Sunday, September 25, 2011

The New Translation and Liturgical Chant

These paragraphs are exerpted from the following:

"The Agony and the Ecstasy: The Fundamental Importance of Liturgical Chant in the Roman Missal and Our Celebration of the Eucharistic Mystery," by Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth in Sacred Music, Vol. 138, number 2 (Summer 2011).

The implementation of the English translation of the third typical edition of the Roman Missal later this year will be the biggest single moment of change for Catholics who worship in English in the forty years since the revisions of the liturgy which followed Vatican II. It is a moment of unparalleled significance, not least because it represents a natural opportunity to reassess all that we do when we celebrate the Mass. The new edition of the Missal contains more music than any of its predecessors and includes a complete set of chants for the principal parts of the Order of Mass. All the chants of the Latin original have been adapted to the English text.

...The elevated register of the language, the euphony of its phrases and the cadence of its orations have all been prepared with the thought that most of these texts are by nature sung. For that reason, and without wishing to exclude the use of ther genres where appropirate, the musical language of the missal is Gregorian Chant.
     The General Instruction of the Roman Missal echoes both Sacrasanctum Concilium and Musicam Sacram in proclaming that, "All other things being equal, Gregorian chant holds first place because it is proper to the Roman Liturgy. Other types of sacred music, in particular polyphony, are in not way excluded, provided that they correspond to the spirit of the liturgical action and that they foster the participaion of all the faithful." (Sacrosanctum Concilium, paragraph 41). Attention to this latter quality in response to the implementation of the new translation should in due course bring about a general change in the culture of our liturgical music. If that is the case, then it is long overdue and will be greatly welcomed.

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