Thursday, 19 August 2010

The revised ICEL liturgy

The revised ICEL liturgy is a huge improvement on the old. We tried it out a few months ago, including the musical settings.

Although the texts cannot reasonably be faulted, the same cannot be said of the musical setting for the responses. In the first place, they are written on a five line stave. Apparently, there was discussion about whether to use square-note/four-line notation and it was thought that round note/five line was what most people are used to.

Of course, the latter is what most musicians are used to, but many choir singers are not musicians and are more accustomed to the Gregorian notation, especially for singing that kind of music.

A further difficulty is that music that works in Latin will almost certainly not work in English because the emphasis falls differently in sentences in the two languages. Both the choir and the priest ended up stumbling over the music for the responses. The notes do not fall naturally with the words.

This is something that will need to be revised if the new liturgy is going to be accepted.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Two new composers to watch

M Therese Henderson and Jocelyn Belamide are two young composers who work together and have been making a valuable contribution to the music of the Catholic church. Little of the liturgical music from the 1970s and 80s will be of lasting value, but this collaboration is something else and it is encouraging to know that there are still composers around who can produce good quality liturgical music.

We had a visiting choir from Italy this week, with a very patient choir master who taught some of us a Mass and some other music by these composers, including a beautiful setting of the Panis Angelicus which was not at all difficult to learn.

However, it seems that most of their work has been in Italy and the settings we sang were in Italian.

They deserve a wider audience. I hope that in due course they will set their music to the Latin texts if they have not already done so, and possibly also write settings for the new English translations. If set in Latin, the music would work well with the Gregorian chant settings of the Propers and could be used for Extraordinary Form celebrations of the Mass