Come Advent, song books will open to a different tune
Gathering addresses music for new
English translation of the Roman Missal
By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register
Why the changes to the Roman Missal? It turns out, the universal Church isn’t quite as universal as we thought it was.
But come the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 27, 2011, when Catholics across the country pick up their missals, they’ll experience a celebration more similar to each other, and far more similar to those held across the world.
While addressing “Music for the new English Translation of the Roman Missal” at gatherings held Feb. 12 and 13 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Louis Canter of the Archdiocese of Detroit sought first to answer the question of why the Church is making the changes to the missal in the first place. “My mom couldn’t wait ’till I got in the house, and said to me, ‘Okay, I want to know what the [heck] they’re doing with the Church. What’s all this translation stuff?’
“There’s a great need to understand why we’re doing this,” Canter said.
Canter, Associate Director of Worship for the Detroit archdiocese, explained that Pope John Paul II, the most well-traveled of all popes – who spoke 13 languages -- noticed amid his travels that prayers said at Mass weren’t the same in different countries.
“He looked at the translation into Latin, and then he saw the French translation, and said, ‘Hmmm. This doesn’t say exactly what this says.’ And then he saw the German translation and said, ‘The German translation doesn’t look quite like what the French does and it doesn’t look anything like the one in Latin. Hmmm.’
“He comes to the United States and says, ‘The English one doesn’t look anything like the French. It looks a little like the Latin, but there are some things that they added, and things that they took out. If the Church is a universal Church, how is this universal?’
“So, he said we better do something about this,” Canter explained.
The new translation is a direct and literal translation of the Latin. For example, the current translation includes “And also with you” as a response to “Peace be with you.” The Latin for “and also with you” is equo spiritu tuo, which literally translated means, “And with your spirit.” This literal translation is the response Catholics across the United States will be using beginning Nov. 27.
Kathy Hirschfeld, a member of the choir at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, said that the changes to the music are relatively minor.
She stressed that the familiar hymns sung at Mass won’t change. But because the words of the Mass are changing – slight in some prayers, more pronounced in others -- so too are the songs in which the words are sung, such as the Memorial Acclamation, the Holy Holy, and the Gloria.
Hirschfeld, who attended the workshop, also explained that the presider at Mass may decide to use a simpler version of some of the songs.
With a piano at his side, Canter took those gathered on a tour through some of the changes to the liturgical music, including both song and verse.
Canter explained that when phrases such as “And with your Spirit” are sung, they can now be done so with a single tone, allowing “even the person who says they can’t sing worth a lick, like my deacon at home” to be able to sing the prayer without any major vocal mishaps.
Catholics will also notice that parts of the Mass that aren’t usually sung, such as “This is the Word of the Lord,” following a reading, will now be set to music, adding what some may see as another prayerful level to the words.
“People are going to ask you why the Church is making these changes,” Canter said. “We need a sense of universality. And we need a deeper understanding of the Eucharist. And that’s why we’re having a new translation. We are a universal church, and we need to look and sound universal. And we also need to go deeper in our love and appreciation for the Eucharist.
“That’s what this is about.”