Dioceses Taking on the Missal Chants

Janet Gorbitz reports on this weekend’s workshop in Shreveport:

The Diocese of Shreveport, Louisiana’s Office of Worship sponsored a music workshop at the Diocesan Catholic Center this weekend (March 18-19). With presenters from GIA (Gregorian Institute of America, Rob Strusinski), OCP (Oregon Catholic Press, Louis Canter), WLP (World Library Publications, Alan Hommerding) and CMAA (Janet Gorbitz), the attendees had the opportunity to hear many new Mass settings for the new Roman Missal translation. Dianne Rachal, the Director of the Office of Worship, was the epitome of southern hospitality, welcoming us with graciousness, comfort and good food.

Bishop Michael Duca gave a short welcome to all attendees on Saturday morning, encouraging those present to embrace the new changes and asking them to work together with the priests to make it possible to sing more parts of the Mass. During the two-day workshop, about 50-60 attendees from the region had the opportunity to sing through several different settings from each of the publishers and were given sample copies of some of the new music that will be available.

The CMAA portion of the workshop was focused on the new Missal chants that are provided free of charge at the ICEL website, as well as musical resources for singing the Mass propers in English. The attendees sang through the new Mass ordinaries, including the Credo III, with ease. They also sang Proper antiphons that are part of the Adam Bartlett’s Simple Propers project and were able to also learn about Chabanel Responsorial Psalms, including one composed by Arlene Oost-Zinner.

A short discussion of CMAA’s efforts to aid church musicians in their quest to make the liturgy more beautiful included the use of the Parish Book of Chant. The attendees were given a very short tutorial on the reading of “square-note” notation and sang a couple of chant hymns in Latin from the Parish Book of Chant during the session.

With the new resources for the proper antiphons in English freely available, the new Missal translation implementation can mark a new era in parish liturgical music in the coming years. Once again, we can all be thankful for the generosity of our Catholic composers who are sharing their work with the Church. Workshops such as this one are great places to get information and music into the hands of more church musicians.

8 Replies to “Dioceses Taking on the Missal Chants”

  1. I am very curious as to how well received were the CMAA sessions by the "average parish music directors" vs. sessions from the big publishers. Any comment from those in attendance?

  2. OK… trying again.

    Perhaps the attendees were just being kind, but I got nothing but positive feedback from them. Many of the music directors really loved singing the chant melodies they remembered from years past. I think the fact that we went through and sang all the Mass ordinaries so easily was a pleasant surprise to those who may have envisioned a very difficult transition.

    The chant session was (as one would expect) very low-key, low maintenance… no accompaniment, no discussion of needed instrumentation… just singers chanting the music of the Mass. I don't even use a pitch pipe (laissez faire chant direction?). I really hope they experienced how really easy it will be to move to the new chanted ordinaries for even the smallest parish with the fewest available resources.

    As for feedback regarding the music from the publishers' representatives, I didn't really get to hear a great deal of feedback about how CMAA compared to the others, since CMAA was the last presentation and everyone left almost immediately afterward.

    I will solicit feedback from the diocese to see how any comments from attendees came out from their end. I'll be curious to hear from them as well.

  3. Thanks for the information lvschant.

    It would have been instructive to have a written survey (maybe even BEFORE and AFTER surveys) of attendees as to their plans for music for the new texts. That would not only have provided an interesting data point about parish deployment plans but would also have been an indicator of the effectiveness of each session. Maybe this could be done at future events by the CMAA even if there were not one given by the organizers of the event itself.

  4. This is a fascinating development. On the surface, one generally thinks of the CMAA as counterpoint to groups like NPM… but in this instance, the CMAA is presented as an alternative to PUBLISHERS as a resource for parish musicians.

    How wonderful would it be if at the next NPM convention there were sessions presented by the CMAA, or a "kiosk" with information on the free (or very low cost) alternatives to the commercially available resources?

    On a much smaller scale, we just completed the first of several sessions for our Diocese on the musical resources for the new translation. We have been emphasizing the ICEL settings, although several others have been presented as well. Fr. John Mark Klaus (there was an article of his featured here a few days ago), our Diocesan Director of Liturgy, has done an excellent job of organizing the preparations.

    Just today, all Directors in the Diocese received the "Calendar of Events" for events in our Diocese concerning music and the new translation. To my surprise, the "Gregorian Chant Conference" at Ave Maria on April 1-2 was featured on the calendar and promoted as an excellent opportunity to learn more about our Church's musical heritage!

    There are great things happening all over…

  5. BTW… having that "last session" before people leave is an excellent stroke of luck! You were what they left thinking of… and the ideas and resources you presented will be the ones that leave the most solid impression.

    In the number of chant sessions that I have led for our Diocese at this point, I have yet to hear anyone speak negatively of it. What exactly is there to not like?

  6. We in the Diocese of Shreveport were most excited to see this presentation! As the Director of Music for the Cathedral in this Diocese, it was particularly exciting to see music directors and choir members from other parishes grasping the simplicity of the chants and their intrinsic beauty.

    As may be the norm in many places, unfortunately chant is often perceived to be out of the reach of the average parish church and should be "left to the Cathedrals" or only the large programs. I really appreciated the momentum that this session provided for all those gathered. After a long weekend of reviewing many settings from publishers that would require more extensive resources, attendees culminated the workshop with CMAA’s presentation that offered something very new and different for the majority of those gathered. The simple beauty of the chant filled the auditorium and permeated the minds of all of those gathered. As I sat in the back and watched and heard those for whom I knew chant was new, I was sincerely convinced that some walls had been knocked down and several misconceived notions about the use of chant in the liturgy would be getting another look in their parishes.

    In Shreveport, the Cathedral will continue to model that chant has pride of place in the liturgy—but thanks to this workshop, the new translation will hopefully offer an opportunity for many parishes across the diocese to make it their own as well!

    Many thanks to CMAA for being here!

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