Way back in May I wrote I might take an extended look at the newest hymnal in the GIA assembly, Gather fourth edition. I attended an online session led by five of the publisher’s leading lights and I have to admit I was more impressed than I expected to be. Publisher employees are a relentlessly optimistic lot, especially when they are selling something. I expect that. I also felt the pitch was toned down compared to people I’ve been exposed to from at least two other sacred music organizations. So that was a plus, too.
Like every other GIA hymnal since Worship III, the arrangement is familiar: Liturgy of the Hours plus its psalms, followed by complete Mass settings, followed by assorted service music. The songs and hymns occupy a fat center, and the book wraps up with a number of helpful index categories.
I did get a peek at all the complete Mass settings–I thought too much time was taken in the web presentation on these. But I did get a chance to look at the melody lines of the unfamiliar settings. Total count: ten. Here they are:
As you might expect, the long-time GIA best-seller leads the list with a mostly complete Spanish alternative. I can’t claim real expertise in the second language, but it all looks competently done. Some pieces blend both languages, and that will be helpful for large-scale assemblies in dioceses and large parishes bringing at least two of the major language groups in North American Catholicism together.
Something new struck me: The Welcome Table Mass. Nice title. Good concept I’ve seen applied elsewhere on other genres, multiple different songs from the same style of music (such as jazz or shape note tunes) distributed across the various parts of a Mass setting. This setting accomplishes the task better than most all. You can’t go wrong with melodic music for which accompaniment and harmonies are optional. But a good piano and voices do add so much. I might be tempted to introduce this one in my parish. Rather than a single tune done to death from Glory to Lamb and in between, this idea looks and seems most sound to me.
I see a revised oldie, Mass of Angels and Saints, my favorite setting of the pre-MR3 era. I think this is sturdier and a little more interesting than Creation. Maybe better crafted, but others might disagree. SAB settings service a situation to be found in many smaller parishes and smaller vocal groups in bigger communities. Writing in three parts is usually more challenging, so I’d advise against disregard for Steve Janco’s small men’s section.
Ed Bolduc’s hugely successful Mass of St Ann migrates from the absorbed WLP. (Goodness, that was quick.) I think this setting is my favorite of the MR3 era. A very good choice to include it here, as it is certainly a top-three choice of contemporary Mass settings composed in this century.
Other people like it, but I’ve never been quite sold on the Storrington Mass. The offerings from Chris de Silva and Tony Alonso, each top composers in GIA’s “Next Generation” were predictable additions. The GIA presenters glossed over them to get to more discussion on settings Four, Seven, and Eight.
Another 85 pieces follow these, a combination of single Mass parts or partial settings. You can view the full service music index here (numbers 201 through 442).