ICEL’s Musical Intro

The ICEL web site isn’t a daily surf for me, so I’m grateful for Jeffrey’s keen eye. You musicians in the commentariat and reading audience can check out what ICEL has to say about music for the new Roman Missal translation. I’m sure it will be dissected by the usual online folks. A few bits and some commentary:

ICEL’s work in preparing chant settings of the English translation has been guided by several principles … to facilitate “full and active participation by all the people,” which is “the aim to be considered before all else” (SC 14) … (the) uppermost concern has been the actual celebration of the liturgy by worshiping communities and ministers.

We’re not going to see an official dial-back to polyphony and other classical settings.

I notice that Gloria XV has been adapted for English. Credo I likewise. Credo III, though better known, has been left alone, with the hope that the Latin text will remain associated with that tune. An interesting line of thinking on the Lord’s prayer:

The “Our Father” presents an interesting pastoral conundrum. In the United States, a very successful simplified setting with admirable treatment of the English language is already widely used. Australia has its own widely used setting based closely on the Latin Pater noster, and other countries have their own settings as well. Many would regret tampering with an element of the reformed liturgy that the people sing so well. Several possible pastoral solutions were given serious consideration. ICEL could have selected one from the many current settings of various countries to include in the Roman Missal. Or ICEL could have refrained from proposing a revised setting, with the suggestion that each country retain what is presently in use. After much consideration it was decided to offer to all the Conferences of Bishops a new setting based on the Latin Pater noster (GR 812, GS 9-10). Each country will examine the setting and decide whether or not to introduce it, either alongside or as a replacement for settings currently in use.

As for eschewing the four-line notation with traditional neumes, ICEL says that the use of treble clef notation is meant to avoid “a practical hindrance and psychological barrier for some singers.”

In the music to be provided to the Conferences of Bishops, ICEL seriously considered employing the venerable four-line square note notation of the Latin chant books. Once one learns the medieval notation, which does not take long, it is in some ways easier to read than modern five-line notation. But pastoral considerations argued against this approach.

Anybody else see anything of note?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to ICEL’s Musical Intro

  1. Randolph Nichols says:

    There’s a bit of reinventing the wheel here. As Episcopalian commentators have noted elsewhere, Winfred Douglas did an admirable job of pairing English texts to chant melodies a century ago. On the Catholic side, Theodore Marier’s wonderful English chant settings have been sung for almost a half-century. (Granted, Marier’s out-of-print hymnal is not easily accessible for many to experience.)

    There is another issue involved here – an absence of open process. I’m old enough to remember when the Episcopal Church was preparing its new hymnal in 1982. Almost everything included in the hymnal’s final version had to endure the trial of actual parish use. I’d like to see a little more of that before the new material becomes etched in stone.

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