MR3: Tales From The Front

A friend forwarded me an email she sent to her music group, concerning input on the new Roman Missal. Explanatory note: they are implementing Ed Bolduc’s Mass of Saint Ann, including the through-composed version of the Gloria.

First of all, excellent job on the Glory to God on Saturday.  The group was solid.  I had a few people talk to me afterwards about it.  While they enjoyed listening to us and thought we did a great job, there was also sadness in their voices. One woman in particular commented that it was a shame…that (our parish) has always been such a singing congregation and she felt the Glory to God and the Holy, Holy were barriers to that.  She was happy to listen to us but that (our parish) was always a great singing congregation and she was feeling a sense of loss. She commented that the Glory and the Holy were not “intuitive” and she blamed the new words.  I assured her that they would be singing with us and that she shouldn’t despair…the Glory to God was a difficult piece of music and that it took us three hours to learn it.  I assured her that the new words should not be seen a barrier.  I also told her that we were just beginning and they would learn the new Mass. I also assured her that we would be introducing other Masses that might be more intuitive for them. I have noticed that they are singing the Memorial Acclamation, Great Amen and Lamb of God–those are definitely the more accessible sections of the Mass of St. Ann.  The final thing she told me is that she travels a lot and the one thing she liked about being Catholic is that it didn’t matter where she was, she could go to church and find a Mass setting that she knew and could sing…she mentioned the Mass of Creation.  I assured her that there was a new translation of Mass of Creation and it was my hope that we would at least learn the Glory to God from it.

I share this story with you not to find criticism with the new Mass but to illustrate a larger point: parishioners are going to be feeling some loss and some fear as we begin this process toward the new translation.  I think what struck me was the sadness I heard in her voice. We are lucky to be in a singing parish and it is noteworthy to hear their frustration when they feel they can’t sing.  I do think this is wrapped up more fully in the larger transition. Change is difficult. It is always difficult. Even when it is the right thing.  Even when it makes sense.  So, let’s be sensitive to the fact that folks are feeling nervous and a loss at this change.

Any comments? Stories about your own parishes?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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4 Responses to MR3: Tales From The Front

  1. Liam says:

    Change can be difficult. It can be made worse by ignoring the difficulty or, worse still, labeling those who name the difficulty as being whiners who are complaining about who moved my cheese…..

    That said, as the writer illustrates, people don’t always accurately label what is truly difficult about change, and often use proxy issues to describe something else that is deeper. So, when people articulate their concerns, it’s perfectly good to probe curiously, with open-ended questions (non-rhetorical questions that don’t binary answers and that begin with “what” rather than “why” or “how”). And then to invite people with extension questions like “What else?” Et cet. In other words, to manage change as a leader of people who need to be empowered, you have to use good curious listening skills.

  2. We have not yet used the new sung Gloria in my worship parish, so I have no experience of it. I think it will be a transition that will take time. I find the new settings that we have used for the Holy Holy Holy difficult to sing. Not sure how it is shaping up at my work parish; I know that my boss has done a good job of trying to transition everyone, but I have not been there on a weekend in awhile.

  3. It needs mentioning that Bolduc accomodates both a sung-through and refrain option for the Glory. His melodic “devices” in both mentioned movements are consistently used and are quite coherent as well as accessible and, most of all, jubilant. The Amen also completes the motivic union.
    I think the issue of acquiring and celebrating new settings is an entirely different issue than “mourning” the possible temporary loss of a convenient and expedient known entity such as MoC.
    I don’t detract from the MoC phenomenon by saying this. But on the “comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable” scale, the St. Ann hardly constitutes an irritant, and in fact is a welcome addition to “the party.”

  4. I am serving in a parish that is only six months old – the product of a three parish merger. We chose WLP’s Mass of Wisdom because it seemed accessible, and because it would something the new parish would learn together. We are encountering a bit a grumpiness because the learning curve is a bit slow to negotiate, but some is the annoyance prompted by “one more change” so soon after the merger.

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