November 11, 2011

Musicians to play key role in implementing new Mass translation

Larry Wickersham, left, and Mary Drake, both members of Prince of Peace Parish in Madison, sing during a workshop for pastoral musicians on Sept. 19 at St. Bartholomew Church in Columbus. The workshop was one in a series sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Worship to help pastoral musicians across central and southern Indiana become acquainted with new and adapted settings of parts of the new translation of the Mass. Wickersham helps oversee liturgical music at Prince of Peace Parish. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Larry Wickersham, left, and Mary Drake, both members of Prince of Peace Parish in Madison, sing during a workshop for pastoral musicians on Sept. 19 at St. Bartholomew Church in Columbus. The workshop was one in a series sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Worship to help pastoral musicians across central and southern Indiana become acquainted with new and adapted settings of parts of the new translation of the Mass. Wickersham helps oversee liturgical music at Prince of Peace Parish. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

COLUMBUS—Parishes across central and southern Indiana are in the final stages of preparations for implementing the new translation of the Mass that will take place on the weekend of Nov. 26-27, the first Sunday of Advent.

Some of the people that are the busiest getting ready for the changes are pastoral musicians, who will lead parishioners in singing new translations of various parts of the Mass, including the Gloria, the Sanctus and memorial acclamations during the eucharistic prayer.

In response to the new translation, liturgical music composers have prepared new settings of various parts of the Mass or adapted older settings. Pastoral musicians have thus been busy learning the new music.

Musicians from several parishes across the archdiocese gathered on Sept. 19 at St. Bartholomew Church in Columbus to practice some of these settings together.

They focused much of their work on learning the Storrington Mass, a new composition by Marty Haugen, and a chant setting of the Mass that is included in the Roman Missal and in all new missalettes and hymnals.

The archdiocese’s Office of Worship has recommended both settings for use in parishes across central and southern Indiana.

“It’s good to go out to people throughout the archdiocese because we are all one,” said Patty Brown, music director of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis, who led the practice session in Columbus. “These two Mass settings will connect us all. I enjoy meeting other cantors and musicians and directors. We learn from each other.

“And the beauty of the sound when everyone is together is just so lovely and truly glorifies God.”

Following the OK given by archdiocesan leaders, some parishes have already been using some of the new musical settings of the Mass since September.

One is Prince of Peace Parish in Madison, which has been using the Storrington Mass.

Bonnie McDonough is involved in music ministry at the Madison parish, and attended the practice session in Columbus.

“I could not believe the response that we got [from the congregation],” McDonough said. “I expected it to be a little quiet, but they were singing it out. We went through it before Mass started. It’s easy to learn. They picked it up, and they seemed to really like it.

“I feel excited when I cantor it. It’s like ‘Wow. This is giving glory to God.’ ”

Also participating in the session in Columbus was Father Daniel Staublin, pastor of Our Lady of Providence Parish in Brownstown and St. Ambrose Parish in Seymour. He came with a group of pastoral musicians from St. Ambrose Parish.

“Music is such an important part of our liturgy,” Father Staublin said. “Since there will be some newness to the music, the pastoral musicians will play a key role in helping all of the pastoral leaders and the people of God pray better.”

Charlie Gardner, archdiocesan executive director for spiritual life and worship, was interviewed after the Columbus practice session and echoed Father Staublin’s comments.

“Since many of the new texts of the ‘Order of Mass’ are meant to be sung, the use of music can help to facilitate the transition,” Gardner said. “This is already happening in parishes that have begun to learn new settings of the Gloria like the one from the Storrington Mass. The singing of a new melody—including an easy refrain—is helping people to learn the revised text with a minimum of confusion.”

Gardner has worked with pastoral musicians across the archdiocese, and appreciates the hard work they have put in to be ready for the implementation of the new Mass translation.

“I have been impressed by the dedication and positive attitude of our pastoral music leaders,” he said. “Most of them have risen to the challenge, and see this as an opportunity to renew our musical worship.”

Larry Wickersham oversees liturgical music at Prince of Peace Parish in Madison. Although he has put in many hours to prepare the vocalists and instrumentalists in his parish for the new Mass settings, he has enjoyed his work.

“I think it’s an exciting time,” Wickersham said. “It’s always fun as a musician to learn new music, and to help the choir and the people sing something new and do it really well. It’s always a challenge that’s fun to work on.”

At the same time, it has been a little nerve-racking for Wickersham and his cantors and choirs to lead hundreds of parishioners in singing a new Mass setting that they are just learning themselves.

“We may be struggling learning the music or worrying about singing perfect notes, but we need to project to the people that this is the right thing,” Wickersham said. “We set that example.”

Brown shares many of Wickersham’s experiences, but had good advice for him and other pastoral musicians who gathered in Columbus.

“We just need to be prepared,” Brown said. “We need to be calm for the

congregation. We need to be positive and explain to the congregation that change is a good thing because it allows us to speak new words to glorify God.”

(For more information about the new Mass translation and what parishes can do to prepare for it, log on to www.archindy.org/worship or www.usccb.org/romanmissal.)

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