan 30, 2022 1:33 pmOur congregation which used to sing the Mass lustily now is barely audible through their masks during the four hymns that all our PP allows.
Its very, very sad.
Would love to ask your PP why the virus is a less of a risk during hymns that it would be during the bits we're supposed to be singing! 8)
There is no way that I can respond to that on a semi-public forum. :-@
Southern Comfort
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Re: " . . Old forgotten far-off things, and battles long ago"

Post by Southern Comfort »

I do sympathise with how depressing all this is. And of course it's not the first time it has happened.

I remember in the mid-1990s thinking "How is it that these people have never heard all the stuff we were doing and thinking 25 years ago in the early 70s? Where have they been?" Back in those 1970s I never imagined that I would have to be educating people all over again 25 years on. And now here we are, another 25 years on, and still those lessons haven't been learned and people are still in the same state their forebears were 50 years before. I find myself today constantly reminding people about things that we were saying back then, and wishing that they had heard those messages or hadn't forgotten what they heard back then.

And so naturally the question arises, "Have we just wasted our time? Was there any point to the efforts we have made over the past half-century? It doesn't seem to have worked." I do think, though, that we are in a better place, and that even though the second generation since those times may sometimes look as if it is running backwards there have been some tangible successes.

I also think that the internet has not always been our friend, and has spawned a whole class of people who seem to hanker after a Golden Age that they never lived through, and they have no idea what it was really like. It's as if they were living in a sort of cloud-cuckoo land. And because they have, alas, got some of their "education" online, they think that what they have received is correct when in fact it isn't. Trying to undo that is an additional effort which we really don't need. In the meantime, it is an uphill struggle trying to get people to receive what previously we were able to plant in fertile soil.

Back in those pioneering early decades, I told myself that we had to keep at it, because if we didn't the generations that followed us would not thank us for neglecting our duty. I still believe that today. Even if another generation of seeming ignoramuses has come along, we still need to persevere. The fruits of what we have done and are still doing will only become apparent when we are long gone to our (hopefully) heavenly reward.
Hare
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Re: " . . Old forgotten far-off things, and battles long ago"

Post by Hare »

alan29 wrote: Sun Jan 30, 2022 1:33 pm In the last 10 years or so, singing the Mass has been dealt two massive body blows.
The first was the revised translation. And the second has been Covid.
Our congregation which used to sing the Mass lustily now is barely audible through their masks during the four hymns that all our PP allows.
Its very, very sad.
My paid DOM role vanished with COVID (plus new PP with a 1962-orientated agenda) What is happening there now I don't know as I am living 500 miles away.

Regarding the New Translation, for my then-parish it wasn't a "body blow" - it rather brought the music at the various masses together by starting with a common core repertoire (which later developed according to resources available at the different masses put retained its core elements)
Southern Comfort
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Re: " . . Old forgotten far-off things, and battles long ago"

Post by Southern Comfort »

I would agree about the body blow that the new translation caused. It is scandalous that, 11 years on, we still have to endure liturgical texts that quite simply aren't in a language that anyone speaks. If anyone is happy with prevenient grace, the immensity of his majesty, consubstantial and so much else, then they live in a different world from real people. The bishops let us down badly. Even when Francis issued Magnum Principium, which would have enabled them to undo the damage, they didn't act. (Yes, I know +Arthur Roche told them it was not retrospective, but that was only his personal opinion. He wanted to retain control.)

Repertoires were damaged beyond repair, and the mass of new material which came out in a hurry didn't help. In the past, composers would learn the lessons each time they wrote a Mass setting and apply those lessons to the next setting, so that over the course of 40 years there was development and a raising of standards all round. With the imposition of the new Missal, the same amount of material as in the previous 40 years appeared in the space of less than two. Composers therefore had no opportunity to learn the lessons, and they and their publishers engaged in an unseemly scramble to capture the market with a huge quantity of untested material. There was little sense of providing music for the pastoral benefit of people. It left a nasty taste in the mouth. And don't let's start on the biased and inconsistent approval system.

There are still some parishes around where singing ceased at that time, and has not restarted. The only real benefit from the new Missal has been that in preparing for it we were able to get more clergy singing, in some cases for the first time ever.
alan29
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Re: " . . Old forgotten far-off things, and battles long ago"

Post by alan29 »

One effect of the pandemic at ours (where I am semi-retired, so no longer responsible for planning but only play) is that we have reverted to a four hymn sandwich and no longer sing the Mass apart from the psalm - which is my kingdom inviolable. I really loathe the expression "lowest common denominator" because it is used by certain circles against those of us who believe the assembly have the right to sing what is theirs, however I sense a certain relief that only hymns are being sung and not the pesky awkward Gloria etc.
I suggested last week in the spirit of keeping the risk of infection down that maybe we should drop the hymns and sing the Mass instead, replacing the hymns with instrumental music. The sound of lead balloons descending could be heard far and wide.
Teresa OS
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Re: " . . Old forgotten far-off things, and battles long ago"

Post by Teresa OS »

In September 2021 we resumed singing at Sunday masses. At the Mid morning mass (a merger of two pre Covid distinct congregations including many new families) I decided to re introduce the Alonso Gloria, Taize Alleluia & missal tones for Holy, Mem. Acc. & Lamb of God. This went very well with the assembly singing strongly after a few weeks. I am now changing to the Freedom Liturgy (Chris Olding) until Lent as I would like to use this for the Easter season and on into the First Holy Communion masses. So far people are joining in with the refrain of the Gloria and beginning to join in with the Holy & Mem. Acc. I lead a little rehearsal with the assembly for 2 minutes before mass & hope that as their confidence grows they will join in with the verses of the Gloria. I animate all the way through The Gloria so the assembly understands the expectation that they will sing. I’ve discovered that a big smile and large welcoming arm movements go a long way to helping people to sing. We cantor the psalm with a strong response from the assembly. We are grateful for resources provided online by Mike Anderson, Martin Foster and Kate Keefe.
We have been blessed in Barnet with the gifts of John Ainslie (see his previous post & his 2 note Gloria -introduced post lockdown to our early Sunday mass congregation). John introduced 40 years ago in Barnet the expectation that the people sing the Gloria and acclamations. I think the parish must have a communal ‘muscle memory’ that understands this, even after 2 years of Covid. This makes a music leader’s job so much easier! God bless you John.
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