My friends and a few students have asked me if I’ll be composing a Mass setting to the new texts of the Roman Missal. I’ve actually felt a bit inspired to work on it the past few days. I reworked my old (2005) Olive Leaf Mass. The Sanctus is here, and I’ve taken Liam’s advice on setting the triple “Holy” on a phrase apart from “Lord God of hosts.” Memorial acclamations B and C weren’t bad. Acclamation A just doesn’t fit. It’s more difficult to have the music ready-made and try to fit a required text into it, as you composers know. Save Us, Savior of the World is here.
The original tune is Patton, but I thought the source hymnal, The Olive Leaf, sounded better–no military overtones.
I thought it might be illustrative to reveal a bit of the arranging process I go through to adapt an existing tune for liturgical music. A great challenge will be the Glory to God. Long lines, short lines–it probably needs its own tune. And maybe it will come to that for me yet. I was noodling around with the magnificent shape-note tune, Sweet Prospect, and behold: the opening stanza of the Gloria fits it pretty well:
That phrase “and on earth peace” will be tricky for a lot of composers. But the two dotted half notes (common in shape note melodies) work better than I had hoped. That last measure in the original melody is a dotted whole note, changed to fit the text. However, the tune employs a AABA’ structure, so the initial melody here should be repeated–if it were a hymn. What should I do about that? Is it important to retain that?
One of the students I showed this to advised against trying to cram in the next section on quarter notes. I agree. But where to find the melody for the “We praise you, we bless you …” text? Should I look for inspiration in the harmony parts? Or develop this first musical idea a bit more? Suddenly, the 6/4 time feels awkward and there will be long stretches of this piece that will seem to go more slowly than this first section. By the way, I don’t plan to make this a responsorial Gloria.