Magazine article Pastoral Music

Music for the English Language Roman Missal: An Introduction

Magazine article Pastoral Music

Music for the English Language Roman Missal: An Introduction

Article excerpt


For the forthcoming English language Roman Missal (sometimes called the Sacramentary), the International Commission on English in the Liturgy will offer to the Conferences of Bishops of the English-speaking world chants for everything that is set to music in the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia (2002):

* The dialogues between the celebrant (or in the case of the dismissal, the deacon) and the assembly such as the Sign of the Cross ("In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit") and the Dismissal ("Go forth, the Mass is ended");

* Tones for singing the presidential prayers (Collect, Prayer over the Offerings, Prayer after Communion) with all prayer texts pointed for singing;

* The chants before and after the readings such as "A reading from the book of . . ." and "The Gospel of the Lord";

* Separate tones for singing the First Reading, Second Reading, and Gospel;

* The Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful;

* The Preface Dialogue and Prefaces, including a musical setting of every Preface;

* Full musical settings of Eucharistic Prayers I, II, III, and IV, and the concluding Doxology;

* Other elements such as the Kyrie, Gloria, Creed, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, and Lord's Prayer;

* Chants for particular days and feasts such as "Hosanna to the Son of David" on Palm Sunday, the Universal Prayer and "Behold the wood of the Cross" on Good Friday, the Exsultet (Paschal Proclamation) at the Easter Vigil, antiphons for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd, and the Proclamation of Easter and Moveable Feasts for Epiphany.

* Some of the Latin chants will also be provided, including the Sanctus, Pater noster, Agnus Dei, and intonations for the Gloria and Credo. A chant setting of the Greek Kyrie from Mass XVI will also be provided.

In some cases, following the example of the Missale Romanum, both simple and solemn settings have been provided.


ICEL's work in preparing chant settings of the English translation has been guided by several principles:

* To preserve and recover the tradition of unaccompanied singing in the Roman Rite, since the liturgy "is given a more noble form when . . . celebrated solemnly in song" (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 1963 [hereafter SC] 113);

* To facilitate "full and active participation by all the people," which is "the aim to be considered before all else" (SC 14);

* To take full account of the accentuation of the English language, since "the nature and laws of each language must be respected" in the adaptation of traditional melodies (Sacred Congregation for Rites, Instruction on Music in the Liturgy Musicam Sacram, 1967, 54);

* To retain vernacular chants now in use where possible, since "there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them" (SC 23).

The Commission's musical consultors have undertaken a detailed analysis of the Latin settings, creating tables of accent patterns and musical formulas. Likewise for the new English translation, tables of the accent patterns have been created, in order to arrive at the best solution where the English text has accent patterns not found in Latin. The musicians have found it helpful to look at the work of other vernacular chant adaptations such as Spanish, French, and German. German-language scholarship has proven helpful, both because German-speaking scholars began investigating vernacular chant adaptation as early as the 1920s, and also because the German language has some similarities to English, for example, in the accent often falling on the final syllable of a phrase. The musicians also examined the previous work of English language chant adaptation in the liturgical books of 1966, 1970, 1971, and 1973. …

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